"Dear Steve Jobs" Letter Hits Target And Gets Results

Matt has a 1-year-old Macbook that was having some serious issues which included a dead power supply, overheating and some strange burn marks on the computer itself which, incidentally, was out of warranty. Matt’s roommate David decided to draft a nicely written letter and fire it off to Steve Jobs at sjobs@apple.com. To David’s delight, Steve Jobs took the letter on his iPhone and forwarded it to one of his assistants. Acute customer satisfaction ensued. David’s letter inside…

Dear Mr. Jobs,
First off, I would like to applaud you for making the best computer I have ever used. Although your market share in the computer world isn’t as high as Windows-based PC’s, you and your company really make an effort to not only stand by your product, but stand by your customers in a way I never thought possible. People read online, all the time, about shortcomings of all companies, but I can safely say that I have read more positive reviews of Apple then negative. Even one of my friends, who was unlucky enough to have left his MacBook Pro in a taxi, was given a discount on Apple Care on his new MacBook on top of the education discount. That is proof that your company goes above and beyond what is expected.

It’s no question that you make a fine product, speaking specifically of the MacBook series. However, there is one problem I have read about, time and time again – sometimes, they get HOT (even hot enough to fry an egg on). My roommate experienced a similar issue. One evening, my roommate Matt was using his MacBook. He realized that the AC adapter (specifically where it plugs into the laptop) was getting hot. Very hot. Hot enough for him to be unable to touch it. After finishing up what was necessary for school, he closed his computer, putting it on standby. The next morning, his computer would not charge. After some testing with someone else’s AC adapter, we have diagnosed the issue as being a faulty AC adapter. Upon inspection of the computer, battery, and AC adapter, we have found a brown-looking stain that can only be identified as a small burn (it is clear that it isn’t dirt). Also, there is a point on the battery that has dark black spots (small, evenly spaced) that have appeared since this incident (most likely a burn as well). It is also apparent that these spots line up on the computer to a place where similar spots are located. I can provide pictures upon request, but it may take a week or so to borrow someone’s digital camera.

The problem is this – although it is not unlikely that an AC adapter go out, I have never heard of one getting unbearably hot, and making small, darkened burn spots on the underside of the computer and battery. This is why I’m contacting you.

You know the dangers associated with this problem. At worst, it could cause a fire. And, in a dorm room with hundreds and hundreds of residents, this makes the scenario even scarier. Basically, what we are asking for is this: At the very least, a new AC adapter. At most, a new MacBook with similar (exact) specifications. Let me explain why I believe it is fair for him to ask for this.

The AC adapter going out is a common problem in the notebook industry. However, when it gets unbearably hot to the touch, it tells me that the problem extends much further than a normal defective product. It says to me that the AC adapter could have continued working, but, due to some manufacture error, caused it to burn out, quite literally. Frankly, I don’t think that it is fair that a manufacturing error should be placed on our hands. I also suggested a new MacBook. Basically, because of the faulty AC adapter, the small burn spots that have formed scares us. What if this faulty AC adapter took out his entire computer, and is only a matter of time before some sort of electrical problem “bricks” his laptop? Even if you don’t agree to a new laptop, an expedited PC Check up seems fair.

There is one more bit of information that changes the status quo. Unfortunately, Matt’s MacBook is out of warranty (and no AppleCare was purchased). I know that you are under no obligation to do anything in this situation, but it would be greatly appreciated if you did.

As a side note (and more so a bribe than anything else) I have been looking for a new ultra-portable laptop for a few months. Since the MacBook AIR was introduced, I have been salivating for hours at a time. The only thing keeping me from it is the pricetag. I know I pay for quality, but I also pay for service. I can’t promise that this will make me decide to buy the AIR, but the way you handle this situation will influence my decision greatly. A necessity for me is great service, and I try to give my customers “above and beyond” service when possible. I would love to see that here.

Please contact me back with some sort of resolution; Matt and I both await your reply.

Thanks,
David [redacted]

Shortly after, David received a phone call from Apple. David writes,

Later on that day, I get a phone call from a gentleman named Matt Klinksick, in corporate executive relations. He told me that Mr. Jobs had forwarded the email to him from his iPhone. Whether or not that is actually true (I have no problem believing that), sending my problem to that email address prompted Matt, the #1 nicest customer relations person, to fix the problems. First thing he did was send me a new power supply. He also put me on the line with a tech support agent who asked me a bunch of questions, mainly making sure that they won’t be sued, but also seeing the extent of the damage, and how it could have been caused.

Anyway, my roommate Matt received his power supply within about 4 days, allowing him to start working. Matt the Apple employee contacted the Apple store, and said that the Apple genius would make sure everything was working fine, and fix anything that wasn’t, for no cost. Ends up – everything was a-ok but the battery. They charged him for the battery (since he’s not really one for confrontation, he didn’t bother sticking up for the free service that was promised). Once I learned about this, I called Matt from Apple, and, well, he called the Apple store and they voided out the entire cost of the battery that was charged to my room mate’s card.

The end-all, be-all of this entire situation is that Apple really cares about their customers. They will work with you, and make sure that everything is 100% to your satisfaction. I have to admit there were some snags in the entire process, but Matt from Apple would return every phone call within 24 hours, and hammer everything out.

Although I’m not lucky enough to have an Apple right now, I know what my next computer will be.

David’s letter was effective because it was articulate, detailed and had pleasant yet assertive tone. Naturally, Apple also deserves kudos for being so responsive to their customers’ problems. Because of this simple letter, David’s roommate received a free battery, a free power supply, and a free appointment with an Apple genius to confirm that his computer is working correctly, all out of warranty. In return, Apple gained a future customer in David and a happy feel-good story that gives us all the warm and fuzzies. Good job, David.

(Photo: whatcounts)