When my iPod stopped working correctly, I did all the troubleshooting I could before turning to Apple for support.

The experience was brilliant. Apple has a well-designed web site to answer support questions and to begin the return process. Two days after reporting the problem, I received a shipping box for the defective iPod, including a return shipping label and a cute little pack of tape to close the box. The next day, I got an e-mail confirming the box had been received by Apple. The day after that, another e-mail told me the replacement had been shipped. It was in my hands the following day. That’s five days from reporting the problem to holding the replacement – great service!

So why is it a bit disquieting? Because the iPod was less than a month old. As always when hardware stops working, there’s no way to evaluate whether the experience is the exception or the rule. Are iPods made badly, like so many tech items today, or did I just have bad luck? How long will the replacement last?