August 22, 2009

The Point of No Return

The title refers to the recent failure of the "Return/Enter" key on my brand new MacBook Air, and although I would love to claim the credit for such an inspired but excruciating pun, in fact it was suggested by an online friend who may wish to remain nameless. ;-)

However, that was the only bright spot in a tedious exercise involving
  1. Finding the Invoice to prove it is still in Warranty (no mean feat in itself).
  2. Wondering why this is necessary when the machine was registered with Apple - what is the purpose of that if you still need to produce the paper copy?
  3. Driving 40 minutes to the nearest "Authorised Apple Agent".
  4. Getting a phone call the next day to say there is no indication that it is still under warranty.
  5. Reminding them that they took a photocopy of the Invoice I provided.
  6. Grinding teeth while they looked for it, and grimly accepting their apology when they found it.
  7. Getting another phone call to say the key worked fine (subtext "Perhaps you are just a really stupid user?")
  8. Explaining that I had provided detailed notes on the service form about the fact the key only started to fail after repeated use.
  9. Grinding teeth again while they looked for the service form, and even more grimly accepting their apology when they found it.
  10. Hoping they can actually find the problem.
  11. Waiting, and waiting ... and still waiting. ("Estimated service time 3-10 working days.")
Meanwhile, of course, I am without my laptop. My shiny, undeniably gorgeous laptop. Above all, my expensive and new laptop. It does not seem right that through a succession of faults or errors on their part, I should be the one so inconvenienced and out of pocket.

But wait, there's more ...

Even more recently than my MacBook Air purchase, I paid Apple Store Australia a large sum of money for a new iPhone 3GS, which I bought outright to avoid the confusion of different plans. After a week or two it duly arrived, only to crush my expectations and delight by failing to pick up the wireless signal in my home, even when I stood directly in front of the modem, pointing furiously.
Another predictable sequence of events:
  1. Ring Apple Australia service department.
  2. Speak to friendly person in India who is terribly polite but completely unable to understand the problem.
  3. Get transferred to a succession of equally polite but unhelpful people in India.
  4. Finally reach someone who can actually help. Take a very deep breath and explain yet again, trying very hard indeed to be as polite as they are.
  5. Told to send the iPhone back to Apple, wait several weeks until more are in stock, and then receive a replacement.
  6. Explain that I need to have a mobile phone, so that is unacceptable.
  7. Ask why I can't keep this iPhone to use as a mobile phone until new stock arrives.
  8. Told that they will not even order a replacement until they get the broken one back, so the "only" way I can keep the phone in the meantime is to buy a second one, and when that arrives, return the first one for a refund.
  9. Momentarily speechless.
  10. Check that they actually mean for me to pay TWICE for a working phone, trusting them to refund one payment at some unspecified time in the future.
  11. Yes.
  12. Decide to accept this incredible "solution" rather than be without a phone for another month or more.

Forgive my rant, but I simply cannot see the "customer service" in all of this.
In both cases I have paid in advance for expensive items that I have to wait for, and then subsequently have to return at my own expense and inconvenience, due to problems entirely at Apple's end.

I've been a devoted Mac fan since the days of the old Apple II computer, and I still think they are wonderful machines, but their service seriously sux.

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