While in Las Vegas for the Consumer Electronic Show, our CIO's iPhone crashed. A reboot failed to rectify the situation. He carried the phone with him, in the hope of finding a retailer that could help diagnose and repair the problem. One evening around 10PM, we stumbled upon an Apple Store. It was not busy, and the Genius Bar was empty. Placing the iPhone with one of the Apple technicians resulted in a 15-minute analysis. They could not fix the phone, at least quickly. The solution: a new unit. Better than that, they removed the chip from the defective phone and reconfigured the new iPhone to work on a Rogers system (our local carrier, versus AT&T, who have the US iPhone franchise). We were out within 30 minutes, with a new, working phone. No charge, of course.
There were numerous reasons why Apple could have said no: lack of appointment; too late in the evening to start a project; no warrantee/out of warrantee; a Rogers phone in an AT&T environment; or damage to the phone caused by misuse. Instead, Apple did the work, and even provided a new phone warrantee. I don't believe they even asked for my colleague's name! It's no wonder that Apple shares are moving past the $250 range. They act like leaders.
Compare this to my Panasonic Blu-Ray DVD that ceased to work after two-three years of limited, intermittent use (maybe 100 hours in total). Upon taking the unit in for repairs, I was advised that the costs of repair (at $800) exceeded the value of a new replacement. They weren't willing to offer anything apart from a “Sorry” nor did they care to find out what was actually wrong with the machine.
In this tech-centric age we live in, consumer loyalty is fleeting, and yet Apple shines like a star. Aside from their outstanding product positioning and marketing, Apple knows how to keep their customers. My advice: whenever considering an investment in a technology company, look first to how they treat their established clientele.