An Open Letter to Twelve South

Twelve South,

You make some of the best looking and best functioning computer accessories that I have ever had the chance to use. Currently I own your BookArc stand, BackPack shelf, BookArc stand for iPad and your Compass mobile iPad stand. These are each excellent products and exactly what I wanted when I purchased them. Though one pays a premium for your products I have always found them to be excellent and have always recommended them to others.

Today represents a massive failure in customer service and customer appreciation. When I went from a 15” MacBook Pro to a brand new 13” MacBook Air I immediately put the MacBook Air insert in the BookArc to hold my new MacBook Air. To my dismay the insert was too large for the newer, thinner, MacBook Air. I promptly emailed your customer service department to inquire if a new insert would be made that I could purchase.

On October 27th, 2010 I sent you the following:

I already own a BookArc (love it) but I just got a new MacBook Air and noticed the old MacBook Air insert is a bit loose. Is there a way to buy an insert for the new MacBook Air?

I received a response that day that said:

We have our factory working on inserts for the new Airs but these things take a little time. Sadly, Apple doesn’t give us any advanced notice regarding their new products so we have to wait like everybody else to get started on updates and solutions to accommodate the latest and greatest Apple offerings.

Now we are talking — I knew that a bit of patience was all that was needed to get a better fitting insert. Fast forward to today, there still is no such insert (even though two relative amateurs can make a product in 5 months). Then I get an email announcing an all new BookArc for the MacBook Air, one that makes my current BookArc obsolete. The same BookArc I had just purchased on May 11th, 2010.

I immediately complained on Twitter, but decided I would email to see if you would also be making the insert for existing customers.

Back in October in this email below you led me to believe that you would be making an insert for the BookArc that I currently own — today I see that you released one exclusively for the MacBook Air, which does not solve the problem that I have.

I feel mislead by this email — are you still planning on making an insert for the MacBook Air that goes with the BookArc?

I received a response to this inquiry stating:

I can certainly understand you feeling that way. When we corresponded last, a new insert for the old stand was the plan however, through time, this plan changed and a new stand, custom-made for the new Air and with cable management, was pursued instead.

If your BookArc was purchased between the time of Apple’s announcement for the new Airs (October 20, 2010) and December 8th, when the final decision was made and the compatibility was changed on websites (in other words, it was purchased specifically for your new Air and you had no way of knowing it would be incompatible), we will put your name on a list of ‘early adopters’ who may participate in an exchange program. If you qualify, please provide me with proof of the date of purchase and your address, and I’ll add you to the list.

In other words you are telling me to piss off. Fine Twelve South, I will piss off and take my money and recommendations elsewhere — there are plenty of other companies that make fine accessories that give a damn about their customers. My advice is that you try to give a damn the next time someone wants to be able to use a product of yours that is less than a year old — at the very least don’t promise something you will never deliver. Had you told me from day one that you would not be making the insert I would (believe it or not) be just fine with that. Leaving me hanging for three months garners no good will.

Your Former Customer,

Ben Brooks

Originally posted for members on: January 28, 2011
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