Undercover iPod: Part I


Undercover at CompUSA: Sneaky bastards us Mac users are. The names of the participants have been changed to protect the guilty.

The Problem
A 90 day warranty and a dead iPod. Bullsh*t. Mr. White’s iPod craped out well after the 90 days and he has no Technology Assurance Program (TAP) for Mass Storage Devices from CompUSA. He can’t take his iPod in because they need to see a working model. What will Mr. White do? For more information on what a TAP is and how it works, visit the iLounge forum topic, “Warranty Options”.

The Solution
An undercover operation to deceive upper management at a local CompUSA was put into motion on May 1st, 2002 in an attempt to obtain a TAP for a dead iPod. Mr. White sent an encrypted e-mail to Mr. Pink, a crosscountry business partner, which contained the serial number to the dead iPod. With this information, Mr. Pink would attempt to manipulate the truth to save his friend hundreds of dollars in replacement costs.

CompUSA has no written policy on what is required to obtain a TAP for an iPod. Some stores have reportedly only requested a receipt, with no request of the iPod to assure that it is in working order. Others have requested to see the working device along with the receipt and social security number and original box and mother’s maiden name and…well…you get the idea. Unfortunately, the CompUSA that Mr. Pink visited required a visual confirmation of a working iPod.

Armed with Mr. White’s serial number, Mr. Pink walked into the CompUSA. After speaking with several employees he was taken to the customer service desk where he was finally helped. The employee asked Mr. Pink, “How may I help you sir?” Mr. Pink replied, “I would like to purchase a TAP for my iPod. I have the serial number here with me”. “Do you have a receipt for your iPod?” The employee questioned. A cold breeze swept through the front of the store. “I don’t have the receipt, but I do have the serial number, and if you need it, I have the iPod in my car.” Damn. The first obstacle had been confronted. If the employee knew how to use the iPod, he could see that the serial number of the iPod and the serial number that Mr. Pink originally provided did not match.

“I’m going to need to see your iPod sir. We need to make sure that it works properly before we’re able to give you the TAP. Darn devices cost over $400, we need to make sure it works before we give these TAP’s out. You understand.” And understand Mr. Pink did. “Hold on, let me go to my car and get it.”

After reentering the store, Mr. Pink’s heart was thumping in his throat and beads of sweat began to form on his forehead from fear of being caught. The CompUSA employee fondled the iPod with his greasy fingers. He was searching, and Mr. Pink knew it. After several minutes passed, Mr. Pink knew he would have to do some quick thinking. The employee set the iPod down near the piece of paper that had Mr. White’s serial number on it and began to compare. The first letter matched up, as did the second, and the third.

“Sir, there seems to be a discrepancy between the serial number you have and the one that appears on the iPod.” Mr. Pink’s heart raced as he scrambled for a response. “Well, this is the serial number that appeared on the receipt they gave me with the iPod. You know what? My father has an iPod also, and I bet I have his receipt and he has mine.” Quick thinking. But had Mr. Pink simply dug himself into a deeper hole?

“Let me go talk to my manager for a second. I’ll be right back.” As the employee walked away Mr. Pink figured he was in for it. How was he going to dig himself out of this mess? He glanced over at the manager, and the manager gave him a glare right back. “Well, sir, it would probably be best if we gave you the TAP for the serial number that appears on the working iPod.” This was no good, because Mr. Pink already had a TAP for his iPod, and he needed it for Mr. White’s. “You see,” Mr. Pink calmly responded, “my father already has a TAP for his iPod, and I bet he accidentally used my serial number because I have all my information with me here in Anytown and he lives in Anycity. So it would probably be best if we got it for the serial number I have written down and NOT the one on the iPod.” There was a silent pause as the employee thought to himself.

“Why don’t we go ahead and do that. It will take forever to check the database and see if this serial number has already been registered, and frankly, I don’t think you or I really want to spend the time checking” he said with a smile. Success! Mr. Pink was overwhelmed with a sense of victory. The little guy had defeated the money hungry alliance of evil named CompUSA. The employee filled out the information and proceeded to create a TAP for Mr. White’s serial number, just as planned. When he was done, he gave the receipt to Mr. Pink, and Mr. Pink waltzed out of the store with a smile from ear to ear in silent celebration. Only he and Mr. White knew why there was much rejoicing to be had. 

Stay tuned for Undercover iPod: Part II as Mr. White pays a visit to CompUSA with his dead iPod in hand.

Disclaimer: This story was submitted by an anonymous author named Mr. Pink. In no way does Mr. Pink’s opinions or views reflect that of iLounge.

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Dennis Lloyd

I'm a passionate, long-time lover of Apple products, and was a civil draftsman and graphic designer before creating the iLounge web site. My prior projects include work for The Los Angeles Times' LATimes.com, and the company Creative Domain, where I developed websites for clients including Columbia Pictures, Disney, Fox Studios, Universal Pictures and Warner Brothers. As the Publisher of iLounge, I direct the site's community forums, photo galleries, iPod User Group, and general business affairs, which have grown under my watch to over sixteen million page views every month. I'm happily married with one daughter, one dog (Rocket the Wonderdog), one cat (Ferris), many iPods, iPhones, iPads, and two turntables.