There is great customer service — the kind you hear about with Amazon, Zappos, Apple, Southwest and many others. There’s mediocre service, which you get with most retailers. And then there’s downright awful I-can’t-believe-they-are-still-in-business customer service. This time, again, with Apple.
To be fair, I’m dealing with a “Premium” Apple Reseller, not Apple themselves. However as the only Premium Reseller with dedicated stores in the country, they are as close as it gets.
So what happened? I ordered a new Retina Macbook Pro. Here’s the timeline of events:
June 11 — Apple announces the Retina Macbook Pro.
June 13 — I write to my reseller telling I want to buy the one with 16GB of RAM. They reply that i might get it in 3 weeks, but didn’t promise anything.
June 14 — The order is submitted and I transfer half of the money. Not a small sum, mind you. Still, all seems good
June 21 — I write asking if there are updates. No reply
July 2 — Asking again. Reply: “there are some small delays, we’ll probably find out the delivery dates on July 4th.”
July 4 — Asking if there is news. No reply
July 5 — Asking again. No reply
July 9 — Asking once more. Reply: “I am on vacation until the 7th of August”. Huh? Until now I had been writing directly to the person who responded to my first mail. Let’s write to the general information mail she provided. Reply: “we sent an inquiry about your order and will let you know when we hear anything”. Um. Okay, good.
July 11 — I ask if they might have any approximate information, as I’ll be traveling to Estonia soon, but waiting for any info from them before booking the flights. No reply. By now 5 weeks have passed.
July 16 — I write again. No reply
July 17 — Once more. Reply: “there was huge demand and there are delays of 1–3 weeks”. Ok, fine.
July 24 — Hi, any news? Also, can you UPS it to Belgium, if I send the courier? No reply.
July 31 — Hello? No reply. There are already Retina Macs on display in the stores in Tallinn.
August 2 — Um, hi? No reply
August 3 (today) — What. The. Fuck?
It’s been close to two months now. Out of the 16 mails I sent, only 6 have gotten replies. I realize they might not know the state of the orders. After all, the shipments come first to a reseller Lithuania (or Finland?). However how hard can it be to just write “we don’t know, sorry”?
I don’t remember having such shitty customer service with any company ever. The worst part? This is not an isolated incident!
- I wanted to buy an iPad. I went to the store pictured above and asked if they have the model I wanted in stock. They said no, it’s not in any of the stores, but asked for my phone number in case it arrived. I then went to the main store to ask about the Macbook I ordered and they had the specific iPad stocked there! To be fair, the lady there was very friendly and helpful, both with the iPad and telling me about the state of the laptop. One month later I still haven’t gotten a call from them about having the iPad.
- One person I know broke their iPod headphones. When he went to ask for a replacement they basically kicked him out. Only when he demanded a signed letter saying “Dear Apple. We, as a Premium Reseller, refuse to replace this guy’s headphones”, he got new ones.
- Another friend took her iPod for repairs. They said it’ll take 2 weeks. When she called 6 weeks later they couldn’t even find it. Every now and then they called asking if they should repair it and 6 months later she still doesn’t know if it’s fixed. She got a new iPod in the mean while.
- Her friend also took an iPod there. After 3–4 months she just asked it back as it was hopeless.
- A fried has similar trouble with their warranty service. Sometimes the computers stay there for weeks without any communication.
- He also waited 3 months to get an iMac in 2009. All this time there was a severe lack of communication and even though he ordered early, other people were getting theirs all the time. He was still waiting.
This friend thinks my Macbook is probably sold to someone else as a friend of his already almost bought a 16GB Macbook Pro Retina (with the universal keyboard, like I ordered) straight from the store! It was there when my exact same model hadn’t even arrived yet!
Compared to what I hear about the Real Apple Stores, this is just unacceptable. Apple, if you’re reading this, please do something! If you’re not Apple, please share, like or upvote (on Hacker News) this so that it gets noticed.
Anyone else having similar trouble with this or other resellers? Please comment below!
Update: 1.5h after posting this I get a call from Kärt from IM Arvutid (the woman I talked to when buying the iPad). She was very sorry about the whole mess and promised to take over the issue personally. The e-mail address I had been writing to (after the contact person went on holiday) was that of just one store and there nobody replied to me nor forwarded the mails to anyone who would. She also explained how they get the shipments from both Finland and Lithuania and one (without my order) arrived earlier than the other. She was very helpful and friendly. If only all their employees would be like that. Someone give her a raise :-).
However, even as the situation with my order is looking better, I still can’t ignore all the negative feedback I’ve heard from friends about their support and warranty departments. Plus, it’s just very unprofessional not to answer e-mails, whatever the reason may be. If you’re in the board or management of IM arvutid and reading this, please do something serious to fix your communication, support and warranty channels! Be fanatical with every part of your service. In the age of Facebook you can’t afford not to. Thank you for listening!
Update 2: removed some excess boldness from the text.
Update 3: to all the fanboys crying in the comments: chill out! I wrote this post to 1) Give the reseller some public shame (done), 2) Try to solve my problem faster than normally (done) and 3) Hope this public shame will get them to change their working ways and become a better company (pending). If you’re crying over how I’m blaming Apple for what a completely different company did, tough it out. I’m not blaming them. If you’re crying over semantics and missing the main point, learn to read.
Update 4: I got an official apology from the reseller acknowledging the mistakes and promising to fix the situation. Nice! I hope they learned something and will be a better company :-).
Update 5: about a week later when driving on small French country roads I got a call that went like this: “Hi, I’m calling you about the e-mail you sent to Tim Cook, do you have a moment to talk?”
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