It’s bad enough that I have to cope with an undefined illness that causes me extreme pain daily. However, when I pay hundreds of dollars for a new phone manufactured by a company worth more money than I can even imagine exists; it fails ‘out-of-the-box’ and they want to replace it with a refurbished phone, which they refer to as a “service phone”, it’s a bit more than I can bear.
It took months for me to decide whether to upgrade from my fully functioning iPhone 4, which never presented a single issue in the four years I owned it, to an iPhone 6, iPhone 6 Plus, iPhone 6s, or iPhone 6s Plus. Making the decision wasn’t hard because of any vastly unique differences in features between each phone model. It was hard because of what I need the phone for now, which is phone calls, taking pictures, and whatever features distract me from my pain and how long I would probably wait before upgrading again – I no longer work so I don’t necessarily need the highest level of functionality. I finally chose the iPhone 6s with the highest level of memory available so I won’t have to worry about storage, while still keeping moderately current in the coming years, on what I believed would be a phone as reliable as my old iPhone 4. Well, it didn’t turn out that way.
Shortly after purchasing my iPhone 6s at the end of June, I started to notice some functionality issues. The main thing, which at first I considered a minor glitch would happen while writing messages with the phone’s native messaging app. Unfortunately, that glitch turned into a bigger problem and started affecting other messaging apps. Because it’s a brand new phone, still under warranty, I contacted my service provider’s technical support. When I explained the issue, they walked me through some general troubleshooting steps, but soon realized that it was a product issue that had to be resolved by the manufacturer. They gave me the Apple Support contact information for my country and started me on what I assumed would be an uneventful manufacturer technical support process. However, if you’ve ever had a technical issue with any of your personal electronic devices, you know that there is no such thing as ‘an uneventful manufacturer technical support process’.
I had two telephone support calls with Apple Support that did not help to resolve my issue, which meant I had to make an appointment to see a support representative at my local Apple Store’s ‘Genius Bar’, which according to Apple is “[t]he best place to get support for Apple products.” After my phone was put through some diagnostic tests the support representative decided that the issue was not software related and that my phone needed to be replaced because my ‘glitch’ was definitely a hardware problem. He told me that my ‘new phone’ should arrive in the store within five to seven business days, and that I would receive an email to let me know when it arrived. Today took me beyond the five to seven business-day window and since I still had not received a follow-up email telling me I could pick up the replacement phone, I decided to call the Apple Store.
When I called the store, I asked a question that had been in the back of my mind since last week. Because it struck me as odd that I wasn’t given a new phone right there in the store I had to ask: Was my brand new, shiny, Space Gray, iPhone 6s being replaced by another brand new, shiny, Space Gray, iPhone 6s; or was I to get a refurbished phone? When I asked my question, the store representative responded by proudly telling me that I would receive a ‘service phone’. What’s a ‘service phone’ I asked? She told me “it’s not an ‘out-of-the-box’ phone. It’s a phone that has had parts replaced but it’s just as good as a new phone made by Apple.” I asked her if she understood the meaning of the word ‘semantics’? She said she did. I then told her that I had no interest in receiving a refurbished phone for the brand new ‘out-of-the-box’ phone I had recently purchased. She responded by telling me that’s the policy of the company. I told her that the service representative I met with when I brought my phone to the store never mentioned that I would not receive a brand new phone to replace the one with the ‘glitch’ for which I recently paid hundreds of dollars.
Shockingly, she responded with a question about whether I still wanted her to hold the phone for me. Meaning, would I prefer to keep the phone that didn’t work properly. I immediately asked to speak to a manager. She returned to the phone after a few minutes to tell me that there was no manager “immediately available” to speak with me, and asked if I would prefer to come in to the store to speak with one. I told her that if I came in to the store to speak with a manager it would not be pretty, so my preference was to have one call me as soon as possible. She took my details and I made it clear that I would be widely sharing this undisclosed policy of replacing defective ‘out-of-the-box’ phones with a ‘service phone’. That seemed to shake her confidence that an Apple ‘service phone’ might not be “just as good as a new phone.”
I’m still waiting for a call from an Apple manager. I’m angry about this. I’m angry that Apple, a company that prides itself on producing the “most advanced” products and providing top of the line support, would have this policy that is equivalent to pulling a fast one on their customers.
U2 – Volcano (Songs of Innocence)