What the hell did he just say? Wertsgeflauben. It’s a word I just made up and there’s a good reason for it. It’s a word you use when you want to tell people something that you don’t want them to understand. Weird things like this pop into my head at times, not like visions of Kathy Bates riding naked on a donkey singing Sondheim tunes [oh wait, where the hell did that come from?] While it sounds German, I’m sure it doesn’t mean anything in German. It’s just some stupid nonsensical word like “unbundled” which is what Apple is using instead of “discount”. I started my new job today with a tech company that writes apps for the iPhone. I figured I should probably get one so I started to look into it. I’m looking at the new iPhone 4 and running through choices and decide to select 16Gb black iPhone 4 [oooo all you mac groupies dontcha just wish you were hot like me!] I start through the process and it says $199 with a little 2 superscript next to it which I should have realized meant scroll to the bottom and read the fine print. Here’s the fine print:
Requires new two-year AT&T wireless service contract, sold separately to qualified customers; credit check required; must be 18 or older. Existing AT&T customers who want to upgrade from another phone or replace an iPhone 3G or iPhone 3GS should check with AT&T or use www.apple.com/iphone/buy. For those who are not eligible for an early upgrade or who wish to buy iPhone as a gift, the prices are $499 (8GB), $599 (16GB), or $699 (32GB). In CA, MA, and RI, sales tax is collected on the unbundled price of iPhone. Service may not be available in all areas or at the signal strength, rates, speeds, or bandwidth as demonstrated. Wi-Fi Internet access required for some features; broadband recommended; fees may apply. Some applications, features, and services are not available in all areas. Visit www.wireless.att.com to check AT&T network coverage in your area. iPhone is configured to work only with wireless service provided by AT&T. Warranty information available at www.apple.com/legal/warranty/iphone. When available, transferring your mobile number to a different service provider will terminate your service with your existing provider; termination fees and other charges may apply. Some features may require added fees. Contact your service provider for more details. Use constitutes acceptance of Apple’s software license agreement and third-party terms located in the iPhone box. Unauthorized modification of your iPhone software violates the software license agreement. Inability to use an iPhone due to unauthorized modifications is not covered under your warranty.
OK, that shouldn’t have been a big deal because I noted that I was upgrading [after my two year contract ran out] so this shouldn’t matter. So this phony surcharge shouldn’t apply. When I put in my zip code they tell me that my tax is $56.12!!!! That works out to about 28% sales tax and I quickly clicked on the speak with a representative button and all that Coreen could tell me was that it was because it was “unbundled” and they had to charge the full price. She never told me what the full price was or how I could bundle it with something else so that I could pay only $17 [state tax] or $18 [San Francisco tax]. She just kept telling me that it was because of Uncle Sam that I had to pay that much. Which I suppose Uncle Sam is going senile and forgot that California sales tax is 8.5% and in SF it’s 9.5%. I finally told her thank you for being so unhelpful and closed the window and picked up the phone and called Apple. This time I got Ryan who sounded a bit more American than the person I had been typing with since his grammar was much better and he finally told me that “unbundled” meant “discount” after I told him that nowhere on the page does it say that $199 is the discounted price. This came after 5 minutes of him trying to get around me asking him what I could “bundle” it with to reduce the tax. I finally said, “Ah so you’re saying ‘unbundled’ when you really mean ‘discounted’. Ryan politely said yes, very softly because I think he realized what a scam it sounded like.
The worst part of all of this is that I’ve been an evangelist for the Apple line for over 20 years. I even gave Steve Jobs a selling point when I said in my previous blog From where I sit, “Apple Macintosh, it just works” long before they used it for their ads. I even said he could use it if he’d give me the choice of Apple products each year. He never returned my email by the way. I’ve gotten quite a few PC people to convert over to the Mac and they love it and they’ve thanked me for making their life easier.
So now let us all embrace the word that means nothing and everything, “Wertsgeflauben.” It will save you money and get you out of a bind. Didn’t get the work done that your boss asked you to? It was because of the wertsgeflauben. Can’t pay your bills? It’s because of the wertsgeflauben. What was that sound? The WERTSGEFLAUBEN! Geez, I think I’ll start writing Dr. Seuss style books now. I have created a monster.