SANDY BERGER: Insuring Your Digital Devices Makes Sense
Too many technology stories are sad tales of aggravation and obsolescence. So today I'm going to tell you a story about a digital device with a happy ending.
About two years ago, I decided to purchase an iPod. After shopping around, I found that the iPod nano was selling for $149 just about everywhere. However, the Sam's Club in Cary had it for $138.77. So why pay more?
When I made the Sam's Club purchase, the store clerk offered me a service policy, which I immediately rejected. When he asked why I wasn't interested, I told him that I had learned from past experience that most of these insurance policies were a waste of money because they were expensive and didn't cover the problems that I might actually have with the item. He assured me that this policy was different.
For just $14.88, I could get a three-year policy that gave me a new iPod for most anything that went wrong with my iPod, including a battery that ran out of juice. My husband suggested that since I am a heavy-duty iPod user, I should go ahead and purchase the policy.
Since I use my iPod in the car and at home in a dock every day, I was fairly sure that the iPod battery would give out before the three-year deadline, so it seemed like a logical move. I purchased the policy. Yet all the time I was wondering if the clerk was just a good salesman or the policy was really that good.
Last month, I found an answer to that question. My iPod started acting weirdly. It was completely freezing up. No matter what button I pressed, it gave no response.
Although I had encountered problems like this with computers, I was surprised to find my iPod acting just like a Windows computer. In computer world we call it the blue screen of death. I don't know if it has a name on the iPod, but it turned out to be a similar type of aggravation.
At first it didn't seem like much of a problem because Apple had a solution. Just turn the Hold button on and off a few times, then press and hold the Menu button and the center of the scroll wheel at the same time. Hold them down for about 10 seconds until the Apple icon appears on the screen.
This worked great, restoring the iPod immediately, without losing any of my audio programs and music. Unfortunately, the freezes became more and more frequent. I was having to perform this reset four or five times a day so it became a real pain.
It was time to go back to Sam's Club, but I agonized over that. How could I show them the problem since it happened only sporadically?
My discomfort turned to glee when the Sam's Club clerk didn't even try to duplicate the problem. She asked me for my receipt, and the earbuds and charging cord that came with the iPod. Once I produced those, she promptly refunded the price of the iPod, plus the price of the insurance policy. I could have just kept the refund, but instead I headed over to the electronic aisle to pick out a replacement.
My old model iPod was no longer available, but I was also pleasantly surprised to find that the new models were selling for exactly the same price I had paid for the older model. On top of that, the new iPod nanos had twice as much memory, larger screens and the ability to play videos. This was turning out to be really good! For exactly the same price, I was able to purchase a new, more capable iPod with a new three-year insurance policy.
Talk about a happy ending -- I am now enjoying watching video podcasts on my new iPod in addition to using it for audio podcasts and music. If anything happens to it in the next three years, I can get another replacement. While I don't usually purchase insurance policies for digital equipment, this one turned out to be a real winner.
Sandy Berger welcomes all of your questions and comments on today's column. Please post them on the Compu-Kiss Message Board at www.compukiss.com/happy computing.
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