Apple’s Customer Service Needs Shining

Dan got a worm when he tried to fix an online transaction with Apple.

“I reversed the charges on my credit card, then cut the gift card to shreds and mailed the pieces back to Apple headquarters along with a letter very similar to this one,” writes Dan.

How did this man go from Apple fan to saying, “I’ll never buy an Apple product again?”

A tech snafu and an underpaid phone rep seem to blame…

Dan writes:

    “I received an iPod case for Christmas, and decided that I wanted a different one. (Side note: the one I wanted was the Agent 18 clear case, which is awesome. My local Apple store told me that they couldn’t sell me the case at this time, but they would accept my old case, and put the funds on a gift card for me, and those funds would be made available immediately.

    I went online to the Apple store, and purchased the video shield. The total cost was $32.57. My gift card contained $31.25. The remaining balance was charged to my credit card. A week later I got my receipt from Apple, they told me they had shipped my item, my gift card had been charged $1.32 and my credit card had been charged $31.25. That’s right, Apple pulled a little switch on me, charging my credit card the gift card amount, and the gift card the credit card amount. I called Apple to fix the problem.

    The Apple rep I got mumbled when she gave her name, and refused to repeat it when I asked her for it later on, so I can’t single anyone out. She told me that I must have typed the numbers into the wrong boxes. I mentioned how that was impossible, pointing out that Apple has separate pages entirely for charging credit cards and gift cards. Then she said that I must have made a mistake and Apple is not responsible for user error.

    I told her that I would be disputing the charge on my credit card, because I never authorized Apple to charge more than $1.32 to my card. She promptly told me that she didn’t really care. I asked for her name, she refused. I asked for her supervisor, and she hung up on me. I reversed the charges on my credit card, then cut the gift card to shreds and mailed the pieces back to Apple headquarters along with a letter very similar to this one.

    And I’ll never buy an Apple product again.”


Edit Your Comment

  1. Karmakin says:

    I’ve heard horror stories about this stuff, Apple’s sales/business units are legendary….bad.

    From basically BS regarding interoperability, to selling computers along with software that won’t run on said computers, to a habit of blaming everything on “3rd party” stuff..well..I’m not shocked.

  2. DeeJayQueue says:

    1. if the site has different pages for processing gift card transactions vs. credit card transactionns, they probably have different services on the back end divying up the data. It’s just as likely that you entered the wrong data on the wrong page and didn’t remember it as it is that they messed it up on the back end.

    2. Your service on the phone was horrible. But instead of calling back and getting the issue resolved, talking to a supervisor and having the charge flipped, you got all bent and huffy, and wrote a letter. Did you actually charge back the case? or did you get the case you wanted and still have a gift card for $30?

    Point is, we’re all grown ups. Sometimes CSRs are assholes or bitches and you have to suck it up. Hold them accountable definately but do that first and get some resolution to your problems. Then complain online about it.

  3. Danilo says:

    That’s a pretty annoying example of retarded help, but the “I’ll never buy again” bit is a little melodramatic for a $30 inconvenience. Especially given the product itself wasn’t even made by Apple.

    I could understand if we were talking $500 mis-charged for a computer or something. Dan doesn’t make it clear whether or not an effort was made to call back and speak to a manager — a measure that would have produced unsatisfactory results only given the greatest height of incompetence on the call center’s part.

    I dunno, maybe I’m jaded from working a few years at the BBY, but shrill cries of NEVER AGAIN! over tiny dollar amounts just make me yawn and make legitimate cries of the same words mean less. Dude on Delta with ass and stink in his face for his entire plane ride while paying hundreds of dollars for the pleasure? He can say never again. Dude who buys a PowerBook that requires three or four repairs in two months time? He can say never again.

    I’m all for corporate responsibility and accountability, but this is $30 and a single idiot CSR. That comes no where close to redlining the gauge.

  4. Ben Popken says:

    G. writes:

    “I used to work for one of these call centers in Maryland working for a company that had been contracted by Apple. Dan’s story honestly doesn’t sound so strange, the person he spoke to probably was a Tier 1 support agent, and they don’t have any access to that sort of information, and are, as you stated, underpaid. Of course recently the company I work for and many other companies, across the country have lost their contracts(as I understand it apple didn’t wish to renew any of their contracts) and are now contracting companies in Bangalore India to perform their technical support. Several of my friends who worked there have recently been fired from their positions and are now looking for other employment.”

  5. Paul D says:

    Sad how a CSR’s bad day can quickly turn into your bad day.

  6. Jeff Liu says:

    The theory I’ve heard that I find most likely is: As Apple products become more popular, their customer service supply can’t keep up with demand, causing the quality to steadily decrease.

  7. Jeff Liu says:

    The Apple Store applies the Luhn algorithm to see if the entered credit card number is valid. It would be impossible for him to enter the wrong number on the wrong page and have it be accepted.

  8. etinterrapax says:

    I’m inclined to agree that “never again” is a pretty extreme reaction. If corporate responds just as rudely, maybe, but as others pointed out, it’s a $30 item from a third-party vendor, and not really the most egregious case of customer abuse I’ve ever seen. Return the thing and the whole problem goes away.

  9. DeeJayQueue says:

    I agree that the card numbers probably were correct, the amounts charged to each might have been transposed my mistake. The likelyhood of this happening is IMHO greater than having 2 seperate systems randomly malfunction at once and switch amounts with one another.

  10. Jeff Liu says:

    That’s a good point.

  11. ValkRaider says:

    If this is enough to make someone “Never buy Apple again” than I would suggest never buying *ANYTHING* again. I have had this kind of customer service experience at least once at almost every business I have ever dealt with…

    And Karmakin, with regards to your:
    “I’ve heard horror stories about this stuff, Apple’s sales/business units are legendary….bad.”

    Who have you heard horror stories from? If you have only heard horror stories – you have then never dealt with them yourself… Hearing stories is easy, I heard a story about a guy with a hook for a hand and teenagers making out in a car… But that does not make it reliable.

    I have bought tons of things from Apple stores both online and in person at retail – and have had very few problems. The problems I have had were usually resolved quickly and to my satisfaction.

    Remember, Apple hires Humans as employees – and not all humans are perfect.

    This guy too one “no” answer from tier one support and threw a tantrum…

  12. matto says:

    I’ve had several terrible experiences with Apple support. There was the jolly time when I was mislead into purchasing software I didn’t need, and the numerous times when I’ve needed to brow-beat CSRs into admitting that my AppleCare-covered devices actually would be repaired.

    I’ve come to realize that Apple’s success has come in spite of their terrible customer service.

  13. Fairytale of Los Angeles says:

    I’m kinda with everyone else on the “CSR’s bad day is now your bad day” theory. For all anyone knows, that was the CSR’s last day on the job and she didn’t give a shit if she hung up on a customer.

    FWIW, a lot of call centers make hanging up on a customer a matter for disciplinary action– getting written up, becoming ineligble for a raise until a certain period of time has passed, coming under stronger review by QA agents, or getting fired if the CSR has pulled that trick before. You should *never* let the CSR get away with hanging up on you. Always call back and let the CSR you get connected to find you a floor manager.

  14. c dan says:

    Ha. 30 bucks? I got a brand new 20″ Apple Cinema Display last winter and when I got it I ran the dead-pixel test (as I do with all new displays). Sure enough, mine had more than the minimum required amount to have the display replaced (I think it’s 6-7). I called Apple tech and they said they’d send a box for me to send it back to them – after which they’d send me my new display.

    Unfortunately when I called a week later to confirm that they had received it, they said that there was no record of DHL ever picked it up. Turns out the truck driver had lifted my +$1000 piece of hardware.

    Though I had to speak to 3-4 reps, Apple had my problem sorted out lickety split and i had a new display 2 weeks from my original service request.

  15. ManiacDan says:

    After reviewing all the comments, I thought I should shed some more light on the events that caused me to write the original letter to the Consumerist:

    The reason why my reaction to this story was “extreme” is because this is the fourth time Apple has done similar things to me. I did, in fact, call a supervisor, and was treated with absolute apathy and told (as is Apple’s style) that there was no one above him in the Apple hierarchy. It’s amazing how oftem calls to technical support connect you directly to Steve Jobs.

    Also, I didn’t make a mistake when entering the charge amounts. I would be the first one to suggest that, but the original sales receipt had the correct amount. The charges were switched sometime after the order was placed.

    I ended up getting the case for $1.34, which is still the only amount charged to my credit card. Apple, however, still received the profit from my unused gift card, so don’t feel too bad for them.

    I know my story sounded like I threw a tantrum after dealing with a fairly average technical support call, but I think that I’m justified. I did not make a mistake. I did make several attempts to get Apple to fix their mistake, but they still think it’s my mistake. And a $30 iPod case (3rd party iPod case, some of you pointed out) is not the reason why I’m never buying from Apple again. In the past 2 years I’ve had Apple:
    -Not fix an Airport Extreme that was under warranty
    -Ship me the wrong amount of RAM in a powerbook and absolutely refuse to even acknowledge it
    -Send the wrong version of a piece of software and refuse to recitfy the situation
    -I’ve also had a (previously mentioned) airport extreme and iPod break in inexplicable and catastrophic ways, with Apple absolutely unwilling to help, even after I had consented to PAID tech support.

    The only Apple product I’ve ever been happy with is a used Powerbook.

    I realize that to some, my reaction seems extreme. But I’ve been reading Apple horror stories for years now, and always discounting them as overreactions. However, since I started buying Apples, I’ve had nothing but bad experiences, and I’ve recommended Apple to others who have had similar experiences as a result. I know that many people love Apple and will never buy from any other company, but I feel that they have done too much bad to be trusted anymore.

    Although the new MacBooks look really sweet…