A Form Letter, Apple? C’Mon

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.

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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