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Apple Customer Service: the saga

The Freckled Canvas: Apple Customer Service: the saga

Friday, September 27, 2013

Apple Customer Service: the saga

DISCLAIMER: I still love Apple and their products. I just do not like their Customer Support on the whole.

Remember that one time when I had another blog? I started the saga over there. But at that time I didn't know that it would become a saga.  Here's the link, but I'll give you a little synopsis.

There's no Apple store here, they need to get one here so badly but that's a different post. So when I went to Birmingham, Alabama for a fireside in February I knew this was my chance to get to an apple store. My mom's phone was having some issues charging and it was glitching a lot. My phone was starting to have a problem holding a charge. The genius bar guy told me I really only had two options. Wait it out til I was eligible for an upgrade or pay $75 for a new battery. At the time, I didn't have those kinds of funds so I decided to wait.

I'm the Apple guru in our family. If anyone has an issue with their phone or iPad they come to me. How they'll be able to survive when I leave on a mission is beyond me. In August my dad told me he was having issues with his phone. I love my Dad, but when he doesn't know what's going on with his phone he kind of shuts down. People couldn't hear him when he was talking to them, it sounded like he was breaking up. He also had an issue with his voicemail, which I'll touch on but is a different post.

So I decided to get with Apple and get his phone and my phone fixed. I started with their Online Support, chatting. I started with my phone. I told them about my trip to Birmingham, and what the Apple Genius had told me there. They looked over the notes that he had taken. He confirmed that a Battery Replacement was the best option. He told me the price would be $79, and that I should go into a store. At the time I was nannying three kids and my dad was recovering from his appendectomy, going to Atlanta was not an option. He then sent me this:

Some of the below options are not available via chat for the security and privacy of your personal information. Here are your options: -Carrier store.Sprint store 1. Apple Retail Store or Authorized Service Provider 2. Customer Drop Off : You send the device via a UPS store and we send you the repaired/replaced device. 3. Express Replacement - A replacement device will be sent to you using expedited shipping, and you can use the packaging to return the original device. (Phone support will be needed as it involves financial transactions.) 4. Customer Arranged Ship - You will receive a box in the mail within 2-3 business days to send the device to Apple. 5. Where you can set up the repair yourself online.

I went with option number 2 after being told I didn't qualify for Express Replacement because I was just replacing the battery. We then started talking about my dad's phone. But to finish the transaction on my phone I was latter called by their Telephone Support, but we'll get to that later.

I learned later that generally you have to start a new chat for each device, so keep that in mind when you are having issues and contact them. I first talked to them about the issues with the voicemail and was give a couple links to follow the instructions on. He made them sound like it was stuff I had never thought of. I used to live less than five minutes from the Apple Store, I knew an Apple Genius. I know a little bit about what to do.

I worked on my Dad's phone. After I followed all the steps I was asked to do, I talked to AT&T about the voicemail after reading online that Apple doesn't generally support voicemail issues because they are generally coming from the carrier. Then I worked on the following list, it took me 5 minutes to do all of it, well except for the backup-that had been done earlier that morning with the automatic iCloud backup feature. Then problems arose. These are the steps.

Here is the information pertaining to completing a restore of your iOS Software to a new device. 1. Make sure your iTunes is updated to the latest version. If it is not, please download and install iTunes from here: To find the version of iTunes you are running: -On a PC please drop down the Help menu at the top of iTunes and choose: About iTunes. -On a Mac please drop down the iTunes menu and choose: About iTunes Text will start scrolling. At the beginning of that text will be the version number. The current version is 11, however 10.7 will work. The minimum version required for iOS 6 is 10.7. Don't forget, if you are using iTunes 11 on a Windows system, to be able to follow this guide affectively, please do the following: in iTunes choose View>Show Sidebar. 2. Transfer Purchases - Use article: iTunes Store: Transferring purchases from your iOS device or iPod to a computer 3. Import Photos - Use article: iOS: Importing personal photos and videos from iOS devices to your computer 4. Back Up (Be sure to back up to iCloud and iTunes) - Use article: iOS: How to Back Up 5. Restore your OS - See article titled iOS: Restoring iOS Software 6. Setup as a new device. Please do not restore from a backup. Note: You will have to go through the device 'Setup Assistant' first. If the device still is not reacting as it should after setting up as a new device, please contact us back and let us know. 7. Restore your content - See section titled "How to restore from backup" in article iOS: How to Back up 8. Sync your device as normal. This will bring back all of your applications, music and the photos you choose. For more information about syncing, please see article iOS: How to Transfer or Sync Content to your Computer (and from your computer) 9. In case of repair, this article will assist you with getting your device ready.

I was asked my number so that he could set up a call. I love this feature. Instead of waiting on hold, you can give them your number, and the case ID so that when they are free they can look over your case and then call you instead of waiting on hold multiple times.

So back to my phone. I was on the phone with Apple Support and I was setting up the whole process. At one point they told me the total would be almost $200. I stopped him right there. That was not what I was told. He apologized, said he had been looking at the wrong information and that the price would be $79. Then at almost the last second he told me the price was going to be $93. That's a $14 difference! I asked why the price was different that what he had quoted, what I had been told on their chat system and what I had been told in-store with by an Apple Genius. I was then informed that it covered tax and shipping. Why not just be upfront with that? But I paid it anyways. I wiped my phone and followed all the steps I was given and took my phone to UPS later that day. That's where we'll stop for now.

My dad's phone would not restore. It had been wiped but when I went to restore there was an error but no number to tell chat so they couldn't do anything for me. I told them what had happened the day before with chat and what I was able to do. At that point I was told that someone from Telephone Support would have to call me. Right before he asked for a time for them to call me, the mom of the kids I nanny showed up so I asked for them to call back the next day.

I woke up early the next morning and checked my email. I had an email that stated the following:

Your service request has been completed and we sent a replacement for your IPHONE 4S on 2013-08-09.

I was a little alarmed but I kept reading and this is what I saw:

Identification Numbers of the Original Product
 Serial Number:C38GKZD6DT9V 
 IMEI (GSM network):012940009202303 
 MEID (CDMA network):Not applicable 

Identification Numbers of the Replacement Product
 Serial Number:C28L3JZMDT9Y 
 IMEI (GSM network):013198003384325 
 MEID (CDMA network):Not applicable 

Now remember, I sent this in for a BATTERY replacement, not a COMPLETE replacement. They had sent me this replacement without even consulting me. And to make matters worse, I saw the following statement at the bottom.

We have initiated a charge for the replacement on the payment method you selected when you requested service.

Not okay! I immediately got on Online Support's chat system because I don't like talking to people on the phone because I can't always control my emotions. But they said someone needed to call me. I got a call from Telephone Support and had to go through three different people. Each one told me that I shouldn't have been offered the battery replacement because my phone wasn't under warranty. That would have been nice to know beforehand, but I hadn't been. I finally got transferred to an Apple Customer Relations Specialist, Kate.*

Kate was amazing! I was a little mad at first because I had to tell my story for like the 10th time and I was sick of it. But once I finished she took such great care of me. She watched my case and looked for the transaction to go through to make sure I only paid for the battery replacement that I had agreed to.

But the problems weren't over with my phone. Within 24 hours of receiving my phone, the camera started not working properly. It would just take black pictures. So I had to contact Kate again and this time I was drop shipped a phone and received it in two days. Seriously, if everyone I had dealt with was like Kate I wouldn't have a single problem!

But then back to Dad's phone. Just after talking to Kate the first time I hopped on another call with Telephone Support to talk about Dad's phone. They said I was eligible for a new phone, for just an insurance "co-pay" fee. They asked me if I'd like to buy AppleCare, which would extend and enhance the service I was still covered under. I RECOMMEND buying Apple Care. It would have saved me from my battery replacement hassle and it gave us a discount on the "co-pay" fee. Since my dad's cell phone is essentially his work phone we had it drop shipped. In the middle of this I received a call from my dad's doctor and had to disconnect. And when I called back it was so easy to get right back to where we had been. I just gave them my number and they pulled up our notes and bam! Back in business!

It took almost 2 weeks to have a working phone. Here are a couple takeaways from this and hints I've learned so you'll be ahead of the curve.
  1. Technically Online Support, through Chat, is only available with a warranty or Apple Care. You can ask for an exception. I always asked for an exception but was told I may have to pay at anytime during the conversation. I NEVER paid for Chat. They say it is $25 per incident.
  2. You should have a separate Chat for each device with an issue. Why? Because each chat has an Apple Support Case Number. Each case is noted in your account, so when you schedule a call, they can look up all your chats regarding that device. But if you have multiple devices per chat, it's only associated with the first device and you have to give them the case number when you call which means more time spent on hold. 
  3. When you have the option of visiting the Genius Bar at the Apple Store, ALWAYS pick that one. That's a little secret Kate let me in on. Genius Bars have a little bit more leniency in their dealings. (That part I already knew) Genius Bars are easier to work with, not as may forms to fill out and the turn around time is always faster.
    1. Side note: I've gone in with broken chords, which they DO NOT cover in their warranty, and walked out with brand new chords. The same thing with headphones too. They'll tell you they don't cover it, but they'll see what they can do. Tell them you've been careful with them, you haven't been trying to ruin them and then stand back and watch the magic happen.
  4. ALWAYS buy Apple Care. You only have about a year to buy Apple Care. If I hadn't of been a poor college student during that year I would have bought it. It covers practically everything. 
  5. Even if you think the problem might be your fault, take it in anyways! In my experience it's usually not your fault.
    1. Soon after getting my first 4S I dropped it in a sink at work, that sink was full of water. I was having problems with my FaceTime working and thought it might be because of it's little swim. I took it into the Genius Bar, I was wrong! it was a hardware malfunction. And even though I had dropped it in water it didn't account for the problem so I was GIVEN a new one.
  6. If your phone is freezing or doing that jumping thing where it's having a mind of it's own do a hard reset. When you talk to any Genius and tell them the problem they'll advise you to do this. Doing it ahead of time will not only save you time, but it will make them think you know what you're doing so they won't try to pull stuff over on you. 
    1. A hard reset is super simple. You'll hold the lock button and the home button down until the black screen with the silver apple appears. Then you can let go. 
  7. If you have problems with your battery charging they'll give you a couple things to do. 
    1. Let your phone die completely. Like the screen telling you to plug in your phone doesn't even show up. Then let your phone charge completely without touching it, or moving it from one outlet to another.
    2. They'll also recommend using an Apple chord. With my mom's phone and it's problems charging. It just happened to be a couple of bad chords. Always blame the chord before you blame the phone.
  8. Make sure, when going to visit the Genius Bar that, you have an appointment. If you don't have an appointment and things are going slow, they can work you in. But if not, you're out of luck. 
If you have any questions please feel free to ask. I'll do my best to help you, but please understand I am in no way affiliated with Apple.

*Names have been changed.

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