Apple is driving customers mad

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I convinced a friend of mine to partake of the popular fruit. She wanted to go with the Microsoft camp. I dissuaded her. So she invested in an Apple Mac. The problems she had, drove her to the brink. Mind you, I had heaps of problems too, but this article is not about me. It’s about her tether — whose end she had reached. You can read about her frustrations below. She makes a lot of sense. Her main complaint is that she cannot get in touch with people at Apple. There are a few silly things that companies do, that frustrate the bejeebies out of people.

Before I hand you over to her gripe, here’s an observation from me about Apple: the company relies too heavily on the user-community to solve its own problems. In the good old days, that was the way of the world — the hackers’ world. Mr Steve Jobs (RIP) was a hacker himself. People used to literally ‘build’ their own computer, and spend hours at computer clubs (yes every Thursday they would meet at a local hall to exchange ideas) fixing each other’s problems.

Gone are the days when Apple can rely on the geeks. For example, if you have an issue with your Mac, you are encouraged to search for a solution on Google. Excuse me, that is a daft thing to do, simply because Google is a messy place. An innocent customer whose money had made Apple shareholders filthy rich, has to trawl through hundreds of comments, that just lead nowhere, on the off-chance that someone had posted a sensible solution (which does not work because theirs was for a different Operating System, three lightyears ago). The Fora (the plural of Forum) are useless. Apple needs to take responsibility for its bits and bytes and appoint many more help-desk helpers to document the issues using real smart technology. The current fuzzy search engines are using 15-year-old fuzzy logic that no longer makes sense. It’s way too hard. Apple makes spunky products, but just dumps the users in the deep end. This is not fair. You can’t take people’s money and then frustrate the hell out of them. People have lives to lead and businesses to run and studies to complete. They just should not be expected to find solutions within hay-stacks. I have more to say on this. However, you either get it by now and know what I mean, or you don’t. Either way, it would not add to the argument if I were to rant any further. So I shall hand you over to my frustrated friend. This is her take on Apple and the help-less help desks:

Dear Jonar,

I am writing to ask for your logic through Logictivity to help me solve a customer service issue. I know how passionate you are about customer service so I am sure you will feel my pain as I describe this issue. I will be brief in order to limit my intrusion on your time but if you need further details I will be happy to send further information.

I am based in rural Queensland where alas we continue to suffer from limited and ever frustrating telephone service. We have to rely on a satellite service to access the internet. It is tedious, slow and expensive in spite of the so called “service guarantee” the provider signed. Using this satellite service I have been able to do most essential things like access email, use Google, log on to the university site etc. I have not, however, been able to access the Apple site to download all the usual and regular software updates for my IMAC. Every time I try, Apple sends me an error message telling me to check my internet connection. Which, as I explained, works well enough on Google etc but cannot seem to get through to Apple.

I have had a lengthy battle with my service provider (Skymesh) who after much ado have written to inform me that my inability to access the Apple software has nothing to do with the standard of service they provide. They insist that the problem lies with Apple themselves. Skymesh have recently written to me explaining that, “Apple’s updates are coded for Low latency connects such as wireless or ADSL and do not work well with high latency connections such as satellite. The best way to work around this is to contact apple and ask them for a direct download link… you will need to contact apple themselves.”

This may or may not be true but I have had a terrible time trying to verify it. Have you ever tried to contact Apple support?

I have had to bounce from one link on their website to another, give them my hardware serial number and describe the problem, but all of that information goes nowhere because I keep arriving at a page that requires me to ‘pay for an incident’ before I can proceed any further. I cannot even find an email I can use to simply ask them if Skymesh’s explanations are correct let alone request the so called ‘direct download link’.

So there you have it. I cannot even contact Apple to tell them that I cannot contact them.

How’s that for a computer age dilemma. The age of communication leaves me isolated and alone in rural Queensland where even a satellite is not enough to enable me to communicate those who claim to be there to provide me with a service. I hope this message reaches you because I know you will do something about it. Please reply to my email or, if all else fails, send a pigeon… do not send a letter because Australia Post does not deliver mail in our little village… yes another story for another time.

I communicated with my rural friend, and she added:

What we are trying to do is:

1. Verify if indeed the Apple system is at fault like my provider is suggesting.

2. Ask if (again as my provider is suggesting) Apple can provide me with a “direct download link” that can overcome that problem.

If the answer is ‘no’ to any of the above then we need Apple to provide their version of the story regarding why their computer keeps telling my computer that it is not connected to the internet when IT IS.

All of that is awfully difficult when I do not have a means of getting through to apple support… because they want me to commit to paying for an incident. I cannot see why they expect the customer to have to pay to ask them these simple questions.

I then gave my friend some advice, including the suggestion that she ought to contact Apple support. She responded:

On your advice I called Apple support repeatedly but there was no answer because it was after 5 in the afternoon and apparently we are only permitted to experience difficulties between 9-5. So I waited till the following morning and called again in business hours. I spoke to someone who was on a very bad phone because I could hardly hear him but he managed to ask me a whole lot of questions and of course reminded me that I did not have a service agreement so I would need to pay $59 for them to do some trouble shooting. That is $59 not for the solution but only for trying to identify the problem. I tried in my very academic polite voice to explain that I did not need a solution at the moment. I merely want to ask if indeed (as my provider alleges) Apple systems will not allow me to connect via a high latency device like a satellite. That is when he told me that ‘here in the USA we do not have that problem with satellites’.

I was a little annoyed as you can imagine because I realised then that after waiting all that time to get through to Apple Support in Australia I was in fact connected to America. When I asked him why I was diverted to the US when I dialled the Australian number he explained that Apple Support is an international network and my call could be answered from anywhere around the world. If that is the case then why was my call not answered last night when even though the Aussie support was closed some other support centre around the world must have been open?

Anyway I asked if there was some way he could put me through to an Australian centre who might have a better understanding of any satellite issues in this country but he said he could not. He recommended that I just call the number again and see if I get an Australian to answer my call next time.

I tried a few times, each time asking if I had an Australian on the line. Finally a man, who sounded very American, assured me that he was indeed in Australia. We went through the whole ‘you have to pay’ procedure yet again. And yet again I would be paying for them to do some ‘trouble shooting’ for my money. They would not necessarily be providing any solutions. I explained to the guy that I did not need any trouble shooting for any individual and personal issue. I simply want to know if Apple were aware of a latency issue with the satellite which would affect many Apple customers in rural Australia. He was not aware of the problem and therefore could offer any solutions even if I wished to pay for them. So I am still in the dark. He did, however, suggest that I log on to the ‘communities’ site and try to find a solution there!!!! That takes an Apple GENIUS I am sure. As if I hadn’t already exhausted all the chat rooms trying to find a solution…

There was one more thing. I discovered that I could log on to Apple support and download a software “combo”. That allows me to get the latest MAC OSX 10.5.8. The whole thing mind you not just the latest updates which I need. Fine you say, do that then. Well I tried. It is over 750 Mb. So what you say! Well I am on a monthly plan that allows me 1000 Mb per month. So if I were to do a monthly update it would take up 3/4 of my monthly data allowance just to get the updates. Furthermore, it would take about 4 hours on my slow system to complete the download. Not a very useful option you would agree.

So the questions remain:

1. Is there an Apple system issue that leaves all its satellite customers in the dark?

2. Does Apple know about the problem? In which case what are they doing about it?

3. If they don’t know about it how does one tell them when it is impossible to find an email address? (you’d think they would have a suggestions/complaints/contact mechanism. You’d think they want to hear about these things and do something about them. You’d think… but as you say they are not interested in the millions of people using Apple products and all their woes. They just want us to buy buy buy and pay pay pay.

If they can give me an answer to these questions then MAYBE they are entitled to ask for payment.

In the meantime I will go call Bill Gates’ crowd and see how they can get me out of the Apple orchard.

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