iPod doesn't appear in iTunes or on my Mac desktop
1. At age 6 months 30GB iPod battery is aging fast.
2. At age 9 months battery has < 1 hour life. Instead of paying $30 for S&H I paid $60 for AppleCare and one year postage free service.
3. Get replacement iPod under AppleCare.
4. Replacement iPod is non-functional out-of-box. Won't mount (see http://docs.info.apple.com/article.html?artnum=60950). The firewire hardware on the iPod is broken.
5. After the usual 45 minutes on phone support I worked up to a Tier two tech with an overflowing voice mail box. In a week or so I should have ANOTHER replacement iPod.
Update 11/27/05 ... to round out the story ...
6. The next iPod had a non-responsive central button. This was fixed by a full reset, but the problem would occur every 6 months or so. This final iPod was eventually discovered to have a non-functional USB port.
So Apple sent me two defective iPods, the last of which I have used for the past year. In November of 2005 Macintouch reported a 30% failure rate on the 3G 30GB iPod -- atrocious even by the standards of complex consumer electronics. I was bit by a defective product line, and then by Apple's practice of sending "refurbished" devices to replace defective products. The "refurbished" devices are supposedly repaired or shown to be working, but my experience suggests the "repairs" are very "low cost".
The experience with my 3G iPod has made me very cautious about trusting Apple products. It's also taught me the limits of AppleCare. Since that experience I do not purchase the extended warrantee, instead I follow the rules required by my credit card company. I try to have repairs done by people I trust, such as twin cities Apple store that's privately run.