The Outcome of My iPad Mini Apple Support Saga


Just before Christmas, I ranted about the support I was getting from Apple on my iPad Mini WiFi issue when using the phone and their online support systems. I contrasted it with Dan’s experience,  he was seeing a similar issue and had it resolved when he went to his local Apple Store.

My experience at that point was stretched across more than 2.5 weeks and was getting more frustrating by the day; it is too long to repeat here (click link above for the full story), but Dan’s experience is easy to sum up:

Dan’s Apple Store Experience

  • Walked in. Explained iPad mini issue. Explained what I had tried.
  • Told him what the issue is and …
  • Five minutes later I walked out with a new iPad.

So … what has happened to me since? Well … here goes!

– Despite assurances that the notes would make sure my Mini was properly tested, when the box arrived (Christmas Eve), I put in a note detailing the issue and with big letters ‘PLEASE DO NOT RETURN THIS IPAD MINI WITHOUT REPAIRING, IT DOES NOT WORK ON 2.4GHZ WIFI’. I wrapped that around the Mini with the writing on the outside.

– On the 26th I get a notice that it had been received by service. And on the morning of the 27th I get a call from FedEx at 8AM to be expecting the shipment. Then a while later I get the email from Apple. Of course, as I checked the email I see that they did exactly the same thing … returned without doing ANYTHING.

– So … surprise, surprise … when I opened up the box it STILL doesn’t work on 2.4GHz WiFi (but will work on 5GHz).

– So again I call. This time the person sends me to a ‘supervisor’, who assures me that they will do a swap and gives me a specific case # to take to the UPS Store where they will be able to get it shipped out to the correct warehouse and it will be resolved. He gives me the case #, and his name and contact #.

We got over a foot of snow, so it took a bit to get out, but I had to drive my son to a house to do shoveling as part of the local Youth Bureau, and then headed into town to the UPS Store.

You probably know what is coming – when I get there they could not pull up any info on the repair ID, nor by my phone number. And when I checked the email on my iPhone there ws nothing new from Apple Support, meaning that Jason didn’t actually DO ANYTHING! I called from the UPS Store, but naturally got voice mail.

Not surprisingly … the ‘supervisor’ was clueless as it turns out. Apple does NOT have a deal with UPS on handling the Mini, so the person who gave me the info was wrong. Did he call back? No … he just let me go out and find out myself.

So I called again, and this time eventually ended up with a manager, who told me that the UPS Store thing wouldn’t work, but that a box would arrive and then there would be a ‘forced replacement’.

About 10 minutes later HE called ME back and said he discovered that EVERYTHING the supervisor did was wrong … he didn’t actually properly flag for auto-replace, so I would have gone through an identical cycle again! So he had to restart the whole process, meaning I would get TWO ‘coffins’, but that I would then get an auto-replacement and would see that indicated in my support email.

I got the email, saw ‘auto-replace’. Got the box on the 28th and immediately turned it around. Apple got the box on the 31st, and on the 1st I got emails that my Mini would arrive on the 2nd, and it also had the new serial number.

On Wednesday the 2nd, I grabbed the box from FedEx and go home to check it out. As expected, it IMMEDIATELY worked on my WiFi without issue … and has worked perfectly each night and day since.

So …

  • It was NOT my home network.
  • It WAS a hardware issue with the Mini
  • Apple does NOT do proper testing on the Mini to detect what appears to be a fairly common issue.
  • Non-retail customers ARE treated as second-class by support.

This issue took FOUR WEEKS to resolve; it involved FOUR shipments going back & forth, and the ONLY reason it got resolved was that *I* did the troubleshooting that Apple either would not or could not do — on an issue that is apparently not uncommon.

I did a quick check on Apple Customer Support, which has topped the industry year after year, and found this mantra used to train retail employees:

  • Approach customers with a personalized warm welcome
  • Probe politely to understand all the customer’s needs
  • Present a solution for the customer to take home today
  • Listen for and resolve any issues or concerns
  • End with a fond farewell and an invitation to return

The one that strikes me is “Present a solution for the customer to take home today“. Having me get back the exact same iPad Mini which was given minimal (and ineffective) testing without any repair THREE TIMES simply should never have happened. Had the (very polite) Apple support people taken the time to “Listen for and resolve any issues or concerns”, they would have understood the situation, and what had already been done and the certainty that simply returning an unworking device would NOT solve the problem. After the first ’round robin’, the should have simply swapped out the iPad Mini – which is what happened on the fourth go-round, and even then only after having to escalate the issue two levels!

For someone who has been an Apple customer for more than 30 years, this has been a sobering experience … I quite frankly expected much better from them.

Categories: Rants and Raves

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4 replies

  1. Mike. I’m glad it finally got resolved. I do however have to offer one correction. The difference between my experience and yours WAS NOT my being retail and you being over the phone and through mail. The reason for the difference, quite frankly, is the fact that Apple likes me more. :)

    NOT what I would have expected from Apple. Disappointing.

    • “Apple likes me more.”

      Yeah, there is that … :)

      The thing is, throughout my ordeal I never yelled, never raised my voice, never used inappropriate language or insults or otherwise did anything other than try to work with Apple. Admittedly I was considerably frustrated and asked one rep why they had no interest in solving the problem, and when told they DID I asked why they would repeat the same non-working test when it was clear it wouldn’t reveal the issue …

      And I told the manager at the end I was ‘beyond furious’, and he commented that I handled myself well for someone in that state :) He also said that if I wrapped a note around the Mini it would be read … and I asked how he reconciled that with the fact that the in/out time was identical to the other two times without any resolution or even a comment that a proper test had been done … and he had to admit that the evidence seemed to indicate that they HAD simply removed and ignored my note …

      Fun stuff.

  2. I’m in the middle of a customer service nightmare with AT&T UVerse right now (going on 45 days to move my service from one address to another, countless hours on the phone with employees who are either clueless or outright lie – and then tell me I’m rude for calling them on it – lol – not a pretty thing and I haven’t yelled once either!). And similar to your history with Apple, my current experience with AT&T is counter to my long history of experiences with them which makes it even more disappointing, as I’m certain you’ve found your current Apple experience.

    It’s amazing how years of good customer service can be completely undone by one significant crappy experience, isn’t it?