A Form Letter, Apple? C’Mon

Electronics GeekMom Reviews
iPhone 6Plus with a sight bend, causing screen issues.
iPhone 6Plus with a slight bend, causing screen issues.

After a horrible experience with the Vista operating system and then Microsoft’s customer service in failing to admit there was a problem with said operating system, I switched over to Apple products–laptops and phones, primarily.

I bought a Macbook Pro, the then newest version of an iPhone and settled in to be an Apple customer for life. Yes, their products are more expensive. But they also had excellent customer service and (so I thought) superior equipment, which mitigated the cost for me. I’ll happily pay more for products that work the majority of the time and, if they don’t, the company will solve the problem for me. This is one of the reasons I fly Southwest whenever I can over any other airline. Yes, they can have their problems but their customer service is superior to other airlines I’ve dealt with. In other words, if there’s a problem, I trust them to fix it to the best of their ability.

I’d thought this was true for Apple as well but over the past 16 months, I’ve had reason to reconsider my decision.

The problems started in the spring of 2016 when I upgraded my iPhone 5 to an iPhone 6. The phone worked for two days and then stopped working. By that, I mean it would turn on, bluescreen, and turn off. Sprint replaced that phone after two weeks for me. Okay, I thought. Frustrating, especially since I had to go in person to the Sprint store for a fix, but these things happen and it’s fixed.

Until, one month later, the second iPhone 6 bent slightly rendering my volume buttons useless. It bent despite my having immediately placed it inside an expensive case and taken good care of it. I googled the problems with the new 6 models and, sure enough, there was obviously a problem with them bending, though more with the 6 Plus models than the 6 version. But I took my phone to Sprint and they sent me to Apple. My Apple store refused to replace it.

I then went up the chain of Apple customer service and complained. It took another visit to an Apple store and more conversations with Apple customer service for someone to admit that yes, this was a design flaw and should be replaced. Apple gave me a $100 credit at their store for my trouble and apologized. Still, I was frustrated. I shouldn’t have had to argue with Apple about a replacement for a phone with a design flaw that caused it to bend despite being treated with kid gloves.

At that same time  that I upgraded to an iPhone 6, my 17-year-old son upgraded to an iPhone 6plus. That model has had even more problems with bending, so my son was extra careful with his phone after what happened to mine. We kept it in an Otterbox case and treated it well.

But eight months later, it bent as well.

Again, a trip to the Apple store. Again, I was told the “damage” was not under warranty. Again, I was told this was not their problem. This despite a public pledge to replace iPhone 6 Plus models that bent while kept in pockets. Apparently, this one didn’t pass their “Visual Mechanical Inspection.” My son, who is autistic, had had enough with the runaround. We replaced the phone ourselves, at our cost but not with an iPhone. He’s vowed never to have an iPhone again. Not because it broke but because they blamed him for the problem. (And, yes, he’s OCD enough to have been overly careful with it.)

Frustrated, I sat down and wrote Apple a politely worded letter detailing the problems I’d have with the iPhone 6 and 6 Plus, which is nearly an exact match for what I’ve written in this post. It included my son’s refusal to consider ever using an iPhone again, and my unhappiness with their customer service. I received a terse form reply for Apple Customer Service. (I took out the case number they provided me.)

Thank you for contacting us. We welcome your feedback on the experience you had when addressing your son’s damaged iPhone 6 Plus.

Apple strives to provide a positive experience for our customers. I documented your comments in case ##.

You can also submit feedback here: http://www.apple.com/feedback

Please be assured that Apple values the time and consideration that you invested in your email. Thank your for taking the time to share your thoughts with us.

Sincerely,
Apple Customer Care

Did I expect them to offer to replace the 6 Plus? No. But I expected some acknowledgment that this had been a problem with their 6 Plus models, perhaps a suggestion that they would inspect the phone again to determine if a mistake had been made, or, at least,  a pledge from them to do better with their products. Nope, none of that. It’s as close to a kiss-off as a customer service letter can be. It’s not even signed by a person.

This response was the same level of customer service I received way back when with Microsoft over the Vista operating system. And that’s an issue for me with Apple going forward. Why pay $1300 or more for a MacBook model when Apple might just shrug if there’s a problem caused by a design flaw, even if it’s under warranty? Why do that for an iPhone, either? I admit, at least they haven’t exploded on me. But, Samsung is replacing the phones that are prone to explode, free of charge. Bending isn’t as huge a problem as exploding but it still renders the phone inoperable.

So, yes, once my carrier upgrade is available for my iPhone, I’ll be replacing it with one that serves the Google ecosystem instead. And, reluctantly, I’ll be once again looking at a Microsoft operating system for my next laptop, as they seem to have learned their lesson since Vista. Though, if the two-year-old MacBook Air I have now lasts as long as its predecessor, it could be a while. That is, if Apple has maintained it’s quality with that product, unlike with their iPhones.

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6 thoughts on “A Form Letter, Apple? C’Mon

  1. Sorry but things don’t bend by themselves anymore than a glass cup cracks on it’s own. They don’t bend inside of hard cases. They just don’t.

    Have you ever seen somebody get into a fender bender with their car? Even in the smallest of accidents a car can be totaled. Not pretty anymore and not useable. You wouldn’t call that a design flaw. Someone driving made a mistake. Just like you and your son did when you bent your phones, whether or not you noticed.

    You probably get angry when you hear that but you can’t convince me you didn’t accidentally bend it anymore than someone who crashes their car can convince an insurance company that it wasn’t their fault. On top of that – Apple probably offered you a replacement at a reduced cost, right? Not the $650+ you originally paid but something considerably lower. Not unlike an insurance company may require a deductible to replace your car. Cars aren’t free and neither are phones. A reduced cost helps a good bit.

    But if it’s a design flaw it should be covered, right? Other people on the internet had the issue, so it must be a huge issue. Not true. The majority of the world has an internet connection. A large number of people who speak English own iPhones. Out of that large number only the angry people will choose to complain online about a product. So your analysis is based off a tiny sample size of biased, angry people.

    Let’s get a little more scientific. Multiple establishments tested the iPhone 6 and 6 plus ability to bend against many of the other phones out on the market. The iPhone landed towards the top of the list in all of those tests against it’s durability. These aren’t the angry customers (like yourself) who want something fixed/replaced for free. These were reporters, scientists and experts who couldn’t really figure out how people were bending their phones.

    Buying an Android phone and a Windows machine is a totally viable solution at any point. Both companies make nice products. But why don’t you consider a Microsoft phone or google laptop. Wouldn’t that be more cohesive? And, ultimately, I have to wish you good luck. I’m hoping you never have a significant software or hardware issue with your phone made by Samsung, etc. I think you’ll be extremely surprised by what they offer in terms of out of warranty replacements. You may even be appalled. Then I guess you’ll take all that rage and get a Windows phone. You won’t find many apps on that phone. So maybe you switch back to iPhone.

    You may get lucky with your next phone or two. You may get used to the changes as you switch between them. But in 10 years – look back at how many times you’ve been pissed about your phone. Ask yourself – did you cause the issue? Did you get more upset than necessary? You may find that your expectations don’t align with reality.

    Maybe someone will make a perfect phone, sold and serviced by perfect representatives before then. Let us know.

    1. Well put. I owned an iPhone 6 Plus for a year and a 6s Plus for a year and never had issues with either bending. This despite both phones basically living in my back pocket when not in use and me actually trying to bend it during the “bend gate” BS. I have had 2 phones replaced by Apple due to accidental damage and could not have been more happy about the process. Both times I walked about with a new device in less than 10 min. I’m guessing the author did not have AppleCare+? If they did I would find it extremely hard to believe that they had issues getting these devices replaced. Apple doesn’t have perfect customer service. But it is by far some of the best I have come across. That being said, their pricing (new MacBook is a perfect example) needs to change. I was locked in to getting a new MacBook until I saw the price increase for the relatively few additions. I have zero issue paying more for a product that adds significant additional features (I.e. paying $100 more for an iPad Pro with an iPad Pencil) but when you are really just improving features that already existed (entry level 2016 MacBook Pro) it doesn’t warrant a several hundred $$ price increase. The 2016 MBP costs not only more than the MacBook Air, but more than the entry level 2015 13″ MacBook Pro. It’s thinner and faster, but shouldn’t that be expected at this point?

  2. So, now you figure? Didn’t you hear about “You are holding it wrong”? Apple as a company has always been a prick. I am sorry about your loss, but really, we all knew about it years ago.

  3. Interesting, I’ve owned a 6 Plus since it was released and it hasn’t bent on the slightest despite living in my pocket. This is with a stock Apple leather case which I admit is looking slightly the worse for wear.

    I’ve also dropped the poor thing a few times and even had a few screen chips. Twice now Apple have replaced the screen with no problem, no questions, no additional payment so I have to fundamentally disagree with your personal opinion of their customer care. I’ve found it to be nothing short of spectacular.

    But then that’s the advantage of free speech I guess, we’re all allowed our opinion.

  4. Not what I wanted to read right before heading to the Apple Store with a bricked phone, but thanks for the heads up. I have been having sporadic battery issues with my phone for the last year, but because I can’t replicate the problem in the actual store, it’s apparently all in my head. Now it has finally turned itself off and will not turn back on, I’ll let you know how I go at the store.

    It’s a shame. At the risk of sounding all “I remember when”, I DO remember being a customer service monkey myself. And if I had ever been caught doing half the stuff I am victim to myself these days, I would have been turfed on my sorry butt. Good service is worth its weight in gold; Apple has known this for many years. Shame to see it turning on its head.

  5. I guess I’ll just plug Otterbox here. I’ve had iPhones since the 3G, iPads since the original, currently have 3 5s, 2 6+, 2 original iPads, and 2 iPad 2’s in the house and in use in the hands of 11 to 90 year olds, and have had some combination for what, 8 years. Every device has been in an Otterbox Defender case, and I have never had a broken screen, bent case, or malfunctioned unit. Understand my phones have fallen, cart wheeled, been left on the ground in the parking lot, put in back pockets (the most likely use case leading to bending), etc. My only loss was one that fell in the ocean… and I can’t blame the case or the phone on that one.

    I can’t speak to the quality or change in quality of Apple Customer Service because I’ve never had to call them.

    Otterbox Defender rocks! – http://amzn.to/2hHar8S

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