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My Apple Service Experience

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:

ipod_no_wifi.png

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.

repair_status.png

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:

ups_delivery_status.png

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.

Shark Truth

November 19th marked the Launch Event for Shark Truth, a grassroots advocacy campaign dedicated to decreasing the consumption of shark fin soup through education and awareness:

Harry the Shark

Shark Truth is a not-for-profit consumer awareness campaign that seeks to engage consumers in a collaborative discussion to find alternatives to shark fin soup. We are dedicated to promoting awareness around the irreversibly detrimental effects of the shark finning industry, specifically working with (and not against) consumers.

My friend Claudia Li co-founded the effort with Vivian Kwong in the summer of 2009. Along with a great team of volunteers, they have been working hard to make Shark Truth an effective and engaging campaign. The team realized that existing campaigns (such as
WildAid’s Shark Conservation Program
and Sea Shepherd’s Defending Sharks campaign) were not creating a dialogue with the Chinese community about the practice of shark finning. While these campaigns and others have done a great deal to raise the profile of this issue, they have mainly focussed on the supply side of the situation. Shark Truth, by choosing to focus their efforts on the demand side, have a chance to develop awareness amongst the culture and community that constitutes the largest market for shark fin. As Chinese Canadians, the team’s sensitivity to both the cultural and ecological facets of the problem provide them with an opportunity to effect real change. They know that another attack campaign full of images of blood and gore is not going to reach the Chinese community, so they are instead seeking ways to collaborate with the consumers of shark fin soup to find alternatives.

Home Page

As a city, Vancouver represents the largest market for shark fin soup in Canada, and a major proportion of Canada’s Chinese population: 75% of Canadian Chinese live in either Vancouver or Toronto. Shark Truth’s organizers hope to make Vancouver the first step in a broader campaign. They have begun both Personal and Wedding Pledges to “Stop the Soup”, and have provided information on the website and other campaign materials (including Shark Truth info in fortune cookies!) about the unsustainable and inhumane practice of shark-finning.

Twitter Feed

I have been interested in the campaign and their unique approach since I first heard about it. In order to assist, I undertook the development of the Shark Truth website. In collaboration with the team, I designed and implemented a custom look and feel for the website, using WordPress as the CMS, and developed identity materials to match the existing logo. In addition to this role, I advised on web and social media strategy, and consulted on technology selection and maintenance.

Stop the Soup
The campaign is off to a great start. The Launch Event at Wild Rice was sold out, raising over $2000 for the campaign, and featured a presentation by world-renowned marine biodiversity researcher Dr. Nick Dulvy, IUCN Shark Specialist Group Co-Chair. Since then, we’ve had lots of interest from the community, including a pledge to not serve shark’s fin soup at a 1000 person wedding! That’s a lot of sharks who get to keep swimming a little longer.

It’s been a pleasure working with the team, and I fervently hope their passion and perseverance will help to slow and eventually reverse the demand for shark fin. Sustainability requires a thorough reassessment of how we use our planet’s limited resources. Sometimes this means slow changes. In other cases, such as this, change must be rapid and resolved in order to make a difference, else we risk losing one of Earth’s oldest and most beautiful predators, and with them the balanced ecosystems that have sustained our oceans for millenia.