One of the great things about blogging is that it gives you and outlet to vent when you get crappy customer service--heck, I think that drives blogging more than anything. Dave Winer got ripped off in an Apple store yesterday and told the tale on his blog.
I've owned, if you count the machines I buy for my students in my research lab, dozens of Apple machines in the last five years. Overall, I find them to be moderately reliable--but I have to admit most of the problems I've had have been on new-release machines.
I've never taken my machine in to get a hard drive replaced and I've done that more times than I'd care to count. Dave didn't do it himself--not because he can't, but because he already had it at the store and they'd diagnosed the problem--I'd probably do the same thing.
Apple doesn't make machines particularly easy to work on. My recent experience taking an iMac apart is a case in point. Over the normal life of any laptop, chances are you'll want to replace the harddrive. That's especially true with the number of large media files that I find myself accumulating. External drives just don't cut it.
Frankly, it would be nice if Apple would make drives as easy to replace as RAM. I'll gladly trade some case esthetic for easier upgrades.
If you do upgrade the harddrive in your Mac, the best resource I've found is iFixIt. They have instructions for cracking the case on just about every Mac model around. Very handy.
Back to Dave, he clearly go ripped off. If this had been a warranty repair, then the Apple would have claim on the drive unless he paid a "own the drive" fee like Dell offers. But this wasn't. He paid to get the machine repaired and the drive should belong to him.
Dave's concerns over the data on his drive are valid. I'd have them too. When I replace a drive on my machine, I always do a security erase on it before giving it to someone else. With a broken drive, I'd like to destroy them, but so far just accumulate them on a shelf. You can buy a service. Anyone have any experience destroying old drives?