This post is by M.G. Siegler from 500ish - Medium
The return policy for new Apple Watch bands is just loopy
Last week, following the Apple Watch event, I grabbed my iPad to order a new Series 6. Is it a no-brainer buy? It doesn’t seem like it if you have a Series 5, but Apple does allow you to trade in that device at a relatively high value. And they have a new 0% interest mechanism to finance the Watch on a monthly basis if you have an Apple Card. Look, these are the excuses I use to justify my hopeless addiction. Moving on…
I thought it would be a pretty straight-forward process to buy the Watch. Because it has been in the past. At the same time, the process has also been getting more complicated over time, as more options have been added. Size. Material. Finish. Color. Cellular. Bands. The paradox of choice is definitely coming into play. So I used another forcing function: which version would ship to me the fastest?
Admittedly, this is probably not the best way to pick a fashion accessory you’re going to wear every day. But again, it’s an addiction. Get new Apple thing and get it as quickly as possible. Rinse. Repeat.
There I was, going through the ordering flow, when it hit me. Specifically, nine options hit me right in the face, in terms of band sizes for one of the new Loop options. Behold: a new level of complexity.
Obviously, I had absolutely no idea what size I was for the Loop. Apple has a measure you can print out to give you a sense. But this is 2020 not 2002; my printer is just this side of non-existent.¹ I do have one, but by the time I went downstairs to turn it out, connect to it, and print out this tool, I would be the fool sitting there with a November ship date.
Thinking on my feet, I quickly pivoted to a different type of band. One of the tried and true ones that I knew would fit. I definitely want one of the new Loops, but I figured it would be better to get one when I can figure out the correct size in an Apple Store — if and when we can ever go to Apple Stores again — and not give my neurosis the pleasure of agonizing over the concern that I picked the wrong size.
Anyway, this was a very smart non-decision decision as it turns out. Because as Juli Clover points out today, those people who chose the wrong Loop size with their brand new Apple Watch and wish to replace it have to… send back their entire Apple Watch and get a new one. This is for serious. And it is insane.
Yes, we get it. Apple sells the Watch pre-packaged with certain models and bands tied together. So they’d like you to return them together as well. One SKU out, one SKU back in. But not only is this not customer-friendly, it’s arguably hostile to your best customers. Those who are buying on day one in a hurry. Like me. And others.
It’s wild that Apple didn’t think through this scenario. They were going to be offering the most complicated decision yet with the Watch — because if you choose the wrong Loop size, the device won’t fit, and if it doesn’t fit, or is even just too loose, many of the features don’t work well. You know, like the blood oxygen reader. The core new feature of the device.
Customers need to get the sizing right. And Apple just created a whole new complication when it comes to getting that sizing right. And they did so in the middle of a pandemic which is keeping people out of stores. So… you better hope you have a printer and that the measure you print is accurate. Also that you have the time to print out a measure. Which you don’t if you want your Apple Watch this year.
Apple, don’t be loopholes. Allow people — your most fervent fans, who buy your products on day one, no less — to return their new Loops that don’t fit for another. Better still: ship them a better size immediately if they say the one they picked doesn’t fit and let them return the other later. Or, if you must, ship them a back-up band — the standard one is fine — until such a time that you can meet new Loop demand.
This is all obvious customer service stuff. It’s not what’s best for the bottom line, of course. But ultimately, it may be if it means pissing off one less customer who really wanted a new Watch on day one and because of our current crazy world, bought one that doesn’t fit, and now much ship back the entire thing to be replaced months in the future.
No, I can’t believe I wrote 800 words about this either.
¹ I mean, how on Earth did Apple not do an AR experience to help you measure? Apple even has a whole measurement app for this built into iOS! I’m sure it’s not easy to do on your wrist, but come on: printing something out?!