I’ve complained about Apple in the past, but the truth is I use their products every day, and I continue to do so because in most cases they meet my needs better and more enjoyably than anything else available on the market. This past week, I had a customer service experience with Apple that exceeded my expectations so dramatically that I’ve decided it needs to be shared.
About two weeks ago, I turned on my iPod Touch (1G), which I’ve used daily for three years, and found it wouldn’t connect to my wireless network. When I went to the Settings panel, I got this No Wi-Fi message:
I quickly found several others with the problem. However, none of their suggested fixes worked for me. I also noticed, as indicated in the forums, that with this problem came a simultaneous drastic reduction in battery life. Even when not in use, my iPod was dying in just a few hours.
After attempting the 5 R’s without success, I eventually decided it was time to try getting in touch with Apple. I found their Out-of-warranty Battery Replacement program, and decided it fit the bill. For $89 CAD, Apple appeared to be offering a new or refurbished iPod Touch to replace my broken unit. I skeptically filled out the forms, and with not a little hesitation packaged up my iPod and sent it off into the bowels of the postal system. At this point I half-expected to never see my iPod again, let alone get a working one in return.
To my surprise, a week and a half after putting my unit in the mail, I got a barely used working replacement delivered to my door. The back is still mirror-shiny (unlike my incredibly scuffed one), and other than coming out-of-package, is indiscernible from a new iPod Touch of the same generation.
Why is this so amazing? The transparency and responsiveness of the process really impressed me. Upon opening the claim, I was immediately given a repair status URL where I could track its progress. As you can see, I requested my service on the 15th. Apple diagnosed the issue, decided on a replacement, and shipped it within 24 hours of receiving it. They then gave me the tracking number of the UPS delivery, slated for the 21st: 6 days after I sent it. The only problem with this incredible efficiency was that I had anticipated a 2-3 week turnaround and had submitted the repair with a shipping address in Ontario, where I am traveling for the month of July. Given that they had turned it around in less than a week, this presented a problem. I emailed Apple to see if I could update the address. Again, they responded in less than 12 hours, this time with an actual person notifying me that they had updated UPS with the details and I should expect my shipment within the week. Sure enough, the UPS tracking information was updated shortly in their system, and I tracked it from there to my door in Vancouver. After a quick restore of my data, I now have a working, refreshed iPod in my possession! Check out the crazy list of locations where it was shipped or scanned by UPS:
First off, that an incredibly large corporation offers a reasonably priced out-of-warranty replacement service is excellent: $89 + tax + shipping to replace a $459 device three years after purchase. Second, they turned it around in less than a week (plus the added time for the address change). Third, I was well-informed and had an open channel of communication with said corporate giant throughout the process. This makes me feel really good about Apple, especially when most interactions with corporate entities (ie. insurance companies, telecomms, auto makers) leave me feeling ripped off, powerless, and angry. It would have been easier for Apple to not offer the service, decline repair, or charge far more in the hopes I would just upgrade. Instead, they offer a humane, environmentally responsible (assuming they don’t just trash the old one), and efficient service to their customers.
So, thanks Apple, for putting as much effort and thought into your customer service and repair program as you do into your products. Upon such things is loyalty built.