Sometimes, really good design leads to problems.

Recently my girlfriend’s computer died, crapped out. So she bought a new MacBook Air . It’s super cool, I even talked about them earlier in a post. The design is beautiful and the whole thing is intuitive and easy to use.

This ease of use and good design by Apple may lead to a problem. Here it is. The system they have for dealing with the few problems that might arise isn’t well designed, probably because they thought it wouldn’t be used very often.

But when a simple problem arises that can’t be simply fixed, it leads to frustration. Less than five hours after playing around with the new Air, the charger died, crapped out. A pretty simple thing to rectify, but it has been a nightmare instead.

We don’t live near an Apple store, so we’ve been dealing with it by phone. The advice ranged from sending in the broken charger and waiting for another one to be sent back to “You should have bought Apple care.” All of the options presented were very unsatisfying. This wasn’t an issue caused by a consumer it was a problem on a small part of a $1300 product.

The best, most satisfying solution for the customer, and ultimately for Apple too, would have been to say “Sorry, since you are not near an Apple store, where can we send a new charger? And please send the broken one back in the mailer we’ll include with the new charger.” Apple could even have a credit card charge on hold that would be canceled when they got back the broken charger if they didn’t want to use an honor system.

It seems like the best design for the problem solvers would be designing a system to keep the customer happy, say you’re sorry and try to help rather than burn up the innocent customer’s (and Apple reps’) time in lots of unproductive calls and emails. Apple should make the trouble shooting experience as flawless as the computer by design.