Apple Customer Service

Discussion in 'Mac Pro' started by TheWedge, Oct 20, 2007.

  1. TheWedge macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Jan 10, 2007
    #1
    This is long - so consider yourself warned, but if you would like to know about Apple Customer Service, please read.

    Here is the e-mail I sent to sjobs@apple.com - subject "For the Head of Customer Service". Now, I don't expect the CEO or head of customer service to read it, but I hope someone who needs to see it does...

    To whom it may concern,

    Re: Case #.............

    Following is a long (and still unresolved) story of Customer Service Frustration. While anything that can be done to rectify my case is welcome (I think I just need a new memory riser believe it or not - or approval to let me keep my hard drive if my unit has to be replaced), my main aim is simply to make you aware of my struggle to help Apple improve customer service in the future. Until a week ago, I was a strong supporter to all my friends of switching from PC to Mac on their next purchase. My experience with Apple customer service is quickly eroding the depth of my support.

    I have a Mac Pro, and when I powered it up Tuesday morning, I noticed a strange smell coming from it, turned the power off, opened up the side panel and turned the power back on to see smoke streaming from one of the memory risers. I pulled the power cord, and then all other cords.

    12:52 that day (Tuesday), I found the time to call Apple about the issue. I chose to try calling rather than making the 50 mile (each way) drive to the Apple store and lugging the mac pro through the mall - though I knew I could make the drive to the Apple store that afternoon or the following day if they couldn't facilitate the repair over the phone. However, after Wednesday my next opportunity (due to work appointments) to go to the Apple Store would be Monday, but I assumed I would know whether I needed to make the drive within 24 hours of my first phone call, so I was hoping for a quick fix one way or the other.

    So, on phone call number one at 12:52 Tuesday, I'm welcomed by a notably unfriendly customer service rep who rattles through a few questions. I tell her my Mac Pro memory riser is smoking, everything else seems to be ok, so odds are I just need a new riser sent to me. I'm put on a lengthy hold, to be transferred to a technician. I tell the technician the story, and based on the keyword smoke (or maybe he substituted fire) he very apparently goes into the guide on his screen to ask me a myriad of pre-formatted questions that clearly have nothing to do with my situation (after explaining to him there was a small amount of smoke, no flame, coming from three metal squares on my riser, with no damage or residue apparent anywhere else inside the computer, I'm asked if there was any charring to surrounding furniture, whether the fire department was called, whether the smoke forced evacuation from the house, etc. etc.) I understand Apple needs to lookout for liability, but the most frustrating part to me of any customer service call is when common sense is prohibitively banned from being used by the representative, as is very apparently the case with Apple customer service. So, he asks me to e-mail him pictures of the riser. Having anticipated this, I had already taken them, so he has them within 20 seconds, puts me on hold to speak with a "safety expert", comes back and tells me the "safety expert" (whom, incidentally he calls an "engineer" in our next phone contact) needs to investigate further and will get back to him within an hour or two, at which point he'll call me back.

    Forward to the following day (Wednesday), 12:35pm (23 hours after the first call ended). I call the technician back on the direct line he provided me, reminding him that I'm awaiting a call back that was to be in an hour or two. I ask that one once he's arrived and settled in (his voice-mail message stated that he worked Sat-Wed 1pm-9pm), that he give me a call. I'm hoping for a call soon, as this day was my last opportunity to make the long drive to the Apple Store until the following Monday...and working out of my home, each day without my computer is not only exceedingly frustrating to me, it's damaging to the service I can provide to my clients. As the day goes on, my ability to make the drive to the Apple store fades away, and at 4:53pm I call the technician again, asking for a call back as soon as possible with at least a status update, since it's Wednesday and he won't be working again until Saturday.

    Wednesday 5:53pm, I receive a call back from the technician, who says he still has not heard anything from the engineer, and that despite his voice-mail message he will be in on Thursday and will call me when he hears something, and after Thursday he'll be on vacation for a week, so he'll give my case to someone else to keep an eye on if it's still ongoing.

    Thursday, I'm out on appointments most of the day, but expecting a voice-mail at some point. Nothing.

    Friday, I'm out on appointments until arriving home and calling Apple at 2:59pm since I still have not heard anything. I call the technician's direct line, hoping he's left a voice-mail of who's covering for him. No such luck. It actually doesn't even say that he's gone for a week.... So at 3:01 I call back trying to go in the same way to find an opt out in the phone system to get directly to a technician instead of having to go through another initial customer service rep, and wait on hold forever. No such luck. So I call back, get another customer service rep, and do wait on hold forever (probably about 40 minutes). The good news is this customer service rep is somewhat more courteous and professional. I eventually get to another technician, tell my story again, and am told that the engineer never got my info from the first technician, please send the photos again, and he'll pass them and the info on and should hear back in an hour or two (which is the same line I had heard 75 hours ago). I mention how much missing my computer is killing me and my clients, and do ask to at least hear a status update asap of when I can expect final resolution, even if resolution hasn't happened yet. I mean there's a 90+% chance that if they just send me a new memory riser everything will be ok, this is crazy!

    Friday 7:13pm, I get a call back saying that I need to either take the Mac Pro into the Apple Store for repair (wish I had heard that 3 days ago!) or mail it back to Apple at which point they'll send me a new or refurbished replacement. Well, at this point, since I can't get to an Apple store for repair for a few days, I say the replacement is fine, but ask to keep my hard drive (in addition to losing any data that I had added since my last back-up, it's an absolute pain to reinstall things with limited licenses and have to call each company and explain that the previous license was used on a hard drive that I had to send back, etc etc). I'm told I can not keep the hard drive and that I need to get the data off myself (I don't have another Mac) or take it to the Apple store to have them scrape it -- and of course, this doesn't help the licensing issues anyway!! This is a Mac Pro! It's built for easy access to hard drives, this is unreal! I would welcome them sending my replacement without one, or I'd be happy to PAY a fair price for the used one I have. Though with 1 hour and 51 minutes of time spent on the phone (so far), all this frustration, lack of use of my computer, anxious clients (for work that I need to do with software that's on that computer -- which, incidentally has limited licenses!), I would think that for customer satisfaction purposes, letting me keep my hard drive is an easy fix (not as easy as just sending me a new memory riser 4 days ago would've been, but it's still pretty darn easy). The second technician is supposed to call me back today after asking around to find out if there's a way to make this happen. Just make it happen! every extra day is killing me!

    So, to recap. Until this week, I was recommending Apple to all of my friends and colleagues, and was planning to replace my wife's HP laptop with a Macbook when the time comes. Now I'm not so sure. How this all winds up may be the determining factor. I made a huge leap of faith with my first Apple product being a Mac Pro. I bought my first digital music player before Apple was in the game (2000 or 2001 I had a 5gb archos jukebox, replaced by a 40gb Toshiba gigabeat), so I never went down the Ipod path, though I was making my way towards it, as my current player has become extremely outdated. Nor have I made my way to the Iphone, as I had bought a pocket pc phone within the past year, though I've been spying the Iphone reviews for when replacement time comes. This was my first foray into Apple, and I moved in anticipation a long term switch (obviously - the Mac Pro isn't cheap). I researched mightily. I felt confident. -- though now I do recall mixed reviews on customer service. I'm thrilled with my hardware, even after this issue. Things happen with technology. I would like perfection through the years, but don't expect it. Apple service seems abysmal. And with a machine that is likely to need service at some point in it's lifespan, service is incredibly important in the computer world. The service that I needed on my wife's HP laptop was solid and expedient. When I call a customer service center in India, I get nervous that due to the outsourcing, the customer service rep will not have the knowledge to assist appropriately (outsourced customer service reps often handle too many different products or even too many companies to be knowledgeable about any one), but I was pleasantly surprised with HP. However, I expected Apple to trump that experience in friendliness, expertise, resolution and expediency, and Apple has so far failed in all four, though resolution may still be redeemed.

    I can only hope that final resolution of my issue is smooth, and that my confidence in Apple is rebuilt. But, for now, I am on the fence of an Apple future or a PC/Zune/Pocket PC phone future. Time will tell.

    Please use my experience to better your customer service, and please don't hesitate to contact me if I can share more specifics. Thank you.
     
  2. FF_productions macrumors 68030

    FF_productions

    Joined:
    Apr 16, 2005
    Location:
    Mt. Prospect, Illinois
    #2
    Bad luck is what we like to call it.

    I have an Apple Store 10 minutes away from my house, yours is a lot farther away.

    You were put in a tough situation. I'm not in Apple Defense mode, I'm just being honest with you.

    Whenever I have a hardware issue, I'll take it straight to my store, because it is conveniently located close to my house.

    The one thing about Apple is that they don't have technicians that come to your home like Dell has (I think its a special service but whatever). They think there is an Apple Store on every corner and that people don't take 100 mile visits to the store.
     
  3. thxdave macrumors member

    Joined:
    Aug 10, 2007
    Location:
    Florida
    #3
    I'd be amazed if they sent you a memory riser. If I was in tech support, I'd want to know if it was indeed the riser itself that failed OR some other sub-system that caused the riser to fail and all the magic smoke to escape. The liability issues alone would make me nervous if I was in Tech Support. Also, just out of curiousity, what did you mean when you made repeated references to "limited licenses"?
     
  4. FF_productions macrumors 68030

    FF_productions

    Joined:
    Apr 16, 2005
    Location:
    Mt. Prospect, Illinois
    #4

    Licenses to Software sounds like it.
     
  5. thxdave macrumors member

    Joined:
    Aug 10, 2007
    Location:
    Florida
    #5
    Yeah, I assumed he meant that, but "limited" in what way? You either own it or you don't right, or did I miss some subtlety here?
     
  6. TheWedge thread starter macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Jan 10, 2007
    #6
    -Yes, in saying limited licenses I was referring to software. I have at least four applications installed that can only be installed twice (and have been on my desktop and my wife's laptop). One of which (Adobe Acrobat) I've already had to call adobe to authorize installing a third time (explaining to them it was the same machine, just with a new harddrive since the first one on my wife's laptop crashed). They'll love hearing the same (similar) story again. I'm sure it will work out with all four apps, but more time and frustration to expend on my part for apple's faulty part doesn't seem fair if it's not necessary.

    -And I do agree with the comment that if I were a Tech I wouldn't take chances with smoke due to liability issues. But the issue could've been resolved 3 or 4 days ago either by sending me straight to the apple store then, or facilitating the return/replace right away (preferably with allowing me to keep the hard drive). It's the poor customer service that has cost me unnecessary additional time without my machine (and to continue that, the second tech I talked with yesterday never called me back today as he promised).

    The good news is that within hours of my e-mail, on a Saturday, I received a call explaining that everything possible would be done to rectify the situation on Monday, including calling the closest Apple store to see if they had a replacement of equal or greater configuration, and if not, steps for shipped replacement would be put in place. I was also told that unless an engineer insisted that the harddrive was necessary for the study of the riser failure, that I could keep the harddrive.

    The call was cordial, understanding, and apologetic for the problems I had encountered, insisting that it was not reflective of typical Apple service. My experience is, of course, what I’ve dealt with the past week, but this was certainly a big step in building confidence that my experience may have been the exception rather than the rule. The next few days will hopefully continue to build that confidence, and if they go well, I would likely enter my next encounter with Apple customer service (if necessary) with trepidation, but at the same time using that next experience as my true judge of their service and discounting this as the exception (assuming the next experience is different!)
     
  7. termina3 macrumors 65816

    Joined:
    Jul 16, 2007
    Location:
    TX
    #7
    Hopefully you won't ever have to deal with customer service again... which would indicate nothing went wrong in the first place.
     
  8. suneohair macrumors 68020

    suneohair

    Joined:
    Aug 27, 2006
    #8
    You should also try finding a certified repair center, generally there is one pretty close. They can do all the same things too and it is covered by Apple of course.
     
  9. thxdave macrumors member

    Joined:
    Aug 10, 2007
    Location:
    Florida
    #9
    Just curious....do you have Applecare or is this being handled under the normal warranty?
     
  10. TheWedge thread starter macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Jan 10, 2007
    #10
    It's being handled under the normal warranty (the unit is approx 6 mths old).

    Of the five people I've talked to, only the first even mentioned Apple Care -- asking whether I had it. I responded not yet, I plan to before the year's up. She explained she could only do phone troubleshooting for a fee if it's not a covered warranty issue. I explained the problem, and that I felt it was likely a covered hardware issue and we moved on...
     
  11. TheWedge thread starter macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Jan 10, 2007
    #11
    Wow, the person I spoke with Saturday called me back today before noon, as promised. And my current relief/mild surprise at that fact lets me know just how much last week had lowered my expectations.

    This latest person I've been dealing, however, has been fantastic. she's arranged for me to pick up a new unit with the same configuration at the Apple Store this evening - and instructed me that I may keep my current hardrive and add it to the new unit as a second drive, and that a new one year warranty will start today.

    My call to Apple in the first place was to avoid the long drive to the store if I didn't have to make it, though if they told me the store was the best way to handle the situation, I could and would have made the drive with no real frustration. If I had been given today's solution last week I actually would've been thrilled with Apple customer service. As it is, I plan to try to let the latest person's quick, positive resolution wipe the previous frustration away and will judge Apple's customer service on my next encounter (should one be necessary).

    Now, back to enjoying my Mac Pro!
     

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