Over the summer, the hillbilly sold his Canadian trailer to a pair of lovely ladies who I will assume are sisters even though they look nothing alike. A goodly pile o’ the proceeds has been put to good use but I shan’t elaborate.
A nice little chunk of it has been reserved to upgrade the computers in the homestead. And for no other reason than "because I want to see what the hubbub is about", I’m looking seriously at Macs. (Actually, that’s not true. I do plan to spend hours playing with Photo Booth.)
To qualify that rationale, I will point out that my experience with Dell over the years has been good, bordering on excellent. I’ve had my share of Dells over the years and have ordered two at least bi-annually for a regular client.
I won’t lie by saying they’ve all worked flawlessly but, and here’s the important part, Dell has been efficient at fixing the mistakes. And I mean crazy efficient. The client travels ten months out of the year and is not always in the most convenient location when things go wrong. But Dell has shipped replacement parts to countries I can’t even pronounce or spell under some pretty stringent deadlines. Plus they have done warranty work here in the Bahamas on at least three occasions, which is a feat in itself. Compare that to my experience with Sony which was a lot more frustrating than that link lets on.
Two nights ago, I ordered a replacement Inspiron for my wife through her company. Total elapsed time was about fifteen minutes. Dell ships direct to the Bahamas and calculates shipping, stamp tax, and duty accordingly. (There’s no duty on laptops but there is on parts.) Like most international companies, their website experience still isn’t quite up to par if you live in the Caribbean (for some inexplicable reason, the Bahamas is considered part of Latin America) but it’s better than most.
But just the same, I want to give a Mac a shot.
Today, I finally started looking into logistics for getting an iMac out here. I started with the local computer store because I prefer to buy locally when I can. As luck would have it, they are an authorized Apple reseller. After a few minutes on the phone, the salesman came back with a price of just over $3550. Same computer on apple.com: $2318. To put that into perspective, I could fly to Florida, stay overnight in a nice hotel, buy my computer, and fly back for cheaper. That doesn’t take into account the savings I’d get on peripherals, like a 1Tb Time Capsule, which the local company wants over $900 for. (To counter the servicing argument, the local company does provide service for Apple. And Dell. We’ve used them. They’re actually pretty good.)
Next stop: apple.com. That was an easy one. They are very clearly not set up to ship to the Bahamas.
Third option was to phone Apple directly, which was entertaining. Trista was very sweet and perky until I asked "Is it possible to order a laptop and have it shipped to the Bahamas?" At that point, she got, let’s say, "nervous". Actually, let’s say, "jittery". Actually, it was downright frightened, like Steve Jobs himself was hovering over her shouldering saying, "You export that MacBook and I’m implanting a device into your body that will give you and the next three generations of your family permanent halitosis. And you know I can do it."
Seriously, she went from "Perky Saleslady With 43 Pieces of Flair" to "Let me get out the CSR Manual of Canned Responses and read directly from the page on dealing with potential smugglers".
A couple of weeks ago Scott Reynolds posited that Apple isn’t ready for corporate adoption. Based on this experience, I don’t believe they are ready for internationalhood. And I’ll qualify that by saying at least not at the same level as Dell. I know you can get MacBooks at any local convenience store in Canada and the UK. But Dell makes it almost as easy to do the same in our rather under-populated neck of the woods.
And I don’t necessarily begrudge Apple based on this one experience. The reality is, the Bahamas is a country of 300,000 people. It may not make financial sense to deal with customs and import duties and stamp taxes and bribing government officials in order to reach out to the people. Better to leave it to local retailers who have a better sense of the demand.
But don’t equate an open mind to giving them a free pass. So far, they fit snugly into "mediocre" territory when it comes to the buying experience, and I’m still very early in the process. The only reason I tolerate it is because they aren’t the only offenders by any stretch. I’m calling them out specifically because: a) I work with computers, and b) I expected more from them.
Kyle the Un-macced