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Busman's Holiday
Customer Service: Apple Style
by Steve Wood
Febuary 2, 1999



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Ever buy a product that was bad right out of the box? I did!

I had the misfortune of assuming an Apple refurbished Multiple Scan 720 monitor would be almost as good as the new one I'd bought a year ago. Silly me.

The monitor was purchased for use with a PowerMac 7500 I'd picked up on an eBay auction to use at school. I had the monitor shipped to the school, also, and it arrived just minutes before I left for Christmas vacation. After Christmas, I did get in to school to "burn in" the new setup.

The monitor performed quite well...for two hours. Then it dimmed and began to do erratic things with the retained settings. I did all the neat stuff we MacHeads do trying to make the faulty product work correctly. I even enlisted the "evil NT techie's" opinion on the situation. He took one look at it and said, "Apple sold you a worn out monitor!"

Unfortunately, this all occurred at the time the Midwest was going through some unlovely weather. We ended up missing almost two weeks of school/work because of weather conditions including a whiteout, several fairly heavy snows, constant ice, followed by rain that flooded a good bit of the area.

When I finally got back to work, I planned daily to call Apple about returning the defective monitor. But...I procrastinated, knowing what it's like to try to get through to Apple Customer Relations. When I finally did call, still well within the 90 day warranty, it only took over an hour on hold with the call being transferred to three different very polite, but totally unhelpful folks.

At last I was transferred to Jason at Customer Relations of the Apple Store. Finally I'd reached someone who could give me the needed RMA number so I could return the piece of junk Apple had sold as a working refurbished monitor. Only, Jason informed me that Apple must be contacted within 7 days of shipment to return defective refurbished products!

I explained the situation as best as I could to Jason, including the holiday and the inclement weather. No dice. Jason wasn't remotely interested in the fact that Apple shipped a defective product. Apple has it's policy and there was absolutely no changing it.

I asked to speak to Jason's supervisor and was told that Dean Merritt was "in a meeting." So, I finally suggested Mr. Merritt should return my call. I gave Jason my "case number," as faithfully assigned and requested by others who'd wasted my time transferring me through Apple's maze of customer disservice. Jason told me I should just give him the phone number as he said, "We hardly ever look at those things!" So much for Apple's case numbers.

Of course, I didn't hear back from Mr. Merritt. I trust he didn't trip, fall, and seriously injure himself, rendering him unable to respond to a paying customer. I really suspect this falls under the same category of Apple arrogance of which a reader wrote me:

Not responded to email is a hallmark of Apple employees. I have come to believe that the higher up the fool chain, the greater importance is placed on never responding to email.

You'd think someone might respond to an irate customer, but I suspect that Apple has so many irate customers over their incredibly poor customer service that they don't know where to begin!

But, in case Dean wasn't seriously injured, the case number is 3932375. But, I'm not holding my breath.

Thoughts from "retirement..."

While I notice I'm still listed as a contributing editor on MacTimes' masthead and occasionally receive emails from "the guys" (no checks, of course), the reality is that I am not writing much of anything these days...and am thoroughly enjoying it! Sometimes it's easy to lose perspective when involved daily with a project. I found writing weekly columns and daily news posts to be one of those situations.

To the many who wished me well on my retirement, "Blah!" :-) I resigned from MacTimes. I needed more time for my day job and my family, and MacTimes is 4 months behind on paying me!

So, I didn't die, and at 50, I hope I have just a few good years left. There probably will be other columns and other web sites in my future. Who knows? But to those who sent kind words, even in regard to retirement, my thanks.

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©1999 Steven L. Wood

reposted to the new MATH DITTOS 2 site 6/5/2000