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Just What is a Custom Configured Server?

Cliff posted more than 10 years ago | from the the-difference-between-'product-options'-and-'custom' dept.

Apple 318

djhanson wonders: "I just got back from a small claims court proceeding against Apple Computer. They successfully won their argument in front of the court that selecting additional memory and disk drives for a computer/server at the time of purchase, off of their website, constitutes a 'custom configured computer built to the customer's specifications'. Said computer is therefore not eligible under the company policy to be returned. Has anyone else heard of such a thing? As near as I can tell, Apple is the only company that has such a restrictive policy. I called both IBM and HP, and neither of those companies has such a policy. Am I the only one that thinks there is something terribly wrong with a policy like this? Any opinions? Suggestions? Comments? Whatever?"

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318 comments

Sounds about right. (0, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8395890)

Sounds pretty dumb. But Apple policies are usually that way. You should see how they treat their employees.

Posting as AC because I work for Apple.

Re:Sounds about right. (3, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8395945)

I go to Columbia University and here it's par for the course to hate our university. I'm soaking it up. Would you recommend considering a job at Apple as a future career move?

Re:to all the morons (3, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8397644)

that are too stupid to read (and understand) the point. The poster never claimed that Apple wouldn't give warantee support for a broken product. Apparently he got the product, didn't like it, and tried to send it back. Their web site clearly says they won't take it.

This is not just Apple. Buy anything in the whole store at CompUSA, for example, decide you don't like it, take it back. Guess what? They will take it but they will dock you 15% of the price.

Maybe if the poster was able to read he wouldn't have had this problem.

Re:Sounds about right. (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8397952)

If you want to trade jobs, I'd be more than happy to have to put up with Apple's treatment of their employees.

Is this for real? (1, Insightful)

jerald_hams (725369) | more than 10 years ago | (#8395891)

Horrific policy...makes me a bit ashmed of the iMac I'm typing this on.
I'm a fan of Apple designs, but I really hope they stay a niche in the market. If Apple ever overruns Redmond, we'll all look back on Microsoft as comparatively benevolent.

-Jerald Hams

Re:Is this for real? (4, Funny)

no longer myself (741142) | more than 10 years ago | (#8396171)

If Apple ever overruns Redmond...

Oh please...

If OJ ever finds the real killers...
If Nader ever gets elected president...
If Pete Rose ever gets into baseball's HOF...
If SCO ever wins against IBM...
If Osama ever turns himself in...
If I ever get laid...

Apple has a nice product, but let's face it, we are in absolutely no danger of them becoming a dominant force in general computing.

Re:Is this for real? (1, Insightful)

kommakazi (610098) | more than 10 years ago | (#8397810)

It's not horrific... It's his own damn fault for being stupid enough to buy extra RAM and disk drives straight from Apple, you're always much better off getting them separately from some other vendor - it's much cheaper. I say he deserves it.

complicated (5, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8395905)

on the (limited) information you've given it does seem a little unfair to you though, technically, the judgement was correct. You configured the machine, you are a customer, therefore it is a customer configured machine.

There should be a warning on their site when you do configure the machine yourself that you won't be able to do certain things.

an interesting point would be, what if you used the same customer configuration system to add in say some extra software or another battery for a laptop?

Re:complicated (5, Informative)

wacko1138 (730161) | more than 10 years ago | (#8396070)

Actually, they have a link at the bottom of their store page labelled Sales and Refunds [apple.com].

On that page it says:

"RETURN & REFUND POLICY
If you are not satisfied with your Apple purchase of a pre-built product, please call 1-800-676-2775 for a Return Material Authorization (RMA) request within 10 business days of the receipt of the product."

And a little further down:

"Please note that Apple does not permit the return of or offer refunds for the following products:

1. Product that is custom configured to your specifications"

I do think it's a bass-ackwards policy, but it's all there on the site. May not be fun, but always a good idea to read the fine print (especially before laying out the sort of money Apple wants).

Re:complicated (5, Insightful)

hool5400 (257022) | more than 10 years ago | (#8396761)

That text is for "if you are not satisfied".

The poster doesn't mention whether the return is because of an unfit product, or just changed his mind.

I suspect the latter, and you can see Apple's point. He gets it and doesn't like it, sends it back, and they have to pull out the RAM, extra HDs - a giant pain in the arse. Why should they?

If it was broken on the other hand and they refuse to take it back, I'd have an issue, but I'm sure there are consumer laws in the US to protect the consumer from manufacturers selling unfit goods.

Re:complicated (0, Flamebait)

alienw (585907) | more than 10 years ago | (#8397152)

Let's see... First, Apple charges huge markups on their hardware. Second, it's supposed to be a "friendly", and so on. Third, manufacturers with lots more hardware to sell and smaller margins, such as Dell, do not have such restrictive policies. Finally, Apple does NOT make it clear you are buying a custom-configured machine that is nto returnable. You can't just click and buy, it makes you select from a list of options, some of which have nothing to do with custom configuration.

Re:complicated (5, Informative)

Golias (176380) | more than 10 years ago | (#8398051)

Third, manufacturers with lots more hardware to sell and smaller margins, such as Dell, do not have such restrictive policies.

Ahem. From Dell's web site (bold emphasis added by me):

All new hardware, accessories, parts, and unopened software still in its sealed package, excluding the products listed below, may be returned within thirty (30) days from the date on the packing slip or invoice. New n-series with FreeDOSTM products and PowerEdge SC servers purchased from the Small and Medium Business Sales Division may be returned within fourteen (14) days from the date on the packing slip or invoice. To return applications software or an operating system that has been installed by Dell, you must return the entire computer.
A different return policy applies to nondefective products purchased through Dell's Software and Peripherals division by customers of our Small and Medium Business divisions. Those products may be returned within thirty days from the date on the packing slip or invoice, but a fifteen percent (15%) return fee will be deducted from any refund or credit. The "Total Satisfaction" Return Policy and Software and Peripherals division return policy are not available for Dell/EMC storage products, EMC-branded products, Unisys-branded products, PowerVaultTM 160T tape libraries or enterprise software.

Re:complicated (3, Interesting)

ssewell (733858) | more than 10 years ago | (#8398096)

You should also note that Apple does not accept any third-party returns. Even if they're not functioning!

When I received my order of Logitech Z680 5.1 Speakers from Apple, they were DOA. Apple wouldn't refund or exchange my order (as stated in their return policy), so I had to go through the manufacturer. And we all know how fun that is!

Don't get me wrong, I love Apple products... but they really need to be more flexible about their return policies.

Small Claims Court? (5, Funny)

ottawanker (597020) | more than 10 years ago | (#8395912)

Where do you live that you have a small claims court open at quarter to six in the morning? Doesn't seem like anywhere in the USA or Canada, which may cause unforeseen errors in our legal advice.

Re:Small Claims Court? (2, Informative)

acd294 (685183) | more than 10 years ago | (#8395981)

Maybe I am wrong, but I think that the time it was posted is not the same as the time it was submitted. It could have been a few hours earlier which would be a perfectly reasonable time if the hearing was in the afternoon.

I have an idea ... (4, Funny)

jmt9581 (554192) | more than 10 years ago | (#8395916)

Why not write about your experience in a place where thousands of geeks across the world could be disgusted by Apple's slimy business practices?

:)

Re:I have an idea ... (2, Funny)

secolactico (519805) | more than 10 years ago | (#8396908)

Why not write about your experience in a place where thousands of geeks across the world could be disgusted by Apple's slimy business practices?

Fark?

Re:I have an idea ... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8397994)

Certainly not /. He's got more posting to do.

Yeah, Apple does that sometimes. (2, Interesting)

Pedro Picasso (1727) | more than 10 years ago | (#8395917)

Sounds like your computer does fit that description in its barest sense. Good on you for actually going to small claims court, though. Good use of the system. Hope it was a neat experience. Unfortunately, yeah, Apple does screw people in a couple of places. It's unfortunate, but they don't have huge margins for their hardware, and they are hell bent on turning a buck. As far as consumer rights go, you got screwed, but at the same time, you could have read the terms of the sale beforehand.

Re:Yeah, Apple does that sometimes. (4, Informative)

bryan1945 (301828) | more than 10 years ago | (#8396007)

This may have changed, but Apple has (or had) the largest margins on their machines; something around 25-28% or so. This was the average along their entire line, with laptop having the top margins and iMacs eMacs having the lowest margins.

As for the lawsuit, well it does seem a bit shady that adding RAM is gonna screw you. Maybe there is something more going on here that is not being disclosed?

Re:Yeah, Apple does that sometimes. (1)

Pedro Picasso (1727) | more than 10 years ago | (#8396139)

Those are very interesting numbers. Where do you get these sort of figures? Do they just show up in the news every once in a while?

Re:Yeah, Apple does that sometimes. (2, Informative)

jmt9581 (554192) | more than 10 years ago | (#8396224)

Those are very interesting numbers. Where do you get these sort of figures? Do they just show up in the news every once in a while?

In addition to showing up in the news [macminute.com] from time to time, I think that Apple bundles figures like that in the news releases that they give out to shareholders.

I'm not sure about the shareholder news releases though, I'm not a stockholder. I just heard about them in a comment on another story.

Re:Yeah, Apple does that sometimes. (2, Informative)

mithras (126772) | more than 10 years ago | (#8397642)

Since Apple is a publicly-traded company, they're required to report things like gross margins to the public. You can find the current numbers by downloading the annual report from this page [corporate-ir.net]

Re:Yeah, Apple does that (Profit Margins) (4, Informative)

G4from128k (686170) | more than 10 years ago | (#8396212)

This may have changed, but Apple has (or had) the largest margins on their machines; something around 25-28% or so. This was the average along their entire line, with laptop having the top margins and iMacs eMacs having the lowest margins.

You are right that Apple's margins are in that range. According to Apple's Annual 10-K report [yahoo.com], the company had a gross margin of 27.5%. But that is only their gross margin (the difference between the price of the item and the cost of the materials in that item). That figure leaves out a number of costs that Apple pays. Out of that 27.5% comes the 8.6% of sales that Apple spends on R&D. Another 19.5% of sales is spent on SG&A (Selling, general, and adminsitrative). Note that Apple's 27.5% is not even that high as the average across the S&P 500 is nearly 50%

This leaves Apple with a net profit margin of only 0.4% which works out to about $8 in profit on each of the 3 million computers they sold in 2003 (Compare that to Dell's 6% net margin [msn.com] to see who is really making money off their customers).

I won't excuse Apple for not warning customers about the return policy in more forceful terms. For custom configured purchases they really should have a bold-face warning in the purchase script that is triggered by what Apple considers "custom configured". Yet, nobody can claim that they make to much profit from their computers or fault them trying to contain costs.

Re:Yeah, Apple does that (Profit Margins) (1)

Tuxinatorium (463682) | more than 10 years ago | (#8396640)

20% SG&A??? Talk about wasteful overhead!! Or does that include executives' salaries and bonuses?

Re:Yeah, Apple does that (Profit Margins) (1)

alienw (585907) | more than 10 years ago | (#8397175)

That only means Apple is a grossly inefficient company. 20% SG&A vs. 8% R&D? WTF?

Re:Yeah, Apple does that sometimes. (2, Interesting)

shaitand (626655) | more than 10 years ago | (#8396591)

This would be shady even if the customer added memory. But it's twice as shady when the customer requested additional memory and drives and apple installed and configured them!

The reason for the policy is simple, they are cutting out some returns for starters and the overhead those machines would bring since they would need to either track those systems seperately or remove the memory/drives before putting them back in stock. This of course only makes sense if apple is in turn selling these systems as new again.

Re:Yeah, Apple does that sometimes. (2, Insightful)

j-turkey (187775) | more than 10 years ago | (#8396942)

The reason for the policy is simple, they are cutting out some returns for starters and the overhead those machines would bring since they would need to either track those systems seperately or remove the memory/drives before putting them back in stock. This of course only makes sense if apple is in turn selling these systems as new again.

The policy only makes sense if Appls's customers are coming back and returning their systems en masse. Otherwise, a return policy is what it is. If you're going to stand by your products, do it. If not, don't. This seems to me like a slimey way out of a guarantee. Other manucafturers take their "custom" systems back -- I believe that they're sold as refurbished or open-box.

How about that supercomputer? (1)

soramimicake (593421) | more than 10 years ago | (#8397009)

Didn't Apple take Virginia Tech's PowerMac G5s back [slashdot.org]? I'm pretty sure those were "custom configured".

Re:Yeah, Apple does that sometimes. (1)

n-baxley (103975) | more than 10 years ago | (#8396425)

ahhh, I believe that Apple has some of the highest margins in the OEM market. Not that that's saying a whole lot, but if anyone can afford to restock a computer it's Apple.

You've been stung (5, Informative)

kinnell (607819) | more than 10 years ago | (#8395942)

Any opinions? Suggestions?

Read the small print next time. I think it's reasonable for them to claim that it is a custom configuration, but refusing to support it when they have done the assembly is pretty disgraceful.

Re:You've been stung (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8395973)

"...refusing to support it when they have done the assembly is disgraceful"

where does it say that they aren't supporting the machine? all that was said is Apple won't accept "customized" orders as returns. it's actually perfectly understandable. when you "customize" a system, such as a different size hard drive, more ram, dvd burner, etc, it would be hard to sell the machine to someone else. who's to say someone else would want the same exact options? as for 'removing' the customizations, how would you like being sold something as new but was actually taken from a returned 'customized' item. those customized items can no longer be sold as new. they would have to take a percentage off every part they sold you in your customized form and that would be a big hassle for both parties.

Re:You've been stung (1)

00420 (706558) | more than 10 years ago | (#8396010)

how would you like being sold something as new but was actually taken from a returned 'customized' item. those customized items can no longer be sold as new.

I wouldn't know if it worked. Therefore I wouldn't care.

those customized items can no longer be sold as new.

Yes it can be resold if it is not damaged. Happens all the time in the retail industry.

Re:You've been stung (1)

larkost (79011) | more than 10 years ago | (#8396617)

Many states have laws specifically forbidding this. I worked in retail at one time in a state that did, and we had to take large discounts to move the items.

Re:You've been stung (5, Insightful)

aluminumcube (542280) | more than 10 years ago | (#8396215)

Well, I think this is not a matter of Apple supporting the product, it is a mater of Apple not willing to accept a return of the product.

Personally, I think Apple offers 'custom configurations' because some customers want it and it sort of looks stupid not to offer it. Apple goes out of it's way to insure that their prices on RAM and extra hard drives (about the only two items you can 'configure' your system with) are way out of line with what's available on the open market. The fact of the matter is that Apple's margins on these components are extremely low and the resources required to pull a machine off the shelf at the warehouse, have an employee put the components in, repackage the whole thing and ship it are not worth it for Apple.

I think Apple really wishes customers would simply go out (or online) and procure a bigger hard drive or more RAM themselves. They go out of their way to provide instructions for installing these components and it really isn't that hard to do. Besides, it's far less expensive for the customer in the end, and you don't need to wait an extra week for the computer to be shipped by Apple...

Re:You've been stung (2, Interesting)

kinnell (607819) | more than 10 years ago | (#8396414)

it is a mater of Apple not willing to accept a return of the product.

The point is, though, that the work is done by Apple, and should be done to as high a standard as the original manufacturing, and they should be prepared to offer a guarantee on it. Even with a well designed product, there is always a chance that a component will fail, and therefore the system should be fully guaranteed. It would be fair enough not accepting returns if the buyer had modified it, but not guaranteeing your own workmanship is a cop out.

Re:You've been stung (4, Interesting)

splattertrousers (35245) | more than 10 years ago | (#8397045)

I think Apple really wishes customers would simply go out (or online) and procure a bigger hard drive or more RAM themselves.

If that's true, I wonder why the standard amount of RAM on all Macs is so rediculously low. If they threw in more RAM, perhaps fewer people would custom configure their computers.

Re:You've been stung (2, Interesting)

kabocox (199019) | more than 10 years ago | (#8397573)

I think Apple really wishes customers would simply go out (or online) and procure a bigger hard drive or more RAM themselves. They go out of their way to provide instructions for installing these components and it really isn't that hard to do. Besides, it's far less expensive for the customer in the end, and you don't need to wait an extra week for the computer to be shipped by Apple...

It would be easier in most industries if you did the work instead of the company. Hey, most people don't want to bother. But they would like to pay for what they want.

I'll go to Wal-Mart, buy bookshelves and put them together myself. I'd much rather have a store deliver the bookshelves and set them up, but I don't want to pay for it. If I were willing to pay for it, I wouldn't be going to Wal-Mart.

There are things that I'm willing to pay for so that they will be done right. The first bookshelf didn't turn out too well.

Re:You've been stung (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8397798)

Personally, I think Apple offers 'custom configurations' because some customers want it and it sort of looks stupid not to offer it. Apple goes out of it's way to insure that their prices on RAM and extra hard drives (about the only two items you can 'configure' your system with) are way out of line with what's available on the open market. The fact of the matter is that Apple's margins on these components are extremely low and the resources required to pull a machine off the shelf at the warehouse, have an employee put the components in, repackage the whole thing and ship it are not worth it for Apple.


I think Apple really wishes customers would simply go out (or online) and procure a bigger hard drive or more RAM themselves.....


I am sure that Apple has figured out how to ship do the "custom configurations" more efficiently than that. You, most likely, have to wait a little longer because they don't pull one off the shelve. They, probably, do the config at assembly. It cost next to nothing for them to do the custom config. I am sure that is what they do because that is what everyone else of any size in the industry does.

Apple charges such a high prive for memory and hard drives because people will pay it, and they do. Most people order the machine configured as they like. Most people are not going to upgrade a new machine. Geeks will do that, but not most other people or corporate customers.

I call BS (5, Interesting)

Hungus (585181) | more than 10 years ago | (#8395957)

I have certainly returned custom apple systems in the past and have not had any issue whatsoever with it. How long had you had it before trying to return it? Where is your court docket? You are way to lite on details for me to consider this anything but false at this point. Feel free to prove me wrong however.

Re:I call BS (5, Informative)

derek_i (35510) | more than 10 years ago | (#8396421)

I had a machine on delivery (ie. Apple had shipped it and I had not received it yet) and their customer service informed me that I could not return it since it was custom built (I ordered a 15" laptop with a SuperDrive which was considered a custom built machine). The reason I wanted to return it was in the meantime we went to the Apple store to purchase more notebooks for the company and I picked up a nicer one for myself. So in short, time was within one week of purchase, no delivery, no open box, over $6000 spent at the Apple store, big F U from Apple.

Don't get me wrong, I like Apple hardware and and OS X, but the company is focused on money, with consumers coming second (like most companies) and they are not your friend.

-D

Re:I call BS (1, Interesting)

OmniVector (569062) | more than 10 years ago | (#8397892)

when i ordered my 12" powerbook from apple i got a BTO. it came with a spanish keyboard and spanish software. it was known around my dorm as "el laptop"

i had 0 problems getting a full refund. (eventually bought it for even less through a friends and family discount).

Apple has horrible customer support - accept it (4, Interesting)

xtal (49134) | more than 10 years ago | (#8396745)

People have tried writing Steve Jobs, petitions, you name it. They do this all the time with notebooks. Their ram and HD upgrades are a ripoff anyway, I just add that stuff later. Apple won't take the machine back if there is a problem.

Worse, IMHO, is that there is no way to get Apple to send you a machine in the interim while yours is getting fixed. I make money with my hardware, and if I don't have a machine, that costs me a lot of money. So I have to have a backup machine just for that eventuality. Kinda stupid eh?

Hey Apple Executives, if you ever read anything here, FIX THIS BEFORE IT BITES YOU. This is one part of Apple that is really lacking, and coinidentally I'm sure, it's also one that Steve Jobs doesn't have a lot of personal expertise with.

I'm already paying a huge premium for Apple hardware. I would gladly pay a little more for the ability to get a hotswap done - Applecare does not offer this.

Will it change now? (1)

jakoz (696484) | more than 10 years ago | (#8395980)

I won't be suprised at all to be reading a week from now about a recent loser of a court case against Apple being suddenly compensated anyway.

They might have been bastards here, but normally they watch the publicity front, too.

Re:Will it change now? (1)

twiztidlojik (522383) | more than 10 years ago | (#8396026)

Yeah, I complained to Steve Jobs and I got stuff taken care of. I was the recipient of a free repair due to use, and it was right before my warranty ran out. Goooooo steve at mac dot com!

uh.... apple treats their employees bad eh? (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8396044)

What other company that anyone knows of throws a beer bash with live bands and free beer for its employees?

Apple treats their employees great. if you dissagree, your one of those "the grass is greener in the desert because the internet told me so" people.

Re:uh.... apple treats their employees bad eh? (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8396081)

What other company that anyone knows of throws a beer bash with live bands and free beer for its employees?

Serious questions: How much gay sex was involved? Was Father Pudge O'Day there? Also, now that the Bay Area is full of newly married homos, was the party somewhat more subdued, you know, since "free love" is no longer acceptable?

Your Daddy... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8397515)

How much gay sex was involved? Was Father Pudge O'Day there? Also, now that the Bay Area is full of newly married homos, was the party somewhat more subdued, you know, since "free love" is no longer acceptable?

I don't know, ask your parents... or better yet, your minister... Hell why don't you just give it up, come to terms with your latent homosexual tendencies and be the ultimate 'switcher' that you know you are...

Re:uh.... apple treats their employees bad eh? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8396109)

What other company that anyone knows of throws a beer bash with live bands and free beer for its employees? Apple treats their employees great. if you dissagree, your one of those "the grass is greener in the desert because the internet told me so" people.

The problem with Mac fanboys is they are so obsessed with Apple they forget that they don't work for them.

Re:uh.... apple treats their employees bad eh? (2, Interesting)

romulet (756728) | more than 10 years ago | (#8396697)

apple here employs asembly line workers through an agentcy. The agency fee is deducted in an hourly rate through the employee's hourly wage for the complete duration of the employment.As a result the employee gets under the national minimum wage which is 7.35 euro's .I am in ireland. I know this as i was going to work there for the summer.

Re:uh.... apple treats their employees bad eh? (0)

DoctorScooby (669432) | more than 10 years ago | (#8397528)

Microsoft does, idiot. So does Oracle, and I've heard about some good parties at Sun. But I've definitely been at the Microsoft parties (Remember the Win95 bash with Pearl Jam, biggest band in the world at the time?) I hear you can hire Barenaked Ladies or REM or Pearl Jam etc. for between 25-75 grand for a one night show. Colleges hire big bands for their parties all the time, why not someone with 10,000x the resources?

Maybe that's why Apple's markups are so high and their profits are so low after expenses. Too many parties (when all the employees want to do is go home and go to bed after a 65 hour workweek anyway).

Dell (2, Informative)

martin (1336) | more than 10 years ago | (#8396097)

they do the same.

you WILL have the machine we sent...

--
martin

Re:Dell (1)

phlyingpenguin (466669) | more than 10 years ago | (#8396387)

You sure about that? I'm pretty sure they have a Total Satisfaction policy that says you can return anything within 30 days. This has maybe three loopholes that they give less time for you to return with.

Read: "Total Satisfaction" Return Policy (U.S. Only) [dell.com]

Re:Dell (1)

martin (1336) | more than 10 years ago | (#8396634)

interesting part there - US only!

Of course the original article is US based so I guess it's OK for you guys.

I wonder why the guy tried to return the Mac anyway, he doesn't state does he??

Re:Dell (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8397521)

Not true. Especially because virtually 100% of Dell machines are custom configured.

If you want to buy someone else's custom Dell that was returned, try the Dell Outlet [dell.com]. Big savings.

it's always been this way (0, Offtopic)

kfs27 (261031) | more than 10 years ago | (#8396173)

BTO machines have never been able to be returned.

this is cuz all the other machines are sold thru distributors. not directly by apple. so they don'thave to deal with the returns or anything. it's all someone elses hands.

Details (5, Interesting)

Compulawyer (318018) | more than 10 years ago | (#8396213)

You leave out a number of basic facts that make it impossible to comment intelligently on your posting. I'd like to know:
  • What country/state are you in?
  • WHY were you trying to return the computer? Was it defective or did you just not want it after you got it?
  • How long did you have the computer before you asked Apple to accept a return? For that matter, DID you ask Apple to accept a return or did you just file suit?
  • If you did ask Apple to accept a return, how far did you escalate the matter? Did you stop at the first person who told you "no" or did you ask for that person's supervisor?
If I was representing you in this matter, these are just the first of the questions I would be asking you, for two reasons: First, it is information that establishes whether you have a case. Second, they are the first questions the OTHER SIDE will ask you.

Re:Details (1)

yet another coward (510) | more than 10 years ago | (#8396514)

One problem is that there is little way to judge exactly how suitable a computer will be for ones needs other than using it. A computer constitutes a major expenditure for many people. Apple is selling some people products that do not meet their needs and then forcing them to keep them. There is no good way to evaluate whether different configurations meet customer needs.

Can I 'evaluate' a Ferrari for the weekend... (2, Funny)

ErnstKompressor (193799) | more than 10 years ago | (#8397309)

I can give a Credit Card for the down-- seeing as my CC Co. allows returns -- I got a big date this weekend and I'd like to 'impress' -- sure the car does not "meet my needs and I don't want to be forced to keep it" -- but it is so schweet... and I'm a lazy bastard who can't be bothered to go down to the Ferrari dealership and test drive the thing to realize it is not the right car for me...

Re:Can I 'evaluate' a Ferrari for the weekend... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8397819)

Test drives do not let drivers know exactly how a car performs. For instance, what if you find out that the car performs terribly in the rain? What if the car dealership is in a flat area, and it only becomes evident later that the car cannot climb well or that it cannot brake sufficiently on inclines. Of course, you forgot to think of that.

Re:Details (2, Interesting)

Compulawyer (318018) | more than 10 years ago | (#8397383)

But there ARE good ways to evaluate suitability - specifications are one. Recommendations by a salesperson are others. In fact, if a salesperson recommends a specific product based upon his knowledge of a customer's needs, an implied warranty of fitness for a particular purpose arises as a matter of law when the sale is made. If the recommended product does not do what the customer said he needed the product to do, the implied warranty is breached and the seller is liable to the customer for the customer's damages. This usually means accepting the return of the product and/or having to pay the difference in price between what the seller sold and a comparable product that actually does what the buyer needs.

Re:Details (1)

yet another coward (510) | more than 10 years ago | (#8397889)

There is one was to evaluate the suitability of a product that exceeds all others in accuracy and satisfaction, using it and finding out. Specifications and recommendations are useful, but they are flawed. There is a terrible implicit assumption about the information available in your ideas. It is in a company's interest to inflate specifications and recommendations. Legal recourse in the event of insufficient performance provides some protection, true, but it is a poor substitute for direct evaluation.

Wait, wait, wait (4, Insightful)

TheAJofOZ (215260) | more than 10 years ago | (#8396225)

I must be missing something here. You bought a new computer, paid for the computer, took delivery of the computer, then later changed your mind and decided you don't want the computer. Why on earth would you expect them to give you your money back?

If the computer was damaged or malfunctioning, Apple have a warranty program that covers that, they'll repair or replace the computer at no charge to you. They even pay for the shipping.

Come on people, this isn't an abuse of consumer rights, it's an abuse of the court system because some guy couldn't make up his mind about what he wanted.

Re:Wait, wait, wait (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8396255)

Damn right. These are the same kind of guys who go to Fry's and buy a computer part with the motive of returning it. That's why Fry's has such a bad reputation with selling used goods. If consumers would put some thought into their purchases and quit buying things frivolously, maybe the retail experience would be less stressful.

Re:Wait, wait, wait (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8396556)

This is not an abuse of consumer right.
It is part of consumer's right.

Every other retail store (Frys, bestbuy, dell, cdw) all would take the computer back if it's less then 15 days. Most do not have restocking fee.

This is the industry standard practise. (at least in US.)

Re:Wait, wait, wait (4, Informative)

lfourrier (209630) | more than 10 years ago | (#8396581)

Wait still...

Depends of the country.

If customer is in France, and is not professionnal, and it is commerce at distance () sorry, don't know exact translation), he has 7 days to say : "In fact, I don't like it".
He then return it, and the provider must reimburse everything except postage.

It is not a matter of custom config, it is a matter of law, when the consumer cannot see the product he is buying.

And the fact that US consumers are not protected this way is quite frightening.

By the way, this (quite old) legislation does not seems to impose an undue burden on french corporations, because they continue to sell at distance... So you can have high customer protection and working economy at the same time.

Re:Wait, wait, wait (1)

Lars T. (470328) | more than 10 years ago | (#8396914)

But Apple does take back computers if you decide you don't want them - when they are in standard configuration. Can someone in France order a pink Ferrari and then decide he didn't actually want a pink Ferrari?

Re:Wait, wait, wait (1)

jhoffoss (73895) | more than 10 years ago | (#8397029)

Painting a car pink is several orders of magnitude more difficult and expensive than adding a RAM DIMM.

There is nothing you can "customize" on a computer that can't be removed an two minutes.

Re:Wait, wait, wait (1, Troll)

alienw (585907) | more than 10 years ago | (#8397231)

That's not what Apple's "custom configuration" is. Selecting which hard drive you want is not a custom configuration, it's just an option. Selecting power windows on a Honda does not make it a custom car.

Now, if you called Apple up and told them to paint your computer purple with yellow stripes, I can understand why they wouldn't want it back. But when you choose from a list of options, it does not make sense to call that a custom configuration.

Re:Wait, wait, wait (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8397139)

> And the fact that US consumers are not protected this way is quite frightening.

Consumer protection seems a bit stronger in the EU than in the US. The flipside is that most goods are more expensive.

Re:Wait, wait, wait (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8397516)

If customer is in France, and is not professionnal, and it is commerce at distance () sorry, don't know exact translation), he has 7 days to say : "In fact, I don't like it".

He then return it, and the provider must reimburse everything except postage.

It's the same in the UK, and the phrase you are looking for is probably "mail order" or "distance selling".

Not entirely true (2, Funny)

lxt (724570) | more than 10 years ago | (#8397539)

That's not entirely true - if the customer was to return the product damaged, the store can refuse to return it. ...just imagine a French guy walking into a pharmacist and saying "This condom wasn't to my satisfaction - I want to return it".

legal in europe (2, Informative)

Councilor Hart (673770) | more than 10 years ago | (#8396602)

I have bought computer components, installed them, removed them and brought them back.
The parts where fully functional, I just changed my mind and wanted an other part. It was -at the time - due to my limited knowledge about available software for the part. So I couldn't use it. The part I eventually bought was delivered with working software.
It was less than 7 days after purchase, so I got a full refund.
It's the law. A customer is allowed to change his mind, bring back the product and demand a refund. Within 7 days.
Then again, I live in europe and consumers have certain rights here.

Sorry, but... (2, Insightful)

CompVisGuy (587118) | more than 10 years ago | (#8396233)

Sorry that you came off worse in this instance, but...

1. If you didn't want the machine, why did you order it?

2. Maybe I'm misunderstanding you, but their definition of a 'custom configured computer built to the customer's specifications' seems perfectly reasonable to me.

3. It seems reasonable for Apple not to want to take back a machine that was built to your specification -- hopefully they made you aware of this at the time of buying, but since you went to court, I guess this isn't so. I assume the machine worked -- I'd be dissapointed if they didn't accept a returned faulty machine.

Re:Sorry, but... (2, Insightful)

arkanes (521690) | more than 10 years ago | (#8397671)

In my mind, selection from a list of pre-configured options does not constitute "custom".

Synopsis (5, Insightful)

Mononoke (88668) | more than 10 years ago | (#8396298)

I just got back from a small claims court proceeding...
They successfully won their argument in front of the court...
Am I the only one that thinks there is something terribly wrong...
No. I think it's "terribly wrong" to come out in public (especially this public) and tell us half the story just for the sympathy.

Got any other anecdotes we can use to bash "The Man" who still seems to just "keep us down?"

Wahhhhh..... (0, Offtopic)

z-kungfu (255628) | more than 10 years ago | (#8396464)

I bought a computer I don't want, I want my money back. I'll take you to court. Wahhhhhhh....

What are you 5? The ambigious nature of the info you gave us does not make me feel sorry for you at all. In fact it makes you look like a crybaby. Oh well. So how do you like your mac? I love mine....

Informative Salesperson (2, Informative)

gwbuhl (462020) | more than 10 years ago | (#8396489)

When I recently bought a Powerbook from my University's Computer Store, the sales person probably told me about three times, that since I was customizing the computer I couldn't return it. This was fine with me, since I knew what I wanted, but it was good of him to be that explicit about the return policy.

I haven't bought a computer from Apple's website, so I don't know how clear they are about the return policy. Whether or not you thin this is a good policy or not, this is an example of "caveat emptor". If your dropping big buck on a piece of hardware, you should probably read all that fine print.

It's not a great policy to have the default be no returns. It would be a more consumer friendly to reserve the right not to accept a return. Maybe this is how it's worded.

No its not wrong (5, Informative)

Jeff Kelly (309129) | more than 10 years ago | (#8396546)

In germany, where i live, we have something called the "Fernabsatzgesetz" regarding purchases made by phone or internet.

The argument goes something like this: Since you have no way of testing the product before you buy it (since you ordered it through the internet) the law grants you the right to return the product within 14 days of your purchase without giving reasons why you'd returned it provided two conditions hold:

1. The product was not damaged by you since you opened it

and

2. The product was not costum built for you.

If either one of these conditions doesn't hold you will have to keep it. A product is custom built if it deviates from the basic or standard product in a way which cannot be undone. So simple upgrades like more memory or a better graphics-adapter don't count as custom built since theses modification can be undone by the vendor.

A personal engraving for your iPod on the other hand would count as custom built.

Of course since in your case it is not a law but only company policy you have to stick to their rules and Apple clearly states that any upgrade counts as custom built and makes the item exempt from the return policy.

So no it's not terrible wrong. Just because you were to lazy to read the terms of service doesn't make the apple bad.

Regards

Jeff

Re:No its not wrong (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8396616)

Interesting, interesting. I had a recent dispute with a German website. I bought a ton of scheisse porn from them. When I received it in the mail, it was in fact not scheisse, rather it was endless loops of the goatse.cx flash video [goat.cx]. I wonder if this "Fernabsatzgesetz" would apply to me?

Good! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8396555)

I guess Apple too is tired of retarded kids who order stuff for fun and then return it as they can't pay for it. Buying things is NOT a game. If you want to do funky purchases, try playing The Sims Goes Shopping.

Going to court was dumb too, their policy is stated very clearly on their website.

Disincentives (1, Redundant)

Morky (577776) | more than 10 years ago | (#8396574)

As if Apple's obscene prices for RAM weren't enough to make one avoid changing the base configuration.

Hmm. (0, Redundant)

MImeKillEr (445828) | more than 10 years ago | (#8396667)

If Apple has such a restrictive policy, maybe someone should inform them that having such a policy is likely to drive down their customer base. Not that they'll care until they actually *see* it.

I mean, if HP and IBM aren't so hell-bent on this, then wouldn't it be safe to assume that they're going to pick up some business?

Here's what everyone with a contract with Apple should do: Call up your rep, spec-out a "custom" system and then ask about the return policy. When they fess up and say that you can't, politely tell them you'll be calling HP or IBM and switching. The more that do this, the higher the probabiliy that they'll take notice.

Problem solved.

Re:Hmm. (1)

geoffspear (692508) | more than 10 years ago | (#8397864)

Also, I would recommend going to a big electronics store the day before the super bowl, and asking them if you buy a big screen TV and don't like it, if you can return it on Monday. Then threaten to screw over, errr... patronize, their competitors, instead.

Re:Hmm. (1)

MImeKillEr (445828) | more than 10 years ago | (#8398008)

Apples to oranges.

You're not buying a 'custom' TV 'built to customer specifications'.

Honestly, there's nothing stopping someone from doing this. Unless the store policy is exchange only and not returning outright.

add memory and disk is not CTO (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8396670)

If you go to apple's web store, they have preconfigured machine (memory and disk drives can be configured)and CTO ( when you want super fast video card , etc. with a special blue logo on the web page )config.

Depends on which product config you select,it should determine whether this is a custom config or not.

However, customer satisfaction is important. they should make customer happy even if they want to return something.

I once bought a used Powermac g4 dual from CDW. At the end,I change my mind and did not want it.

I called Macwarehouse (nowCDW)and say, hey,can I cancel the order?

They told me ...it's already in the system and on it's way. Just decline the order when the shipment arrives.

I did and I did not get charged. Since then, I bought shit load of stuff from Macwarehouse just because I have good experience with them.

I've long since thought that policy was a bit stri (1)

mrmez (585359) | more than 10 years ago | (#8396710)

however - it's a policy I've long since known about. It isn't secret but rather openly declared when you ordered the product. I can understand the policy to a certain extent; and after all, if you're bothering to custom configure the thing then you're obviously aware of what you're buying to such an extent that you shouldn't want to return it unless it's malfunctioning - in which case their warranty should cover repair/replacement.

Make your purchase through a third party (3, Informative)

Chase (8036) | more than 10 years ago | (#8396712)

Here is an idea for the future. Buy from a middle party that you can get better service from. I have used PCConnection for years, personally and on a corporate level. I have never had a problem returning custom configured equipment to them. Half the buying we did were Apple systems.

Not always black and white (1, Insightful)

robballan (192606) | more than 10 years ago | (#8396762)

I have probably bought more than 200 hundred Macintoshes over the last 15+ years, direct from stores, from Apple, and from distributors, many for personal use, some part of business projects. In nearly every case, it was either explicitly or implicitly understood that "modifications" to the stock machine (modem cards, video cards, RAM, drives, etc.) were my responsibility; most of the time, it was clear that warranty issues were my headache with the manufacturer, and the seller was not going to handle them, let alone returns.

Apple's customizing, with warranty support, is a blessing for those who don't want to or know how to open the box and insert cards, etc.

As far as returns: in my experience, returning unwanted (as opposed to defective) components or machines can usually be done, regardless of the policy, if you handle the request diplomatically and demonstrate that you are a good and longstanding customer. I doubt small claims court accomplishes that.

Maybe I'm Confused..... (2, Informative)

RegalBegal (742288) | more than 10 years ago | (#8397011)

but if they have a notice posted doesn't that make you SOL?

Granted, yes it's a rather ridiculous policy. But, if you look at a definition of custom built their system falls under it. Also there IS that notice explaining their policies.

Buyers need to use sense. Especially tech buyers. It's not much tougher than that.

sounds familiar (1)

kudsak (728665) | more than 10 years ago | (#8397030)

When I ordered my Ti Powerbook a few years ago, I had some additional RAM and a larger HD installed. When I opened the computer, I found that my new computer had three dead up pixels. The first thing I tried to do was to return the computer of course. The way I see it, people order vehicles with custom options and can expect to get a working product. Why can't a user? Customizations are fairly common. It's not like 100s of PBs with extra HD space and RAM weren't made just like mine that week. My computer could be easily resold as a refurbished unit. Needless to say, I spent the next year fighting Apple with Visa's help. I withheld payment on the grounds of a defective product. I ended up getting $200 from Apple, just to make me feel better.

You're right. (1)

j-turkey (187775) | more than 10 years ago | (#8397125)

Am I the only one that thinks there is something terribly wrong with a policy like this?

I think there is something wrong with a policy like this. It's a technicality, and a bullshit one at that.

I called both IBM and HP, and neither of those companies has such a policy. Any opinions? Suggestions? Comments? Whatever?

Yeah, I have a few suggestions/comments/whatever...if you can't live with their policies:

  • Caveat emptor.
  • Don't buy an Apple.
  • Buy an IBM.
  • Buy an HP.
I guess these suggestions look a little harsh, which was not my intention, but at this point you're probably better off cutting your losses and moving on.

Nice work on smearing Apple's name in public to get what you feel is yours though. You may have done well to ensure that they've lost whatever revenue they've saved with their policy. Hey -- it worked (on a different level) for those iPod battery applesdirtysecret guys, right?

Small claims? (2, Interesting)

Anixamander (448308) | more than 10 years ago | (#8397296)

What juridiction is this guy in? In my state, small claims court does not allow attorneys. You can still go to civil court for similar amounts and use an attorney, but not small claims. I can't imagine Apple going to court without an attorney. The usual tactic for big companies is to get the case moved to circuit court. This involves months of waiting to get on the docket and can be quite expensive. This story, if true, would be very odd.

Uhmm I fail to see the big deal (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8397556)

He purchased a computer, bought some other parts from somewhere else, installed them and wants to return the computer and these extra parts to Apple.

Why should you be able to do that? Notice the "off of their website" part? duhh.
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