Saturday, February 18, 2006

Adventures with iPods

The other day Dawn informed me that she and Megan were going to go to get their iPods fixed, and did I by any chance want to come along. Apparently the new iPod Shuffle software is bad and ruins the device (how something like this could get out of beta, I can’t imagine, but Dawn said that after it happened to her, she found numerous reports of other people’s problems with it), and Megan’s iPod developed a mystery problem after she tried to add music to it from Alex’s computer (since she has no computer of her own to store music on).
My initial reaction was that I was happily sitting on the couch working and had no plan to go anywhere but the library. Still, I have been perturbed that when I take my iPod to Brno, it starts to show a low battery along the way. These batteries are supposed to last for something like twelve hours of use, not act weak after two. After Dawn pointed out that I should be able to have this dealt with free since the thing is still under warranty, I decided to go along and see how things went. After all, I have only a month or two left on my warranty and won’t be back in the US during that time. I don’t even use the iPod that much, or at least certainly not using the battery. I usually play it with speakers.
The service center proved to be just a few stops south of where I live. It was not specifically an Apple service center, but dealt with various brands.
I think the staff was somewhat surprised to see three women arrive simultaneously. Dawn immediately apprised them of her problem, since her spoken Czech is the best and my problem is pretty minor anyway. She did say the iPod was dead, which reminded me that Věra had told me firmly that in Czech one should not really say this of inanimate objects. (One of the seemingly few instances of an English idiom that isn’t the same in Czech; I am always amazed how frequently the two languages match up. Linguists, of course, will be able to provide a long list of idioms that are not at all the same.)
To make an unpleasantly long story short, we learned that in the Czech Republic you should not bring in anything for service without the receipt for its purchase. It does not matter if you have registered the item online with the company and can show that your identity and its serial number are legally joined, you have to show a receipt.
Well, Dawn had bought her iPod in Berlin, Megan and I had gotten ours in the US, and all three of us had stored our receipts in the US.
The employees assured Dawn that while she could take her iPod in for service in Germany or Austria without a receipt, it could not be done here. (Megan and I, meanwhile, had retreated to a couch by the window and given up the idea that we would get anywhere with this project.) Dawn attempted to persuade them that this made no sense when her iPod is registered under her name with Apple, but it was no use. Not surprisingly, she was furious. I will refrain from repeating her opinions about Czech business practices and about Apple.
Personally, I have not found that Czech business practices and employees are any worse than those in the US. I agree it is stupid to require a receipt for an object registered with its manufacturer, but my experience in the US has led me to have low expectations of customer service anywhere in the world. In general, my experience has been that it is unwise to take anything in unless it has really conked out (like Dawn’s and Megan’s iPods) and that when that happens (which is usually just after the warranty period ends, or the extended warranty if one of those has been bought), the technician tells you that a) nothing can be done; b) it will have to be shipped far away at my expense; c) it will cost more to fix than to buy a new one.
But… while I don’t know what Dawn and Megan will do, I am glad that my iPod still works just fine and that I don’t normally need more than two or three hours of battery. Perhaps I should offer up a sacrifice to the gods so that it continues to work nicely the rest of the time I am in Europe.
Incidentally, I recommend for information about iPods and their use. One can read endlessly there about best methods for digitizing music and how to choose the best case, headphones, speakers, and so on.

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Blogger Kristen said...

I had the same experience here with my brand new powerbook battery that died on day 89 of the 90 day warranty. That was another $200 out the window since a battery was a necessary item. Joy...

February 18, 2006 9:17 PM  
Blogger Karla said...

Heckuva expensive battery.

Further research suggests that my battery problem is due to insufficient use of the battery. This seems very counterintuitive; as children we learn that batteries conk out from use, not that they need to be exercised like muscles. But I suppose there are a lot of different types of batteries these days.

On the more positive side, I have learned that while my camera will quickly go through 4 AA batteries in photographing a book or journal, if I let the batteries rest and cool off, they'll be good for a surprising amount of additional use before completely expiring.

February 19, 2006 3:14 PM  
Blogger amy7252 said...

Hi Karla - couldn't find your e-mail address, so I thought I'd just post a comment for you! Toyen is buried in Batignolles Cemetery in Paris, along with Hessler, Breton, and Péret. I'll go up there some time this week and get photos. In the meantime, there is no entry for Toyen at, so if you can provide bibliographical information, that would be a big help! I'll be glad to get a page up and running (or, you can set up an account for free and create the page, and I'll add the photos.)

February 19, 2006 5:23 PM  
Blogger Karla said...

Hi Amy,
Thanks, that would be great. I didn't find Toyen on either. I'll look for your email address or get it from Jesse and we can go from there.

February 19, 2006 9:25 PM  

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