It's a sad day - Stuart Lauchlan, fervent and devoted MAC user, ends his long love affair with Apple...
Dear Steve Jobs
I write this more in pain than pleasure. It's never easy when a long term relationship hits the rocks. You and me and Apple, we've been together a hell of a long time. I mourned your ousting by that interloper from Pepsi. I came with you when you spent the wilderness years Microsoft-bashing at various object management events in the 1990s. I even managed to keep a straight face during that odd period with those hideous black NeXT computers (what was that all about anyway?)
But it's over Steve, thanks to your call centre staff. How did it come to this? Only a few weeks ago I was singing the praises of Apple for being efficient in its handling of customer service enquiries and problems. But after this week's example of the worst 'customer dis-service' I've ever encountered from an IT vendor, there's no going back.
And it's all a follow on from the earlier good help that was given out. But then last time I got lucky with the nice Irish chap. The French fellow this week was less endearing - and as for his German line manager...!! Perhaps that's the lesson to be learned: if you get an Irish accent answering your call, stick with it - anything else, put the phone down and save your blood pressure.
I'd bought an iBook earlier in the year. Last month, three months after I bought it, the hard disk collapsed. I called for help. The original Irish customer service operator, when told the serial number, was able to tell me at once to take it to a repair shop, adding "We've had some bother with some of that batch."
I took it to my local Apple dealer who installed a new hard disk, but when I got it home I found that my Airport wirless card could no longer pick up signals from a base station only a few feet away. My Apple desktop was getting a full signal from the same base station, while the laptop was also able to pick up a signal from the wireless network in Starbucks.
So I called the Apple support desk again and asked them how I put back the settings that had been in place before the hard disk collapsed. In other words, how to return my computer to the state it had been in before Apple's defective equipment had failed after three months.
I was told they could do this, but that free telephone support was not available after three months. I pointed out that the only thing I was asking was how to put my computer back to the condition it was in before the collapse and that Apple had itself admitted that it was likely that this machine came from a defective batch.
Oh no, we don't give out technical support for free under any circumstances, I was told. If I was prepared to hand over my credit card number then I'd be told how to restore my settings. I pointed out again that the only reason I was having to make this request was because Apple had sold me a machine that collapsed on itself after three months and that I had been without a laptop for three weeks as a result which was a considerable inconvenience that had nothing to do with me. Did he not feel that Apple perhaps might feel some responsibility under the circumstances? Apparently not. Rules is rules. More than his job was worth.
You see this is what puzzles me Steve... In all the time I've known you, you've been interesting, spikey, quotable, flamboyant, undoubtedly mercurial, probably both inspiring and horrendous to work for at the same time, but through it all I've thought you were a decent bloke that had some regard for the customers that stood by you and Apple. I always thought of Apple as a reflection of that, a human company in an often unhuman industry.
But according to your customer service people last week, the reality is somewhat different. Someone buys a laptop from you in good faith. That laptop proves to have dodgy components in it and fails fatally after only three months. It gets repaired but is out of action for three weeks while parts are sourced. Once back up and running its settings need to be restored. Your call centre staff can help do this, but won't do so unless the customer greases their palms.
Well, I suppose it's a nice money spinner - ship out dodgy kit then charge to put it back the way it was even while it's still under warranty. It's a winner, but you've had your last penny piece off me. Every bit of faith I've had in Apple has gone in one unfortunate, totally unnecessary incident. When my current Apple kit reaches the end of its life then it's back to the world of Windows.
It's been fun, but your staff have let you down. All good things must come to an end I suppose; I just didn't think it would end this way. And you know something Steve, it's not me - it's you!
More in sorrow than anger - goodbye...
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