Something's been wrong with my iPhone for a few months now, but I never took care of it until today. For some reason, it would lose connectivity with the cellular tower, so it was essentially "off" after about 5 minutes of being in my pocket or laying flat on any surface, so any text messages or phone calls would be missed. Since this happened well after the normal 90 days that most devices have a warranty for and I usually use my other 3G phone, I didn't think about doing anything about it. So essentially my 4GB iPhone had become an iPod Touch, which was fine for testing which is what I used it for.
All the hype about the SDK made me want to use the iPhone for a bit more than just a test device, so I decided to see what would happen if I went back to Apple. I looked it up online, and surprise - iPhones have a year warranty! Holy crap, I had no idea. But mine had a ding in the metal on the top from where I dropped it once, so I wondered if it was still covered or if they'd just toss it back at me and say "too bad."
I walked into the Apple store in Palo Alto last night, and asked about getting it checked, and they had me make an appointment for today with the Genius Bar. This is something that Fabrizio seemed to think was a major inconvenience, but I didn't think it was that much of a burden, as I knew I'd be talking to someone with at least an inkling of a clue. Ever returned something to Best Buy, for example? That's what happens when you have regular tellers man the service area...
Today I walked in, and while Alex sat down at the little munchkin table where a bunch of iMacs were set up with kids programs (he grabbed one with Lego Star Wars, natch) and after about 5 minutes of waiting, I spoke with a nice woman who said, essentially, "That's weird, let's see if it happens now while I type in your details." So she laid it flat, started the process of typing whatever it is she had to type in, and sure enough, the connection dropped and she said, "Ahh, okay, let me get you a new phone" and 10 minutes later I had a replacement iPhone in my pocket, all set up and online. (She actually said she was going to give me another one no matter what, she was just confirming the problem.)
Maybe everyone else already knew how easy this was, but I am totally amazed at how simple and smooth the process was, and how much effort - and money - Apple is investing to ensure their iPhone customers are happy. I'm pretty sure that the phone I have now is a refurb (as it came out of a white box, marked with a $199 price tag) but I don't care, actually - it works where the other one didn't. And if something goes wrong with it, I know I can go back and replace it with little pain and effort anyways.
The whole experience was pretty impressive - if I hadn't done it for myself, I wouldn't have believed it.