Rotten Apple

I ordered two personalized iPod (2nd generation) shuffles in mid-November from the Apple Store. One for me and one for my sister-in-law Katie as a Christmas gift. Personalization was free and each cost a mere $79. I was excited to have something as small as a matchbook to hold 240 of the most bass-thumping rap songs possible for when I started going to the gym.

Predictably the gym thing didn't happen. I finally got around to opening my shuffle at the end of January to load it up with some songs and discovered my laptop wouldn't recognize it. (I also own two other iPods so I was pretty comfortable with all the trouble-shooting techniques using it with a PC vs. a Mac.) I tried for days to get it to work and no amount of trobleshooting worked. I finally broke down and called Apple Support.

I was on hold for 15 minutes before I got to speak with an Apple Representative. I explained that I had done all the recommended steps, but she chose to have me do them all over again. Frustrating. She requested that I plug the Shuffle into each and every USB port to see if it recognized the Shuffle explaining that this second generation Shuffle had a known issue with power supply on USB 2.0 ports. You don't say.

I explained to her that I thought the dock might be defective because in doing some online research I saw lots of people describing the very same problem I was having with the Shuffle.

Once the USB port tests didn't work, she asked me if I had another computer to plug the Shuffle into to test it out. I did have another computer and I'm not joking when I tell you we went through all the same steps with my second computer. I became argumentative. Why couldn't she just send me a replacement?

She told me I could take the Shuffle to an Apple Store for them to test it out, but was quick to caution if it was the actual unit (and not the dock) they couldn't just give me another one because my Shuffle was personalized. There isn't an Apple Store near my home nor where I work. The closest one is in Chestnut Hill! Why should I have to drive that far out of my way when they could just send me another one in the mail?

I was asked if I knew anyone who owned a Shuffle so I could try out their docking station. No way was I going to tell them my sister-in-law had one and she lived down the street from me. At this point, I was really pissed at Apple's customer service.

She said that before she could issue a replacement, she wanted me to try out the Shuffle on my laptop at work. I know...I know... why did I even tell her I had a work laptop? I'm sooo stupid. I continued to argue with her that I couldn't believe for a $79 unit they couldn't just send me another one out the very same day.

So I took the annoying Shuffle to work and of course it didn't work. I called Customer Service again and requested a replacement. No problem--except that I had to provide a credit card in case I decided to gyp Apple by not sending back my original Shuffle. I was told to expect the replacement in five to seven business days.

I called Apple back on February 12th letting them know that my replacement was MIA. The Customer Service rep. looked at my repair record and explained that there was a block on my replacement request and that's why it hadn't shipped. She cheerfully removed the block and I angrily demanded my replacement be sent UPS Next Day Air. She agreed and noted this expedited request.

At this point I had come to the sad realization that as much as I wanted someday to own an iMac, it wouldn't happen unless it was a gift. This arrogant company made me bend over backwards to prove to them that their crappy $79 Shuffle was defective and now I couldn't even get the replacement when promised.

You can guess what's coming next, right? The Shuffle never arrived via Next Day Air. I called back a few days later only to be told that there wasn't any notation in my file to ship it NDA and currently there was a known backlog of Shuffles in Shanghai. Why Shanghai? Well, apparently they were replacing my Shuffle with another personalized one and this required it being made overseas.

I fumed and raised my voice. I asked to speak to a supervisor, but that wasn't possible because any escalated issues had to be forwarded to a Help Desk and the current wait was about ten minutes. I was dumbfounded. So I played the game and was eventually connected to the escalation Help Desk. I insisted that they ship a Shuffle out for delivery the next day. Apple explained they could do that, but since a confirmation number had already been assigned to my repair order I had a better chance of getting the personalized Shuffle sooner than the replacement. It was explained that there was bad weather in Pennsylvania that day and a non-personalized replacement might not get shipped out due to inclement weather conditions.

Disgusted with the whole experience, I simply gave up. I figured eventually I would receive it. Several days passed and the Shuffle didn't come. I'd check online entering my repair number only to see the canned notation "Replacement pending".

I phoned Apple one more time on February 28th to check on the status and was relieved to receive a FedEx tracking number. The Shuffle was expected to arrive by March 5th. Apple apologized for the delay and threw in the excuse about a backlog of Shuffles in the factory and additional delays due to Chinese New Year. Yea, Yea. I know all about Chinese New Year. I work in Manufacturing.

As I write this blog, today is March 2nd and FedEx delivered my Shuffle. I opened the box and there it was-my little silver jewel. I flipped it over to see my name in lights and guess what? It wasn't personalized with "Kim Marie Perry", but with the following:

NDR 1/21/73
It took Apple a whole month to personalized my Shuffle with that? How nice! Tonight after posting this, I'm going to try to use my brandy-new Shuffle. I'm prepared for utter disappointment and will be pleasantly surprised if this replacement actually works like it should. I can move on from their personalization screw-up because I bought a metallic pink slipcover for it and it will cover up the NDR 1/21/73.
But here's the rub. After my very first call to Apple, they were Johnny-On-The-Spot about emailing me with a customer service survey about my Apple Experience, yet it took them over a month to replace an MP3 player that probably costs the company a few dollars to make.
I've never worked so hard to get such poor customer service. So beware if you buy any Apple products. They may be ranked in Business Week as #18 in Top 25 Customer Satisfaction Champs, but based on my experience they wouldn't make the list. I'm not here to advocate Microsoft vs. Apple or PC vs. Mac. What I am saying is if they can't do right by me for a $79 Shuffle, why would I ever expect them to take care of me with an expensive $1800 computer?

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  1. You should consider yourself lucky to have been allowed to purchase a product from the great and mighty Apple!!! :)

  2. Anonymous9:43 PM

    Man, that is one customer service survey I'd LOVE to read!