Get Your Defective Laptop Replaced By Sending Well-Written Emails To Steve Jobs

We have, on occasion, heard tales of people emailing Steve Jobs and magically, as if carried on the wings of angels, a new laptop appears at their door, along with 12 lbs of really good salami, a bubblegum machine, and one of those rare Star Wars posters that everyone wants. Apparently, there is a little bit of truth to the legend. Don’t worry vegans, there’s no salami.

Reader J. CC’ed us on an email to Steve Jobs in which he calmly explained that while his Apple II was still working fine, his brand new Macbook is totally defective. Here’s the story: After about a month of sending it back and forth to Applecare for repair, J. was informed that Apple would replace the laptop, but that he couldn’t have his data back. He didn’t like this idea, so he wrote Steve Jobs a letter. Read J’s emails inside, there’s a happy ending!

J writes (to Steve Jobs, we’re CC’ed):

Mr. Jobs,

My name is J. . I am a longtime Apple customer. In fact, I have an original Apple II (not II+) still in my basement (and it still works!). I am also an IT Manager for one of the labs at MIT (J’s MIT email).
So, I am most disappointed by this experience I will relate. In September, ’06 I bought a white 2Ghz Macbook to replace a four year old 15″ TiBook G4. Immediately I had problems with the unit, which finally went back for service under Applecare. The system was returned still broken. So I sent it back again. This time the unit has been out in service for nearly a month.

See Dispatch number: D11412530.

After three weeks of my laptop staying “On Hold” waiting for a part, a CSR recommended I speak with “Customer Relations”. I called and spoke with “Tina”, who offered to replace my laptop. And then the process just halted as I tried calling to confirm and never received any callbacks. I have no idea what happened.

See Case ID: 76882040

Further, Tina informed me that I would not get my boot disc back, even though the boot disc had not failed. While I did back up my critical documents, I have GBs of ripped music, application installs, etc which I will lose.

At this moment, I still do not have confirmation of a replacement unit, I’m out a laptop for a solid month, and I will lose my data. Mr. Jobs, you have a serious problem with your support process and procedures. If someone at Apple does not resolve this pronto, your company will lose not only my future purchases, but also my purchase recommendations to graduate students, professors, and support staff at MIT.

That computer is a TOOL, not merely a product. So, to sell me a nonfunctional computer, and then destroy the data it manipulates, is to negate its very utility; the raison d’etre for my purchase.

I just want to make this one comparison: Apple II; 30 years old, still works. Macbook; failed within months, could not be repaired even under Applecare, customer waited a month for unresolved “service”.

Sincerely,
J.
[J's address]

We’d barely had time to thank J for his email when he wrote us another letter:

J. writes (on April 29):

Actually,

Mr. Jobs’ assistant contacted me personally the very next day. He’s promised to send me a new laptop and look into the issue. Once I got out of the helpdesk support chain and spoke with someone with authority, the issue appeared to clear up fast.

Still don’t have the laptop yet though. :)

And the next day, J. wrote again:

Update: Sending that email to Mr. Jobs was the best idea I had. I just received a replacement laptop, and they even arranged to send my original broken unit back so I can copy my data off the unit. (I will have to send
the defective unit back).

This is not the best way to deal with a support headache, but I have to admit that Steve actually seems to care about my business. Dude got shit *done*.

So, in the parlance of Mythbusters, we’d call the myth “Plausible.” Here’s the email for Mr. Jobs, should any of his customers need it: sjobs@apple.com. Be like J. Write an intelligent letter to Steve and CC us. It probably helps if you’re an IT manager from MIT, but hey. Maybe you can make your job sound like you buy a lot of computers, too! —MEGHANN MARCO

Comments

Edit Your Comment

  1. drotor says:

    Now that you solved J’s laptop problem can you ask Steve to stop screwing with my music?

    At first I wasn’t convinced, but after over two months I’m sure Jobs is screwing with my music.

    I use itunes. It does, pretty much, what I want in a media player. So far so good. I even buy the occasional file from the itunes store. I usually like to play random songs (the wife hates random, wanting at minimum a “theme”) but in my office random it is. Itunes lets you “rate” songs. I’ve rated everyone of the 2379 songs on my computer. Then I use “Party Shuffle”, this lets you select a source for songs to be randomly played, and has some other tweaks including “only play songs rated …” above a certain level. So, unless Jobs is screwing with me, why is Shania Twain consistently in the top five artists I listen to? Not one Twain song on this computer is rated above a one-star, and the setting is “Two-star and better”. Now … I thought I was nuts, but almost everyone I talk to has a similar problem with party shuffle on itunes – though usually with some other artist.

    My point is, Steve, stop screwing with my sweet 3 doors down to Sinatra play list.

    PS – just checked the playlist and Shania shows up twice, with a one-star on the page that clearly states “2 Star and better”.

  2. crazylady says:

    You don’t even have to pretend that you’re an important customer. If you have any sort of complaint that AppleCare refuses to fix reasonably, sending the email to sjobs@apple.com mentioning the issue in a coherent, polite and courteous way apparently gets forwarded to Apple Executive Relations (and someone DOES read these emails..I once jokingly said Steve was my god and something about job openings at Apple for teenagers and someone replied back saying “well, if I’m God, I command you to study hard and…”)

    My ex’s laptop was broken a few years back, and AppleCare refused to fix it for free because the ethernet port was a bit funny looking…an email complaint to that email address got me a call from someone at Executive Relations the next morning wondering what they could do to help.

    More recently, an acquaintance broke his MacBook and sent it off for a motherboard replacement…AppleCare charged for the replacement (which was reasonable, given the way it broke), but they also took over a month to return it fixed. iirc, he complained to that address, and AppleCare ended up refunding the charge for the repair due to the unacceptable turnaround time.

    It’s not just plausible, it does happen. There are occasional stories of people who can’t get their issues fixed this way, but for the vast majority of people who do try it, it does work to a satisfactory extent :) One just needs to do a trivial search on lots of Mac support forums to see for themselves.

  3. a says:

    Thumbs up to this. Very well written.

  4. riki24 says:

    How interesting…as great as this guy might be, you really just need to have the guts to do it yourself…after Apple broke my powerbook in repair, I wrote an email and it gave me NOT ONE, but FOUR new Macbook Pros within 2 weeks (from all of my data transfers from the original onto the rental they corrupted files and Apple couldn’t tell which file was corrupted and causing my operating system to shut down). I went into Apple every other day for 2 weeks demanding a new computer, and there was no fuss about it…they gave me one immediately every time. So before you idolize this man for his assertiveness, try standing up for yourself, they might listen to you too.

  5. 09 F9 11 02 9D 74 E3 5b D8 41 56 C5 63 56 88 C0

  6. dragonflight says:

    @Holden Caulfield: haha digg overflow onto Consumerist? Careful- wouldn’t want this site getting shut down!

  7. TonyL says:

    From my experience, I have received better customer service from Apple than from ANY other company; whether computer company or otherwise.

  8. goddardr says:

    Never underestimate the power of contacting a company executive concerning a sales or support problem. There was a time I was trying to buy a support package for some Sun equipment, but was bogged down by the limitations imposed by the support sales team. They were insisting on my using a company PO and sign a terms and conditions contract. My request? Pay by credit card and leave the lawyers out of picture (required on any agreement). Finally, I issued an e-mail to the support sales group and stated that as I am the customer, it would behoove them to be flexible in accepting payment. Here I am banging on the door to complete a sale and no one wants to answer. Then I sent the e-mail with a BCC to Jonathan Schwartz, then COO of Sun Microsystems.

    The credit card was accepted the next day.

  9. cabinaero says:

    The best way to handle AppleCare is to find some way, any way, to escalate yourself beyond the front line techs. Like pretty much everywhere, they’re script followers and will lead you through nonsense because they neither have the authority nor training to do any better.

    If anything goes wrong with the process, find some way to get ahold of a supervisor and ask them for their personal extension. I’ve had to do this once or twice and, without fail, the manager has been extremely competent and able to resolve the problem quickly.

    Never had the need to email Steve. Hope I don’t ever need to!

  10. coconino says:

    My ISP is Earthlink partnered with TimeWarner. I called Earthlink last Sunday trying to see why my company laptop wouldn’t work with my internet cable line at home. It was first picked up by this India dude who tried to fix my problem before listening to what was it about, then he transferred me to TimeWarner saying that it was Road Runner’s issue. When I talked to Time Warner, the technician said, ‘oh you need to talk to Earthlink, not us.’

    I told them.’oh no, please don’t do this to me, I just got transferred from Earthlink and I refuse to get bounced around like this, please help me with my issue’. Eventually he talked to his other tech coworker and his coworker resolved the issue for me.

    I think persistent helps sometimes when they CSR tries to play a tranferring game on you.

  11. Hah. :) Sorry for the off-topic.

  12. CiQuat says:

    @drotor: I think your post begs the question: If you’ve rated every Twain song as 1 star, why bother even leaving them on your computer?

    I use the 1-star to list the songs I need to delete at my next purge since, obviously, I don’t like them and never want to hear them again. If that wasn’t the case, I wouldn’t rate them a 1. Maybe you should do the same and purge your 1s…

  13. Absorber says:

    I’ve had the same experience. The only difference was that after getting the run-around on the phone, I wrote in by snail mail to Steve. Same thing happened though- less than a week later I got a call from Mr. Jobs’ ‘assistant’ in executive customer relations and my iBook was turned around real fast. Really good service.

  14. maynard says:

    I am the author of that email. Yes, it really did happen as I wrote. I’ve been on the ‘net for a long time as ‘maynard’. Find me at slashdot here:

    slashdot.org/~maynard

    I’m UID 3337.

    And yes, someone from Apple Corporate really did respond to me within a day to resolve the issue. And yes, I’m extremely happy with the result. I didn’t get any freebees or special deals, all I got was a working computer and my data back. Which is all I ever wanted.

    Now, I don’t buy Apple because of the name. I bought a Mac because my job is to support a large heterogeneous UNIX network. And MacOS X is a very nice UNIX. That Laptop was bought mostly because, as a tool, *it makes me money*.

    When I wrote that I had no expectation of response. By BCC:ing consumerist, I simply wanted to express my outrage over the whole mess. At the time I was ready to give up buying Apple products and purchase a replacement laptop from Lenovo stick Linux on it and get back to work. But Apple really came through for me. The *CEO* took action to retain an individual customer. That’s just astonishing. I’ve certainly never experienced anything like that from Dell.

    I’m somewhat embarrassed that an email I wrote in anger was published. The Consumerist, to their credit, did post my followups showing how it was resolved. But I must say, I’m not crazy about the site posting Jobs’ email address. I found that through a google search, so it’s already posted all over the net. But still, I would caution most people away from emailing Mr. Jobs personally. My situation was extreme.

    Finally, I want to say that I am so pleased by the resolution that I bought both Mr. Jobs and his assistant each a bottle of very good wine as a Thank You. Mr Jobs will not only get my future business, but I will also gladly recommend Apple products in my professional capacity here at MIT.

    J. Maynard Gelinas
    maynard[at][j](m)#g#[dot]com

    (remove punctuation to despam email addy)

  15. maynard says:

    @drotor: Now that you solved J’s laptop problem can you ask Steve to stop screwing with my music?

    Uhhhh…. No. I don’t think he’s interested in my negative opinion of DRM either. He just wants my money. Which he can have, as long as his product(s) meet my needs.

  16. jacck says:

    Apple is not unique in this. I had a Compaq computer which also went through a long repair nightmare and I emailed the CEO and received a phone call from Executive Escalations team within hours (faster than Apple ha ha). The issue was also resolved very quickly to my satisfaction. They were even willing to give me a full refund on my computer which is a few days out of a 3-month warranty period. I also didn’t buy the computer from them in the first place. I bought it from a retail store so this would have been a big loss for them. In the end I didn’t choose the refund but got a working computer back within 2 days.

  17. sufehmi says:

    The *CEO* took action to retain an individual customer

    Sorry, but I don’t think so. You clearly stated (threatened) to stop future Apple product purchases by MIT.

    Not only Apple may lose a corporate customer, it’s also a very well-known education institution.

    Anyway, based from other stories, I still think that Apple’s support is still a bit better than others.

  18. fourbin says:

    This happened to me 3 years ago. I purchased my PowerBook and 2 months later dropped it on a carpeted floor. Since they are so fragile, the side got dented in pretty bad. I took it to the Apple Store and they told me that everything was a-ok despite the mangled gash.

    Another 4 months later and the hard drive completely died. Since I purchased the $200 extended warranty I sent the computer into Apple and they told me I needed to give them $1000 to replace the hard drive, dvd drive and casing. They claimed that since it was an accidental damage I had to pay. I was furious. This was a $3000 half year old computer. One of the CSRs actually suggested that I ‘just buy a refurbished 12″ PowerBook, they are only $900!’.

    Anyway I wrote a long e-mail to sjobs@apple.com and discussed how I was a college student and could not afford these ridiculous repair costs. A day later I received a call from his assistant. I spoke with him and after a few minutes he called down to the repair center, had them repair it for free and I had the computer back in my hands at 8AM the next morning.

    Not too shabby…

  19. AlanBCohen says:

    I understand support problems occur in every business; it is inevitable. It is a shame that Mr. Jobs’ office had to get involved to resolve this one, but that is better than my experiences with the company.

    On July 5, 1977, I purchased an Apple ][ with 16k of memory. Over a number of years, I expanded it with memory (up to 128k, with extra boards), AppleSoft ROM board, disk drives, 80 char display boards, Apple-branded monitor, serial and parallel ports, and software, including ProDOS, UCSD Pascal, CP/M (with coprocessor board). When Apple brought out the ][GS, they offered an upgrade package to anyone with a //E that essentially replaced everything but the casing. This upgrade was significantly cheaper than the retail price of the new machine which was also highly back-ordered while the upgrades were easily available. I offered to buy a new case, along with the //GS upgrade package. That offer was refused all the way up to Corp. So, since I couldn’t get an upgrade or even a new //GS machine, I ended up with a Samsung 555 (Intel 286 machine) and never bought anything else from Apple. Now, hundreds of thousands of dollars of computer equipment later (not just my current eight desktops and laptops – a lot of people ask my opinion on computers, especially since I’ve spent the last 27 years implementing large scale ERP Financial and Supply Chain systems), Appple lost a lot of sales. Talk about penny-wise and pound-foolish!

  20. maynard says:

    @sufehmi:Sorry, but I don’t think so. You clearly stated (threatened) to stop future Apple product purchases by MIT.

    Not true. I work for a lab within MIT, not for MIT central IS&T (IT). I have no say over university purchasing, nor did I claim to. As for the weight of recommendation here within the lab… well, I do a good job and I like to think some folks here would consider my opinion seriously. But that’s about as far as it goes.

    I do not set policy, I simply implement it.

  21. maynard says:

    @AlanBCohen:

    That must have been one pimped out Apple ][ back in the day. :)

  22. grotsasha says:

    Can someone be so friendly to change the form of Mr. Job’s email address (which comes two times written in clear here) to make it spam proof?

  23. crazylady says:

    @grotsasha: do you honestly think that is steve jobs’ actual personal email address?

    no doubt it just exists cause of things like this, and the odds of him actually reading any of these emails is near zero…

  24. Floobtronics says:

    I too can relate to this story. After my mother in law took her macbook back to the local Apple store 3 times in a month for the random shutdown problem, each time, coming back as “no fault”, I wrote to his Steveness, or more accurately, the alias the funnels into Exec CS about the problem.

    Strangely enough, she received a call from one of the managers of the local store later that day asking her to come in at the invitation of Steve Jobs to have all of her data transfered to a brand new MacBook. They even upgraded her from Core Duo without SuperDrive to Core 2 Duo with SuperDrive.

    The manager also asked that she bring any installation media for additional software she needed reloaded with her. It wasn’t much (MS Office & SPSS), but the gesture was awfully nice, added onto a great resolution.

    To top it all off, her AppleCare contract was canceled on the old, and replaced with a brand new one on the new system at no charge.

    And in case you’re wondering, I do not wield any superhuman abilities, or power to cause any huge loss in sales to Apple, other than fallout in the blogosphere or on a site like this.

  25. jdoyle1973 says:

    I had a similar experience. I am a twice employee of Apple at Cork and Sydney and would love another job there. So I emailed Steve Directly! Here is my email:

    “Hi Steve,

    You don’t know me, but I was worked for you in Cork, Ireland as a Multimedia Software Tester and in Sydney, Australia as a Technical Support officer. When I started working in Cork it was the reign of Gil Amelio, Apple had a sprawling mess of a product line, and had no direction. Among other things I was responsible for all PAL testing for the Avid Cinema project, the grandfather of iMovie, which given the technology of the time was a great product. Projects like Rhapsody and PowerXpress were going nowhere. When you came back as advisor things started to change, and Apple got it’s soul back. Thank you for that.

    I now live in Brisbane, Australia, and I want to work for you again! If there are any positions that are available here or that are being created on the wave of Apple’s success can I please be considered? I am web designer for the leading classifieds publication in Australia at the moment, and our production department is all Mac based and will never change. I am fanatical about all things Apple and always evangelizing both in work and my spare time.

    Having 15 years of mac experience and being twice an employee of Apple I think I am the perfect candidate for a Job here in Brisbane. I know you are busy but please consider me because I know Apple’s success will result in positions being created here. I would love to be part of Apples continued growth.

    regards


    -John Doyle”

    Guess what? The HR manager for Apple Australia rang me and said that Steve had forwarded the email to her! How cool! It still hasn’t resulted in a job yet but I keep regularly in touch with her and am waiting for the right job to come up.

  26. phasefire says:

    Hey I bought a tecra for about $2500 back in Sept in Canada.
    I moved to London Uk
    It broke in january and fried the firewire port on my camera.
    I took it into a certified Toshiba repair site in London on Feb 9th
    last monday i called toshiba and complained and they said someone would call me in 24-48 hours
    On thur I called back asking why nobody had returned my call. I also asked to speak to a supervisor.
    The call support guy REFUSED.
    He said I neede to call Toshiba UK (even though the repair place said they had to order the parts of Canada)
    I repeatedly asked to speak to a manager to no avail.
    I then called Toshiba Uk and they of course said they couldn’t help me
    I called TOshiba canada again (take in mind all these calls are long distance for me)
    I managed to speak to a supervisor and she didn’t help. She said I was out of luck and had to wait.
    She said my warranty doesn’t cover replacement just repair and the part is back ordered.
    I asked to speak to the next level and she informed me there was no next level.
    She said she was the only manager on right now
    (even though she claimed to know nothing about the dufus who told me to call the UK 30 min before)
    Finaly I called the head office. They said they would look in it.

    Can anyone help me? anyone know the Ceos email? any advice?
    Is TOshiba always this crap with customer service? It’s been two months and I’m gonna have to buy a computer so I can use the internet connection I pay £20 a month for.

  27. icemaniceman1111 says:

    Apple had a bad load of motherboards that they eventually would replace at no charge despite the fact that most ibooks were past 1 year warrantee. After reading an article in the Boston Globe I contacted a guy who was trying to get a class action suit against apple but there was no action. I emailed him, what should I do now. I had already gotten my ibook repaired at an authorized apple repair shop at a cost of 550$, 25 percent of the purchase price.

    He suggested I write to steve jobs, I figured what the hell. So I wrote a short email with a description of the problems, the cost and a link to the sites with description of the many failures of this part.

    There obviously was some serious problem with quality control because the replacement part installed failed after 24 hours in the shop during the burn in period.

    A day or two later, I got a call from Steve Jobs’ assistant. He wants to send me a check. After I picked myself up off the floor. I sent him the repair bill, he called the shop to confirm and in a few days I had a check for about $550.

    This was 6 months before they decide to offer and extended warrantee on this part.

    Amazing. The ibook is still working well in May 2007. I bought it in March 2002

  28. vintagemxr says:

    If I send an e-mail to bill@microsoft.com will Windows stop locking up?

  29. ktoth04 says:

    @vintagemxr – his email is billg@microsoft.com

    and no, it probably won’t help :)

  30. lever says:

    Good evening Apple-Team:
    I wanted to let the Steve Jobs people know that my wife and I are the holders of a certain “Patent”. It is an executive style desk that houses a computer, hide-away flat screen, refrigerator, paper-shredder, calculator and conceptually a docking station for the new “iphone”. We do have a web-page for the product, but my wife prefers to have a representative call us first. 301.498.3371

  31. Rockslide says:

    Consider this: When someone takes the time to write the CEO of a corporation and informs that executive of a systemic problem within that organization, the letter writer is doing a favor for the company and its upper management. Often times customer’s problems remain simmering for months or even years, often hiding a big problem until it begins to affect that company in terms of loss of business or customer loyalty, or even liability in the event of a defective part or other dangerous condition. When I was running a mid-size manufacturing firm during the 1980s it was often the calls or letters directed to me personally that alerted me to problems both big and small (and all problems are important). Even if the person contacting me was angry or agitated, ultimately I was grateful for the heads up. As others have noted, a polite, well written letter is almost always well received and frequently acknowledged. I myself have written to CEOs of Fortune 500 companies many times when I found a product defective, a policy unworkable, or customer service useless and unhelpful. Invariably the responses are cordial and timely, usually from an assistant within the corporate or “executive offices”. By all means, if you can’t make headway with a company’s lower or middle management, go right to the top. It works.

  32. OprahBabb says:

    Woooooooooow!

    I LOVE this site. I read it daily and religiously. :-)

    Anyways, I am a current Apple Employee, although I do not work in the AppleCare Dept. Out of curiosity, I looked up the Case ID: attached above from J’s story, and see that he had over 50 notes regarding troubleshooting and updates.

    I would agree that Apple has some of the best damn customer service out there, although we weren’t able to resolve this issue right away, I am glad a friendly note to the man upstairs did the trick. :-D

    Cheers!