Naming and shaming Apple UK…

Random consumer-action week on continues today with a shout-out to my colleague Matt Webb, who has been having considerable trouble with his no-longer quite so new Powerbook 12″. More specifically he’s having considerable trouble with Apple’s replacement and repair policies. He received the machine on Apil 30th, it went wrong on the 12th of May and he’s been trying to get it fixed pretty much ever since. That’s a full two months of effort during which he’s gone through Apple’s diagnostic tests, not had his computer picked up, had the machine kept by Apple for 28 days and then had it returned to him with precisely the same problem he started off with.

No. I’ve had people not call me back, an official complaint ignored, kept in the dark about time estimates, my machine sitting in a repair center for a month and not even picked up for 2 weeks. I’m not going through that again.

Customer services open at 9am Monday morning. I’ve talked with them before, they obey The System. They can’t do anything. In fact there’s no-one who can. If I don’t do what The System says, there’s nothing they can do. Enough. I’ve dealt with a broken product, tried to be a good Apple user and done what they asked. Enough. I’ve been writing down the time and length of phone calls to Apple, and what they’ve said, for the last month and a half. I’ve got the names of the people who haven’t called me back.

Enough with official channels.

I want a new computer, one that works, and I want it not in a month, but now, as it should have been to begin with. I want an apology. If it were possible, I’d want the days I’ve spent on this back, because the time this has cost me, on the phone to Apple, doing tests, moving things around,is now worth more than the machine itself.

Both Matt and I are tremendous fans of Apple computers, Apple UI and the innovation that comes out of Cupertino. But this has been happening now for months. Just from watching it happen, I’ve found myself turning from a rabid Mac evangelist to someone who wouldn’t want to risk inflicting this kind of insane process on anyone. My mother has been thinking of getting a new laptop – and I’ve been trying to move them to a Mac. But I can’t put them through this kind of thing? Do the right thing, Apple! Bloody sort yourselves out!

31 replies on “Naming and shaming Apple UK…”

On a semi-related note, I recently spent a week trying to recieve goods I’d purchased from the Apple Store online. Thanks to normal debit card policies, I could only get the items delivered to my home address, but like most people, I work during the day. TNT left a helpful “If you wish to arrange re-delivery, please call…” note.
Three phonecalls to TNT later, three promises of ‘Yes, it will be delivered tommorrow to your work address’ (my work address is literally five minutes walk from my home address), two more “If you wisht oarrange re-delivery…” notes through my letter-box at home, and one day where they didn’t even bother to try delivering later, I finally got my goods.
I wouldn’t mind so much, but TNT managed to deliver a package from Cancom to the same address *on the same day* that they initially failed to deliver the package from Apple.
I know it’s not Apple at fault, necessarily – but it’s their choice to use TNT in the end, and I’m not seriously wary of buying anything from them in this way again.

I know that, in the 18 months I have owned/used macs (a personal ibbok and a work powerbook), I’ve had to send the ibook back 4 times and the powerbook back twice. Seems excessive.
I’ve started seriously looking at a dell for my next machine – I have experience of them, and while I’m not impressed by their quality, I _am_ impressed by the next business day on-site warranty I can get for them. Assuming that all laptops break, I now care about how fast I can get them fixed.

I had a similar problem a couple of years ago. I wrote a lengthy post on a Friday about 5pm PST about the situation and Apple’s inability to come to terms with the problem. I posted it to my busiest site. I then wrote a personal email to Apple’s CFO detailing the events, the url to the post I had made, the number of visitor’s who would see the note over the weekend, and I cc’d an editor at a Mac weekly rag. On Monday morning I received a call from an Apple rep who arranged to have my laptop replaced that day if I consented to taking down the post. Worked like a charm.

Post it on every blog and get google to display this with “apple powerbook” – or get a thinkpad. apple sux. too much style, not enough substance.

To Tom Insam: I would seriously not advise moving from Apple to Dell on the basis of reliability and customer service. Really. What they say they do and what they *do* do are two different things entirely.
The only advantage I can think of in buying Dell is that they’re common enough that indie repair places have parts and know how to fix them.

I have to say i’ve been mega lucky. My 17″ pbook died (as in, completely) about a month after i got it. I was fortunate that it was about christmas time – and low load at the apple repair shop. I got it back in two days.

fridgemagnet: the experiences I’ve had with the actual people who come out have been good. The magic phone dance, on the other hand, is certainly very annoying.
Are there _any_ brands of laptop that don’t suck? I don’t even care about OS any more – I can work round software issues, but having to live without the thing for 2 weeks every 3 months is really bloody annoying.

My iBook backlight went on the fritz. Part probably cost $20. Sent it back to Apple, who sent it back, still broken, a week later. Sent it back, a few more weeks go by, it comes back, still broken. Sent it back a third time, and–you got it–it came back broken again. Three months without my iBook…
All along, I was talking with people at Apple “Customer Service” who promised to call back and never did. Or made other unfulfilled promises.
What worked? Apple has something called an “Escalation Department”. This was mentioned by a very blase phone rep to a very frustrated me in an almost happenstance way. I replied that, yes, if Apple has an Escalation Department, I’d very much like to be transferred to someone there.
The person there was reasonable, and arranged to replace my iBook. Lost some data along the way–still quite angry about this, as the problem was with a friggin’ backlight–but at least I got some help.
Moral: Don’t screw around, just ask for the Escalation Desk from the start.

I actually just got a powerbook with a bad headphone jack. Went into the store, they sent it off to be repaired after trying to tell me that it was “in spec”, and it came back and was still broken.
So I decided to email steve jobs and let him know about my experience. I sent messages to,, and Just a shot in the dark really, I didn’t expect it to work…
I did that on saturday at about 5:00pm. By 9:00pm the same day I was on the phone with the regional manager of apple stores, who then offered to take care of the headphone jack free of charge.
Apparently when it comes to service at apple, you have to go straight to the top to get what you want.

maybe it is because i’m an education customer at virginia tech, but i have to say, i have an ibook,a tibook, and an xraid with applecare and i’ve never had more than a 4 day turnaround on 11 different fixes some of them quite significant. while they don’t give me a new tibook, which is at 7 repairs itself:( i’m fairly happy that when they do fix it, only once has it come back not completely or better fixed. the ibook is much sturdier of course and handles the daily use much better, the xraid was a bad drive, turnaround for that was less than 16 hours. all in all, what i say is A. BUY APPLECARE B. use it. C. be happy you can justify its cost D. don’t worry about it or try to fix it yourself unless you really enjoy feeling guilty about your actions.

Let me see which scenario I think is more likely:
1. PowerBook has major parts replaced but a hardware problem still persists.
2. User has incorrect mutt install that attempts to write to a read-only directory. Continued usage of incorrect config renders the system unbootable.

I’ve had a Sony Vaio for three years now – it has never died on me, never had any trouble, and took a Linix partition without even a whimper.

Hi Charles, thanks for your comments. Two further datapoints:
– During the many reinstalls, I tried running without much of the software I usually use, including mutt. Same problems.
– I use the same mutt setup on my iBook (with same base system), and it’s the default install from fink.
I hadn’t specified any of those two points, so you’re quite right to suspect software. That’s why I tried to diagnose the problem myself, before talking to Apple.
I must say, my previous encounters with Apple have been fine. I’m 10 year+ Mac user. When my iBook’s screen went, turnaround for Apple to fix it was a few days and they were enormously helpful. But there are two things here: The individuals, who are in the main very pleasant, and Apple’s bureaucracy, which sucks if anything is even slightly not what they expect. I would say “fight the machine, man” now, only I’d sound like a hippy so I won’t.

I had a Sony Vaio and it went round Oz in the back of a 4WD on all manner of dirt tracks for nine months and then did 2 years of home office use: it was fine. Still is.
A mate had a different Vaio model and despite very light usage and staying on desk all the time, it packed up a week after his warranty ran out. He went to Sony twice and each time customer services replied telling him it was out of warranty and quoted a huge repair price. Eventually, I drafted him a letter, the nub of which was that he had used it lightly, and that Sony surely did not want its public position to be that it only guaranteed its laptops for a year of static, light use. Sony got back pretty sharpish and fixed the laptop for free. Good on ’em.

i have an ibook and a viao. the harddisc in my ibook died just as it went out of warranty, which was annoying bu gave me an excuse to upgrade to something bigger. my viao and my ex’s vaio have never broken. but that’s just a tiny sample, ymmv.

“Are there _any_ brands of laptop that don’t suck?”
When I ordered my laptop from Tiny in 2001 (before they went bust) I thought it was a gamble. Tiny weren’t renowned for producing solid workhorses. And laptops, as this discussion has demonstrated, are generally tempremental things – especially, it seems, my friend’s 17 inch PowerBook which I was initially very envious of.
We’ve both just finished a degree course that required a high level of computer use. Since upgrading to XP from Me (least stable OS ever?), I have never had a serious problem with my computer. I kept expecting it to break down. I’m still using it right now after three years of near-constant daily use, being carried on trains, tripped over in our lounge, and the keyboard *ahem* apparently acting as a tray to pick up crumbs. My feverent Applefan friend on the other hand spent over a thousand pounds more than me on his computer (essentially so he could have a keyboard that lit up) only to face paying for additional Mac support packages that ended up letting him down at the most crucial points.
I am not a PC advocate or Mac evangelist. I am in a position to enjoy using both platforms. But the blind dedication of some Apple users bewilders me, apparently valuing asthetics over all else: my friend is frustrated with Apple but simply won’t consider an ‘ugly’ alternative. Now that’s a powerful exercise in branding.

iPod Mini ( The Not so Fantastic New Product from Apple )
ÖÖÖÖÖ or maybe itís the Customer Service Department
On a recent trip to the USA I arranged to buy one of the first new Ipod miniís ñ Great, it was, for a while and then two months into ownership it stopped working ñ Well I couldnít hear anything. And it hadnít really had a great deal of use.
I sent it back via the UK Customer Help Line who told me that it would ëProbablyë only take a couple of weeks.
I was very impressed with the service once I had gone through what later appears to be the 35 minuts plus waiting period to get anyone to talk to youÖÖÖÖ..
A bag arrived to pack it in a couple of days after the call
A UPS vehicle pulled up the next day and took it away
I even had an email saying that it was in transit
Since then nothing unless I phone Apple Customer Help Line usually based out in India or some other far flung place (with that annoying delay in the transmission of the signal so you talk across each other)
I left it 3 weeks and called them. 37 mins. I was left hanging on waiting for Customer Services (???) to answer the call.
When I eventually got through I was told that the iPod was being replaced and had already been despatched back to me, within a week of my original call.
On checking that turned out to be the envelope to return the broken one ñ so far not good omens
They eventually told me that the iPod mini was being replaced and that I could expect it within two weeks.
9 WEEKís and 5 x 40 minute plus phone calls later I am still waiting
During last call I said :-
( Me ) Just credit me and I will buy one. I can now get them in the UK it will save us all time.
( Apple Customer Services ) We cant do that we can only replace it for you once you send it back to us
( Me ) When can I expect to receive my replacement then?
( Apple Customer Services ) Canít tell you at the moment but within the week I expect
( Me ) Thatís what you said last time I called and the time before that and before that
( Apple Customer Services ) We are having problems with supply from Taiwan
( Me ) So it looks like you are not going to be able to replace it for a some time so please credit me
( Apple Customer Services ) We canít do that, you will have to wait for the replacement
( Me ) OK If I want to complain about the Customer Service who do I call?
( Apple Customer Services ) There is no level higher than us, I am sorry sir
( Me ) Good Hey ! so if you donít perform then there is no Recourse for the customer?
( Apple Customer Services ) No sir! You complain to Customer services
( Me ) Which is you ?
( Apple Customer Services ) Correct
( Me ) Ok I am complaining what happens next ?
( Apple Customer Services ) Your complaint has been noted and we will send out the replacement as soon as we can ñ Have a nice day
I wish I could run a business like that
Make a product and then when it stops performing
Give Crap service
ÖÖÖand just employ a few people in a third world country who fob the customers off with Bull S**T

What I want to know is how to contact apple. I am so pissed off with them. They are complete crap. I bought my iPod mini in January of this year and already the battery doesn’t work, it won’t charge at all. There is no way I am paying for a replacement, they should have to pay. So I try to contact them, but it’s impossible. Every form seems to deal with people in the US, so what am I supposed to do? I want to send them an angry email, I suppose the reason they don’t give an email address to write to is because they would receive millions of them from ripped off customers.

It has now been six weeks since I called Apple to tell them that the logic board had gone for the fourth time on my wife’s iBook G3. After calling them literally every other day for the last four weeks and being told initially that it would be replaced with a new iBook G4 there is still no sign of it. Apple did say that TNT tried to deliver it about two weeks ago but they never left any kind of note and returned it to apple after one attempt (sounds very odd). So now that Apple supposedly has it in their depot for the last week and a half, I am still not getting any kind of help from Apple as to when it will be shipped out again. The final straw was when after being put on hold this morning for half an hour I was hung up on.
It’s a really shame that Apple is able to keep such a loyal customer base with their products only to let them down with quality control and customer service. I hope that this does not drag on much longer as I like to recommend Mac’s to friend, colleges and clients, but if this does carry on I will be reluctant to even buy them and will definitely not be recommending them any longer.

I bought a Wifi card for my ibook in January this year which after a few months of trying to fathom out why my internet connection was weak it transpired that the new card was faulty. Apple agreed to replace the card but I had to pay for a new one and when the faulty one was returned to Apple I would be refunded the £81.00. Anyway nearly 5 months down the line I have still not received my refund from Apple? After numerous calls and promises that the money will be refunded directly back in to my account it still hasn’t! They have also promised to send me some speakers for my new Ipod as compensation – suprise suprise no sign of them? I am disgusted by this poor lack of customer service and if anyone has any ideas on how I can get my money back would be appreciated?

In April 2005 I purchased my new G5 2.7ghz machine. In June the hard drive failed, and was collected by UK company Amsys who took 3 weeks to install a new mother board and hard drive. Last week 1st November the 2nd hard drive failed. 3 Days spent on the phone to Apple support. Finally got through to two level two technicians based in Ireland. They arranged for a new hard drive to be sent out . Father in Law waited in for two days no hard drive turned up.
Anyone know the address of Apple UK as I would like to get my money back or another machine as the G5 has worked for 5 months out of the 6 months I have had it. (Two hard drive failures within 5 months whats goin on)?

I absolutely love Macs after almost 20 years, especially after watching my family members go through constant problems with their PC’s. I don’t have a big horror story like most of the others, but if there were a way to contact Apple, I would not be writing this,I would be sending a similar, tho angrier, post to them. I have had my PowerMac G5 for over a year and so far it has served me well. But when I do have a problem and have to call AppleCare Support, after waiting on hold to speak to someone for up to 40 minutes, 3 times out of 4 I was unable to understand the service rep’s questions or responses because of the heavy accent. After I first heard them speak, for the remainder of the phone call I felt angry because Apple was outsourcing these jobs. And whenever I asked them to repeat what they said, often several times, they got annoyed and angry with ME. Yet, if you don’t like Apple’s customer service, there isn’t much you can do about it short of switching to a PC. It’s infuriating that they can be so forward-thinking in many ways with computer design, and so backward with customer service. Apple should: have a way to contact them, keep these jobs in the US, and add some more phone lines.

I am now Amazingly Fecked off.. i have had a macbook pro since release , 15″ so far i have had a battery that swelled a broken keyboard, trackpad, superdrive, a warped screen, a constant whine sound, and i need a new logic board.. i have been on the phone too apple several times and they finaly sent a box for me to send it too them in, the day i got the box i put the mac to sleep and found that it had woken up in my bag and was burning hot. so i phone apple the next day and they tell me … We have to send you a new box you cant use that one as i cant add a problem if u use that box… I cant find an email address to rant at them and the support people are just doing there job so there is no point in having a go at them.. if anyone reads this who knows of an email address i can use to vent my frustration pls let me know .. Cheers

Apple helpline continues to be diverted to India. And continues to have helpline workers whose English is not good enough (as well as the horrific time delays)
Why oh why do we pay for extra ÔøΩ100 plus 3 year warranty costs to get a service where I find it impossible to understand what the Indian person on the other end of the line is saying. And more to the point who doesn’t listen to what I am saying!
Therefore my customer complaint and suggestion to apple (that has not been responded too both on the phone and by email) has been to give applecare customers the option to go to UK tech support direct over the phone even if that means sitting in a queue for 30 mins.

Apple seems to have the knack for getting it wrong despite good products; rumour has it that they are going to make their iphone solely marketed by the carphone warehouse in the uk- another company with poor customer sevice; no wonder bill gates has been laughing for years-apple never learns!

In fairness, Apple were brill when my new iMac developed a screen fault. No fuss, no hassle, they delivered another one built to identical spec the next day, gave me a week to copy my data across, and the arranged collection of the faulty one. Can’t say fairer than that.

Apple are cunts.
iPod is shit and is designed to break
iTunes has deleted all my tunes so many times i don’t use it any more – bring back vinyl

Agree Apple are cu**s. My battery died, so I tried to send it to apple for repair, on their website they said it will cost me ¬£166. So I bought a buttery for ¬£15 from ipod stop but could not open my ipod. Took it to an apple shop and asked a service man there to show me how to change a buttery. He said he can’t show it to me but he can replace it for ¬£40. You can buy a new MP3 player for this price! With much better features and customer support. I think with this type of customer support apple won’t last long.

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