I didn’t think I’d ever say that. I’m a long time apple user, dating all the way back to pre-performa macs – before the ipod, before osX, before macs were cool again. I’ve been using them for a long time. And as much as I hate to say it, apple’s increase in market share is ruining their customer support. In life of my current mac – a 2ghz white macbook, I’ve had three terrible customer service experiences, all in the span of a year.
The first experience was after I bought my laptop. I bought it at a store called Fry’s electronics. Frys electronics is a terrible place, and I should have known better. The laptop had been returned by someone else and they had put it back on the shelf. I didn’t notice at first, but over the first couple days I realized that someone had been using it, and that there was a hairline crack on the case on the edge near the trackpad. Unfortunately, I had bought it just prior to moving, and was unable to go back to the store where I had bought it. No problem, I thought, I’ll just go to the mac store: apple’s customer service is awesome; they’ll take care of it.
When I got to the mac store, they said they wouldn’t fix it because I bought it somewhere else. “It’s a week and a half old,” I said, “and the store where I got it is in Seattle!” – I was hoping that being in Los Angeles, this might take care of it. “Deal with Frys” was the only answer I got.
Next I bought a printer online, via the apple store. Everything went well, until – shit! – I picked the wrong address. I had bought my dad an ipod for his birthday and his address was the default, having the same last name, I didn’t notice the difference until the confirmation email popped into my email box a few minutes later. I tried to change it via the site, but couldn’t, so I called apple tech support. They were closed. I called the next morning as soon as the lines opened and asked to cancel my order. The rep was nice, but told me, “You can’t, it’s already in the warehouse.” Looking online, I could see the status showed it unshipped. “We can’t cancel it.” I ended up having to have my parents refuse the order –twice- pay the extra shipping, and ultimately, “deal with it,” which seems to be the apple customer service mantra of late.
My most recent poor customer service experience occurred today. The macbook air’s SSD capacity has been increased to 128g. I travel a lot and weight matters. I pretty much decided to shell out the three grand and buy one. To make the price tag a little more palatable, I thought I could sell my current macbook, to recoup some of the expense. It’s still go that crack though, so I felt guilty about passing it on in less than perfect condition. I went to the apple store and they told me, I’d have to wait for a “genius” to look at it, which would be a forty five minute wait. “I’d like to just buy the part, please,” I said, being very technical and more than comfortable fixing a broken case. “You can’t buy those,” the genius replied. Showing him a link to a site where they can be purchased, I asked again if I could buy it. Again he refused. “You can wait, or you can go to an authorized apple repair shop, you’re not allowed to open it up.” That’s the point where I left. I spent $1000 on this laptop. I own it. I can do whatever the damn well I please with it, even if that’s chucking it into a wall. I don’t have an extended warranty, so it’s none of their business what I do with it. I just want the part. In addition, I bought the original iphone, for the original price. I bought the new iphone and gave my old one to my sister. I bought my parents a new imac – top of the line configuration, and I was, until about 20 minutes ago, going to spend another $3k on a macbook air.
I’m a technical instructor. I talk to a lot of people. I’ve turned countless students on to mac buy showing how it’s got a real unix subsystem and I can still use my Microsoft apps. I’m pretty sure I won’t be doing that any more. As nice as their devices are, their customer service experience is so bad that I can’t in good conscience recommend their products any more.