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This is a conclusion to my girfriend's quest to get her ipod Nano fixed in China.
Having failed to get service in Beijing, even though the Nano in question was still under warranty, we went to Hong Kong during Golden Week which is still technically China.
There are no real Apple Stores in Hong Kong either since all the retailers are authorized (or unauthorized) resellers. The same is true of the service and support center in Hong Kong as well which are contracted by Apple to deal with customer repairs and questions.
The Apple service center in Hong Kong was a great customer experience. The day we went there were no lines and 3 support desks open. We met with Cynthia and she looked at the dead Nano and confirmed the problem, checked the computer and saw that it was under warranty for another month (we didn't have receipts) and she said "yes, we'll replace it if we have stock."
"yes, we have stock. We wll just switch them and thats it." 5 minutes later she switched the dead Nano with brand new one and thats it. We were out the door. What a contrast that was from the experience with an Apple service center in Beijing.
In some way, this experience also highlights the difference between doing business in China and Hong Kong. China continues to gradually improve but it still has a long way to go. Hong Kong service was very much just as bad only a few years ago as well but service and support has improved by leaps and bounds now that the city has tasted recent economic downturn and needs to differentiate itself from mainland China with better support and services to the customer.