Apple Service is Missing Something – Service!

Dude, you got Dell! Yes, I have a Dell laptop, it was required by my work, and now I have one. And I have my great, but heavy PowerBook 17” from Apple too. Both have extended warranty plans on them. Apple’s cost more than the Dell’s, and my 17” PB cost more than the high end Dell laptop too. But then again, we always knew Apple was more expensive, this is no surprise.

When (not if) my Dell laptop breaks, I call Dell on the phone, tell them the problem, and they immediately send me either a replacement part I can install myself, or a complete computer replacement if the problem is critical. That is right, the UPS guy arrives with a new or refurbished laptop configured exactly like the one I own within two working days. With just a small screwdriver, I open a small panel on the bottom of the laptop, pop out the hard disks on both machines, swap them, and boot up the new machine. In a manner of minutes, I am back up and running as before. I plop the dead machine or part in the box they sent the new one in, place a pre-paid postage label on the box, and the UPS guy whisks it away the next day. In typically 3 to 5 days, I am back up and running and the problem is now Dell’s, and I am done. (If the HD breaks, they simply send a replacement, and I swap them the same way.) I believe this “Gold” service costs under $300 for 3 years.

When (not if) my Apple PowerBook breaks, I call Apple. They argue with me about reinstalling the OS. They argue with me about resetting the PRAM. They argue with me about removing applications that they do not like. They argue with me about problems not being covered under warranty (like the bright spots on my display which drive me nuts when using Photoshop). Basically, they argue about doing any service at all. IF, and I mean if THEY decide to repair the problem, they send me an empty box via Airborne Express (who has to be the worst carrier in the world.) 3 days later, after backing up the entire HD, I put my PowerBook in the box; add a note about what is wrong (because if you do not, even though you spent 30 to 60 minutes on the phone with Apple Care, they WILL forget to fix something you asked to be fixed), and then call Airborne, and ship it off the next day. Apple says it may take up to 14 working days to get my machine back, but in their defense, it usually comes back within a week. Total time, 7 to 20 days of no machine. This service costs $349 for 3 years

Which service plan would you rather have?

My wife and I own an older Lexus and a newer VW. When the Lexus breaks (not if), I take it to the Lexus dealer, they give me a loaner for the time it needs service, and they usually fix it within one or two days. If it is a major problem, Lexus will come pick it up from my work or home, and drop off the loaner car at the same time. My neighbor’s BMW service is EXACTLY the same, with loaners and pick up service.

When the VW breaks (again, not if), you must to drop it off by 8 AM at the dealer or they will not look at it, EVEN if you have an appointment. If it is broken badly, you must tow to them, they will not come and get it. They do not give loaner cars unless it is a recall service, and then ONLY if they have one of the two or three available, otherwise too bad. They typically take longer than a day even for simple repairs, and usually break something else in the process so you have to go back again. This was EXACTLY the same as the service on my Ford Mustang.

Which service plan would you rather have?

I keep hearing people comparing PC to Fords and Macintosh to BMW all the time. Strangely enough, when it comes to service, it seems the Dell is the Lexus or BMW, and Apple is the Ford. What gives?

And why is it that Apple can never seem to understand that many people want to upgrade or change their memory or HD on their computers themselves? I do not even know how to upgrade the HD on my 17” PowerBook, but I assure you there is no small door on the bottom to swap it out. And their is no easy way to add more memory either. Apple removed the pop-out keyboard on new models, so no more internal access for the user. The Dell opens easily with the removal of a few OUTSIDE screws. (Editor’s Note: The new Apple PowerBooks do in fact have an external door for memory upgrades, removable via four small screws)

And look at the miniMac! How hard would it have been to put a small door on the bottom to allow one to swap out the memory for a large size? Why not add a small door to gain access to the HD inside as well do that can be upgraded? How come the battery on an iPOD is not accessible from the outside by the user, so when it dies, the customer can simply purchase a replacement and quickly install it? I have been able to do that on cordless phones and every rechargeable Sony product I have ever owned for way too many years.

Apple has created and continues to create some very cool products, but they are totally clueless when it comes to service. Apple Care service is awful, especially when compared to companies like HP, Dell, or even Sony. User accessibility to most Apple products is pathetic or non-existent, which makes no sense at all.

And how come Apple owners do not get a break on things like .Mac renewals? How come current owners do not get things like “loyalty purchase programs” that even General Motors has figured out, to offer discounts to upgrade to newer hardware?

What I want to know is why is Apple’s customer service so bad? Is this some sick method Apple has created to get even more money from us on service, parts, upgrades and repairs? Has repair and parts become a large profit center for Apple now, so they need more ways to make more money on us? Do they think so little about their customers that they themselves do not care if the customer can access upgrades and repairs themselves?

Hello Apple, wake up call time. Yes, your products are cool and slick, but your customer service stinks! Your customer’s are paying the BMW or Lexus price compared to the competition, but being treated like swine when it comes to service and parts. It is time to start treating your customers like the BMW or Lexus owner you keep pretending them to be, and let them know you want them back. Several people I convinced to switch from PC to Mac say they will not buy Mac again. Not because of the machine, but because of the lack of ability to upgrade and repair themselves, and how badly they felt treated when they needed service.

And do not even get me started again on the “Genius Bar” in Apple’s stores. What a joke!

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