I posted previously that my 2-year-old, lightly-used Mac Mini seemed to have a dead hard drive. In comments, my brother-in-law suggested I "take advantage of the customer support Apple is known for." I packed up an ailing iBook and my Mini and my husband took them to the Shibuya Apple store for a consultation.
The iBook is an old dual USB 500 mhz G3. Some of the keys on the keyboard don't work and the fragile delete key fell off (though I still have the key, it just needs to be reattached). Also, there seems to be a slightly faulty connection with the display. The screen dims and you have to squeeze the area in front of the left side of the keyboard to get it to return to full brightness. Since the keyboard only has issues with random keys (1, 5, 9, Q, return, etc.) and not an overall problem, it seems like the whole thing isn't dead and the display issue is clearly a loose connection problem if a squeeze can fix it.
The geniuses told us that it'll cost 20,000 yen (about $190) to fix the keyboard and 45,000 yen to fix both the keyboard and the display issue. Considering better iBooks than mine are going for about $150-$200 on eBay, I passed on this offer.
The ultra clever geniuses wouldn't guarantee that my problem with my Mac Mini was a failed hard drive but they offered to fix it for 40,000 yen (about $380). Considering a new Mini which is far better than mine would be $600, I passed on this as well.
I'm utterly disgusted by the inflated costs of these repairs. I know for a fact that I wouldn't pay this much if I went outside of Apple's repair service for a fix. I also know that I can buy a replacement hard drive of the exact same make and size as the one currently in my Mini (and from the same manufacturer) from Other World Computing for $100 (including shipping) and put it in the Mini myself in about a half hour. I don't know where Apple buys their drives nor how much the geniuses make but they'd have to make $400 an hour and pay twice as much as the going rate to justify a 40,000 yen price tag for the hard drive fix.
Apple either overcharges on an extended warranty (3 years instead of the miserly 90 days of the initial warranty) or gouges sufficiently on repairs that you will consider buying a new computer rather than keeping your old one. Either way, the customer is going to lose out by forking over $170-$350 on the extended warranty up front, by paying exorbitant repair fees, or tossing their old machine out the window in favor of a new one.
This trip brought home that what Apple is known for is higher prices than others offering similar services and products. I'm beginning to feel increasingly that there aren't enough options out their for computer purchases as I'm fed up with Apple and I don't want to use Vista.