Wednesday, October 22, 2014

When feet and arms don't cost an arm and leg

Two years ago, when I was living in Baton Rouge, one of the feet on my laptop broke off. When I took it to the Apple Store, they told me the only way to fix it would be to replace the entire bottom panel. They were adamant that the feet weren't a standalone item. That prompted me to make this graphic:


Not long after, a second nub broke off. Being uninterested in dropping $87 for the privilege of fixing it (and having since acquired a ventilation support stand), I left it half-footed for the next two years. 

Fast-forward to last month. I brought my laptop to the Reno Apple Store to get a long-overdue new battery. The Genius Bar guy asked me if I wanted two new rubber feet while I was at it. He could just pop them on after putting in the battery, though they'd cost $10 extra. 

How I managed to say yes with my jaw dropped, I don't recall.

I don't know if enough people complained to Apple, or if the previous technician didn't know his stuff and/or assumed I didn't know mine, but I was glad that something I considered a lost cause had worked in my favor.

I was reminded of this yesterday as I set out to replace my rear windshield wiper. It's a custom item on my car that, for years, you had to buy as a complete piece from the dealership for $78. I got around this too-frequent expense by buying a wiper refill, cutting it to its nonstandard size and slipping it into the supposedly unrefillable arm. Apparently enough people did the same, so now you can buy the perfectly sized rubber refill from the dealership for $11 (and probably much cheaper elsewhere). I fixed it in minutes.

Both of these minor annoyances were once major expenses, and now they aren't. I like to think that these companies reached the limit of what customers would tolerate, and acted accordingly. Or that in being thrifty, I avoided a grift until it was a grift no longer.

Either way, it's the small victories that often get me through the day.

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