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4 bad iPhone 4s..what to do?
July 5, 2010 6:28 AM   Subscribe

I am making a 4 hour drive to exchange my iPhone 4 AGAIN. This will be my 3rd time replacing it. Am I entitled to some form of compensation, and if so how should I get it?

I live in central IL and my nearest Apple Store is a two hour, 100 mile drive away; 4 hour round trip. A bit over a week ago I made the drive to get an iPhone 4 on launch day.

Within a day of owning my first iPhone 4 I realized it had a problem as every single phone call I made was interrupted by my cheek hitting buttons which would dial unwanted people, put calls on speakerphone, or hang up on them.

On Saturday I drove to St Louis again and the "Apple Genius" determined I had a bad proximity sensor (after he tested the phone for 30 minutes and couldn't reproduce; I made one phone call and almost accidentally called the VP of my department with my cheek). He gave me a new phone.

The next day (Sunday) I was using iPhone 4 #2 in the car playing games, and saw the dreaded yellow spots on the screen. I called Apple support, who acted clueless about the problem and told me "restore the iPhone". I followed their instructions and the problems persisted. I didn't want to make the 4 hour drive again so I asked for mail replacement; it would take 7 to 10 days (which I can't do as this is my only phone) OR I could do advance replacement with a non-refundable $30 shipping fee. I didn't want to pay that fee on principle, having gotten 2 bad phones.

The tech at the Apple Support line was a jerk, insinuated that I had no money as I was griping about a $30 shipping fee (it wasn't the money, it was the principle), and when I asked to speak to his manager he hung up on me.

My wife called the Apple store where we got the phone (St Louis Galleria) and the manager there said to give the spots a few days and if we have to drive down she would "make it right". We waited until the weekend, the spots didn't go away.

Frustrated and shamed, I drove to the Apple store Saturday, tail between my legs. The "Apple genius" there said "I can see the spots, and if it's that big a deal to you we can give you another phone, but we can't guarantee the new phone won't have those spots." I took the new phone, and due to being so disregarded by the "Apple Genius" I didn't bother to ask if the manager to whom my wife spoke was in the store to see how she would "make it right". I was just grateful to finally have a working phone...or so I thought.

Last night, after having the phone for only 1.5 days, I was taking 4th of Jully pictures and realized that my flash was causing a huge blur/flare in most of my photos, and all of my photos had a gross yellow tint, like we all were jaundice. I did some experiments with my wife's iPhone 4, taking side-by-side photos, and mine were terrible, hers were great. My flash showed up in all my pictures, hers never did. Mine were yellow, hers had proper white balance.

I now have another Apple Genius appointment in St Louis for 12:30pm today...

This will be my 3rd time driving 200 miles round trip to exchange my defective iPhone 4. I will have spent over 15 hours counting time in the Apple store getting this fixed, put over 600 miles on my car, and I am just HOPING that this 4th iPhone 4 will work.

I feel like I am entitled to some form of compensation, if for no other reason than all the gas money I've had to spend to make this trip. At a generous 30 mi/gal and a conservative $2.50/gal I've spent over $50 in gas. Plus all my time. I really would like them to "make it right" with an iTunes Store gift card at the very least...

Am I out of line in thinking they should do something to compensate me for my time/trouble? And if such compensation is deserved, how should I go about getting it? I feel somewhat put of by the "Apple Genius" personas there and I don't want to act like a dick if I don't have to...
posted by arniec to Shopping (40 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
 
I expect that will probably just say you could/should have sent it in - kinda not their problem that it's your only phone. Getting compensation for indirect expenses from a company like Apple would be near impossible. Forget it.
posted by ryanbryan at 6:37 AM on July 5, 2010 [1 favorite]


You made the choice to purchase an iPhone from a store more than 2 hrs away driving. I think Apple could (should) have coughed up free shipping, but I wouldn't expect any compensation for driving and time costs. At this point, I'd simply ask for all my money back and wait for all the problems of the first adopter to pass and then get that new iPhone 4. At the least, inquire to see if they might perhaps give you some kind of gift certificate for the cost of shipping, should you need to replace this one, too.
posted by Atreides at 6:38 AM on July 5, 2010 [3 favorites]


Am I out of line in thinking they should do something to compensate me for my time/trouble?
Yes. If you don't like having to deal with the issues inherent in any new venture, stick to tried and true technology. Early adopters have to deal with all sorts of wacky shit, and the only compensation they get is the newest toy to call their own. The newest toy that's likely to break in weird ways.

Understood that's not an easy answer to like, but there you go. You didn't NEED the new iPhone just like you don't need all this hassle, right?
posted by carsonb at 6:43 AM on July 5, 2010 [9 favorites]


I expect that will probably just say you could/should have sent it in - kinda not their problem that it's your only phone.

That's an OK argument for arniec only being entitled to $30, rather than $50, but the whole idea of a "non-refundable" fee that only needs to be paid in the first place because Apple has failed to deliver on its advertised services is, morally, total bullshit, and in the only jurisdiction I know enough about (the UK — sorry) would be at least questionable legally.

Getting compensation for indirect expenses from a company like Apple would be near impossible. Forget it.

Probably true, but I think it's important to make the effort, on principle — you'll feel better, if nothing else, and Apple should, at the very least, be made to expend the time and effort that it will take to read and respond to your complaint. You should do it by letter, keep it very polite but make it clear you expect compensation, rather than appealing to their generosity. After an initial exchange of letters, if you don't get anywhere, feel free to publicize your issue via Twitter, blogs, etc, if you think that you can get any mileage from that.

wait for all the problems of the first adopter to pass and then get that new iPhone 4
If you don't like having to deal with the issues inherent in any new venture, stick to tried and true technology.

And can I just say that I really hate the culture that has grown up around tech gadgetry — especially Apple — whereby the newness of a product means that the company is treated with indulgence when it fails to offer the thing that it promised to offer? It is emphatically not the consumer's obligation to assume that, because an iPhone or whatever is new, it probably won't work as advertised.
posted by game warden to the events rhino at 6:46 AM on July 5, 2010 [1 favorite]


Gotta agree with the consensus here. You had the option to do it by mail. For the money you've spent on gas you could have bought a cheap backup phone for the week you'd have been without.
posted by fourcheesemac at 6:48 AM on July 5, 2010


If you act like a dick (and you never "have to"), you're going to get treated like one. Please don't.

It's not Apple's problem that (1) the closest store to you is so far away and (2) you didn't want to wait the 7 to 10 days to ship your phone in. I totally agree that their policies, including the $30 advance replacement shipping fee, are aggravating, but unfortunately that's life in the world of capitalism. If they can charge it and still turn a profit, they will.

That being said, maybe one of the apparently haughty Geniuses will take pity on you in some way. (I've never had anything but good experiences with my various Geniuses, but okay.) I would be shocked if they had the power to help compensate your for your driving costs. I'm not sure if they have the ability to throw in any perks, actually.
posted by sallybrown at 6:51 AM on July 5, 2010


I would skip directly to seeing a manager. I would go in nice suit and tie, be humble, polite but quietly insistent. I would bring receipts, a piece of mail with my address on it and a map and then tell my story to the manager with a bit of tongue in cheek "Man, I really just want an iPhone, you know, but the Universe keeps messing with me" attitude while meticulously, but humblely pointing out the time, effort and expense just to get a working iPhone. At the end, I'd look the manager in the eyes and ask "Hey, I love the products, just trying to get a working one, I know, I know, 1.0 products, but who could resist a phone that looks this good/Facetime/faster speed. Is there anyway I could get an iTunes card, say for $100 bucks or so, for all this time and money I've spent trying to get this a working iPhone, please?"

If the manager says no, quietly, politely, yet firmly and repeatedly ask an $100 iTunes card. If she offers a $50 card, take it and say thank you (never start bargaining at the price you'd take). If she's unwilling to do anything else, then ask to speak to her manager. Keep taking it up the food chain until you get satisfaction.


Never ever lose your cool about this. Never have a attitude like you are owned some form of compensation. Seek about the manager to help you, everyone loves helping people, especially someone the fates have been kicking around a bit, right? You want to frame this so that people with the power to help you aren't giving you something, you want them to think they're doing something to help you.

Take names, make notes about date and times. Be quietly persistence.

Finally, if none of that works, email Steve Jobs directly with your story, names and dates to steve@apple.com.

Any decent company would and should be wiling to kick something your way for all your time and trouble and you're perfectly justified in asking for something after getting two defective phones. Good luck!
posted by new brand day at 6:53 AM on July 5, 2010 [6 favorites]


Oh blah blah it's not their problem...They've cost you an unreasonable sum of money and should compensate you with a gift cert. at least. Talk to the manager, explain the situation calmly, she will make it right. Escalate if necessary. Having to have something replaced 3 times is extraordinary and not the typical user's experience (all other iPhone 4 issues aside). They should be happy to do something for you as a valued customer.

I personally have had positive above-and-beyond experiences with both Apple's in-store associates and phone customer service when my phone had issues. You just have to ask, really...
posted by sarelicar at 6:53 AM on July 5, 2010


The tech at the Apple Support line was a jerk, insinuated that I had no money as I was griping about a $30 shipping fee (it wasn't the money, it was the principle), and when I asked to speak to his manager he hung up on me.

Yeah, go straight to management when you get there. Mention this, with specifics, like a case number if you have one. That was pretty out of line. Be very nice, calm and firm. Act like you know what you're talking about, and more than likely (borne out through personal & anecdotal experiences) you'll get some sort of discount or something. Apple tends to just take care of people who escalate after having repeatedly frustrating experiences. Getting in their face won't help though. Stress on the calm part.
posted by Devils Rancher at 7:02 AM on July 5, 2010


Am I out of line in thinking they should do something to compensate me for my time/trouble?

Yes, you are. I can totally understand your frustration in this, but you aren't entitled to anything but replacement of the phone, which is what the manager's "make it right" statement referred to. As Atreides said, you chose to purchase a new, unproven model from a store two hours away knowing it was your only phone and if there was a problem, you'd have to drive it for immediate attention.

Hindsight is 20/20, but you could have saved yourself a lot of time and money by paying the $30 fee up front, because now you're into this for $50 in gas and 15 hours of your time. Again, that was your choice; you say it was the principle and not the money, but 99% of the time when people say that, it's the money. If the shipping fee were 5 cents, wouldn't you have paid it?

My advice would be to swallow your pride and pay the shipping fee and move on with your life. When you are in a hole, you don't get out of it by digging further down.
posted by MegoSteve at 7:04 AM on July 5, 2010 [6 favorites]


Yeah, go straight to management when you get there. Mention this, with specifics, like a case number if you have one.

That's the central support line, not the Apple Store, but yeah, you should call back, escalate and mention it. The driving expenses and wasted time come down to the early adopters' premium, but jerkishness on phone support oughn't to go unreported.
posted by holgate at 7:09 AM on July 5, 2010


Let's see...

First time, you had to drive out there because your cheek kept hitting the phone, and while the Apple representative couldn't reproduce it, you could. That's probably on you. You don't mention if the problem went away or not with the new phone.

Second time, a flaw that will go away on it's own occurred, and you decided to replace the phone. On you.

Third time, yellow pictures. This one I haven't seen a solution to on the Internet yet. And you're likely to get a phone with the same issue, if there is a physical defect (some suggest there's an issue with the image color depending on how autofocus is set, or other possible software issues).

It's also not Apple's fault you chose to buy a phone at a store 2 hours away, or that you're choosing to make this drive. They have other options available, you're opting for the one that involves going to the store.

Also, reading your descriptions of your experiences with Apple reps is... Odd. You let someone hang up on you, but didn't call back? You went to the store "frustrated and shamed"? Shamed how? Why? You feel you were disregarded by the Apple rep for the yellow spots because they told you they can't guarantee the replacement won't have the same yellow spots that fade on their own? Sounds to me like they perfectly addressed your concerns, and warned you that what you're doing isn't a guaranteed fix, as a large number of the phones have the spots.

If you truly think you have a beef here, call them. Have them look at your account, see you already have 2 replacements, this is your third.

And while you're doing all this, pick yourself up a backup phone from eBay for next to free, so being without your primary phone isn't crippling.
posted by Rendus at 7:22 AM on July 5, 2010 [2 favorites]


Look up EECB on Consumerist.
Also I think sjobs@apple.com is (also?) Steve Jobs' email.
posted by jstarlee at 7:23 AM on July 5, 2010


First time, you had to drive out there because your cheek kept hitting the phone, and while the Apple representative couldn't reproduce it, you could. That's probably on you. You don't mention if the problem went away or not with the new phone

This has not been a problem on either of the replacement phones. Just on the first phone. Also, proximity sensor problems have been reported with the new iPhone...I think I had one of those.
posted by arniec at 7:24 AM on July 5, 2010


you chose to purchase a new, unproven model

I'm amazed how prevalent this pathetic attitude is. Offering a product for sale is to make a promise about its basic performance.

This is consumer capitalism as abusive relationship: Apple fails to make good on its advertised services, so it must be the purchaser's fault for wanting them to do so. Don't be one of these people, if only for your own self-esteem.
posted by game warden to the events rhino at 7:30 AM on July 5, 2010 [7 favorites]


I'm amazed how prevalent this pathetic attitude is. Offering a product for sale is to make a promise about its basic performance.

That promise has been delivered to this person repeatedly now. Their phone makes calls, functioned well, and if they opted to hold onto the phone that was perfect other than yellow spots that fade on their own, they'd have a phone that perfectly matched every other phone out there. They decided to play Phone Roulette again, and ran into an issue, and want to play Phone Roulette once more, and be compensated for it.

Apple is still, despite this, willing to work with this person to satisfy whatever's going on over there by replacing the phone yet again. And probably again and again if need be. It's the purchaser's fault that the purchaser is making it hard on themselves to get what they want. Apple offers multiple options for replacing the device.
posted by Rendus at 7:41 AM on July 5, 2010 [3 favorites]


Second time, a flaw that will go away on it's own occurred, and you decided to replace the phone. On you.

In fact, this is not necessarily the case. I have yellow splotches on my phone which have only gotten worse despite Apple promising that they would disappear within 48 hours (it's been 11 days). Apple promised that I could bring the phone in anytime in the next 12 months and replace it as long as the splotches remain, so I'm just going to wait a couple of months until they have (hopefully) sorted out all the manufacturing problems.
posted by helios at 7:43 AM on July 5, 2010


This may be a v. stupid observation, but has your phone been in a case when you've tried to take pictures? I'm using a flexible 3G case on mine until I can get in to get a 4G case, and my pictures looked like crap, until I realized it was the case giving me a weird flare/glare in my pictures. But I may be one of the few people to be that dumb about the whole thing.
posted by atayah at 7:44 AM on July 5, 2010


Detail everything from 'moment 1' up-to-date in an email.

Send it to the right person.

My pursuit of Vodafone for some really terrible customer service resulted in 6 months free line rental on an 18mth package at $46 per month; but you're never going to get that from tier-one phone support.

Find Steves' email address - or at the very least, the 'upper' complaint management teams address, and make your case, well.

Good luck!
posted by DrtyBlvd at 7:46 AM on July 5, 2010


"I can see the spots, and if it's that big a deal to you we can give you another phone, but we can't guarantee the new phone won't have those spots." doesn't sound like you were "disregarded". It sounds like the genius was managing your expectations, since the yellow spots seem to be a common enough problem. If he had said "Oh yes sir, I'll get you a phone without the spots right away" and then your phone had the spots, you would have been equally pissed.

Apple doesn't OWE you any compensation for having to make the drive - they made many options available to you, as others have mentioned you chose the driving to the store option.

And for those people mentioning that you should get a backup phone... if I'm not mistaken, the iPhone 4 uses the new MicroSim, yes? In which case you'd need an adapter to use that sim in another phone, too.
posted by antifuse at 7:46 AM on July 5, 2010


you chose to purchase a new, unproven model

It should be noted that his wife has an iPhone 4, which has had none of these problems. I'd include that bit of information also, as it hints at what a cluster-fuck this has been for you, the customer.
posted by new brand day at 7:52 AM on July 5, 2010


The tech at the Apple Support line was a jerk, insinuated that I had no money as I was griping about a $30 shipping fee (it wasn't the money, it was the principle), and when I asked to speak to his manager he hung up on me.

I have made at least 100 phone calls to Apple Support over the years, and I've lost my cool on more than one occasion, but I have never been treated with anything other than professionalism and calm.

Also:

Apple
1 Infinite Loop
Cupertino, CA 95014

408.996.1010
posted by cjorgensen at 8:14 AM on July 5, 2010 [1 favorite]


Even if you eventually do get a working phone, you should write a letter (not an email) and send it to the highest-up person in Apple for whom you can get a solid address. Maybe multiple people (but note in the letter that it's been CC'd). In the letter, clearly tell them all the troubles you've had. Don't whine, just lay the facts on the table. Regardless of whether or not it's true, suggest that you will seek out a competitor's phone in the future due to all of the stress you've gone through with this. Someone will "make it right" because this is America, and in America the consumer is king.

I did this a few years ago with a Delta flight that got delayed/canceled/rerouted due to understaffing the flight (so not a weather problem), and even though I finagled first class tickets on my flights home, I got a $400 voucher after I wrote a letter. As long as you approach the problem properly and go through the right channels, you should get compensated.
posted by phunniemee at 8:14 AM on July 5, 2010


FYI: the $30 (actually it's $29) shipping fee for an advance exchange can be avoided by either enrolling in the ApppleCare Protection Program ($69, extends warranty and phone support to 2 years instead of 1yr/90days), or by sending the phone to Apple with a repair ID (you take the phone to a UPS store and give them the repair ID, they handle the rest).
posted by spikeleemajortomdickandharryconnickjrmints at 8:15 AM on July 5, 2010


I agree fundamentally with game warden to the events rhino's point about Apple's responsibility, but I think you also had an obligation: to mitigate your damages and your wasted time. After the first hundred-mile drive, perhaps you should've taken it out of the shrinkwrap and put it through its paces while you were still sitting at the Genius Bar. Next time, check out your merchandise before the long haul home.
posted by thejoshu at 8:24 AM on July 5, 2010 [2 favorites]


I'm amazed how prevalent this pathetic attitude is. Offering a product for sale is to make a promise about its basic performance.

While I agree that offering a product for sale should mean it works, we live in an imperfect world when new products are commonly flawed upon initial release. Acknowledging that and behaving accordingly isn't pathetic; it's pragmatic.

This is consumer capitalism as abusive relationship: Apple fails to make good on its advertised services, so it must be the purchaser's fault for wanting them to do so.

When have they failed to make good? They've exchanged his phone twice, and I have no doubt they'll exchange it a third time. Again, in an ideal world, they would have got this phone right before they released it, but they didn't; you have to deal with that reality instead of getting all worked up and being this unreasonable guy.
posted by MegoSteve at 8:47 AM on July 5, 2010 [2 favorites]


as a retail store manager, i have gotten complaints similar to yours. the problem here lies in two things:
1) it is your choice to shop at a store that is far away from you. i understand the inconvenience that not having a store close can cause, as i used to live 1.5 hours from the nearest big city myself. HOWEVER. you did have other options here. could you not have used the phone for the 7-10 days that it would have taken the replacement to get there? my company (and i'm sure apple as well) cannot compensate for people's drives based on the fact that they choose to shop in a store a few hours away versus online, etc.

2) even as a store manager, i have ABSOLUTELY NO authority to give you any sort of gift card or compensation for your trouble. i don't know what company allows their store managers to do this, though i'm sure there are some. apple managers could have this authority. but, please, if you do go in and ask for compensation, do not get angry if they say no because they can't. if you feel strongly about this, know that you may have to work your way up the chain of command and you STILL might get a no.

while i personally would never ask for compensation in this way because i believe that the drive and everything is your choice (though i can understand why it might feel like it isn't a choice), i WOULD complain about any non-professional attitudes of people that you you talk to about the problem, like the geniuses, etc. that IS something that a manager can impact and can make you feel better about the situation.
posted by itsacover at 8:59 AM on July 5, 2010


The phone tech that hung up on you should definitely be reported. If you don't have his name or other identifying information they should be able to identify him by the time/date of the call.

The reason Apple tech support is so "calm" and professional is because the reps are graded on their calls and whether the problem was successfully resolved. Bad grades can result in all sorts of repercussions for the rep.

I hope you get your problem resolved, but you definitely need to report this rep and outline the whole experience and send it off to TPTB at Apple.
posted by SoftSummerBreeze at 9:28 AM on July 5, 2010


Return the phone for a refund. Get a different phone. Problem solved.
posted by randomstriker at 10:44 AM on July 5, 2010 [2 favorites]


I just saw someone on one of the Mac forums mention they got a year's subscription to MobileMe and a free bumper for their problems a couple of days ago.
posted by Addlepated at 10:46 AM on July 5, 2010


You have two problems here as I see it: you have faulty phones and you are not an effective negotiator.

I learned how important the second issue is through my husband's work as a director and observing how he dealt with others when he had a problem.

Do NOT lose your temper.

Use words like "frustrated" and "disappointed" to describe your experience thus far. These are action words for customer service to step in.

Take down names and numbers every time you deal with someone on the phone or in person. You have much more weight if you say, "When I was on the phone with Roger on 1/1/10, I had a separate issue. If you look at that ticket number (here, I have it for you, it is abcd1234), you'll see that I *again* had to replace my phone..." as opposed to, "This is the third time I've had to talk to you people!"

If you have been a customer for many years, make that point, but not in an aggrieved, I-have-something-coming-to-me fashion, rather it should be, "I've always enjoyed a great relationship with Apple, so I'm sure we can get this resolved if we work on it together."

Know what you want going in. Be polite and humble when you ask for it. Go up the chain if you are not getting satisfaction. One caveat: a gift card is not something I see happening. I feel that it is much more likely you would have had the $30 refunded to you, as the issue was not due to user error, if you had gone with having the phone shipped.

Apple's service to me, personally, has been exemplary. I've had new batteries shipped express overnight without charge and been upgraded to a Macbook Pro from a Macbook on the two occasions in the last several years, simply by calling and calmly explaining the issues.

When you let your emotions come into play, you are cutting yourself off at the knees. No reason to be ashamed, no reason to yell at anyone, just calmly stick to your guns and be reasonable in your expectations.
posted by misha at 10:54 AM on July 5, 2010 [3 favorites]


Return the phone for a refund. Get a different phone. Problem solved.

Do that. On principle. Never buy another Apple product again, on principle.
posted by halogen at 11:21 AM on July 5, 2010 [3 favorites]


I'm really shocked at the "blame the customer" attitude in many of these comments. Based on them, I am writing a letter to Apple detailing all of this and I will ask for a gift card in it...but what I really want is a working phone. I'm typing this from Starbucks in St Louis having exchanged my phone twice more...but the "you should have tested it before you left"...for what? Every time it's been a different problem. Each time I DO test it...for problems I've had. How much testing am I supposed to do? And the yellow-photo problem is specifically a low light situation... I have tested that as best I can in the parking garage, but the thought that I would be able to foresee every problem before ever leaving the store with the phone is ridiculous.

Thank you for the people who posted positive helpful answers even if the answers were "you don't deserve compensation", for that was my question is if I do deserve it or not. For everyone who said it was my fault though, the "blame the victim" mentality reeks of must anti-Apple bias and you're taking it out on me.
posted by arniec at 11:55 AM on July 5, 2010


I am typing my comment on a MacBook Pro. I certainly wouldn't have been typing it on a MacBook Pro if I had been forced to get a replacement even a single time. No anti-Apple bias here, just anti-inferior-quality-control.
posted by halogen at 12:01 PM on July 5, 2010


I would suggest NOT asking for compensation in your letter. Just explain that things suck and why things suck and that you are disappointed and let down by Apple's service and products. You know you're writing the letter because you want compensation...they know you're writing the letter because you want compensation. You don't have to be so obvious about it.

And plus, they might be ready to give you something cool to make up for it, but if you already state that you'll be happy with just a gift card, you might be missing out. You've got to play the game, dude.

I'd be happy to proof your letter for you if you memail it to me. Not to toot my own vuvuzela here, but this is something I just happen to be really good at.
posted by phunniemee at 12:10 PM on July 5, 2010


Hindsight is 20/20, but you could have saved yourself a lot of time and money by paying the $30 fee up front, because now you're into this for $50 in gas and 15 hours of your time.

Well, not necessarily - $30 is the fee for rush-processing a replacement; it doesn't magically prevent him from being rush-processed another dud.  The idea that he somehow brought this upon himself by purchasing a first-release model and having the gall to live in the suburbs is ludicrous, and really a red herring. Having to exchange a product THREE TIMES (and counting) is unacceptable, whether it's a two-hundred dollar gadget you drove 4 hours for, or a $5 trinket from the corner store. Blah, blah, capitalism, whatever. One of the whole points of capitalism is that it supposedly holds companies to a higher standard of behavior to prevent the customer from taking his business elsewhere. 

Arniec: I think you've amply demonstrated to Apple that you're a loyal customer, and I think that's how you should frame it: is this really how Apple treats its most loyal customers? Don't explicitly ask for recompense; unfortunately, that always comes across as shady even when it's well-deserved. Just calmly explain the situation and give them absolutely no reason to dismiss your complaints (e.g., don't be loud or mean). If they're jerks to you, write up the whole story and send it to the Consumerist. This is the exact sort of "buyer beware" type publicity that I'd think any company would want to avoid (although judging by the number of defenders I may be wrong about that.).     
posted by granted at 10:13 PM on July 5, 2010


and Apple should, at the very least, be made to expend the time and effort that it will take to read and respond to your complaint.

'should' is the operative word here. Apple should do alot of things, like make phones that work first time. However, if you're prepared to do all you have done just to get the new iPhone, they have no incentive to do anything. Clearly you will get it anyway, even if they give you nothing.
posted by ryanbryan at 5:44 AM on July 6, 2010


For everyone who said it was my fault though, the "blame the victim" mentality reeks of must anti-Apple bias and you're taking it out on me.

I was actually worried you'd think we were shills for Apple. Seriously--it is NOT your fault that you've gotten shitty phones. That is absolutely Apple's fault. (If a company puts a product on the market, it should stand behind that product, whether or not it's a first generation or whatever.) But that error doesn't mean everything else that's happened to you is also Apple's fault. While it's not your fault that you live two hours from the store, it's also not Apple's fault. (Sometimes it's not anyone's fault, it's just the way life goes.) Lastly, it is NOT Apple's fault that you chose to keep driving back to exchange the phones, instead of mailing them in, paying the $30 fee, and trying to pursue that (legitimate) grievance in all the good ways people are suggesting here. To avoid $30 you didn't want to pay, you spent more than that in gas + your time. You made that choice, for the "principle" of the thing, and you do bear some of the blame for it, "victim" or no.
posted by sallybrown at 9:18 AM on July 6, 2010 [1 favorite]


A final update for those interested--before ever posting this question I had emailed Steve Jobs (it was the first thing I did after Lee disconnected me). That was Tuesday evening. When Saturday came with no reply I had assumed the e-mail ignored probably lost in a flood of e-mails complaining of yellow spots, poor reception, etc.

However I did receive a very polite phone call last night from Apple Executive Relations. The e-mail had been forwarded from Steve's e-mail address to her. She had done her homework and knew of my two more trips to the Apple store. She was relieved to hear I now have a working phone, and gave me her direct contact number in case this one went badly.

In speaking to her I expressed my frustration at having to swap the phone so often and my unhappiness with Lee. But I also went out of my way to say I was very happy with the people I dealt with at the Galleria store, who were always very nice and patient, and that I still like Apple's products, I was just disappointed at having to spend so much of my July 4th weekend driving to and from Apple stores.

She said my concerns were noted and all my information was being passed to the Engineering team so these problems can be researched and corrected (yeah, mine and about a million other people's, I'm sure). She also said my comments about my experience on the phone calls were being noted and will be addressed.

She didn't offer any compensation for my time, and I did not ask what she was going to do to "make it right". Perhaps I should have, but I didn't.

In the end, that one phone call (plus finally having a working phone) placated me. Would I have liked for her to OFFER to help reimburse me some of my gas money with an iTunes gift card? Yes, but I didn't feel comfortable asking.

So I'm still frustrated overall at having to spend so much time/money to get a working iPhone 4, but it seems this saga comes to a close.
posted by arniec at 11:57 AM on July 7, 2010 [2 favorites]


That last update...not so final.

My working phone was working fine...until iOS 4.01 last night. It totally bricked my phone. Unable to return it to any sort of a working status. I spent 30 minutes this morning with a 1st level tech support who then suggested I go to an apple store or do mail replacement. I contacted the Apple exec relations person who I mentioned above and she gave me a senior level tech who walked me through steps for 90 minutes before agreeing with the 1st level tech that I need a new phone. #6.

This time they did offer the advance replacement for me for free (still a $700 hold on my credit card, but that isn't a big deal). The catch--Today is Friday. On Tuesday I'm going to San Diego Comic Con--the whole reason I have the phone with its iMovie and good camera. The earliest I'd get a new phone is Monday, and while it was LIKELY I'd get it on Monday, there were no guarantees (and after 5 bad phones, I don't feel safe that it would even work when it came on Monday).

So I am awaiting a call back from exec relations but they all agree that with my time-sensitive need for a phone I should drive the 4 hour trip. Again.

But when she calls back this time I am going to see if they could issue some sort of iTunes gift card to at least reimburse me for my gas on all these trips. Because this is ridiculous.
posted by arniec at 11:27 AM on July 16, 2010


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