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Why Everyone Loves Apple 770

Posted by CowboyNeal
from the or-at-least-apple-users dept.
realtorperson writes "Why, at least the Apple users, love Apple? According to a recent article, the pure and simple reason is customer service and overall experience. The author writes, 'When Apple competitors are focused on cost reduction to increase profitability, Apple is investing resources to enhance its relationship with its customers. To me, that's impressive. Unfortunately, there are too many companies in the market that could care less about their customers, but Apple is determined and committed in delivering the experience and not just the product. It's regrettably amusing that Apple competitors are working hastily to develop iPod clones to reap in success, but what many of them fail to comprehend is that it's not necessarily the iPod that makes Apple successful, but rather its customer service.'"
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Why Everyone Loves Apple

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  • Spelling error (Score:5, Insightful)

    by minginqunt (225413) on Friday March 31, 2006 @08:41AM (#15032999) Homepage Journal
    It's spelt A S T R O T U R F.

  • "Could care less" (Score:2, Informative)

    by CmdrGravy (645153)
    How is it a bad thing if other companies could care less about their customers ? I'd hate to a customer of a company which did care less about me than one of those that could do but didn't.
  • by noelmarkham (714160) * on Friday March 31, 2006 @08:42AM (#15033002)
    I recently had to take my Intel Mac Mini back to the London Regent Street store after a problem booting up. Unfortunately it was one day after the 14-day refund and replace guarantee had expired. They said, 'oh well, 15 days is close enough', and they replaced it there and then on the spot, and transferred all my data on to the new machine on the same day. I don't think I've ever experienced anything like that with any other company ever.
    • by daBass (56811)
      You got a good deal. As other have said, law requires them to fix or replace it, but doing it one the spot - instead of sending it to a service center as PC World would do - and transfering your data went beyond their statutory obligations and you are right to be chuffed about it.

      The jury is still out for me on their service. I went back one saturday early morning with a dead Mighty Mouse. You'd think they wouldn't quible about replacing a £35 mouse but they told me to go to the Genius Bar. I went str
      • by rjrjr (28310)
        I had a similar experience in San Francisco. An iPod I bought came with a broken FireWire cable (it was a while ago). I figured I'd show it to someone, they'd say "gee, it's broken," I'd be given a fresh cable and head home. Instead I got the same stern explanation that I needed to wait on line for an hour and a half. Yeah right. I sucked it up and just went home angry.

        On the other hand, at the Palo Alto store (just a few blocks from Steve's house) I've exchanged entire iPods beyond their no-questions re

  • it's so simple (Score:3, Insightful)

    by cowscows (103644) on Friday March 31, 2006 @08:42AM (#15033006) Journal
    Yeah, cause it couldn't be a combination of a lot of things, including solid hardware, a useful interface/software, thoughtful design, good marketing, adequate customer service, and having the right product at the right time...it couldn't simply be that complex.

    Nope, Apple must have some special secret. And all it'll take for some other company to pull the rug out from under them is to find that magic bullet, that one key aspect of their success, and then an iPod killer can truly be born.

    Dammit, some people are stupid.
  • Tripe (Score:2, Insightful)

    by taskforce (866056)
    This article is simple shilling for Apple. Anyone who has actually had an encounter with Apple's customer service would know that they're exactly the same as any other manufacturer. An example of this would be the hugely limited warantee on iPods. The iPod is covered for a year, but after 90 days they make you cover shipping costs for defective if they conceed it is your fault. The screen on an iPod is also completely devoid of any warantee.

    Apple's success clearly lies in marketing its products, which is wh

    • Sorry, quite a bad typo there: If they conceed it was THEIR fault they make you pay shipping after 90 days. If they decide it was your fault, they don't cover it.
    • As a counter-point to your rant, I would like to state that my experience with Apple has been wonderful. The customer service is always top-notch. In fact the only complaint I could have had was the automated voice system that greets you when you first call. But those or universal nowadays.

      As for shipping costs: Depending on where you live, there are retail outlets. If you happen to live outside of a major centre, that is your issue, not theirs.
    • The screen on an iPod is also completely devoid of any warantee.

      Your other points are valid, but why in the world would you think that the screen would have a warranty? Unless you take it out of the box and your screen is broken, I can't imagine any circumstance when a damaged screen wouldn't be your own fault. It's not like a screen is some sort of complex mechanism that should have a warranty against faulty parts causing problems -- it's just a piece of plastic. If it's broken, it's your fault, not theirs

    • by rve (4436)
      I don't love Apple.

      Like you said, the customers service is nothing special, and arguably worse than companies like Dell, which operate in a market with more severe competition (the windows PC).

      The Apple II was pretty cool, but the 25 years of unjustified media hype and the attitude of Mac fanatics have really spoiled the Apple brand for me
    • by AnonymousPrick (956548) on Friday March 31, 2006 @09:07AM (#15033126)
      Buy Apple and you'll look and be cool!

      Don't believe me? Why is that people were actually wearing just the ear buds when the iPod was becoming popular? Image. During the switch campaign, all of the folks that I saw in the adds were the all blck wearing, pierced noses, and other younger folks who looked really cool. I didn't see any folks in business suits talking about ROI or how it made their organization much more profitable - like you see in IBM, Oracle, SAP, etc... ads.

      Is Apple really that much better than any other computer out there? I haven't seen any compelling evidence for that. I would agree that as recent as the mid-90's, Apple was superior, but now, I don't see it. Prove me wrong - please. I have to say that Apples are much nicer looking than anything out there. And I think Jobs knows this. Jobs is a genius when it comes to marketing. He made a brilliant move with the "flavor" iMacs years ago. I thought those machines were crap to use - it was slow and OS 9 crashed and hung a lot. OS X works much better on them, but it's still slow. But they sure looked great!

      I haven't tried the new machines, yet. I'm not in the market for a new machine, but when I am, beleive me, I will look at Apple again. I do like the fact that all of the dev tools are free! Unlike the other OS company.

      • The people that were wearing just the ear buds are just like the easily-led people who follow any other trend. Have no doubt about it, there are a lot of followers and a lot of stupid people in the world, but it's not Apple's fault for making products about which people become passionate.

        Think about it this way- how many fads have you seen come and go within a year? 6 months? 3 months? Now think about the fact that the iPod is in its 5th or 6th generation (too lazy to look it up exactly right now) and has
    • Re:Tripe (Score:5, Informative)

      by revscat (35618) on Friday March 31, 2006 @09:14AM (#15033161) Journal

      This article is simple shilling for Apple. Anyone who has actually had an encounter with Apple's customer service would know that they're exactly the same as any other manufacturer.

      My experiences have been different.

      A few weeks ago I needed to order a battery for my wife's laptop, a slightly older Powerbook. I had ordered one from their website, but it was the wrong one, so I called them to replace it. Well, they had a hard time figuring out which battery I needed, and so after being put on hold for 15 minutes I hung up with the intention of calling them back the next Monday (this was on a Saturday.)

      Well, about 10 minutes later they called me back to tell me my battery was on its way. FedEx delivered it that coming *Monday*. I have never had a company call me back, and I think that ranks right up there with the best customer services experiences I have ever had.

      • Re:Tripe (Score:5, Funny)

        by JourneyExpertApe (906162) on Friday March 31, 2006 @10:17AM (#15033521)
        That's nothing new for me. Shortly after I got my iMac, I got a call asking if everything worked as expected and if I was happy with my purchase. Of course, I said yes, I was happy with it. Then one evening a few days later, I got another call asking if they had included all the cables in the package and if my iMac still worked OK. At first, I was flattered by this hands on customer care, but then the calls started coming every day while I was at work or late at night, sometimes three or four times a day. Was I still satisfied? Had I been looking at other brands lately? Did I think the hard drive was getting fat? I ended up selling it because it was just too high maintenance. If you're reading this, Apple, it's not you, it's me. And quit calling my friends trying to get my new number.
  • by Linzer (753270)
    Unfortunately, there are too many companies in the market that could care less about their customers

    Well, I'm rather worried about those that couldn't.
  • by Shivetya (243324) on Friday March 31, 2006 @08:43AM (#15033010) Homepage Journal
    If you have a problem with one of their systems or an iPod (like I did) you can damn well forget it unless the problem becomes widespread enough to hit popular tech pages.

    Apple is a corporation, it is not Steve Jobs, it is not warm and cuddly. If Apple loved their customers then Apple would not charge such a premium for their systems. The fact is, Apple loves to exploit, and rightfully so, their position with their customers. They have worked long and hard to create their image and they sure as hell ain't going to let the profit it generates slip by.
    • Exactly, thank you (Score:3, Insightful)

      by suso (153703) *
      I myself have found that running a business is tough, not because of all the strenous work, not because of having to support customers, but in trying to sway customers your way and get them to stick with you. You can have the best intentions in the world and explain that you are on the customer's side and do all these great things for open source, but in the end customers will still treat your business like its the enemy and just go for the cheapest.

      What Apple has is amazing and is not easy to get. Its no
    • Yes, Apple zealots vastly exaggerate the build quality, performance, and innovation of Apple products. Nevertheless, Apple generally ends up near the top in customer satisfaction and reliability ratings. Combine that with good styling, good marketing, and decent engineering, and it's no surprise that they are doing well. They don't have to make flawless machines in order to appeal to people and in order to be worth the premium, they just need to be noticeable better than most of the competition in severa
    • "If you have a problem with one of their systems or an iPod (like I did) you can damn well forget it unless the problem becomes widespread enough to hit popular tech pages."

      This is a joke, right? You have just described every "other" computer/software company in the world. Now, with Apple, you can go get help for free *gasp!* yes, for free at a genius bar near you for any little thing your heart desires (iPod, Software, Hardware, etc...). Do that at your local Dell mall kiosk and watch me in the corner la
    • First let me start off by saying I'm not a Mac supporter - personally, I hate the machines. However, I must say that my iPod experience is much different than yours. I reflashed mine trying to put a linux firmware on it and bricked the thing. I figured, "ah, what the hell" and sent it back to Apple. Not only did they send me a replacement to a unit where I was clearly at fault, but they first sent me a self-addressed, postage paid box with packaging and even *tape* to send it back to them. Then they ha
  • by tgd (2822) on Friday March 31, 2006 @08:44AM (#15033013)
    I have two dead iPods and a dead iBook to show for my experiment with Apple. One died just out of warranty, the replacement I bought had the drive go with less than a month left on the warranty. The replacement came, and turns out had a bad dock connector. Unfortunately they wouldn't honor a warranty on the replacement and in the two remaining weeks of the warranty, I didn't happen to use the replacement. So now I've got two dead iPods.

    I also have a iBook that died with the extremely common logic board failure two months out of warranty... a problem that they extended the warranty coverage for on the G3 iBooks, but didn't do on the G4 even though its a very common problem.

    Apple was the reason I left ten years of Linux use as my primary desktop OS behind, and Apple is the reason I'll be going back.
    • The iBook that eventually died had its on-board memory fail six months into the warranty period.

      When I brought it to the apple store, the fix they did (after trying to convince the bonehead that it was supposed to have 256 meg of RAM and not 128) was to replace the 128 meg SODIMM with a 256 meg one... something I didn't notice until I went to put a 512 in there. So my defective logic board wasn't replaced even when it WAS under warranty.
    • The Very Common Logic Board problem with iBooks had nothing to do with failure of the board. Thanks for making that shit up. It was a problem with the ATI chip that caused video problems. I know, I had it. It was from iBooks produced in 2002. They STILL will let you replace the logic board if you get that problem. Thanks for making THAT shit up. G4 iBooks have had no common problem.

      As for iPods, Apple has a 90 day warranty that covers almost everything (things like screens and power supplies are no

  • Why I gave up on Apple: A tale of unrequited love

    http://world.std.com/~swmcd/steven/rants/mac.html [std.com]
  • by zenmojodaddy (754377) on Friday March 31, 2006 @08:44AM (#15033016)
    ... the phrase is 'could NOT care less'. If you COULD care less, that means you do care and have room for treating your customers worse, doesn't it?

    Please allow me to utter a short yelp of annoyance.
  • Ignoring the fact not everyone loves Apple I can't help feeling that a lot of people just love to support the underdog. I'm fairly OS independant, in that I use whatever I need to use to get the job done (Linux, Apple, MS) but I will say that experience tends to tell me that Apple fans tend to be the most rabid about it.

    On that subject... does anyone know why people feel they have to defend their choice to the extent that they lose all rational capability? It seems to be the same with games consoles. I k
  • It's regrettably amusing that Apple competitors are working hastily to develop iPod clones to reap in success, but what many of them fail to comprehend is that it's not necessarily the iPod that makes Apple successful, but rather its customer service.

    So many are trying to copy the result of Apple's innovation, and so few are actually trying to copy the concept of innovation. There is the reason Apple has been around for so many years, and why the iPod knockoffs will be gone next year.
  • Absolutely True (Score:4, Informative)

    by BladesP9 (722608) on Friday March 31, 2006 @08:46AM (#15033025)
    This is absolutely true. I've bought many macintosh computers for the companies I have owned and worked for.

    During lean times we would use eBay to buy computers and equipment for employees. One occasion in particular I bought a strawberry iMac as a work station for a designer advertised as new in the box only to find out the machine was two years past the date of manufacture. As a matter of policy, Apple only honors the warranty within I believe 90 days of the date of manufacture. After a few attempts to repair the machine unsuccessfully, Apple replace it with a new (at the time) iMac that had much better specifications at no charge. Just recently, they gave me a lot of good advice and support on a lemon iMac I received from MacMall.

    I value customer service primarily because I pride myself on giving it - and it's nice to deal with a company then genuinely seems to care about it's customers. I'm an Apple customer for life partially because I prefer their product, but mostly because they treat me like a human being instead of a credit card number.
  • It's regrettably amusing that Apple competitors are working hastily to develop iPod clones to reap in success, but what many of them fail to comprehend is that it's not necessarily the iPod that makes Apple successful, but rather its customer service.

    It's not specifically the service but the end-to-end experience. Everyone else is working on great music players, but they cannot control the music download and management experience as well.

  • by Manip (656104) on Friday March 31, 2006 @08:50AM (#15033043)
    I had a problem with a recent iTunes patch, long story short it broke all DRM-ed music playback on my PC but not on the iPod. Tried all the standard bits, uninstall, reinstall, looked up help page...

    Sure Apple did have a help page for the problem but it didn't help one tiny bit.

    So I contacted them. Said something like "DRM protection music is distorted during playback as suggested by an apple help page(URL); MP3, WMA, and CD Audio playback works just fine ..." and they sent back a cookie cutter "You can't convert to WMA" ...

    This is just yet another company that doesn't give too hoots enough to read what you send them or to respond on their forums. The article is talking a whole load of bull from my experiences with apple up to this point.

    If you ask me, the company with the single best customer service is Amzon(.co.uk). They don't bull you... They are MORE than fair, and don't make you jump though hoops.
  • I've been an Apple fan for the past two years since buying my first Apple product, an iBook, in early 2004 (I've since entirely switched). Still, 99% of my love for Apple is for OS X, and I wouldn't agree that their customer service is amazing.

    Consider that all their machines come with a year's warranty. You can buy AppleCare within the first twelve months, so it makes sense to not buy AppleCare at day one and rely on the warranty for the first year. The problem is, they make it really hard to work out who
  • I think Pear is much better.
  • by rocjoe71 (545053) on Friday March 31, 2006 @08:56AM (#15033073) Homepage
    So when Apple initially refused to acknowledge that their new iPod Nanos would scratch easily, where exactly was good customer service being practised?
  • by Junior J. Junior III (192702) on Friday March 31, 2006 @08:57AM (#15033077) Homepage
    Apple's Steve throws frisbees, not chairs.
  • Trademark (Score:5, Funny)

    by szembek (948327) on Friday March 31, 2006 @09:09AM (#15033142) Homepage
    Gee, I was confused, I thought you were talking about Apple records!
  • by DenDave (700621) * on Friday March 31, 2006 @09:29AM (#15033228)
    Having just called the local Apple Center in my town to ask about a Superdrive replacement to my MacMini all I got was "that will cost 500-600 Euro", appalled I replied that I would be better off buying a new one, the reply "that's the way we like it"... some service buddy...

    I like the product but the retailers (in EU) have to learn that this is not the way to keep me coming. For what it's worth, I just ordered the damn drive myself online for significantly less and will end up installing it myself. I hope an Apple (EU) rep will read this thread and get the message. This is the last time I am fixing it myself. I am perfectly happy to switch back to *nix systems that I service myself, if the supposed convenience of Apple fails me, I will.

  • by MrBugSentry (963105) on Friday March 31, 2006 @09:34AM (#15033250) Homepage
    It is also, in large measure because people want to be part of an aesthetic elite. They want to be smarter than the masses. They want to belong to a club.

    Apple is smart enough to be that club's totem. They have managed to get people to invest their desire to be smugly superior in a product and in Apple's products at that.

    There are no flaming fanboys who defend, say, Wusthoff kitchen knives, regardless of the quality of those tools. Clearly, Apple has managed to insinuate itself in people's need to think themselves smarter than others in a way that other sold at a preimum products haven't.

    This makes them largely immune to network effects: They can have 3% of the market (or whatever) and not find themselves made irrelevant by their competitor's 95% share. In a "rational" calculation, you would be a fool to ensure that your version of most consumer software products will be thrown together as an afterthought, after the larger market had been satisfied. Or built for your platform without the benefit of economies of scale. By exploiting people's needs to think themselves smarter than the herd, Apple has turned this drawback into an advantage.

  • by ZenKen (963177) on Friday March 31, 2006 @09:56AM (#15033362)

    Customer service is the most overused and useless metric in business. Frankly because everyone says it's the most important aspect. Newsflash: it's B.S.

    Quality of product is the most important. Quality ( another overzealously used term used without regard to what it really means ) is extremely important. Quality craftsmanship, quality in design, quality in user experience, etc. Quality != customer service or higher cost. It also doesn't mean you make the best product possible, but you make YOUR product as well as you can possibly make it. You have to demand it of yourself.

    Apple does NOT, in fact, make their own products (read the box, designed by Apple, made in China/Indonesia/Korea), but they do produce a certain amount of quality in design, and do strive to produce quality in craftsmanship (note the continued push for longer battery life, in-house redesign of the click wheel, brighter displays). Out-of-the-box, I believe a new user will have a good experience with a Mac and its OS and therefore the quality of user experience is good as well. Add these factors up, and you get a significant amount of quality product. Yes, there are constraints (iTunes has to comply with DRM, the RIAA, FCC, et al.), but you can still provide quality... you just have to know how. That, in reality, is what most manufacturers and designers just don't get: quality is a sum product of a lot of hard work ON THE PRODUCT ITSELF not the PRODUCTION OF A PRODUCT. People will buy quality products at a higher price, but only if they know it's going to a quality product. That's where sales/marketing and business collide. There IS a difference between market-speak and business-speak. I wish people would stop using such crappy crosstalk.

  • by rbnsncrusoe (959286) on Friday March 31, 2006 @10:25AM (#15033585)
    It's not the customer service. Apple cares as much about their customers as Steve Jobs cares about a diverse wardrobe. Apple is beloved for these reasons.... 1. Style. It makes people feel cool, cause it looks cool. 2. Intuitive use. Especially for the less computer savvy, the Apple experience is simply more coherent to how people "think" things should work. 3. When you own an Apple, you are immediately inducted into the "club". Everyone want to feel their apart of the cool crowd. Owning an Apple gives some that illusion.
    • These are the talking points of people who haven't bought an Apple product and don't intend to. Asking them why Apple is popular is like asking a conservative to explain why someone would support a liberal candidate. You're going to get a pretty biased, inaccurate view. If you want to know why people do something, you'll get the best answer if you simply ask them--not the critics.

      And don't be shocked when you get a bunch of different answers. Different people do things for different reasons...successful com
  • Fluff (Score:3, Insightful)

    by necro81 (917438) on Friday March 31, 2006 @10:33AM (#15033643) Journal
    This article must have been written by either a humanities major or an MBA - there is no substance behind it. Instead, the author makes the point by saying that the new volume-limiting patch for the iPod is a great example of Apple's superior customer service. Somehow, according to the article, "it's not necessarily the iPod that makes Apple successful, but rather its customer service."

    I call bullshit. Of course the iPod is what people love about apple these days. iPods make up about as much of Apple's revenue as its computer sales. The other driving force is the fact that an Apple computer running OS X and Apple applications is a rock solid system, with tremendous capabilities right out of the box, and a great user experience. Do not confuse user experience with customer experience - they are not the same thing. I myself love apple, own a powerbook and an ipod, will continue to buy from them, and think their customer service is indeed top notch. However, I wouldn't in a million years claim that it is the customer service that drew me to them. People do not care a lot about customer service when they are spending money, otherwise no U.S. cable service or cellular phone provider would still be in business.

    The author may have hit nearer the mark by saying "Apple is investing resources to enhance its relationship with its customers." I interpreted that as brand promotion, integrated services like .Mac, the Apple Store, cultivating the iPod's hip image (made by Apple), and so on. These kinds of things do increase Apple's stature in the consumer electronics world, but are not, Not, NOT the same as good customer service.
  • Apple vs. Gateway (Score:3, Interesting)

    by filterban (916724) on Friday March 31, 2006 @10:37AM (#15033663) Homepage Journal
    First, before I say this, you can't accurately extrapolate from one person's experience to describe the customer service experience for many.

    Let me tell you the Tale of Two Companies.

    My girlfriend bought a brand new top of the line Gateway laptop in December. After 18 days of use, the screen fried. She owns three Gateway laptops, has always purchased the most expensive warranty plan, and up until this year, they always have had as a part of that plan:

    1) Free overnight shipping for repair service.
    2) A toll-free number to call for repair service.
    3) Very responsive turnaround times on repair.

    After having her laptop for 18 days, it took her over a month to get it back from Gateway, and she had to pay $60 in shipping costs. All they had to do was replace a backlight on the screen. All three of the warranty items described above changed in the past year. They changed the terms of their existing warranties because in the warranty it says they can do so.

    While that may have been legal, it certainly doesn't lead to happy customers. Needless to say, we are never buying another Gateway.

    Contrast this with my experience with Apple. Whenever I've had a problem, I've been able to go to the Apple Store at the local mall and work with the Mac Genius there to get support. Free.

    I bought an Airport Express in 2004, and when it broke, I took it to the Apple Store with no receipt. In under 5 minutes I left with a brand new AXP, with no hassle. Six months later that one also broke, but as I was beyond 1 yr warranty, Apple couldn't replace it. However, the Mac Genius checked all apple stores for an open-box item. He couldn't find any. He said that he would call me when an open box AXP came in.

    Sure enough, a month later, I got a phone call from the Mac Genius. They had received an open box AXP. I had already bought a new AXP, but I couldn't believe that I actually got a call back like I was promised.

    Having an Apple Store less than five miles away from my house means that I get fantastic service when things go wrong, with no hassles. It's what CompUSA, Micro Center, and Best Buy have all tried to do (Geek Squad?) but have generally failed at. Apple does it well and it means a lot to the average customer.

  • by pandrijeczko (588093) on Friday March 31, 2006 @10:41AM (#15033696)
    Look, I've never owned an Apple product, never had the need for one, so I'm certainly not qualified to comment on whether their products/service are any good or not. From what others tell me, I suspect they're probably okay so that's it.

    But can we PLEASE get it into our heads ONCE AND FOR ALL that the purpose of any big corporation is JUST to make money for its shareholders - END OF STORY!!! Whether or not you, the consumer, thinks they make good or bad products is pretty much irrelevant to them once they have your money. And if they give you a good customer service and/or a good feeling every time you deal with them, it is not because they're feeling nice, warm or friendly about you but because it is profitable to do so.

    If you love your Mac or your iPod then great - good luck to you. But PLEASE get it out of your thick skull that wearing a corporate logo of ANY sort is cool - it isn't because it just goes to show the rest of the world that you are insecure enough to want to belong to one (or more) exclusive little cliques that makes you feel special because you can look down on those that aren't members of those same cliques.

    Buy an article of clothing because it looks nice on you or feels good on you, buy an iPod because it sounds good or fits well in your jeans pocket - but don't just buy something because it's made by "Gap" or "Apple" because then you really are showing the rest of the world only how much of a corporate puppet you really are...

    • But can we PLEASE get it into our heads ONCE AND FOR ALL that the purpose of any big corporation is JUST to make money for its shareholders - END OF STORY!!!

      The best way to shovel money into the shareholders' pockets is to make the customer so happy with the product that they have no reason to go elsewhere. Apple has done a great job with that. That the customer ends up so happy with the product is admittedly a side effect of the business model, but it's not to be ignored.

      PLEASE get it out of your thick s
  • by hexix (9514) on Friday March 31, 2006 @11:51AM (#15034231) Homepage

    I love Apple products. I'm really in to this simple and sleek style, and OS X rocks my world. However, I couldn't believe it when I was reading this blurb about how great Apple's support is. What a joke.

    I recently purchased an intel mac mini. I bought it with the intention of using it as a media center (podcasts/vidcasts/music). The day I received it I began setting it up when I noticed the fan spin up to a very loud volume. Immediately I opened up activity monitor to figure out what was putting so much load on my system. There was nothing. The CPU usage was fluctuating between 0-3%.

    I shrugged my shoulders and ignored it. A little bit later it did it again. Turns out, it does it every 5 minutes. The system will be dead silent for 5 minutes and then the fan will begin to spin, slowly at first but increasing in speed until it is very loud noise that I can hear on the other end of my house.

    Thinking this couldn't possibly be correct, I phoned up apple support. What a joke. I had to reset my PMU about 10 times because that is apple's phone support's solution for everything. I even spent about 8 minutes with one guy as he had me try over and over again to boot into Open Firmware with a certain key sequence. He was absolutely positive that I must be pressing the wrong keys until I brought up the fact that the intel macs use EFI, not open firmware.

    So their phone support sucks, but that's not the real problem. I think the majority of computer literate users don't expect the phone support to actually solve the problem for them. The problem is the only solutions they would offer me is to bring it to a local technician, drive 60 miles to the closest apple store, or BUY APPLECARE so that they could send a technician to my home.

    I obviously chose to bring it to a local technician. Turns out the local technician doesn't know jack about apple computers. Somehow they're certified, but they don't know squat. I realized this the instant I brought my mac mini to the place and they oooh'ed and awww'ed over how small a mac mini was. They had never seen a mac mini! They went on to ask me questions about it and I brought up Front Row. They look puzzled and I asked them if they knew what Front Row was, to which they replied no. I realized there was no way in hell these people were going to be able to fix a mac, they didn't even have basic user knowledge of them.

    I called them two days later to see what the status was, but the technician wasn't there so they didn't know. They told me they'd have him call me the next day to let me know. Of course he didn't, so I called him. The guy basically didn't have any status to give me, he wasn't even sure if the problem was there because "he had a lot of other computers there," and he couldn't hear if the fan was on or not in my mac mini. He told me he could run some diagnostic software on it, but that he has been trying to download it from apple and their connection keeps screwing up. I told him in the nicest voice I could fake that I'd just come and pick it up since he can't figure out if there was even a problem.

    After I picked up my machine, I phoned apple to let them know what terrible technicians they had sent me to, and to ask if I can just send it to someone who would actually be able to fix the problem. Turns out, I can't. There is apparently no way for apple's phone support to allow me to send a mac mini in to be fixed. Even if I had purchased the applecare, they would still only send a technician to my house (I'm betting it'd be from that same crappy local technician shop). The only other solution for me is to drive for an hour, drop off my mac mini at an apple store, drive home, and then repeat when my machine is ready to be picked up.

    Like I said, what a joke. This is terrible support and I'm amazed that there can be an entire slashdot story devoted to their support being great. Has april fools started early? I just bought a brand new broken computer from Apple and they won't let me send it back to be fixed. Yeah, great support.

    I'm no fan of Dell, but I gotta admit that when my girlfriend had problems with her Dell laptop they didn't waste any time in sending her a box that she could ship her computer in.

  • Crack (Score:3, Interesting)

    by hkb (777908) on Friday March 31, 2006 @12:04PM (#15034336)
    Disclaimer: I'm currently a Mac fanboy and am fortunate enough to use them at home and at work.

    But, this guy is on crack. Apple's customer service has always been pretty crummy in my experience and historically. The things I like about Apple are:

    - They release great and innovative products
    - They aren't afraid to shake things up
    - They release products that fulfill a need or want before I knew I needed or wanted it.
    - UNIX
    - Sex appeal
  • by podperson (592944) on Friday March 31, 2006 @01:40PM (#15035180) Homepage
    ...there's a simple answer, and it's wrong.

    (H. L. Mencken, paraphrased.)

    I think there's more to it than great products or R&D to improve the customer experience, although those are certainly major factors. I think there's a bunch of mutually reinforcing components to the Apple Cult, all of which certainly benefit from product quality and customer service, but which separate Apple from other companies that produce great products (e.g. Gillette, Disney, BMW).

    One issue is sunken cost. If you pay a lot for something -- anything, unless it totally sucks, you tend to cleave to it. (I may love Gillette Razors, but when I run out of blades there's nothing stopping me from trying Schick.)

    Another is mutual exclusiveness (which ties into sunken cost). By choosing product A, getting familiar with product A, and buying things that are compatible with product A, you make switching to product B far more difficult. (If I drive a BMW there's no real financial reason not to switch to Acura for my next car. It's not like I was planning to move the leather seats and stereo from my BMW into my new Acura.)

    Another is self-image. Apple is very good at projecting itself as a cool, individualistic, creative company that produces products for cool, individualistic, creative people. Microsoft tries desperately to create this image for itself (look at ANY of its mainstream TV ads for the last ten years) and fails to achieve this. Plenty of computers appear in TV shows and movies as product placement, but Macs appear in TV shows (e.g. Seinfeld, Buffy, etc.) because the folks making the shows use them. (In both examples, Apple actually paid or provided new computers to the shows to put current models in.) Here's a rough guide: if the folks in a TV Show or an ad are using your product and the logo is taped over, it's not paid product placement. If you see a website screenshot in an ad, it's probably in Safari and showing Aqua widgets. If you see a computer in a furniture ad, it's usually a Mac. (Heck many websites are essentially ads for Aqua. Look, we're desperately trying to look as cool as Apple ... dialog boxes.)

    There's always self-presentation too. Since Apple products are expensive and stylish they're great conspicuous consumption -- especially when a MacBook Pro is cheaper than a couple of Louis Vuitton purses, looks better (in my opinion), lasts longer, and gets more use. (How many of us can afford the *clothes* -- or *shoes* -- in Sex in the City? I owned Carrie's laptop though.)

    Apple also manages -- and this is a neat trick -- to always be the underdog. (At least post IBM PC.) Even when it dominates a market (as with iPod and iTunes) it somehow manages to be the "in thing" and simultaneously the underdog. (Thank you French courts, thank you constant idiotic remarks from Microsoft, thank you Apple Records, thank you Wall Street doomsayers.)

    Apple has always had a lot of geek cred too. Sure, semi-technical folks (the kind of people who consider hacking an AUTOEXEC.BAT file or using RegEdit makes them an elite hacker) prefer PCs, but uber-geeks have almost always preferred Macs (at least to PCs, if not Suns or Lisp Machines). Part of this probably stems -- ironically -- from Macs being harder to develop for than PCs. (At least until RealBasic came out.)
  • by localman (111171) on Friday March 31, 2006 @02:01PM (#15035395) Homepage
    I've been a nearly-full-time Apple user since ~2000. I love my PowerBook, I love OSX, I love my Apple apps, and I love my iPod. But I've never felt that Apple has "excellent customer service". I mean, I'm not sure exactly what to compare it to... maybe it's better than Dell or something?

    I mean, the design and overall quality of products is a part of customer service, and they have that down. But actual interaction with the company we're talking about, right?

    The floor staff at the Apple store are a mixed bag... I've encountered folks who were great and folks who were not. One mistake they make is to put far too much emphasis on upselling, which makes for a used-car-sales experience. They pride themselves on saying "we don't work on commission", but don't mention that their work performance is judged solely on their ability to attach items to the order (like .mac and AppleCare).

    The Genius Bar people are always worn out and a bit testy. I've worked customer service, and in my experience this is more a function of a company who never lets customer service tell customers what they want to hear, rather than just the existence of annoying customers. Case in point: virtually any type of damage to a powerbook results in a repair cost very close to purchasing a refurb unit. If your screen is cracked or your case is dented, it's $1700 flat fee, I think. Kind of ridiculous, no? I did break a Powerbook screen once, and after steaming at their prices, I was lucky enough to find another company who would do it for $600. So I'm sure Apple could do it at a better cost.

    I also remember calling support on iTunes. Back when the DRM only allowed 3 computers, i ran out because I sold a machine and forgot to de-authorize the music. They did clear my authorization list, but then they reprimanded me for my error and acted like I shouldn't expect them to do that for me. Good customers service wouldn't do that in any case.

    Anyways, I love Apple products, but their customer service is average at best.

    Cheers.

    PS - of course I may be biased as I work at Zappos [zappos.com], where we really do have excellent customer service. I shit you not.
  • by jc42 (318812) on Friday March 31, 2006 @02:52PM (#15035854) Homepage Journal
    My favorite Apple CS story is about when I got my Airport Extreme, and an Apple-recommended printer to lug into it. We have two Powerbooks here, and neither of them could find the printer following the (meager) instructions that it came with. So, after a lot of frustrating failures, I called Apple for help.

    The fellow that I talked to started off by wanting to make sure that my Internet connection was working properly. This was curious, because it had nothing to do with the problem; I should have been able to use the printer even without an Internet connection. In fact, that would have been the logical aproach to isolate the problem (and in fact would have worked). But I went along, to see what he knew that I didn't.

    I was walked through the process of rebooting the Airport and my Powerbook. But when he got to the gateway, a linux box, I balked when he told me to reboot it. This was clearly far beyond any reasonable act; better would have been to disconnect it from and internal LAN (and that would have also worked, it turned out).

    He got rather miffed at my refusal to reboot a machine that was outside the scope of the problem. His response was, in essense, to tell me that Apple doesn't support the Airport in the presence of "unauthorized" computers. If I wanted help, I'd have to shut down all non-Apple equipment, and give the Airport a direct connection to the Internet.

    I finally gave up, and tackled the problem myself. I eventually pinned it down: Unbeknownst to me (because it wasn't mentioned in any documentation I could find), the Airport was running a DHCP server, and its address range overlapped that of the LAN's DHCP server (the linux box). When I found this, I changed them to not overlap, and the printer suddenly worked. None of this required rebooting anything.

    This might just be a personal problem, except for something that I didn't mention to the CS guy: Part of what I was doing on my home network was testing stuff for the people I was working for. I wrote a report of this "support" incident, making special note of Apple's unwillingness to support their Airport in a mixed-vendor environment. This had an immediate effect: Apple was dropped from the list of acceptable vendors for their network. Like most companies with offices in several states, they had a rather mixed combination of computing stuff, and the ability to play nice with the others was high on their list of desirable features.

    Although they had a lot of Windows boxes, and a few Macs, they went with RedHat linux rather than Macs for their net's infrastructure, with a few Cisco boxes in the obvious places. And a mixture of wireless things, all chosen partly because they were linux-friendly, and none from Apple.

    So by blowing me off as they did, Apple lost at least one significant corporate customer.

    I might add that it wasn't just this one incident that eliminated them from consideration. But everyone did agree that they were significantlly better than Microsoft.

    Doing your testing from a "home" site can be a useful thing for a company to do. You learn a lot of things that you can't learn from a salesman. I recommend it.

    Meanwhile, I'm still trying to learn how to access that printer from our linux and Windows boxes. It's suppose to "just work". Yeah, right.

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