Apple Doesn't Know How To Handle The MobileMe Crisis

Apple excels in product design and user interface, and their operating system is pretty sweet, too. What Apple has a much rockier history with is customer service—in individual instances it can be great, but historically when there’s a problem with one of their products, Apple clams up like a sullen teen and refuses to talk. Their new MobileMe service has had problems since it launched two weeks ago, and even now there are thousands of users who can’t sync, or whose email has been deleted (oops, should’ve set up Time Machine). David Pogue points out that Apple’s lack of an adequate response is completely unacceptable—or would be for any other company:

It’s amazing that Apple doesn’t recognize this situation. This is an airplane that’s stuck on the runway for hours with no food or working bathroom. And the pilot doesn’t come on the P.A. system to tell the customers what the problem is, what’s being done to fix it, how much longer they might be stuck, and how he empathizes with their plight. Instead, he comes on once every three hours to repeat the same thing: “We apologize for the inconvenience.”

It’s true, Apple did address these problems early on, even going so far as to offer a free 1-month extension to current subscribers. But Pogue points out that whatever problems were plagueing MobileMe haven’t been entirely eradicated, because a note appeared on the MobileMe support site that read, “1% of MobileMe members cannot access MobileMe Mail. We apologize for this service interruption and are working hard to resolve the problem.”

So how is Apple trying to help out this subset of customers? By hiding behind a broken customer service system, Pogue writes:

MobileMe tech support, my correspondents tell me, is nearly impossible to reach; the recording says that the support team is “unavailable due to the overwhelming interest in MobileMe.” (Somehow I doubt that “overwhelming interest” is the problem.) When you do reach them, they’re apologetic but can do nothing to help.

By contrast—and even I can’t believe I’m about to compare T-Mobile’s customer service to Apple’s, but here goes—yesterday I couldn’t get online using T-Mobile’s HotSpot service at a Starbucks in NYC. I called the customer support line at the bottom of the error message screen fully expecting to get nowhere—really it was just a masochistic impulse to test how incompetent they’d be. What I got instead was a live, helpful person after three rings, and when I was escalated up to a support tech, she answered in less than 60 seconds and gave me advice on how to fix the problem. I assume T-Mobile is dumping extra resources into HotSpot support right now, especially with Starbucks since they’re having to deal with AT&T taking over the system and causing who knows what kinds of customer service snafus, but you’d think Apple would try a similar approach with its first big push into a new service.

“Apple’s MobileMess” [New York Times]
(Screen cap of customer service wait time: Hayden)

Comments

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  1. Walrii says:

    So, they aren’t even taking these problems seriously? :(

  2. sleze69 says:

    I haven’t had any problems with ActiveSync…of course that is a well documented, tried and true, mature product.

  3. shorty63136 says:

    What would you like them to do/say? They rolled it out wrong and they’re trying to fix it as quickly as possible. This is out of the norm for them seeing as how when Apple releases a product, it just works. Period. This time, it didn’t and I imagine they’re taking steps to try and rectify it while trying to document and learn from their mistakes at the same time – seeing as that’d be the smart thing to do.

    It’s not like Microsoft who churns out a product infested with bugs and takes their sweet time fixing your anus while they still have their hands on your shoulders.

    I know four people who’ve had their situations with MobileMe rectified during this mess (and yes, it is a mess) but only after being patient – and 5 more who were given free (albeit non-working) MM accounts because it took 3+ hours to get their iPhones activated.

  4. newgalactic says:

    Yeah, Push-email…

    stick with Gmail and fetch.

  5. Franklin Comes Alive! says:

    @shorty63136:

    “What would you want them to do”…

    Um… How about not rolling out a half-baked service? Of course, Apple can get away with this because they have legions of fan-boys willing to bend over and take it.

    FWIW, I am on my second ipod and have loved them both, but Apple gets away with FAR too much from their leigons of sycophants.

  6. BurntToast says:

    I agree with Franklin. Apple gets away with far too much because of their fanboys.

    What can they do? Make it clear that they are aware of the situation and are working towards fixing them. Ask people what exactly is wrong. Update their customers with status updates.

    If this was Microsoft or Sony or whoever, this would be completely unacceptible… but because it’s Apple it’s okay? Seriously?

  7. admiral_stabbin says:

    I can’t agree with the non-factual comment that everytime Apple releases a product that “…it just works. Period.” I still recall Mac OS 8 and the nightmare that was to support.

    Also, please stop with the Microsoft bashing. I loathe them as much as the next person, but, they really don’t have a comparable offering. The closest things they do offer (e.g. Windows Live Small Business) are still only mildly comparable, and, haven’t suffered the type of catastrophic explosion on the launchpad that MobileMe has.

    If MobileMe were a free service I would personally cut Apple a bit more slack. As they charge a handsome sum for it…well, that’s just plain sad.

  8. theblackdog says:

    Rabid Apple fanboyism to defend Steve Jobs and bash Windows in 3…2…1…

  9. nick_r says:

    Yep, MobileMe refused to sync to my Mac for the first two weeks, and tech support responded only in the form of useless bots. Now it works, but the reply emails are still AWOL. I sent them another message yesterday to let them know that my decision on whether to sign up for a full year will depend heavily on their ability to get a real human being to write back when I have a problem.

  10. sketchy says:

    @Franklin Comes Alive!: @BurntToast: Complete agreement. Apple fans seem willing to put up with edless amounts of iCrap to live on the bleeding edge of overpriced trinket technology.

  11. admiral_stabbin says:

    @sketchy: Amen. Keywords from your comments…”bleeding” and “overpriced”.

  12. Franklin Comes Alive! says:

    @sketchy:

    The thing is, Apple does make some truly great products. But when they do things that any other company would get crucified for (this MobileMe fiasco, charging for ipod software updates, the ridiculous NDA program for the iphone SDK, etc), they somehow get defended. Like I said, I love the Apple products I have, but I don’t get the blind loyalty thing.

  13. howie_in_az says:

    People use .Mac instead of Google’s free offerings that integrate with OSX and the iPhone? And they pay for it? Maybe I’m just not familiar with Apple’s .Mac/MobileMe offerings enough.

  14. MikeGrenade says:

    Apple is not the nice, friendly, cuddly company everyone likes to think it is. Why that wasn’t apparent the moment they began peddling their in-your-face brand of planned obsolescence, I’ll never know.

  15. sketchy says:

    @Franklin Comes Alive!: Apple makes, by and large, overpriced trinkets. I can build a comparable PC for one third to one half of the price of a Mac. I can buy an HTC or Instinct which blows the iPhone away for the same or less money, I can get an mp3 player similar to an iPod for one fifth the price. Apple is nothing special, except for their marketing.

  16. AuntNi says:

    I’m an Apple fan, but I’m not here to defend Apple. I’m really pissed that iTunes 7.7 won’t let us sync our iPods with iTunes. We’ve spent two weeks looking at the spinning beach ball every time we plug the iPods in. Apple’s response was telling us to reinstall iTunes and restore our iPods. With over 18,000 songs – no thanks! I’m waiting impatiently for them to fix this bug, but it sounds like they’ve really got their hands full. Very disappointing.

  17. Imaginary_Friend says:

    I’m not going to make excuses for Apple, but anyone who pays attention to these things should know better than to have a smoothly working product or service for a 1st generation anything. Technology is flaky. Treat 1st generation products like the beta test stage that they are and you will never be disappointed.

  18. Imaginary_Friend says:

    @Imaginary_Friend: that should read, “…should know better than to expect to have…”

  19. tande04 says:

    @AuntNi: Why, you aren’t going to lose the songs…

    It may take awhile to sync that many songs but if you do it while you’re at work or sleeping it shouldn’t really matter.

    Reinstall and restore are your best options. Its obviously not just a software issue as I’ve had no problems with 7.7 and haven’t heard much in the way of web chatter about it.

  20. ibored says:

    absolutely agreed admiral.

    this is like the security holes. Microsoft gets ripped on because they are big. But they got big for a reason. Apple products are overpriced IMHO and they aren’t what they say they are.

  21. wolftrouble says:

    My guess is that ‘MobileMe’ is just a new software release built on top of the existing .Mac platform that Apple had ignored and allowed to stagnate for years. I was, in fact, a little shocked when they announced MobileMe, as I fulled expected to get an announcement at some point (likely not at MacWorld. :) ) that they were retiring .Mac entirely. It was old (and looked it), clunky and slow.

    Instead, along comes MobileMe to replace it. And somehow I doubt they built and entirely new software+hardware infrastructure to do it.

  22. Techguy1138 says:

    @shorty63136:

    “This is out of the norm for them seeing as how when Apple releases a product, it just works.”

    Broken products ARE the Apple norm. You may just may not have been an Apple user for long enough.

    I still remember the OSX launch. I have never seen so many kernel panics, the mac blue screen of death, on a unix based system. They managed to break several key features such as PRINTING! Oh and I was charged around $120 every 12-18 months for an update. This update was required for me to keep using my devices while obliterating compatibility with others.

    I hear OSX is quite wonderful now.
    Apple hardware is horrid and has been since Steve Jobs returned to Apple.

    In contrast I purchased windows xp once. Most of my old win 95 devices worked just fine. I have never had to pay MS to fix a bug or broken feature in windows. It is stable and works for all my tasks and needs infrequent attention.

    From a ‘it just works standpoint’ I’ve seen MS do a far better job. From a marketing standpoint Apple is king.

  23. andy966 says:

    While I do understand the point of this article, I believe you are comparing apples to oranges (no pun intended). The issue that MobileMe is facing cannot be resolved by a technician because the fault or the issue seems to be on the engineering level. What I mean by this is that speaking to a technical support rep will not resolve your issue. The issue sucks and Apple should be more forthcoming as to what the issues are but getting a hold of customer service is not the issue.
    The true issue is the communications level that Apple is choosing to take. Consumers want transparency, and when there isn’t any, that is what is frustrating and what I believe is the true message of this article. The T-Mobile comparison is pointless.

  24. jpdanzig says:

    Wow, Apple must have really screwed the pooch to get Fanboy #1 Pogue Boy all riled up!

    Poor baby…

    But I’m still waiting for him to reply to my comment that I can’t care how beautifully designed the new Mac OS may be — the sucker doesn’t have a scroll bar or scroll wheel!

    I ask my Mac friends, “How do you scroll with this thing?” And when they point me to the scroll bar on the far right of the screen — necessitating repositioning the cursor EVERY time you scroll, wasting an amazing aggregate amount of time during the course of a day online or writing documents — I can only quote Scotty, “How quaint.”

  25. shockwaver says:

    @jpdanzig: Wait.. what? If you have a laptop, you can use the two finger thing, if you have a desktop.. get mouse with a scroll wheel?

  26. khiltd says:

    $5 says they’re using Rails.

  27. seandavid010 says:

    I’ve had .Mac for a couple of years now, and never had any complaints. I also bought a 3G iPhone on launch day, and had to wait a couple hours to activate it via iTunes at home, which wasn’t really a big deal for me. About two days later I downloaded the MobileMe update, and for about a day and a half things were kinda rough, i.e. iCal events wouldn’t push to other devices for about an hour or so, and mail was slow to mark new messages as ‘read’. After that, though, everything cleared up. My iPhone pushes stuff to my devices, and everything works flawlessly. Maybe I’m the exception here, but I haven’t experienced any prolonged outages or problems.

  28. Dabigkid says:

    iPhone, iPod… now MobileMe! Ha, that’s clever! I’m sure the guy who made that one up proceeded with a good wanking!

  29. antisan says:

    MobileMe ruined a purchase I tried to make (A quicktime codec or something). I tried to download the purchase but the download link kept sending me to the MobileMe setup page. Eventually I called them (something I hate doing) and in theory she just retracted the order and sent me a refund. I was told to go order it again when the crisis is over. This frustrates me as what I really wanted was the codec to open a DVD in another program to get a screencap, a DVD I now have to prolong sending to Netflix, but the tech support person on the phone seemed aware of the problems and was pretty nice about it.

    Also, to scroll on a mac, you put one finger on the touchpad and slide the other down the touchpad, moving you down the page.

  30. AntonioLamia says:

    Being an Macintosh sysadmin for over ten years in an enterprise
    (college) environment, the MobileMe fiasco does not surprise me. One of
    Apple’s glaring faults has always been overlooking the enterprise. Their
    implementation of Open Directory has been overall good and improving,
    but integrating into existing environments (example 10.5 and Active
    Directory) can be a nightmare. The lack of roadmaps that any other
    vendor freely provides has always been the bane of IT. Apple’s shift
    from focusing on professional users to the “iConsumer” has left the
    enterprise markets blowing in the wind, which was why I was surprised
    that Apple was even starting to push Exchange support (pun not
    intended). However, because of the company’s weakness in supporting
    enterprise environments, the software is a $99 beta.

    Don’t get me wrong, I have been an Apple user since 1981 and love the
    product, but methinks Steve’s “Reality Distortion Field” strikes again.

  31. @antisan: (Have you tried opening the DVD in VLC? It’s freeware and plays pretty much anything you throw at it, and you can take a screencap of media.)

  32. asten77 says:

    This makes perfect sense. Steve (and apple’s) ego is so inflated that they don’t actually believe that they can screw up. It’s not that they’re ignoring people complaining, they just simply don’t have the capacity to understand what they’re saying.

  33. ExGC says:

    10 days after trying MobileMe and synching with Outlook and my shiny new iPhone 3G . . . the appointments entered into Outlook disappear in Outlook (but they are there, just hidden), the appointments entered into the iPhone are invisible(but there!) in Outlook, I missed a client meeting because of it, and after 3 hours on the phone with an “iPhone Specialist” (who admittedly was very pleasant and helpful, but also admitted he hadn’t had time to sleep since the launch), the best that they could do was tell me that this was an “emerging problem” and they hoped to have a solution soon. Even terminating my MobileMe account and doing a full restore on the iPhone wouldn’t fix it. Not ready for prime time by any means.

  34. pianos101 says:

    Yes Apple products do have their shortcomings and sometimes things “just don’t work” (wow i can’t believe i just said that). HOWEVER, to sum up this whole post in one phrase: look at the next post on the Consumerist home page.

    See, us “apple fanboys” don’t never ever have to deal with the crap that is windows. Yes, sometimes i have issues with OS X, but there is a very helpful support base out there (macrumors.com for one) where people are very helpful at pinpointing problems without even getting AppleCare involved. But i’m more than willing to take these few problems over the CRAP that is windows. No bloatware, no spyware, no bullshit.

  35. CalvinKaplah says:

    info: Hi, my name is Sarah. Welcome to Apple!

    Sarah: Hello Gail, how are you this afternoon?

    gail: Sarah, i have not received .mac or mobile me mail

    gail: since last Friday morning. this is causing SEVERE HARDSHIP on
    my business and income. I am a sole proprietor and now i am
    hemorraging money.

    Sarah: i understand that your business is taking losses because of
    this mail outage. Please believe me when I say that our engineers are
    working hard to re-establish access for your mail services

    gail : What about the financial damages caused to me by apple?

    gail : How will Apple compensate me?

    Sarah: I’ll be right with you.

    Sarah: what every agent will tell you is that compensation for this
    mail outage has not been announced, and neither has an ETA on a
    resolution.

    gail : You should know that I am going to copy this chat and paste it
    on the internet for all to see. I need my mail service restored.

    gail: what is happening to my un-received messages?

    Sarah: please understand that because I am not on the engineering
    side and do not know what the specific server issue is or what their
    ‘to-do’ list entails I am unable to provide you with a reliable ETA
    on when your mail services will be back online. I wouldn’t want to
    speculate and be wrong. It’s not like I can flip a switch and have
    access restored

    Sarah: after four days of being undelivered on the server the sender
    will receive a bounced message pertaining to that email

    gail : Is your server storing my messages for me to receive when the
    problem is eventually resolved?

    Sarah: when services are restored any messages that have been on the
    server for less than the four-day period will be received by your
    account

    gail: Is it possible to forward the presently un-deliverable messages
    to an alternate account so I don’t continue to lose money? I need to
    buy food.

    gail: And so the older messages are lost to me forever unless the
    person re-sends them?

    Sarah: because any messages that your account would receive have to
    go though the server in order to be delivered and then forwarded to
    another account this is not possible

    Sarah: the sender of the emails will at least be notified with the
    bounced message that you did not receive the email to begin with, so
    I would hope that they would at least contact you or attempt to
    resend it

    gail : So what the hell am I supposed to do? It’s not like I can flip
    a switch and get my business mail back.

    Sarah: I would love nothing better than to have these mail services
    restored. 1% of 1 million customers is 10,000 people who are unable
    to access their mail.

    gail: that is 1% too many

    gail: Is it possible for Apple to notify people who are sending email
    to .mac or .me accounts that Apple’s servers have melted down and
    that they can try an alternate mail for the intended recipient?

    gail: 10,000 = 1,000,000 annual dollars in charges for this service.

    Sarah: to my knowledge this is not something that Apple is
    considering. It would technically mean sending an email to ANY
    potential sender of email, which would be every email address
    possible, not just mobileme accounts

    gail: If in fact is really is only 1%. previous reports said it was 4%.

    gail: Is it possible that this is messed up beyond repair? six days
    is a long time to repair a server and get 10,000 accounts back online.

    gail: Here’s a suggestion: Have apple publish something on the
    internet notifying the general public of this so people attempting to
    contact their loved ones and business associates know they are not
    being ignored.

    Sarah: please understand ma’am that we are doing everything in our
    power in order to resolve this issue as quickly as possible, for
    everyone’s sake. However, the only course of action that i see to be
    available is to either wait it out until we can get this server up
    and running, cancel the account so it wouldn’t matter, or send an
    email to those on your contact list from another email address
    informing them of this outage and where to contact you

    gail: The fact that i am talking to you right now means that IT DOES
    matter.

    gail: And I have waited too long, which is why i am communicating
    with you in the first place.

    Sarah: i wish I had more information for you, believe me i do, it
    would make things a lot easier for a lot of people, but I’ve told you
    exactly the same information that I’ve told to customers that I
    chatted with earlier, which is all the information that is currently
    available regarding this mail outage.

    gail: That’s not enough.

    gail: Something needs to be done differently

    Sarah: I know that, but I have nothing else to offer except my
    sincerest apologies for this

    gail: I have offered suggestions myself but they are falling on deaf
    ears.

    gail: Apologies are appreciated but they do not fix the problem.

    Sarah: no they do not

    Sarah: i wish they did though

    gail : OK, so please tell me what exactly is being done to restore
    the service to me an 9,999 others.

    Sarah: as i am not privvied to the engineering department’s ‘to-do’
    list and as i do not know the precise cause of the outage with the
    server I am unable to provide you with an answer to that question

    gail : Is it possible that this is a permanent problem?

    Sarah: in my experience mail outages have not been permanent

    gail: This has not been at all helpful.

    Sarah: people who are paid much more and who are much higher up on
    the totem pole are the folks who are responsible for those decisions,
    I’m just asked to know the product, it’s features, how to
    troubleshoot its issues, and support its customers

    gail: How can I be in contact with people higher up on the totem pole
    and who are paid more than you?

    Sarah: i have a link to the feedback page with a webform that you can
    submit comments, concerns and suggestions directly to the MobileMe
    development team

    gail : That site has been taken down.

    Sarah: it loads ok for me

    Sarah: http://www.apple.com/feedback/mac/tm.html

    Sarah: try this link

    gail: Can I have the email address for the Chief of Engineering?

    gail : Or is he one of the 10,000?

    Sarah: regrettably i do not have access to that information

    Sarah: i know I’m not being very helpful but my hands are tied in
    this respect

    gail: So in sum, no more news. There is a problem and Apple doesn’t
    know when it will be fixed. Right?

    Sarah: pretty much

    gail: That is not acceptable.

    Sarah: i could always lie to you and say that it will be up shortly,
    just wait till this afternoon or some jargon along those lines, but I
    will not lie to my customers, I let them know exactly what’s going on
    as far as our department knows

    gail: What makes you think I would want you to lie to me?

    Sarah: the information that I’m providing I do not believe you are
    accepting

    Sarah: but it is the truth of the matter

    Sarah: and I won’t tell anyone something that’s not true just to make
    them happy

    gail: I am saying that the situation and apple’s response is
    unacceptable to me. And probably to the 9,999 others. And I have been
    honest and forthright with you too, and am not patting myself on the
    back for “not lying”

    Sarah: if this is unacceptable there’s not much as a customer suppor
    t agent that I can do about it as the situation is beyond my control

    gail: Certainly telling someone something that’s not true will not
    make them happy. So you are correct about that.

    Sarah: Is there any other information that i can look up for you this
    afternoon ma’am?

    gail: I would like an apology for your implication that if I was lied
    to I would be happy.

    gail: Because it is a juvenile and purile statement.

    Sarah: Thank you for waiting. I’ll be with you in just a moment.

    gail : Sure

    Sarah: I’m sorry for the delay. I’ll be right with you.

    Sarah: i certainly will apologize if my statements were construed as
    such, it was absolutely not my intention to offend you in any manner.
    I was just trying to find a ‘silver lining’. In that I recognize the
    situation is less than ideal (serious understatement) and my
    intention was to point out that despite this scenario the information
    I am able to provide you with is all I that I can do for you at this
    time.

    Sarah: and at least you can depend on what information I am able to
    tell you

    gail: The silver lining is that I have no service and i am not being
    lied to, correct?

    Sarah: the silver lining is that we admit there is a problem, we are
    working to resolve this problem, and we will provide you with any and
    all information that we have regarding this problem

    gail: Thanks, SArah!

  36. pinkyracer says:

    the root of the problem is the stupid name. If they hadn’t changed it to something so retarded, it would probably work. I don’t want to tell people my e-mail address is @me.com, that’s so lame. MobileMe? Even lamer.

    who’s the marketing “genius” who came up with such a corny name for what’s supposed to be an identifier with the coolest computer company?

  37. This is all due to Steve Job’s passive aggressive personality. He deals with serious errors on his part by not mentioning them and avoiding you forever, if at all possible.

    Thus this is how Apple deals with serious errors.

    They don’t.

  38. Matt says:
  39. golfinggiraffe says:

    @pianos101: you sound like someone who once opened a “nekkid pics” attachment from some email, only to find out that it contained a virus. or someone who installzed bonzai buddy because they thought it was cute. well, i guess os x would protect you from that sort of stupidity.

  40. unchi says:

    Apple should get burned for their problems with MobileMe and I’m Pogue and Mossberg both came out this week attacking MobileMe.

    I also don’t get why OP had a problem comparing Apple to Tmobile. Tmobile has always had great customer service. It actually made me sad when I left them for AT&T/iPhone. Maybe when I upgrade, i’ll jailbreak my old one and go back to T-mobile.

  41. Rock79 says:

    I suppose with the 1 million+ iphone 3g sales, a lot of people flooded the mobileme service and they’re overwhelmed. I’m with newgalactic, gmail + fetch = win (and free) ;)

  42. Javert says:

    @sketchy: You…are…A GOD!!! You took every thought I had and put it to screen. Thank you.

  43. crichton007 says:

    I have to take umbrage with your T-Mobile comparison. They have good customer service. It sounded as if you were intimating they don’t.

  44. thomanjones says:

    @jpdanzig: Here’s Pogue’s response to the ‘omg fanboi’ comments that seem to pop up every time his name is mentioned on the internet: [www.davidpogue.com]

    Also, to scroll, enable two finger scrolling (Macbook/Macbook Pro/Macbook Air), use the scroll ball (mighty mouse), or a scroll wheel (any usb mouse).

    It’s really not that difficult.

    ————-

    My mobile me went down for about two days (thursday/friday, same time my iPhone went down due to the activation servers). Since it’s been back up, it’s worked flawlessly; but I hadn’t realized how much I depend on the idisk until then (I barely even use the documents folder except for large AV projects, and even then, they are usually on an external HD).

    I did not, however, recieve a free month of .me service. That was annoying. Just got charged yesterday for my annual renewal, the date did not budge a day since I signed up last summer.

  45. BrianT says:

    I signed up for mobile me a few weeks ago, and have had no problems with it, it syncs fine with my mac and PC, and I get emails on my phone faster than on the pc, maybe I am just lucky that I haven’t had any issues. Also address book and calendar are almost instant when I create a new appointment on the iphone, it shows up right away in ical or outlook.

  46. Techguy1138 says:

    @CalvinKaplah:
    The problem with that conversation is that a Apple is being used for a business service. Apple is great from consumers and products. The have never seemed to do well for business.

  47. smirkette says:

    I’m usually very happy with Apple, but I desperately needed to upload a file to my iDisk for work. Since I’m paying for this service ($99 for my .Mac account), it ought to work. What upsets me the most, however, is that .Mac users weren’t given the option of whether or not to switch services. I’m always wary of the first run of a new anything, and so would have preferred an option to cancel and get a pro-rated refund.

  48. ctmclet says:

    Here’s some more scoop as well as a copy of the letter I wrote to Apple. I finally spoke to someone in Customer Relations and did get a $75 credit to the online store, but alas I STILL HAVE NO EMAIL and it’s been down since Friday at 1:15 p.m. and there is no indication of when it will be up. Completely frustrated…

    Colin

    01:48 pm: Maybe in the next 24 hours I’ll have email — or An Open Letter to Apple
    So FINALLY I got through on their little MobileMe chat thingy on their support page — “their” being APPLE! Bigtime server outage has caused huge issues. But has Apple done anything proactive to help in terms of communication and such — oh noooooooooo… so the nice rep suggested I send feedback and that it will get read. Here’s what I sent.

    Hello — I am one of those unfortunate users whose mobileme mail has been down since Friday at 1:15 p.m. EST. As I’m sure you know, this has been a complete nightmare. I work for a software company so I understand and know first hand how things like this can happen. I want to be clear — I’m not nearly so angry or frustrated about the outage itself — I am THOROUGHLY infuriated at how poorly it’s been handled.

    The system status on the mobileme support page hasn’t changed since Friday. 1% of users currently cannot access mail and everything else is hunky dory. Ummm hellloooooo?? This is helpful to us? First, I don’t believe it’s only 1% of users, and further that system status is not particularly enlightening or informative. How about the truth and some additional information. Things happen, we understand that, it frustrates us — but to insult us with a system message? How about a splash across the screen: “In the system conversion to MobileMe, we have had some major server outages. Clearly this is not the level of service we want to provide, and we apologize for this and are working round the clock to fix it. If you would like to know if you are impacted by this outage (versus another issue) please email us at XXXX and we commit to responding to all inquiries within 24 hours.” THAT would have been honest, forthright, and helpful! Even better set up a crisis hotline dedicated solely to MobileMe mail outage so we can call and find out “Yup, you’re affected” and provide you an alternate email address where you can keep us posted on status updates. Or even via text message! My company has a software product that allows for instant text message and phone messaging that could be very useful in situations like this.

    Instead I have had to sit off and on all weekend waiting for someone to chat with. I missed them twice (after waiting for more than 5 hours both times) and then all day yesterday chat wasn’t even available and your message was “Due to overwhelming interest in mobile me” — OVERWHELMING INTEREST?!?! What a crock! It’s due to your server outage — don’t lie to us. We’re not dumb.

    It wasn’t until just a little while ago that I was able to get through (it took me about 45 minutes this time I believe). Only then was I able to find out (from Aaron, bless his heart, he’s getting beaten up by MANAGEMENT’S lack of proactivity on this) that indeed I am in the “1%” affected, and he explained to me in more detail the serve outage problem. If I had known that all along, I wouldn’t have wasted so much time and I wouldn’t be nearly so angry.

    In addition, I am currently under an AppleCare support plan. So I tried calling someone. I talked to two different people who were very nice, but of absolutely no help, because you haven’t empowered them to know anything about what’s going on. CMON!!!! Really??? Left hand, meet your right hand.

    It’s all well and good to say “we don’t offer telephone support for mobileme” (which is ridiculous in my opinion, especially since it’s a service I am paying for and it’s new — you should have staffed up appropriately for this roll out) but we, your customers, are going to call your reps anyway when left no other recourse. Wouldn’t you? Give those support reps appropriate and informative updates. Send out a mass communication saying “here’s the current status you can tell people.” Help your people out, for goodness sake, instead of leaving them to fend for themselves and just say “sorry, I wish I knew.”

    And although there seems to be a mysterious email address where I could have emailed someone, I’ll be damned if I can find it on your mobileme support page.
    Cleverly hidden I see.

    Your lack of responsiveness to this crisis has cost me I don’t know how many hours of time and frustration, not to mention your entire support organization countless hours of the same — all because you didn’t address this in any sort of reasonable way.

    I love my Apple products for the most part. I’m all about my iphone, my iMac, my iPod, my shuffle, etc. But this has me seriously considering changing my email and not renewing my subscription — which is to happen in a matter of a few days.

    Not good. Convince me I’ve been heard and that you care. If you’d just done a couple of really simple things, you could have averted a whole host of bad feelings and frustrations on the part of your employees and customers. Cmon, Apple, you can do better.

    I can be reached at xxxxxxx@aol.com (until you get me back up and running) or at XXX.XXX.XXXX.

    Thanks!

    Colin

    Current Mood: annoyed

    July 21st, 2008
    04:15 pm: ARRRGHHHH MOBILE ME MY HINEY!
    Ok, so yeah I’m an apple lover. I heart my imac, my iphone, my ipod. I’m all about the iLife, I suppose.

    But boy have they FKED IT UP ROYALLY. With the switchover to this mobileme crap, I have not been able to access email since Friday at 1:18 p.m. Can’t get to the support chat for Mobile Me as it’s unavailable due to “overwhelming interest in mobileme.” (Overwhelming interest my patootie. It’s an overwhelming fk up of major proportions.) The website says 1% of users can’t access email. HA!!! Their call center is overwhelmed with calls. And these calls to actual apple support are variations on a theme:

    You can email them?
    We know as much as you do.
    I suspect they won’t answer your email.
    The chat functionality gets you to people who actually know mobileme, as we don’t support it and don’t have access to support it.

    Apple, you have fked up bigtime!!

    All this for 99 bucks a year. Woo hoo…

    WHEN WILL I GET MY EMAIL?!?!?! I may have won the Netherlands national lottery and am missing my window of opportunity to give them all my private information to prove I am who I am and that I will be set for life.

    Trying to find the humor…

  49. CptnNemo says:

    I have had t-Mobile for two years now, and even though there are the occasional bad apple CSR’s, their support has been great. They’ve knocked down bills when it’s been completely my fault, shipped me new phones outside the repair/replace period and much more. I recommend it to everyone (and I HATE ATT mobile service…which is why there is no iphone in my future).

  50. coolkiwilivin says:

    @shorty63136: Such a typical Kool Aid drinker answer. That’s been my perpetual issue with Macs and their fanboys is that they pretty much refuse to acknowledge any gaffe’s or failures. But then again, when you are a consumer focused company you can afford these kind of screwups b/c individuals while aggregated can be a significant number but they lack the ability to make judgments or decisions that say a corporate customer who bought 10,000 units of something can. If Apple loses 1 customer no big deal, unless that customer bought 10,000 Macs and will not again in the future. When Apple gets serious about serving corporate customers then this is a newsworthy article until then, this is just 1 more example of how NOT ready Apple is the major leagues.

  51. 4ster says:

    @sketchy “I can build a comparable PC for one third to one half of the price of a Mac.”

    ha ha ha Ha Ha HA HA HA HA HA!!!!!! You can NOT.

    And you’re going to build it out of what, Legos? Tinker toys? Lincoln Logs?

    Let me guess, you’re going to put Vista or Linux on it? Yeah. That will be JUST LIKE a Mac.

    Whenever http://www.sketchymacequivalentpcs.com goes live, please let me know, so I can buy your $400 Macbook equivalent.

    Man. Thanks for the best laugh I’ve had all week.

  52. pianos101 says:

    @bluemonq: Not quite. You know, i used to hate macs a few years ago and i just thought they were good for nothing for people who knew nothing about computers. Well time has changed, and believe me, I’m not the kind of person that would completely switch over from windows to os x as fast as i did unless i was sure it was better. Well, it is, and apple fanboys are wiling to put up with a little bullshit just to have the peace of mind that is os x. But i’m sure you guys don’t understand what that is.

    I use windows every day at work and it just sucks. My computer takes about 4-5 minutes after logging in to be able to use anything. When explorer crashes or IE explodes it ruins my whole windows session and it’s just way to messy. It’s not neat. I use outlook (exchange) for my mail and calendars, and it’s just not as easy, or intuitive, or “fun” as Mail and iCal. It’s just not. In this day and age using a computer shouldn’t be that painful. I should be able to expect things not to crash or be so hard to figure out (like trying to get my outlook messages to be marked as read after 1 second of viewing instead of when i click off of it to another message). It’s the little things (and MANY big things) that just make OS X a much more fun and personable OS to use.

  53. lasciate says:
  54. eismcsquare2 says:

    “and even I can’t believe I’m about to compare T-Mobile’s customer service to Apple’s”

    There are multiple WTF in this one line.

    Chris, T-mobile customer services is is the best I have experienced SO FAR – not only from a telecoms company (I have had my share of experience with Verizon), but ANY company I have ever dealt with. And what you experienced is NORMAL customer service when it come to t-mobile.

    Just because they are not AT&T does not mean they suck. Just because they are not beloved Apple does not mean they suck.

    In fact, your argument should have been the other way round given how many stories I have heard from Apple bullshitting when it comes to customer service – MobileMess notwithstanding!

    This is consumerist, not Gizmodo (your sister site). Have some sense, please. Or Gawker has a blanket notice to all the sites they operate to keep on feeding Apple/AT&T lies?

  55. CyberSkull says:

    I had some problems after I installed the MobileMe update, but they were just issues with Mail. After exporting and re-importing my mailboxes and re-running the installer everything is working great for me.