Take Zappos, for instance. Their customer service is famously good. I've experienced it firsthand, and it left me feeling like Zappos cared about me as a customer and treated me like a respected adult.
Apple, on the other hand, takes what I like to call the "rich idiot baby" approach to their customers. The operating system is designed from the ground up with kid gloves - e.g., why would you ever need to know where on your hard drive a file is actually located? Leave that to Dad to worry about. But for the most part it's still a usable OS, and since I do some iOS development, I decided that "the real thing" was the way to go.
Inevitably, sooner or later, something goes wrong. In my case, my laptop was probably defective from the moment I carried it out of the store, but I never knew until recently when I got a new monitor. The problem seems to be in the Thunderbolt chip or port itself. When connected to a Thunderbolt display, the display flickers black every minute or so for a split second. You can imagine this being quite annoying, especially given the price of the display. I made sure my software was all up to date, then brought the monitor back in for testing, and sure enough, I'm told the monitor is fine. Great.
Thus begins the yak shaving adventure of trying to fix something on a Mac. Since Apple thinks you are a rich idiot baby, the goal, of course, is to make it as hard as possible to actually diagnose and fix your problem. A bunch of Googling leads me to discover that there is an "Apple Hardware Test" included in the OS. I'm told that it's not very intensive, but will rule out obvious things. I figure it can't hurt, so I follow the instructions to run it (just hold "D" during boot). And ... nothing. Supposedly, it will boot from the Internet "if it's not included in your copy of Lion" (why wouldn't it be??), but instead, my system refuses to enter AHT. Perhaps it's cause I'm out of the United States, or perhaps their support site is out of date. Regardless, no hardware test for me.
No worries, I think. It sounded like a lame test suite anyway. Some more Googling leads me to something called the Apple Service Diagnostic suite. This sounds like what I want. It's an intensive series of hardware tests for diagnosing problems with your Mac. Someone on a forum mentions it's not free, but whatever, I'm willing to pay the $19.99 or whatever it costs on the App Store in order to finally have some real diagnostic tools for my Mac. I find a link to the actual suite on the Apple site, excited that I'm about to get some answers, when the price hits me in the face like a rabid madman swinging wildly with an iPad:
What. The. Fuck. Apple wants to be so absolutely sure that you will need to bring in your Mac for service that they make their diagnostic suite nearly completely inaccessible for consumers. That is how they view their customers - they're not just babies who need everything to be super easy and safe so they don't mess anything up, but they're also idiots who can't think for themselves, and have an unlimited credit card in case they want to solve a problem the Apple way: by buying a new system. I try to get an actual support rep to help me run the lame-ass AHT suite that wouldn't actually start up before, but that would cost $49 for a "single incident" tech support call. Forget it.
The saddest part of all this is that despite still being under hardware warranty, I've probably voided it by upgrading to 16GB of third-party RAM, since having Apple upgrade it at purchase would have cost about six times as much (literally). Sigh. Next time, I think I might go Samsung, simply because I find their "you can't copyright a rectangle" IP defense ballsy and hilarious.