As a disclaimer I’m often considered an Apple fan boy. Since my first iPod in 2005, then my first iMac in 2008, to my trustworthy MacBook Pro, Apple is my brand of trust, I choose their products for me and my loved ones, as it’s the only brand that seemed to focus that much on reliability and support.
But since January 2018, I’m not that sure of that anymore.
I’ve been living in the USA for almost 2 years now and obviously, this is here that I buy my Apple stuffs. Because it’s ludicrously cheaper here than in France and because I have an Apple Store 5 minutes from my house.
So before taking a month off in France for the Christmas holidays, I decided to treat myself with a fancy iPhone 8 Plus at my local retailer. So new, so shiny, myyyyy preccccccious.
But 10 days of service and feast later, I’m not the only one to feel a little tight in my clothes…
Because of my daily job (I’m an embedded systems engineer), I’m familiar with the problem. That’s the very problem you fear when you’re making a battery powered device, that can bury a brand image (remember Samsung?). In a nutshell, when a customer brings you back one of your product in this shape, you handle the situation very carefully and discretely.
Despite the situation, I don’t panic, turns off the phone, and schedule a phone call with Apple the next morning.
One hour on the phone later, I’m comforted, I have a ticket number, Apple is sending UPS to pick up the phone in the next 24 business hours and I should get a repaired (I insist: a new one) iPhone within 7 days, with maybe a commercial gesture. That sucks, I’m without a phone for a few days, I’m stuck at home waiting for UPS, but that’s fine.
After factory reset, it has expended a little more…
Waiting the whole day Friday, Saturday… Monday evening and still nothing. In addition to not having received any phone call from the customer manager that was supposed to call me at 11 AM for the compensation…
Checking my e-mails when all of a sudden…
“Your repair has been canceled”
And my ticket number has disappeared from my account, everything’s erased.
At that point I’m pretty pissed and I schedule another phone call. Which will be the first of the 4 phone calls I will have today, with THE one where the Apple Store I was planning to visit transferred me to Apple Care with a delightful 29 minutes on hold, for a total of 3 hours on the phone, where I’ll get 4 new ticket numbers, and where I’m told that:
– I need to go to an Apple Store
– No, that’s ok, UPS will come pick the phone.
– No, I REALLY need to take an appointment in an Apple Store, since my phone was bought abroad it can’t be handled otherwise (WTF?!) and that all Genius Bars are booked for this week. First appointment available in Paris (my closest Apple Store: 300 km) Saturday in 5 days. Not mentioning:
– my interlocutor attempts to send me to other Apple Stores at times I patiently remind him I wasn’t available.
– the criticisms I receive for buying a phone abroad, and not in a country I’m spending less than one month a year.
– smart advices such as taking back to the USA a phone, now classified as an incendiary grenade, with me on a plane.
– the fact that a damaged, hazardous phone, despite being new, be considered on the same priority level than helping a John Doe to restore his iCloud data on his new iPhone.
I take on me and agreed for an appointment to the Louvre Apple Store in Paris for Saturday, buy my 60 € train tickets and keep a suspicious eye over the fire hazard that I have to keep in my house.
On Saturday, I’m waiting in line in the Apple Store, as my UPS pick up has obviously been canceled in the same vague and mysterious conditions.
After one week, even not using it, the battery has swollen even more
Looking good at first… Until I’m told that, “but sir, your phone has been bought abroad, we can’t proceed to an exchange, we need to order one, you’ll come pick it up in about 3 days”. Sure, I’m full time available, and I get free train tickets.
So, beside the fact that seriously, Apple had every single element to get a phone ready as my appointment has been scheduled 5 days ago, I’m still in the biggest French Apple Store. There are obviously about 500 iPhone 8 plus ready behind this door across the store. And even though they need to change it by a phone covered with a world warranty, if I can’t find it in the most touristic city in the world there’s something terribly wrong in their customer support. And it’s even more frustrating when people around you leave with a brand new phone when the one they came with was an old iPhone 6 with legitimate battery weaknesses. But for a new phone with manufacturing defect, nope, not gonna happen.
And the explanation that it’s an American phone so according to the international legislation and tax reasons it can be changed only by an American model, being given by a company so famous for its tax optimization in Europe, is pretty hilarious.
I put this article on pause for a moment: I’m not blaming the Louvre Apple Store, neither its employees and manager, that are obviously facing major global company-level restrictions, and have to go through the Apple Care phone service too. It’s driving me crazy after one hour, they have to do it all day long, while buffering angry customers. Hell of a job.
On the Genius Bar table, after a few minutes powered on, the plastic clips holding the screen are breaking.
Time to fetch a sand bag!
I give up, surrender my cursed iPhone (that’s a fire / explosion hazard I don’t have to worry about anymore), having been told that a new phone will be shipped to my house, shipping fees being covered by the Apple Store. Not exactly what I was hopping for but after 2 hours of fighting I know I won’t get a better offer. As for the commercial gesture a commercial manager is supposed to call me next Thursday.
Breaking news 1h30 later when the moment I arrived in the Gare de l’Est neighborhood, I received a call from the Apple Store telling me that they just received a new iPhone 8 plus that can be use as a replacement, that I can come pick up.
That’s one of the fastest trip across Paris I’ve ever done. I managed to pick up the new phone, go back to the train station and board my train, appreciating the involvement of the Louvre Apple Store. I’m aware that with the restriction they had to face, they handled my case pretty well, so I’m grateful to their employees and manager.
So I had time to chill a little before the Apple Care phone call a few days later. That’s not gonna last.
At this point, I was ready to let go for the 7 hours I’ve lost in this stupid story and the associated stress. I was just willing for Apple Care to at least cover the train tickets. Such naivety…
Quite quickly, I understand that one more time my interlocutor has no power and that the only thing she’s allowed to give is a silicon case for my phone. Except that I obviously already bought one with the phone, and not as ugly as the one sold by Apple for 45 euros. Despite my attempts to get a wireless charger, that would have covered the price of the train tickets and that would be, at least, useful, I have the uncomfortable feeling to be considered an idiot again, and I’m not willing to accept that.
Let’s face it, it’s ugly.
I tried everything but I couldn’t reach a supervisor, hidden behind their operators that take the hit for all.
My interlocutor invited me to fill the satisfaction form that would be sent shortly after, which is supposed to make things evolve. But preparing my trip back to the USA and working just after, I couldn’t open the form sooner than 10 days after, and it was then unavailable, if it ever was.
“We thank you for the interest you showed for this survey. You already answered it (nope…) or your invite has expired.”
As I can’t be heard through this mean, I’m telling this story through this blog, hoping that it will find a way to somebody at Apple that would be willing to make things better. I’m not expecting anything from Apple anymore, but maybe this advertising will help making them understand that their support sucks, especially when dealing with international warranty. I’m lucky enough to know the risks and how to handle such a technical problem and hazard, but I can’t imagine how difficult it would be for the regular tourist, visiting for a few days a country he doesn’t speak the language, and who would take the plane soon.
As a conclusion, my next phone might be a Samsung as they know how to handle this problem, or a cheap one that I can throw away every time I’m in a different country, since it’s kind of what I’ve been told by Apple!