Sunday, October 17, 2010

Fruitless Struggles with Apple

I'll echo what I've seen posted about Apple around the net. I don't have to call tech support very often, but heaven help you if you do. I've been jerked around by a corporate entity before (I pay taxes too), but nothing like what you go through with Apple.

It all started when someone over seas hacked my GMail Account. I recommend checking the IP list often to see who else has managed to garner access. It's a free email service, and so is the security Google provides for your account. I think your password strength probably helps, but it's largely a placebo when dealing with hackers. Your only real defense is the sheer number of accounts Google maintains. Hacking them all takes time. Someday it'll be your turn too.

I set about taking that placebo and increasing the relative strength of all my passwords. When I changed my iTunes Password it prompted me to verify my Credit Card information. Depending on which device I used to try and fix the problem, I got a different error message. Moments later, I received email notification that my card has been charged twelve bucks for something I'd bought an hour before I tried changing my password.

Apparently, the problem wasn't with my card.

So I call tech support a couple of times. Both times I got a nice lady who lived in a far off land and only somewhat understood English. While I totally expected this to be the case, what they recommended to me seemed odd.

The nice lady sent me an email directing me to clear my payment information, and reenter it. I told her I'd already done that. She repeated herself like I hadn't said anything at all. I hung up and called back.

The next lady told me to use the services on Apple's site to have my password reset. I told her that was what caused the problem in the first place. She repeated herself like I hadn't said anything at all. I hung up and gave what she suggested a try.

The emails I received were from a "Stephanie" who's tone and work hours would change every email I got. They must have a lot of people named Stephanie working in their support department. She even emailed me on her day off.

None of the remedies offered by Stephanie, Stephanie, or Stephanie worked. She also sent me this bit here:

"I understand you've threatened legal action. While I am not Apple's legal representative and thus cannot address your claim, I would like very much to help you resolve the issues that are causing you concern, however they are out of my scope of support. Thank you for your understanding."

I had asked if I should contact the Federal Trade Commission about what I felt was deceptive business practices on their part. Not sure if that qualifies as legal action.

So called back the following morning and through some sort of mismatch in their phone system got a device tech who sounded local, continental US anyway. We were both baffled by how I'd reached him, but he happily took my information and "escalated" it to some supervisory level person who would email me in 24 hours. We hung up.

Looking online and talking to a few people within my own circle of friends, it is clear I'm not the only person this has happened to. A few people on Apple's own support forums reported it taking upwards of a year to correct. Given how integral iTunes is to Apple's devices, this is a pretty big deal.

I don't have a wallet full of different credit cards. Can you imagine driving to Best Buy to acquire a gift card every time you wanted to buy something with your brand new iPad? It would definitely make me think a little harder about my purchases, which is good for me.

Bad for Apple.

I miss tech support in the late 90's. I remember calling Toshiba's tech support in 1999 and getting someone's grandma back East. Most helpful tech support call I've made to date, and she said I was "a nice boy" at the end after I thanked her.


  1. Makes me wonder if someone has posted about that guy they talked to from Idaho who helped them fix their phone... *shiver*

  2. Calling tech support is like having someone else make your decisions in a Choose Your Own Adventure book. Sometimes you die a horrible death at the bottom of a well, and sometimes you find a great treasure. I think it's weighted a bit toward the horrible deaths, though.