I seldom if ever blog about a personal consumer experience. However, I have been very much moved by a recent customer service experience with the world’s largest company: Apple.
Like many who own the iPhone 6, I experienced a huge loss in loading speeds for applications and email a couple of months ago. Like others. I blamed slow speeds on my WIFI internet or on my phone company.
But the loading speed was bad wherever I went and I started to suspect something. It turned out that everyone was suspecting something. Applications that used to take seconds were taking upwards of a minute. I personally experienced loading times of 30 times what they had been just a week before. Facebook, Marketwatch, email; you name it.
Customer service failure #1:
Apple slowed down the speed of the iPhone through an operating system update that was bundled with other fixes. Updates are billed as improvements. The updates are flogged at customers endlessly. Plug in your phone overnight – accept the update –don’t forget. And if you don’t do it, you are endlessly reminded.
So like everyone else, I heard the explanation that they slowed down the phones to preserve battery life. Let’s take that at face value, however difficult this may be to accept.
I went to the Apple store to get the problem solved looking for a new battery and the price would be one third of what it used to cost.
Customer service failure #2:
I get to the Apple Store early on a weekday morning and asked a representative if I could buy a new battery for my phone to solve the speed problem. She said that I would have to make an appointment that would be 11 days in the future.
Customer service failure #3:
I asked if I could be assured of being able to buy the battery. She said “No – you have to get your phone tested at the Genius Bar to discover whether you qualify to buy a new battery. You have to have a certain amount of power loss to qualify to buy a new battery.
Customer service failure #4:
I asked if I qualified, would I be able to buy the new battery. She said that it all depended whether they had them in stock. So I asked if I could make an appointment for when I could be assured that a battery would be available. The answer was ‘no’. I would have to come in for my Genius Bar appointment and I would only be able to buy a new battery if they were in stock.
I asked if she knew when they would be in stock and she said no.
Customer Service failure #5:
I came in for my appointment and a nice fellow said he would test my phone for battery loss. He tested it and pronounced the phone battery to be ‘borderline’ but he would order me a battery but he did not know when it would be in stock.
I then asked if the new battery would solve the slowness problem. His reply was a classic: “Not necessarily”. Something else could be the problem.
Talking with this guy was like talking to John Cleese in the “Argument Clinic” skit.
Customer Service failure # 6:
He proceeded to say that I should have read the terms of the operating system update and if I did not want my battery speed to slow down, I should have not accepted the operating system update.
I told him that the update was bundled with other patches and updates, which he agreed was true. I then asked him how many people would want to accept an update that would significantly slow their phone down. He said he didn’t know.
I asked when I would get my battery installation appointment. He said “sometime in the future” but he did not know when that would be.
Customer service failure # 7:
Remember that Apple slowed the phones down in order to preserve battery life, not to provide a marketing advantage for their new iPhone X.
So I am walking out of the Apple store when I see the gleaming iPhone X display the front of the store. I went up to a salesperson and asked her: “What are the advantages of buying the iPhone X. She tells me about the camera and the memory and other bells and whistles. She then asks what phone I was using now. I showed her my 128 gig iPhone 6.
Now get this. She says that the iPhone X will be way faster than what I currently have. That’s when I said that I was awaiting my new battery so my speeds should rival the iPhone X and I would therefore wait until my iPhone 6 got the new battery.
She said that the iPhone X would still be faster because the batteries were faster and would not suffer slowdowns.
I thanked her and walked out.
So the largest company in the world – at the same time that it launches a new product – deliberately and significantly slows down the speed of its older product – but then says that even although my product is slowed down, that I may not qualify to have it fixed.
But even when they allow me to get it fixed at a discount – they note that the speed may not improve because the problem may be something else – and then they force me to make an appointment for a part that they do not have in stock and don’t know when it will be in stock.
Then they tell me that the new product they do have in stock at a much higher price will be much better all the while telling me that if I didn’t want my phone to slow down, I should not have agreed to the updates that they (themselves) recommended – all the while disallowing me the choice to regulate my own power supply, which I could easily do with products that they sell in the same store at full price.
Imagine any other product or service operating this way. Deliberately degrade something so it barely works at the same time as a new version is introduced that does not suffer the problem. Then ask you to travel to qualify to fix the problem, say it’s maybe something else, force you to come to get it fixed when they knowingly don’t have the part to fix it, say they don’t know when the part will be available but you could have solved the whole problem by not accepting their own recommendation that created the problem in the first place.
Apple! Listen closely! You’ve lost your way………….