I’m Starting to Think Apple Treats Their Customers Very Poorly
For the past 3 years or so I’ve become something of an Apple fanboy. It started with making a switch about 3 years ago from being a 15 year PC user to my first MacBook Pro as my primary computer.
Then I drank the kool-aid and waited in line overnight at the Palo Alto store for the very first iPhone (that was fun). Then I bought the second iPhone right away.
Then I waited in line again for over 6 hours to buy the third iPhone 3GS. Then I bought a new MacBook Pro spending over $3,000. Then I bought my daughter an iPod mini. Then I bought a Mac Mini for the kitchen at home. Etc. etc. You get the idea.
All along the way Apple products have slowly been replacing competitor’s products in my house and in my life.
One of the things that I’ve always liked about Apple is that they have physical stores where when things go wrong I can go deal with them.
Back in the olden days I bought a Dell PC once. It had problems and I literally had to pack the thing all up, deal with the hassle of shipping it, send it back to Texas, had to wait for a few weeks and finally got my fixed PC back. So a big appeal to me with Apple products is that they have stores where I can go to deal with issues if they pop up (and issues *always* pop up with technology).
But lately I’ve been feeling like the service that you get at the Apple stores is complete crap and that they treat their customers (many loyal users who spend thousands of dollars per year with them) very poorly.
A few examples.
1. A few months back my MacBook Pro wouldn’t boot. I was bummed. I use this computer every day. I hate not having it. It was 6pm or so on a Friday night. I drove down to the Emeryville Apple store. I got there and the store asked me the dreaded question of whether or not I had an appointment or not. I said no and so they said no dice. I said I could wait, 30 minutes, an hour 2 hours, 5 hours. No luck. They simply refused to see me.
They were willing to make me an appointment for later that night at the San Francisco store, so I took that and had to drive across a traffic infested Bay Bridge, pay to park at Union Square, etc. in order to get over there.
Once I was there and got to see a guy, he tried to boot up my computer and no luck. He tried 3 or 4 different things and then sort of gave up. He hooked something up to my Mac and said my hard drive was dead. I told him that everything was working flawlessly before and I was surprised that this would be the problem etc. etc. But rather than really digging into it and trying more things he simply dismissed it as hard drive failure.
Of course Apple didn’t have the hard drive and so they’d need to order it (on a Mac less than a year old). I’d have to make another appointment to bring it back once the hard drive came in etc. etc.
To make a long story short, while waiting to get the hard drive in at the Apple store, I was able to work on it more at home myself and finally got it back operational, reinstalled the system software and got my Mac back.
I’ve been using this same hard drive for the past few months with zero problems. I felt like I was told that my problem was a hard drive failure because it was the fastest easiest way to deal with me, even if it meant I’d possibly lose data and be inconvenienced with the repair.
2. A few weeks back I decided that I needed a car battery charger for my iPhone. So I stopped off at the Apple store at Walnut Creek. It was 9:45 a.m. and super cold outside. The front door to the store was unlocked. There were people back at the genius bar working with customers. And there were about 10 Apple store employees just standing around with their hands in their pockets.
I was greeted by a woman at the door who again asked me if I had an appointment. I said, no that I just wanted to quickly purchase a cigarette lighter power adapter for my iPhone. She told me that they couldn’t sell me one until 10a.m.
So I said ok, I’ll wait then. To which the woman replied, I’m not going to be able to let you wait in the store (even though there were plenty of other customers with “appointments” I guess already in the store and the front doors were unlocked).
Now it was really cold outside that morning and to make matters worse I had two little girls (my daughters) age 5 and 7 with me. So this Apple employee literally boots me out of the store and so there I am sitting on the cold concrete outside the store for 15 minutes with two little girs who are complaining about being cold. Because the Apple employees (all sitting around doing nothing) can’t take 2 minutes to sell me a simple accessory and to make matters worse, won’t even let me wait in the warm store with a heater on and instead put a dad and his two little girls outside in the cold on the sidewalk.
By the way Apple, that photo up above is of one of my little girls, one of the little girls that you made sit outside in the cold in Walnut Creek on the sidewalk using your iPhone.
3. The headphones on my iPhone went out. This is the 3Gs iPhone that I bought less than a year ago (it hasn’t been out a year yet) and is still under warranty. So yesterday I went up to the Apple store on Union Square and waited in line to see a cashier and explained my problem and asked if I could swap them out for a working pair. The cashier said they couldn’t help me. That I could only swap my headphones out with an appointment from the genius bar (WTF?).
So I went upstairs and of course there were no appointments. I was also told again that I couldn’t wait that there was nobody period to see me. That I would need to make an appointment. To do a 2 minute swap out of my headphones I asked incredulously? Yes, I was told. I explained that I was leaving today (which I am) for a trip to Miami and had really hoped to be able to listen to my iPhone.
So the person suggested that I buy a new pair of headphones. Come back and return them within 14 days, make an appointment to have my headphones replaced under warranty, and go that route. Which sounded just stupid to me (all for a 2 minute procedure) so I complained one last time and the person at the genius bar had another person take me back downstairs to the same cashier line I’d been it at the very beginning and swap out my headphones for me (which I really appreciated, but it probably shouldn’t have taken 40 minutes to get this done).
So these are my three of my four most recent experiences at the Apple store. The fourth one was a no brainer. I wanted to buy a MacMini. They sold that to me in about 5 minutes all lickety split like no trouble indeed there. Sure were happy to take my money.
I’ll probably continue buying Apple’s overpriced hyped products because I love them and they make great products (or maybe I won’t). Am I a sucker? Maybe. But I sure wish they didn’t treat their customers like such crap. Maybe it’s stupid of me to feel like after spending thousands of dollars every year with a company that I ought to get treated a little bit better, but I do feel that way.
And I sure wish Apple would require their employees to go through Nordstrom’s customer service training or something. Because while they may get away with treating me like crap for now because they have great products, eventually somebody else will have a better product and the way I’ve been treated will make it that much easier to switch.
I’ll tell you one thing though. I sure as hell didn’t pre-order an iPad. At least that makes me feel a little better.