Apple Gift-Givers: Beware

I love Apple products. Oh sure, the battery on the iPod has had its issues, and New York’s most ubiquitous cell phone carrier doesn’t appear even close to foregoing CDMA for GSM, and thus, iPhone compatibility — no matter how much soldering takes place.

Maybe it was the love affair we had with our very first home computer, a Macintosh LCII with a Motorola 68020 processor and a 40MB hard drive. Kid Pix was the consummate revelation!

Last year, we inched back to the fold when I bought my #2 son the new 15″ MacBook Pro, making him the first in our family to own a Mac since I donated the old LC to a computerless family we knew.

In fact, with everything I’m hearing about Vista, I’m ever closer to trashing my three-year-old Dell Dimension for one of the sleek new silver iMacs. There’s one problem, however: I’m really angry at Apple right now, and here’s why:

My #2 son is heading off to college and an old friend asked what he could buy him as a gift. I suggested going online to the Apple Store and pick out something that would complement his MacBook Pro. He chose a backpack made especially for the laptop.

The backpack arrived, and we soon learned that our son already owned one. We called Apple to ask for a credit, and the rep refused. He would only issue a credit to the purchaser! Huh?

We explained (pleaded) that this was a gift and we really didn’t want the giver to know that we’re returning his gift. No dice, Apple held fast. Company policy. We said we’d think about whether to send the backpack packing. The next day, my friend called to say that he understands that my son wants to return the gift. “Homina, homina, homina…”

A few days later, my brother went by the Apple Store in the mall and also bought my #2 a college going-away gift — a $50 Apple gift certificate. How nice, or so we thought. My son decided to use the gift certificate to add to his iTunes collection. He logged on to the iTunes Store, but no go. A call to the Apple customer service rep yielded the following verbatim quote:

“The gift certificate doesn’t apply to the iTunes Store. They are separate stores owned by the same man.”

You can be sure he wasn’t referring to Jeff Bezos! This is from Amazon’s site:

“You can return multiple gift items from the same order. We’ll issue you store credit in the form of an e-mail gift certificate. Don’t worry–we won’t tell the gift giver about your return!”