Although this story isn’t about e-books directly, it speaks to the mindset of Apple, one of the major players in the e-book and portable device category these days. Blogger Seattle Rex posts the story of how, after exhausting every possible avenue of mediation and redress, he took Apple to small claims court over its refusal to fix a known faulty logic board in his $4,000 computer as it had promised—and won an award in the amount of the cost of his computer.

Apple sent two representatives to the hearing to argue against the need to replace the computer, but Rex calmly and clearly stated his case. In contrast, to hear Rex tell it, Apple tried one hail mary pass after another:

This is more or less the way the rest of the trial played out. I made a point, Apple rebutted it with something completely off-the-wall and irrelevant, and I explained to the judge why Apple’s rebuttal was nonsense. I took the time to explain everything clearly, I answered all of the judge’s technical questions in detail, and at one point, the judge even declared that he would accept my testimony as that of an “expert witness”.

What’s more, at one point in the trial Apple’s representatives even conceded that it would not have actually cost them anything to replace the faulty logic board, because nVidia was paying for them!

Rex calls into question the wisdom of Apple’s current leadership, spending so much time, effort, and money refusing to replace a board that would not even have cost them anything to replace. Instead, they paid a legal team’s salary and, as a result of the ruling in the case (assuming Apple doesn’t try to get out of having to pay up), they are paying the cost of a new laptop for Rex when he would have been satisfied originally with a replacement board.

Gone are the days of the scrappy underdog, throwing a hammer through the window of conformity, and what has emerged is … well, it’s far worse than what it was rebelling against.

Apple has become the Orwellian nightmare that it warned us about some 30 years ago. A huge vehicle of sameness backed by legions of newthink practitioners, gleefully cheering as Big Bully annihilates one thoughtcriminal after another.

Apple may be profitable, but it’s not well. Something is wrong at the highest levels, and if I was strongly tied to the company financially, I might be worried. Although blinded by Apple’s success in the near-term, I don’t think history will judge the company favorably.

Needless to say, this is only telling one side of the story, and I doubt Apple will bother to respond publicly. In the larger scheme of things, it probably doesn’t matter as much to Apple as, say, the DoJ anti-trust lawsuit it is facing. Still, the affair is quite well-documented from Rex’s perspective, since he’s been writing about it every step of the way, and it seems like there’s a limit to just how much spin one could put on these facts.

Whatever Apple’s side of the story might be, Seattle Rex’s has been getting a lot of play in the blogsphere lately, and his site was so hammered by traffic in the aftermath of his post that it went down for a while. That can’t be good publicity for Apple in any event, especially coming right after the company has been accused of anti-trust violations.

And it may not be over yet. Rex adds that since posting the article he’s received “scores of emails” from other Apple customers who were given the same runaround. He is looking into the possibilities of a class action suit for fraud and misrepresentation.


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