Washington Apple Pi Journal, reprint information
The cost of computers keeps going down -- especially in comparison to what they can do, but...
The cost of computing is sneaking steadily up. One of the major factors is the quiet disappearance of free support from the manufacturers once you've plunked down your money for their goodies.
How does $35 "per incident" and paying for a long distance call, perhaps across the country, sound? If you resolve your problem quickly -- and don't spend too much time on hold -- you may get away for only $2.99 per minute, plus the phone charges. Of course, the manufacturers decide what constitutes an "incident."
How soon does this dwarf the paltry $49 per year ($69 with internet email and expanded TCS service) that we pay for Washington Apple Pi? For that, we can have an "incident" a day and get quick, disinterested advice from people who've been there -- every time. For really serious "incidents," the Pi offers Hotline volunteers -- dozens of volunteers! -- who will provide one-on-one help with virtually whatever ails ya, computationally speaking.
Even when you crank in the cost of Explorer full internet service (and it's getting to be much more than that...check out the Explorer homepage, the one with the penguin sitting on an ice cube), or the modest cost of the many tutorial classes offered in the Pi's well-equipped classroom, we're ahead.
A front page article in the Washington Post's Business section (the paper paper) on January 16, 1998 headlined "Computer Question? Chip In!" made the point. Of the eight major computer manufacturers listed, only one -- sadly not Apple -- still offers free hardware and software support as long as the customer owns the product, and over an 800 number at that! That holdout company is Gateway 2000.
Apple now offers free support for 90 days after the customer's first call, according to the article, then charges $35 per "incident." At least they still offer an 800 number. People who lucked out by buying an Apple product between April 1993 and April 1996, however, get free support for life (but the Post didn't specify whose life...).
"Free support just isn't a sustainable model anymore," explained Pete Gladstein, head of Apple's support services, according to the Post. Other industry executives pointed out to reporter Beth Berselli that the falling prices of computers have a lot to do with it: the old profit margins just aren't there any more.
Well, it isn't free at Apple Pi, either, but we get a heck of a lot more bang for the buck.
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Revised February 16, 1998 lic
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