Apple – a customer support nightmare!

A few years ago I decided to change over to Apple computers from Windows based computers and up until now it seemed the right decision. There had always been certain incomprehensible “rules” by Apple, but I could live with them.

A few weeks ago I ordered my new MacBook Pro and I wanted a German keyboard, of cause I could not order a German keyboard, you can order a French keyboard? All these computers are made in the same factory – in my case to order – so why do I have to get a friend in Germany to order the computer for me. This time a friendly guy in my Apple Store told me I could pay $200/£100 extra and they would change the keyboard in store for me. I asked again why I could not get the German keyboard in the UK, apparently more Germans then French people live in the UK?

I was promised an answer, but never got one.

So I went ahead and did that, I ordered my new laptop with the new Mac OS 10.5 installed, and agreed to pay the extra for the keyboard.

When the order arrived last Friday all hell broke loose:

  1. I was sent a computer with OS 10.4 installed not OS 10.5.
  2. I received an extra box and had to install OS 10.5 myself.
  3. Then I discovered I had been charged extra for the Mac OS 10.5, I had to pay for one old and one new operating system.
  4. Next I discovered a new spec computer had been launched and I had been send the old one.
  5. I used the migration assistant to move all files across to my new computer and at first all seemed fine.
  6. I then gave my old computer to someone else and reformatted it.
  7. You guessed it, as soon as I had done that my new computer started having problems, no calendar or address book data anymore,then my email started going and so on – I rebooted and that was that – I could no longer log in.
  8. I called tech support and after waiting for about 20 to 25 minutes, I was told the FileVault is the problem a “known” issue. Known to whom, not me?
  9. Result some of my data was lost, most of it saved, thanks to Ian from Apple tech-support. However my user account could not be deleted and could be causing problems in the future. Ian was not sure if it could be some hardware related issue, so we agreed the computer should go back and be replaced, but that I could work with if for now, if I made backups of everything I did.
  10. Over to after-sales support, here is where the problem started. I wanted a new computer before I would return this one, since I can not be without my computer. That was not possible – so I said I would order a new computer, pay for it again and when I received the new one, I would send the old one back and get a refund.
  11. At this point Nicole (after-sales support) took pity on me and said she would get an supervisor to call, he/she could get me a computer before I had to send the old one back.
  12. You guessed it the supervisor did not call, so I called again after 20 minutes waiting time I was told to wait my turn. So I waited until next day – no call.
  13. I called again and again after waiting 20 minutes on the phone, I had to explain all this again, I was told I would get a return form to fill in. And I should order a new computer.
  14. I ordered my new computer – delivery 3-4 weeks – got my confirmation email within a minute. But now email to return my current computer.
  15. I have now borrowed my old computer back, she does not know it’s going to be four weeks yet – what fun?
  16. So this morning I clicked on a link on the original invoice to write to Apple, I could not face another wait on the telephone and telling the story one more time. I wrote all this in an email, guess what – it was returned to me, with smtp – code: 550 5.1.1 unknown or illegal alias:
  17. Back to the phone, and I’m told someone will call me back – I give up. I asked if there was a way to speed up my new order, they will try – code for no.

This has cost me about three days in work and time so far and at Apple nobody seems to care. That is worrying, since it could indicate a serious shift in Apples customer care policy and/or capacity. Could it be that Apple has become too successful, are they going to be just like Microsoft? Many questions, no answers!

Good news – I can blog about this, it’s therapy – otherwise I would explode! Thanks Apple, you really made it clear to me, how important individual customers are to you! ST.

UPDATE Nov 7, 2008 – 13:00 BST : I have not had a call from Apple, but the TNT courier called, they are going to pick up the old computer this afternoon. No news on speeding up my order or why I can’t have a German keyboard, either.

UPDATE Nov 7, 2008 – 13:42 BST: Just spoken with after -sales support (Kathrine), as another order of our has gone missing (!?!) and was supposedly delivered on Saturday and signed by me – I must have amnesia.

She then checked back on the main issue here and told me that no request had been made for a supervisor to call me back, this is getting more and more out of hand – I wonder if anyone really knows what is going on in Apple.

UPDATE Nov 8, 2007 – 19.38 BST: Kathrine also did not get one of the supervisors to call me – so I guess Apple has decided to ignore me – lesson learned.

On a better note my local Apple Store, who tried to support me thru all this, called again, to find out if I had heard anything new? Even they where quite upset about the service and treatment I got from after Apple after sales support. They tried to help with calling them as well, special thanks to Christopher for his interest. I love those guys at the Apple Store, Regent Street, London, it is just a shame that they can not deal with the “custom orders” direct, then I would not have had an issue. Something Apple should also consider changing.

All this has made it clear to me that what we are doing with our OnlineOffice is a god-send for small business, because all of these issues could not happen with our software, since you can use any computer with any browser – even Safari, my favorite browser – anytime and anywhere.

This will quite possibly by my last update, since I do not think things are going to improve with my now two open customer support cases with Apple after sales care, and life is too short. I will only update this if something positive happens – if it doesn’t, I’m sure you can draw your own conclusions.

Like Michael Dell once said – maybe Apple should think about this:

“If someone thinks they are mistreated by us, they won’t tell 5 people, they’ll tell 5000.”

Personally I think Michael underestimated the numbers considerably. ST.

UPDATE Nov 10, 2007: Unbelievably there is a sequel to this storyApple – the customer support nightmare – Part II: The Criminal Investigation“. I would not thought it possible that this story could still get worse, how wrong I was.

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