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How It Is

Poor Support Experience

An experience in no-communication from the unlikeliest source. Apple.

I broke my watch. I have an Apple Watch with the Sapphire glass screen, and I broke the glass.

For reasons that are frustrating, I don’t have AppleCare+. The short version is that I didn’t realize I didn’t have AppleCare until September. The Watch was a present in May (June). I was deemed ineligible, which is annoying, but I appealed and pointed out I couldn’t know I didn’t have it until it was way too late. But I was declined. I didn’t have a receipt, I didn’t have proof, they couldn’t believe me. Fine. I acutally understand that and, were it me, I’d probably reject the claim as well. That meant I knew I was going to have to shell out if I ever needed a repair for a crack. And February 2016 was that time. I took it to the Apple Store and had one of the shittier repair experience of my life.

I did not schedule an appointment since they had nothing until Monday anyway, and I knew this would be a “We can’t fix it, we’ll send it in.” sort of thing. I got there and was told that they don’t have a walk-in repair for the Apple Watch like that. They do for the iPhone, and the iPad, but not the Watch. Okay. Stupid. Fine. I set a Walk In appointment for an hour away, and went to run an errand. When I got back, the appointed time came and went. So I asked a nice person in an Apple Shirt how that worked.

This was the first rude person I’ve ever dealt with an an Apple store. I wish I’d gotten his name. He was condescending, brusque, and unsympathetic. He said I should have known that the time was an estimate (sure, I did) and that it could be up to another 90 minutes. I stared at him. How the hell should I have known that? I asked if there was a different line for repairs, he said not and then chided me for not making an appointment. Sorry, make an appointment for four days out when I broke something today that will need to be mailed to a repair center? I did not say that, I looked at him and said “I see. So when you said ‘Around 1:55’ what you meant was ‘Between 1:55 and 3:30’? The guy who checked me in didn’t say that.” He shrugged and I walked off.

It took another 45 minutes to get to check in. Once I did, they just said ‘Sit at any open stool.’ This is poorly planned, but okay. I sat and after a few minutes, a fellow asked for my name. He tapped on his iPad, found my appointment, looked at the words on it, looked at my watch, and promptly apologized.

“I’m sorry you had to wait so long for what’s about to be a really fast case.”

I’d already taken the watchband off and nodded. I knew it had to be mailed in. They can’t replace a screen at the store. He filled in a form, the AppleCare+ conversation was had, and we left being told a link would be sent to me.

No. Actually I got a receipt for the work order (fine) and no link. I logged into my Apple ID account at https://supportprofile.apple.com/ and was surprised to see my Apple Watch not listed. I added it and went to the ‘repairs’ link (which said I had 1 repair) only to have this:

Apple could not locate any repairs for the Apple ID: [Me]. Please try again with a different Apple ID or look up a single repair on this page.

Since the work order had the Repair ID, I put that in and the serial and got a pretty useless status page:

Screenshot of my apple repair status which only says 'service requested'

Step 1 | Request – February 10, 2016 : Service requested

That’s it. Step 2 is Service and Step 3 is Return, but there’s no information like an estimated date or even verification it was sent out. At the store I was quoted 3 to 5 days. Now here’s the thing. I know what’s going to happen. They will get my watch, go “Oh, it’s broken, look at that!” and send me a refurb. I will not get my watch back, I’ll get a new one (a new used one) and it sucks, but there it is. I accept this. It’s a watch. Then they will send that watch back to the store and I will pick it up. And I was told 3-5 days (I asked ‘business?’ since it was about to be a long weekend, and the fellow said they were working Monday), and that I would get notified of status changes.

But after a few days of nothing, I called Apple and asked two things:

  1. Why doesn’t it show up on my open cases for my Apple ID?
  2. What actually is the status?

The guy on the phone and the woman at the store were helpful, if disappointing. The Watch had not been shipped out right away. The Dispatch Center did not have it. The store claimed to have sent it and received a sign off, though the shipping folks said that was not the case and status on that repair page still said ‘Service requested.’

The phone tech said to call back in two business days days if I didn’t get any emails or any information, and he added the case to my account. No not the repair, the case. And the direct link to the repair works, but it’s still not associated with my account. I did what any neurotic would do, and I left the page open, hitting refresh once in a while.

Three hours later the status zoomed to step 3: Returned.

February 13, 2016 : Product replacement pending

So why do I call this a bad service experience?

It should have been much shorter. Apple could have a simple hardware check. Is it really broken? Yes it is, we’ll send it to repair. And this would be for things that are sent in only. If you want to try and trade it in for a fixed one then and there, it’s separate. But if you just want to express mail in your broken whatsit, why not make this easier? The front gate person can ask two questions: Is it really broken? Do you want to send it in for repair/replacement or trade it in today?

I also never once got a single email from Apple about this.

Well that’s not true. I got the first email but that was it. I never got a single status report, like they swore I would. I have root access to my server, I run my own email server, and I checked for every single email with ‘apple.com’ in it for the last 7 days. I found one from bounces@email.apple.com and none from GR_R###@APPLE.COM (I’ve removed the identifying numbers). I checked and yes, they were sending to the right email. The one email I did get was from donotreply@apple.com.

But. Why were none of these emails recorded in my profile or my repair ticket? Why did I never get the promised texts? Why was there no communication? Why, when I contacted Apple, did they actually say their ticket system still said the device was ‘submitted’ and nothing more? They had to contact other teams to find the information which I was never able to see in my profile.

As much as I deride my ticket system at the office, the fact that every email is logged twice (once as email and once in the ticket) means I can always go back and see exactly what was sent, by whom, and when. Clearly they have multiple systems, and none talk to each other.

I did get my Watch back. On day 5. I could have had it back on day 2 if they’d learned how to properly communicate.

And guess what? The new watch was broken. It wouldn’t vibrate.