Where you purchase your Apple products determines your level of service. Yes, it might be the same iMac, iPod, iPad, or MacBook Air made in the same factory, but dependent upon where you purchased the device, you’ll get different care.
Having personally purchased Apple products from MacMall, MacConnection, Amazon, and direct through Apple, I always assumed my care would be the same. If it’s an Apple product and if it’s under warranty, why wouldn’t it be covered? Well, it is covered, but not in the same way. Say you purchased an iMac from Apple and it has a problem early on. Since you purchased it directly from Apple, they will often offer to give you a brand new machine. Purchase it from a 3rd party, and they will likely only repair it. The only exception is if the product is a new product for Apple. If so, their engineers might want to see the defect and will do an exchange for a brand new machine, even if originally purchased from a 3rd party.
All of this was recently explained to me at the Austin Domain Apple store. So if you’re the type of person that doesn’t like your very new equipment to be repaired and would rather have it factory fresh, you should consider purchasing directly through Apple.