Fact Controlled
for Special Learners

Busman's Holiday
Apple Store Customer Service: Grade C-
by Steve Wood
October 29, 1999



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I really hadn't intended to do a rant on the Apple Store's Customer Service when I called them this morning at 9:39 A.M. (CDT). All I really wanted to know was the UPS tracking number for the errant shipment of my two copies of OS 9.

I'd ordered my copies of the upgrade from the Apple Store's K-12 Faculty & Staff store on September 10. I later discovered that web buddy Tom McKenna of The G3 All-in-one Stop Shop fame had ordered his copy the same day at the same place and received his copy on October 13! While I was a bit disappointed that I didn't get an early shipment like Tom, I was more than willing to wait until after the October 23 official release date.

I'd received the following (edited) email from Apple on Thursday, October 21:

Subject: Shipment notification for order # 7000386544
Date: 10/21/99 7:58 PM
Received: 10/21/99 8:47 PM
From: Apple Computer, Inc., Do_not_reply@apple.com
CC: swood@kagi.com
Buyers Name: Steve Wood
Web Order Number: WXXXXXX
Apple Sales Order Number: 7000XXXXXX
Apple Customer Number: 9XXXXX
Dear Apple Customer,
The following products have been shipped and are expected to be delivered on 10/27/1999.
Product # Product Description Qty Ext Price
__________ ________________________________________ ____ ____________
M7401LL/A SW MAC OS 9 RTL-USA 2 98.00
The above products have been shipped to:
Steve Wood
My Elementary
We still use RR numbers instead of 911 addresses!
Backwash IN 474xx
Carrier Name: UPSH
If a partial shipment was authorized, additional items may ship separately. This is record of shipped items only.
Thanks again for shopping at Apple.
If you have any questions about your order, or you have a need to track the above shipment, please call us at (800) 692-7753 Mon-Sun, 7:00 am - 11:00 pm (Central)
You may also check your order status at:
Enjoy your Apple products!
Would you like to keep in touch with Apple? Get the latest news and information about iMac, the Mac OS, PowerBook G3, AppleWorks, Power Macintosh G3 computers, Sherlock, and lots more.
Then subscribe to Apple eNews--our free e-mail newsletter--and you'll get news right from the source every other week. To sign up, visit:
Thank you.

It's really not a bad little email, except for the fact that it's totally inaccurate. Based on the information given, I haunted the school office Wednesday until UPS...arrived and went--without delivering my package. Since we had two days off from school for fall recess, I checked the Apple Store's site and was again assured the product had been shipped on September 21. The history of my order didn't include the UPS tracking number, however.

I drove back to school on Thursday to pick up the package. The "Evil NT techie," who doesn't get the two days off and was covered with filth from stringing cable in ceilings, was absolutely gleeful when he discovered that I'd driven all the way back to work on a holiday only to find that Apple had screwed me yet again, and the package wasn't there. (He was in Apple bashing heaven earlier this year when Apple refused to make good on a defective refurbished monitor I'd been foolish enough to buy from them.)

At 10:00 A.M. I'd entered a little note at the bottom of my View from the Classroom column for Monday on Low-End Mac about the long hold required to reach a human being in customer service at the Apple Store.

About the time I began wondering if the west coast had slipped off into the Pacific from the big one (10:08 A.M.), LaToya from customer service politely answered and after getting the pertinent information said she'd track the shipment. She returned to tell me it wasn't due to be delivered until Monday, November 1. When I inquired as to why this was, she explained that UPS had been late in picking up the shipment. She did not offer an explanation as to why I'd not been informed of the change. She also didn't offer an Apple apology. She just politely supplied the UPS tracking number and rang off (10:12 A.M.). On the positive side, I did find a good LaToya Jackson page while checking the spelling of the name!

Except for the notice below that appears on UPS's tracking page, I'd show you the sad history of a product overdue because of late shipment and slow shipper service:

NOTICE: UPS authorizes you to use UPS tracking systems solely to track shipments tendered by or for you to UPS for delivery and for no other purpose. Any other use of UPS tracking systems and information is strictly prohibited.

I'm not sure whether Apple or UPS is responsible for the late pickup of my order. I really don't care. What I do care about is that Apple misinformed me of a product shipment and estimated arrival and failed to correct their error. I care that Apple failed to supply the essential UPS tracking number that would have saved me a wasted trip to work on a holiday and then 43 frustrating minutes waiting on hold for customer service to give me what the Apple email should have given me originally. And, 43 minutes isn't even close to the record amount of time I've been on hold with Apple Customer "Service" in the past!

Maybe I should be thankful to Apple for once again giving me the ammunition to point out to the faithful that Apple isn't your friend. They're a big, unfeeling corporation dedicated to making money. The fact that there are any number of things that they're not very good at doesn't diminish my desire to use a Mac, but it does keep me from becoming a "Macintosh Moonie."

This column really isn't for Apple. I've already learned that they really don't care. They don't even listen very well. It's for the reader who may purchase something from Apple. Whether Apple is telling you that OS 9 is your internet co-pilot or the greatest thing since sliced bread, my advice would be to take whatever they tell you regarding a product (Remember the G4 fiasco?), or its quality (See the Rotten Monitor series.), or even the expected shipping date (see above) of any product with a giant grain of salt. Maybe a truckload would be better.

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Update: At last! UPS beat its estimate by one working day and delivered the package on Friday. How did I know? The "Evil NT techie" called and actually hand delivered the package to my classroom. The only problem was that Apple pulled the same stunt it did with my OS 8.5 order. Mr. Honest here ordered two then and received only one. Yep! They just sent one, so I got to spend another 45 minutes, mostly on hold, to Apple's Educator Advantage getting the problem fixed.

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Reposted to the new MATH DITTOS 2 site 6/25/2000
©1999 Steven L. Wood