01 December 2009

One Bad Apple



Some good news this morning (2 December):

Apple just called and my computer is being shipped as we speak. There's no guarantee I'll get it before leaving for England Sunday night, but the Apple representative (who was very sympathetic, BTW) assures me that everything is being done to speed it up. She says Apple still hasn't figured out why so many iMacs were arriving at customers' homes with pristine packing and shattered screens, but she isn't aware of any recent cases of the problem. Anyway, after so many frustrating weeks, it's nice (finally) to be put on the fast-track for a replacement. I'll keep you updated.


y confidence in Apple has taken a nose dive this month. They dropped the ball again today, delaying the delivery of my replacement computer two more weeks, without bothering to tell me. It'll be at least two months after I originally placed my order before I get a working computer. Apple has my money. All I have from them so far is the AppleCare protection plan disk and a string of broken promises.

I wrote a post two weeks ago today describing how the new iMac I ordered arrived after a month's wait with a cracked screen. I ordered in October, on the day the new iMacs were announced. After waiting a full month already, getting a computer so badly damaged from the factory was a major disappointment.

When I called Apple to report the damage, I was transferred around between about seven phone-support people in a 90-minute phone call, trying to arrange an expedited replacement. Apple's corps of telephone people are extremely polite (if a little robotic), and every one of them acted as if they had never heard of an out-of-the-box computer with a cracked screen before. They listened with a tone of disbelief as I described how the box the computer came in was totally undamaged. All the packing was intact. Even the protective plastic sheet covering the screen was completely unflawed—but the glass screen itself was shattered.

I suggested that since the packaging was all in pristine shape, the computer appeared to have been broken in the packing process at the factory, not in transit. All of the Apple support staff assured me that this sort of thing simply never happens. By the fourth time I heard that, I began to wonder if underneath the polite veneer Apple's support staff were insinuating that I had somehow caused the damage myself. I offered to send photographs, but they said don't bother.

It turned out they weren't being entirely truthful with me.

In pleading with Apple to put my replacement computer on the fast track, I naturally expressed some frustration that it had already been nearly a month since I ordered the computer. The thought of waiting another month for a replacement was distasteful, and I wondered if I should just cancel the whole thing and order again at a more convenient time (rather than tie my money up for two months with no computer to show for it, and then be forced to take delivery on a new computer at the peak of the holiday rush). But two or three of the people I talked to sounded very empathetic and assured me that replacement computers are treated very differently; I would be "put at the head of the line," and the computer would be shipped priority delivery immediately by Fedex. I should have it in a week, two at the very outside.

That delighted me. What terrific customer service, I thought. "A week" would have been two days before Thanksgiving—a perfect time to set up a new computer, while watching football. But frankly I thought "a week" sounded too good to be true, so I really wasn't surprised when I looked at the online Apple Store the following morning to check the status of my order and discovered that my order wouldn't ship until December 1. I didn't call Apple to complain about the delay, but it was hard not to be slightly irritated. The new ship date set my delivery date back by ten days. I would have to wait more than twice as long as two customer-service reps had told me to expect.

December 1 in Shanghai is November 30 in Los Angeles, so I checked my order status when I got up yesterday. "IMAC 27"/4850-512MB Not Yet Shipped," it said, but underneath it still read, "Ships: Dec 1." No problem, I thought. That means it'll ship this afternoon.

But when I got home yesterday afternoon and checked my order status again, the ship-date had quietly been changed to "December 14." I had received no e-mail notification, and no explanation was given for the delay.

Naturally, I called Apple support to see what had happened. The first person I talked to tried to tell me the ship date had always been December 14. Even when I told her the whole story in detail, she didn't seem to digest any of the salient points. When I finished, she said, "Sir, I'm looking at your order on screen now, and it still says it's shipping on the 14th. It hasn't been delayed." I'd been on the phone with her more than 20 minutes already, and she clearly hadn't grasped why I was calling. I was scheduled to do a radio interview in 10 minutes, so I politely excused myself and said I would call back again later.

After the radio interview, I called Apple support again. On my second call, I spoke with a different agent. He understood my complaint after only two explanations, but he said he had no information about why my order was delayed. There was nothing he could do to speed it up. He could credit me for the discount Apple offered on Black-Friday sales of these computers. Or if I preferred, I could cancel the order and he would give me a full refund.

"No," I answered. "First I'd like to talk to a supervisor or someone else who can get an answer to my actual questions about the reasons for the long delay. I don't mind being put on hold. I'll be patient."

Thus this second call lasted more than two hours. I was on hold for at least two-thirds of that time, and the customer-service rep dutifully picked up the phone every three minutes, each time intoning robotically, "Mr. Johnson, I do apologize for the delay, but my supervisor is still working on another case, and it will be a few more minutes. Are you sure you want to keep holding?"

I was determined to outlast the annoyingly hip background music on Apple's phone system, but I ultimately failed to keep that resolution. The customer-service rep kept trying everything he could think of to get me off the phone—offering to have the supervisor call me when she finished the other case; assuring me repeatedly that there was really nothing he or anyone else could do to speed up my order; and one or two times practically begging me to cancel my order and accept a full refund.

I told him I might very well cancel the order, but first I wanted to talk to someone who could answer my questions about the reasons for the delays. I also wanted a straight answer to the question of whether I can reasonably expect that a working computer will be shipped to me sometime before Christmas. After all, I ordered this thing October 20. I ought to be at the head of the line already. And no one had offered me a single word of explanation yet. Expecting me to be happy with robotic apologies and a new delivery date (which—if met—will get the computer to me less than a week before Christmas) didn't seem like very good customer service to me. It still doesn't.

He told me there are in fact "many other people" awaiting replacements in front of me, and that's why he simply cannot expedite my order in front of theirs.

"But I ordered on the first day the new iMacs became available," I protested. "How can there be so many replacements scheduled ahead of mine? Are you honestly saying there is a full month's worth of defective computers that need to be replaced?"

"I didn't say that," he protested.

"You did say there's a long line of people waiting in front of me, and the ship-date for my replacement is now a full month after I sent the damaged computer back," I reminded him. "What else could that mean? If the problems with the new iMacs are really that severe and widespread—and if the production delays in Apple's Shanghai plant are as bad as it seems—I want to know, so that I can write about it.

"Also," I said, "I was promised an expedited replacement and told I might receive the replacement in a week. So why wasn't I even e-mailed when the shipment was delayed—twice? Is it standard procedure for Apple to change the ship-date like that on a priority order and not notify the customer?"

"We don't send out e-mail notifications for that," he said. "All our ship-dates are estimated times, not guarantees. They are subject to change."

"So you're saying it's Apple's policy not to notify customers when shipments that are supposed to be expedited get delayed—even when the delay is more than two weeks, and comes at the very last minute?"

"I didn't say that," he objected again.

"Then what did you mean when you said you don't notify priority customers when there are two-week shipping delays?" I asked.

That's when he said he had already given me all the information he could, and that no one, including the supervisors, had any more answers for my questions. He was polite. So was I. But it was clear that this was going to be the end of the discussion. This time I didn't ask him to keep me holding for the supervisor. After two hours, it was crystal-clear that no supervisor at Apple had any intention of talking to me yesterday.

The customer-service guy did say he would credit me for the Black-Friday discount plus a little extra, and he told me the supervisor is going to see if there's anything she might do to insure the fastest possible delivery for me.

I'm certainly not holding my breath, and the entire experience leaves me with a very bitter taste in my mouth. When customer service is that bad, mechanical apologies don't cut it, even when—especially when—you get thirty of them during a single phone call. I hope this is not a harbinger of things to come at Apple. The decline of Dell began with customer-service issues exactly like this.

If there's a serious problem getting the new iMacs to people in good shape and on time, Apple ought to come out and say so. I could respect that. But I'm not going to be a happy customer if they keep stalling and stonewalling me.

Phil's signature

69 comments:

Euaggelion said...

Get an HP, although Windows 7 isn't as good as XP, it's still 200% better than Vista. Macs are cool, but they are way over priced and now the PCs have caught up with them with usability. I have a MAC at work I play with, but I do all my actual work on a PC.

Strong Tower said...

You gambled and you lost ;)

Phil Johnson said...

Strong Tower:

That's pretty much what it feels like.

sk said...

This entire iMac fiasco is very unlike Apple. I'm guessing the non-Apple manufacturing plant broke the screens, so Apple itself doesn't understand what's happening. Hopefully the bad press will encourage Steve Jobs to send out an appropriate apology, because this is getting really bad.

I really hope your phone call will speed things up for you. I don't blame you for being frustrated, those guys should have been more on top of what was happening.

Sir Brass said...

Phil, having worked in dev. engineering but sometimes having to do some sort of "customer service before", sometimes stuff just happens.

I'm sure some of these reps really have no idea WHAT is going wrong, and I BET that in a case where they are having problems with quality control out of the factory, they don't want to admit the problem just yet (if at all). Think like a corporation, would YOU want that kind of info getting out (forget the notion that they owe you an explanation. such things don't exist in a corporation's mind once they get your money)?

I'm not trying to excuse Apple, but after reading your experience, I bet I can just imagine what's going on at their end. There really wasn't anything that customer rep could do.

And, I DO bet that there's a month's-worth of replacement in line ahead of you.

Also, NO company garauntees their ship-dates. Numerous others I've dealt with have said the "the ship date is an estimate" thing.

The reason this hits so big with apple is b/c Apple is known for their high quality and bragging on that and their customer service. However, they ARE still a company, and they WILL have problems. Sure they are good, but they WILL have their bad moments, and at times like this, when they stumble badly at a product launch, it's going to look MUCH bigger than if it was someone like MS releasing a bad product (oh, gee, like that hasn't happened.... remember Windows Vista.... still broken after all that marketing, or the fiasco that was Windows ME).

Give them a chance. Now, if your replacement ships bad, then you'll need to really lay it on them and demand a FULL refund.

I don't blame you for being frustrated, but I have a strong feeling that the folks you dealt with have been dealing with PLENTY of other angry customers and also really can't do much about it other than what they've already done. You and everyone else wants their replacements NOW, especially if there has been a production backlog.

Colin Maxwell said...

Hate to say this: But maybe the Lord doesn't want you to have a Mac.

Go back to the old days of pen and paper and filing cabinets and putting together productions with cut out pictures (using scissors) and school glue.

At least, pray about it.

Jon said...

I remember ordering my first computer from Gateway the summer before my first year of college and they said it was going to take at least a month if not two to get me my computer. It was right when the new Pentium 66MHz processors came out and there was a ton of people buying them. But there wasn't any other option at that time, so I ordered and waited. Luckily I didn't have a broken computer, but I can understand your pain.

I just hope that the new machine they finally send you, which will probably be after this Christmas (sorry, just the way things like this go), is in pristine shape and is in perfect working condition.

Oh, and I almost forgot. Macs are for yuppies, what are you thinking?! Hasn't Dan taught you anything about real computers?

Phil Johnson said...

Sir Brass: "You and everyone else wants their replacements NOW, especially if there has been a production backlog."

Yes, I get all that. The ministry I manage does lots of mail-order business.

In all honesty, I would have been satisfied today with simple, honest answers to my two questions: Why was the shipment suddenly delayed by *two weeks*? and Since I was promised an expedited reoplacement, why wasn't I informed when the date changed? They could surely find a way to answer those questions honestly without betraying any great corporate secrets.

It's the stonewalling and lies that disturb me. That's deplorable customer service by any measure, and it doesn't have to be that way.

SandMan said...

I worked for a large IT distribution company for several years. I remember when everyone was switching to the 17" LCD panels monitors from the hefty CRTs. For some odd reason, no one in the manufacturing world had foreseen this "boom" and there was a shortage of glass across the board. No one could ship a 17" monitor from any manufacturer. As a salesman, this was incredibly frustrating because we would have calls daily to place orders for literally thousands of them for this school district or college, or whatever. The company made the decision not to allow us to tell the customer up front that their order would take 2-4 months to fulfill. So it may be that the CS Rep knows what is delaying your order, but has instructions not to tell you... not that that makes you feel any better in this situation. (This is one of the reasons that I do not work there anymore).

Frank Turk said...

My opinion? This is the dark side of Apple's corporate culture. Most places try to be excellent but understand the customer is a moving target, and trying to hit that mark is, at best, a miss 20% of the time.

Apple believes, as a premise, that people who are dis-satisfied with them are not their customers. It's arrogance, pure and simple.

I'd just ask for a refund and let it go. No sense arguing with them when they cannot be wrong.

Kelly Brumbelow said...

OK so you ordered something the day it was announced and is complaining it to 2 months to arrive? There is a thing called backlog. Then you say because the service reps you talked to said that cracked screens were something that "did not happen" meaning these guys had never encountered something like this before that apple was lying, maybe just maybe there was a batch that got dropped off a palate or a bad batch came out (turns out it was the 2nd) the reps are not allowed to talk about rumours and so they can only tell you what they know for a fact, they did. You is complaining it is taking apple 2 more months to get it fixed: well the reason is simple. The screen manufacturer screwed up and Apple is having to get a new bath of screens and test them before shipping out replacements. You need to grow a pair. You ordered a 1st gen product on announcement day and decide to whine about it on his blog. Apple will take care of you if you have patience, whining hurts your case not helps it.

James said...

I think you should investigate which family member has been praying for your patience.

Tyler said...

Yeah, I used to work for Apple tech support.* For two days. We were instructed to do exactly as you described; essentially lie to the customer about what was really going on. Keep up the facade of Apple Inerrancy.

*-Fancy way of saying I worked at a call center.

SandMan said...

Tell me you work for Apple in the CS department Kelly.

Little harsh aren't we? Are you related to Steve Jobs or something?

Phil is frustrated with Apple's lack of transparency in their dealings with customers, not insulting someone's mother.

Take it down a notch.

Johnny Dialectic said...

I do think there's a new rule for customer service, and that is, "No one talks to a supervisor. Wait them out." More and more people demand it now, so they're making the wait interminable in the hopes people give up, as most do. I've had this experience with a couple of other companies recently. It's patently obvious.

Frank Turk said...

As a further piling on to my beloved Forbidden Fruit (does no one else get creeped out by the logo?), and having worked with end-user consumers for 20 years now, it's economically-criminal to be out of stock on a new offering. It only compounds the problem when you lie about it.

And worst of all, when the new offering has a pervasive serial defect, you need to turn the brakes on immediately, hold the supplier accountable, and simply roll over for your customers. Tell them the truth. You know: the first guy who calls in with a damaged monitor (for example) may or may not be a kook (cf. Phil), but when you spend all day and everyone in the call center is taking damaged monitor calls, it's time to regroup.

And I hate to put it this way, but who did first article inspection at the plant? Seriously: did they only inspect one? The right thing to do is to sample the population and get after any repeating problems.

SandMan said...

@ Johnny Dialectic: I've noticed that, too; especially with (surprise, surprise) banks.

DJP said...

Hasn't Dan taught you anything about real computers?

Apple is doing the job nicely for me.

Brad Williams said...

Phil,

I'm dumping my Apple stock today. Thanks, buddy.

stratagem said...

I am glad I've never adopted Macs - why single-source yourself to Apple when you can use a PC and get it from any number of vendors who are all competing against each other?
The only reasons I can see (these days, not 10 years ago) for sticking with Apple is either that a person doesn't want to change or is technologically unadaptable. I don't believe that either of those characteristics apply to Phil Johnson.

Apple has clearly started treating its customers like a captive audience. Maybe it's time to make the switch to Windows, painful as it may be?

Doug McMasters said...

While you are waiting, Phil, you can share with others experiencing the same frustrations:

http://discussions.apple.com/thread.jspa?threadID=2235367&start=0&tstart=0

Doug McMasters said...

Sorry, just noticed you're already doing that.

Bummer about the computer, friend.

BTW, just purchased a Samsung x520 laptop. I used it to take notes at the MLJ Men's Meeting with Paul Washer and Justin Peters. The battery indicator showed 10 hours and 10 minutes of battery life. And through the day, that was just about what I got out of it.

Solameanie said...

You should send a certified letter to Steve Jobs, plus email with links to this post, plus whatever attention-grabbing ideas you can come up with. I have a hunch if word gets as far as Steve Jobs, heads might roll. Mac has been making some headway against PCs in recent years, and I don't think he'd like any black eyes right now.

LeeC said...

You have a complaint about Apples service?


Heretic.

All good things come from Apple, if there is a flaw you obviously did something wrong.

Stop whining.

And that sums up my issues. Just as you said Phil, it's not that the screen is cracked, but how they react first with when you tell them that it is cracked, and apparently not from someone outside the factory.
And secondly when you ask them to account for the delays.

See a pattern?
Anything implying less than perfection from within the Apple infrastructure is heresy and must be quashed/shunted aside.

You are not happy smiley customer we give you money back, you go way and be quiet K?

mdbookwyrm said...

Check out this article on dealing with Apple - sounds like good advice, especially sending an email to Jobs.
(or the crying at the Genius Bar as mentioned in the comments)

http://theappleblog.com/2009/11/23/apple-tech-support-tips-4-steps-to-bend-apple-to-your-will/

Fred Butler said...

And I hate to put it this way, but who did first article inspection at the plant? Seriously: did they only inspect one? The right thing to do is to sample the population and get after any repeating problems.

Hello, these things are built in China. I'm surprised there wasn't any mercury contamination in his box.

bugblaster said...

You've convinced me. I going to be a PC.

Tom said...

"Get an HP, ..."

I've ordered six systems online from HP, both laptops and desktops. They all shipped before their promised date, and have arrived in perfect condition. Their customer support, when needed, has been adequate.

Kimberly said...

Wow! Really bummed out to hear about your experience. It would have been nice if they had kept the schedule they gave you. Heck, it would have been nice if the first one arrived on time & wasn't broke. But as so many here have already said things do happen.

I, however, do not think there's anything that excuses customer service representatives from acting in an ethical manner. If it's 1 individual within a company or if it's the company itself encouraging unethical practices it is inexcusable.

We can all make reasonings about why this or that happened; why Phil should be more patient; why Apple needs to get it together or whatever. But lying, deceit, trickery or whatever by a company should not be excused because someone worked somewhere and therefore can understand how this or that could have happened. Rationalizing doesn't make lies more truthy or less wrong.

That said, I have 2 macs and they are awesome. Please don't listen to the Mac haters. We've had ours for about 2.5 years and our customer service experience has been amazing. I love never having to be on hold and never being told that my call is important. I love never being passed from person to person and never being told the problems I'm having are really my fault.

Perhaps God does want you to have a Mac, but He's allowing these problems for you now because He happens to know that this will be the only opportunity for you to be a testimony for Him in the lives of the customer services reps at Apple. Once you actually get the computer you may never need to call them again.

Rachael Starke said...

Phil,

Given my allegiance to VMware (it currently employs my husband and even myself there a few years ago), I'd be curious to know what's compelling you to hold on to your new Mac (other than their having your money, of course), instead of just getting a beefier PC and running Fusion on it. (If you'd like to offer up some data, you'll need to use small words and type slow - I'm in marketing. My hubby's the techie. :) )
It goes without saying that you're always eligible for the VMWare friends and family discount.

And add my name to those suspicious that the folks at Apple customer "support" aren't being measured on how well they support customer, but probably more on how well they support Apple's bottom line. My husband got his start at a call center for HP, and there were constant measurements being taken on, not just how many calls he was handling in a given time frame, but on how those calls were resolved. When a support person would rather let you sit on hold for hours rather than bump your call to a more senior person, or try and find the answer to your question, it doesn't take a rocket scientist to figure out they're being measured on serving Apple's needs, not yours.

Sir Brass said...

Having worked with PCs for years, this hasn't convinced me to go back to PC. Rotten customer service is not the same as a rotten product. Something went wrong on the product quality, and it has given Apple a black eye. Their reaction is typical of a corporation's, honestly. Apple is hardly the only corp. to do this, but seeing as how people love to blacken apple's eye when they don't act like knights in shining ethical armor, this looks worse than if it was lying on the part of someone like Dell or Microsoft (who we EXPECT to lie to us).

I'm quite happy with my Mac, and I'm NOT going back to PCs. No way. Why would I?

Kyle Mann said...

@ Sir Brass:

No one's asking you to go back to PC's. If you're happy with Mac, that's great! It sounds like Phil is too, but had a terrible customer service experience.

I personally use PC's because the value is great. For me, I get the most bang for my buck by assembling my own Windows PC's for far cheaper than a comparable Mac. But if Mac OS is your thing, that's great too. It's all about what's important to each individual user.

Stefan said...

Sir Brass wrote:

"Apple is hardly the only corp. to do this, but seeing as how people love to blacken apple's eye when they don't act like knights in shining ethical armor...."

Of course at the end of the day, they are in reality a corporation like any other—but their own carefully crafted corporate image sets themselves up for a fall.

Their whole marketing plan is wrapped up in the idea of a company that is above the fray, offering superior products that never break down, embodied by a corporate mascot—whom prospective customers are expected to identify with—who is nice, smart, hip (but not too hip), cool, and empathetic.

Regarding customer service, having been on the front lines of telephone order-taking in a service industry for ten years, I know it's a challenge. In the job God has provided me now, I'm a manager, but still have to field customer support calls.

Christian witness compels me to do everything I can to assist and help customers, and to resolve their issues in as reasonable and equitable a way as possible—while still guarding the interests of the company, both short term (financial) and long term (goodwill). Our customers rely on our products for their livelihoods, and at the end of the day, lack of sympathy or stalling tactics means they don't put bread on the table for their families.

Sir Brass said...

"No one's asking you to go back to PC's. "

Read some of the other comments ;). That's exactly what other folks are doing. I've built my own PC, and I was able to build a mid-range (in power) PC for the same price as an iMac. The cost to upgrade it to be cutting edge for gaming after a few years was near to the cost that I originally paid for the original components. AND, I'd have to buy Windows again (since XP is no longer supported), and that'd be another $300. OSX never cost that much.

You know how often I had to reinstall windows? Even when that computer was running well, I had more problems than I've had with this Mac.

I'm not trying to defend apple's actions, but simply trying to say that, "Yes, apple has wronged you. But how is this different than when any other corporation lies to you? Because, yes, this is NOT at all unique to Apple. If you go to PC, you'll have the same problem with Dell or Microsoft."

OR, you could get a refund and just get an i5 iMac. Those are supposed to be good. However, I've seen the 27" iMacs..... yeah, I wouldn't want to settle with a 21.5" i5 when I've seen the 27" i7.

David said...

Phil, haven't you tired of the Mac guy and all the other hip/arrogant facade of Apple by now? Their logo is the Eve-bitten Garden apple for goodness sakes. No syncretism, right?

Get an HP Touchscreen. Today.

~Mark said...

People should learn not to do wrong to folks with a listening/reading audience big enough to have an impact on their sales!

Stefan said...

...Re my last comment, I'm sure the phone agents are between a rock and a hard place, and can only say so much, even if they know more.

At the organizational level, there has to be a process and procedure in place to handle out-of-the-box defects like this in an honest and expeditious manner—from fielding customer complaints, to identifying the source of the problem, and fixing and redressing it.

For an IT organization the size of Apple (or Microsoft, to be fair), anything short of that is...well, not good, but sadly par for the course, as was one of Sir Brass's points.

...And this is an example (or counterexample) for those of us who are Christians in industry (or government, or what have you) to constructively contribute to our own corporate culture, in such a way as to live out our calling for the sake of God's common grace in the public good, for the benefit of our stakeholders, our employers, and our own livelihoods.

P.D. Nelson said...

Phil I'm not going to comment on the Apple/PC war get what works for you. I switched friends of mine over to a Mac just because they needed something they couldn't screw up (some people shouldn't own computers).

However your customer service nightmare sounds eerily similar to something I experienced regarding a mortgage company. I think this is the new cruelty training they are using for all customer service call centers including the hideous music as you wait.

I'm sorry that your going through this you have my sympathies.

Tim Bertolet said...

How ironic, Apple's whole approach to customer service, 'dis-satisfied customers are not true believers/customers' and control of information to the customer strikes me as rather '1984-ish'.

Hopefully they aren't too arrogant to correct these problems.

SermonFire said...

The irony is delicious.

I've never had a single company act like I caused the problem when encountering a product defect and calling them asking for a refund/exchange.

Arrogance.

Then to claim that it's an "isolated" case and that "no one's had problems like you..."

And to top it off, no straight answers and screwing with your shipping because...well they can.

That is what you call grade A bull.

Congratulations Apple. You suck.

Don't enable the enablers, buy PC.

And yes, I'd be angry regardless of whether it was Apple or a PC maker, it don't matter.

At least you get to write your sermons by hand like they did in the olden days.

Kyle Mann said...

I took some iPhone earbuds that had blown out the first month of use into the 'genius' bar, and they tried to blame me.

GENIUS: Yeah, usually when they blow out it's because you have it up too loud.

KYLE: No, I actually was listening to a sermon at the time at about half volume and suddenly the volume cut out in the right ear.

GENIUS: Are you sure? Because I've seen a lot of these brought in, and it's always because people listen to the music too loud.

Etc.

Stefan said...

Kyle:

Maybe it was a fire and brimstone sermon on something blistering from the Major Prophets, and the preacher was hitting his crescendo?

:)

Kyle Mann said...

Stefan:

I take it all back. You're totally right. It was W A Criswell. Better go apologize to the genius...

Tom said...

What would John Calvin do?

TAR said...

I am a Mac person as well..

When my 3 yr old I mac burned out its second logic board, I was told to take it to someone local if i wanted it fixed..

2 logic (mother boards) should not go in 3 years on a computer that is recreational..
But I was told that I had a "good run" with my 3 year old mac...

So I bought a mac book and will take my I mac to a local vendor.

If i had your experience i would have driven to a Mac store and told them to make it right NOW.
They have them in stock.
If I have a redux of the logic board issue..this will be my last Chinese made mac . My American made 3G was an iron man

sheshe said...

Having dealt recently with two VERY difficult, and very similar situations, I can understand completely. One of the companies I have been dealing with is AT&T and the other is MoneyGram. Thanks - you have prompted me to take the time to write about my (very well documented) experiences and share them with others, too!

CR said...

Reason number 549 to not buy an Apple non-computer.

Now, as far as their iPod and iPhone they are second to none. I accidentally dropped my iPhone face down on the ground and they replaced it within 4 days (I had Best Buy's Geek Squad black tie protection plan).

You focus on a company's speciality and when it comes to iPods and iPhones they are king. Everything else you are taking a chance (no pun intended).

Jon Elliff said...

Phil, this is why you walk into an Apple store. I guarantee they would have replaced it quicker.

Or next time just stomach paying sales tax and buy it at an apple store (I'm sure apple stores are on every corner in CA). And then you have a singular salesperson you are working with who is desperately in need of commission, a clientele, and repeat sales. No automated phone customer service beats face-to-face sales. All the business I have done with Apple has been through the business guy at the Apple store at Woodland Hills Mall (Tulsa). He has handed me new batteries, extra supplies, and deeply discounted software for me for years oftentimes no questions asked (even after warranties are up!).

Glad you are a mac-man; hate that this round particularly faulty iMacs have victimized you!

Jay C said...

I think at this point it's time to cut your losses and jump from Apple to a PC, maybe one with Linux so you don't lose your programs and such. I'd never shop with Apple again if they put me through all of this.

John Haller said...

When I upgraded to Snow Leopard, I suddenly had a problem where iTunes would wipe out my iPod periodically. It had to be Snow Leopard so I called Apple support. They said that if the computer was booting up, then the problem was not Snow Leopard (because you see, the computer was booting up) and they could not handle a problem with iTunes. I then asked them who made iTunes. We kept this up for a while.

Finally, I asked them if I had somehow been transferred to Microsoft. The poor soul on the phone asked me why and I told them that the conversation we were having was the exact conversation I would have whenever I upgraded a Microsoft operating system. Humor was lost on this person.

Still, love Apple.

Sir Brass said...

Honestly, Apple should cut the manufacturing deals with China. Something tells me that thats the source behind the QA failures. Sure prices would go up (and people would whine and moan and act like Apple is just arbitrarily hiking prices.... another PR nightmare), but quality would improve. These days "made in China", though almost nearly universal, is also a stamp of "lowest quality they could get away with and still do business with us."

Barbara said...

I bought a Dell about 5 years ago, and nearly pulled my hair out with the process (and their website). But then I've noticed a massive improvement since then, and I just replaced my dinosaur, shipped the day after placing the order, in-home and networked and rolling one week later.

My son thinks he wants an iMac for college. Besides the fact that they use MS Office in the colleges in this state, with the story you tell, and for the price, I think we'll stick with Dell.

terry said...

I am constantly amazed at the decline of customer service today. I wonder if it is a by-product of simple greed. Perhaps the recent downturn in the economy will have the serendipitous affect of turning this trend around.

Paula said...

I think your best plan of attack would be to e-mail Steve-O with a brief summary of your complaint, links to your related blog posts, and (important!) a recent copy of your most recent Google Analytics report for the Team Pyro site. CC the marketing department as well. That ought to get someone's attention.

TAR said...

Sir Brass said...
Honestly, Apple should cut the manufacturing deals with China. Something tells me that thats the source behind the QA failures.


I agree, but did prices drop when they moved production there?
I went to Mac because I wanted a hard working dependable computer..that reason is slowly becoming a non issue

Sir Brass said...

TAR, I think the prices were not as high as they would have been had manufacturing been done here. That's my guess.

Also, when a mac works, it WORKS.

Sir Brass said...

Barbra,

As the son of Apple-equipped parents who thought Dell was a good idea for me as well for college, please DO NOT get your son a dell.

Sure they've improved SOME over the past years, but seriously, the quality won't be any different.

My laptop cost my parents around $3400, and it was DEAD (as in, wouldn't even boot up any longer) before it turned 5. It was on it's last legs in 4 years. And in the 3rd and 4th years, my CD/DVD combo drive sputtered out, and my HDD died.

And when that extended warranty went bye-bye, so did any good customer service.

Sir Aaron said...

Well despite the horrible customer service, they still have Phil as a customer. I'm sure that is the same with lots of customers which is why they are so arrogant.

In the two hours that Phil was on the phone, I could have built my own computer, loaded the OS and all software, and still had time to read his blog!

DJP said...

In the two hours that Phil was on the phone, I could have built my own computer, loaded the OS and all software, and still had time to read his blog!

That is going to leave a mark.

Barbara said...

Sir Brass,

If my son needs an iMac that badly, he will have to buy it himself. I don't make that kind of money.

Phil Johnson said...

Barbara:

Look at the Mac Minis. They're cheap and very efficient. When my last desktop PC died (a $3500 HP monster) I replaced it with a $600 Mac Mini. I can run Windows on it in a virtual machine, so I kept all the HP's software, and it runs 5 times faster than it did on the HP.

There's a reason I'm sticking with the Mac, even though Apple has let me down pretty severely on this one.

Phil Johnson said...

Sir Aaron:

With Windoze, buildng the PC and loading the OS is the least of your worries. It would take you an additional 4 days to load all the software I use, reset all my user preferences, and then optimize the registry. It would also take you half a day or longer just to download all the security updates after you did that fresh install of the OS.

I'm upgrading my Windoze virtual machine to Windoze 7 next month, and I'm dreading that. I'd rather make 25 2-hour calls to Apple's help line than go through one Windoze reinstall from the ground up.

Susan said...

Phil, you need to post this on PC World or something--and watch Apple send your computer via overnight courier!! :)

Michael said...

Never be first up for the latest and greatest from anything PC/Mac. Can you say buggy? Apple still rocks, but since everything is farmed out to build, the first runs are likely to have flaws. At least you didn't buy an XBox. Talk about a lemon!!!

Olly said...

Apple's customer service is already so focused on appearing "nice" on the phone that it was merely a run around without ever being straight forward about it.

They would protest "I didn't say that" because they can't word it any other damn way to make you feel better when it is an Apple side fault.

A supervisor who couldn't get back to you for 2 hours. Puhleeeeeez. He/She had to just make next actions happen & not sit and hear a customer on the phone for 2 hours or another colleague. Repeating a statement every 3 minutes is not an issue and then begging you to take the refund is merely a way of finding you to get off the phone.

The customer is priority, but Apple is good at sweet talking because the American consumer compared to the international one is used to that sort of "nice" treatment.

It's the same as Verizon, they can bully you because you like their damn product/service.

I'm really sorry you are going through this.

Re: what Sir Brass said

Think like a corporation, would YOU want that kind of info getting out (forget the notion that they owe you an explanation. such things don't exist in a corporation's mind once they get your money)?

I agree with him about the "think like a corporation"
but the corporation has to "change" it's mindset because more and more consumers like you are getting out, more and more of you are there willing to accept faults if conveyed to honestly and more and more of you are able to blog about it. The change is going to be slow.....and hopefully it'll happen

Kelly Brumbelow said...

@Sandman
I was an IT professional for a decade+ as well as a technical trainer. That being said I call em as I see em, whining is whining especially when it comes from one in a forum such as this. If you are an early adopter, then you get the risks of early adoption including possible batch failures and delays in shipping. If you do not like it then do not order on the day a product is announced.

Olly said...

@Kelly,
Re: your statement
"If you are an early adopter, then you get the risks of early adoption including possible batch failures and delays in shipping."

Being an early adopter as a consumer is no excuse for a company to give up testing, quality inspection, and the likes. If they had a late development, that's their fault, not something the consumer has to necessarily deal with. This situation is akin to buying a new car that comes out but having the windshield cracked on delivery and being told that ohh, you were one of the first ones to buy the car, so wait a few months for your specially coated glass replacement.

" whining is whining especially when it comes from one in a forum such as this."

Bullsh*t. This is merely a customer accounting their experience and everyone has a right to complain, it's human to do that. Heard a dog complain?

All the consumer did was demand a straight answer, that's not whining. Whining is when you refuse to ask questions to move forward and continue to complain excessively not looking for solutions - that's my book's definition.

I've been in IT for 10+ years myself and in a business to business environment, there is more sympathy, companies can be more honest with each other.
For consumers, it's the companies that's responsible for wanting to give the customer numerous assurances ans simple answers, wanting to appear *perfect*. Now they suffer from a customer voicing their opinion publicly.

The customer has a right to find answers to a straightforward request, furthermore, the customer should have been told I do "not" have concrete answers for you.

Bill Brown said...

Phil, but the sad truth it that you'll probably put up with whatever Apple says and does. They're Apple, the only show in town. If you addicted to Macs, they own you.

sumo said...

Phil,

I can PERFECTLY empathize with you situation... In fact, clone your experience, add on the fact that Apple sold me a used computer as new and has held on to $4,600 of my money for too log... They also will not refund any money to me from my original purchse... I detailed the experience here...

http://sumopro.blogspot.com/2009/12/blog-post.html

Let me kow what you think my next step should be...