I just had the most inexcusably bad experience with Apple Customer Support. So shockingly bad that I can’t even believe it was Apple on the other end of the line.
Let me preface my story by saying that I’ve been a devoted Apple customer since I was in the 5th grade — 17 years ago. In that time I have owned seven Macs (each purchased at full price, brand new and souped up). I wrote a regular column for MacHome Journal when I was in the 8th grade. I wrote a monthly column for MacAddict Magazine when I was in college. I attended MacWorld Expo in NYC in 2000 and 2001 and have watched the WWDC keynote live every year that it’s been aired.
I’ve probably spent upwards of $25,000 with Apple over my lifetime. I think that should make me a pretty damn valuable customer of theirs. But the way I was treated on the phone today proves that I’m not.
This morning I asked the Twitterverse how I could most easily extract an audio file from an mp4 video that I have. The most popular answer was to use QuickTime Pro. Since I don’t already have it installed on my computer, I went to the Apple Store to purchase it. Yes, I could have asked a friend for a registration code or stolen it from somewhere online. But I didn’t. I wanted to pay for it because I love Apple.
As part of the purchase process, I logged into the Apple Store using my Apple ID, which I’ve had for many, many years. It’s my old mac.com email address, which I haven’t logged into in ages and never migrated over to MobileMe (me.com). Mac.com switched over to MobileMe in July 2008
When I submitted my order for QuickTime Pro and the purchase was complete, I was notified that my Registration Code would be emailed to my mac.com email address. Apparently I had missed the option to change this email address to my current one, or it wasn’t there in the first place.
Apple Store Order Details
The Registration Code is not displayed on the Order Details. While I am able to edit my email address on this page, there is no button to resend the Registration Code to that email. The only way to retrieve it would be to get into my mac.com email account. As you can see above, it clearly states in blue that it was “Electronically Delivered.”
I went to Me.com and attempted to log in using my Apple ID (my mac.com email address) and password. I got an error message that reads: “Incorrect member name or password.” While the credentials allowed me to log into the Apple Store, they didn’t allow me to log into Me.com so I was stuck.
I had to run to a meeting this morning so as soon as I got the chance this afternoon, I called Apple Customer Support at 1-800-676-2775. This was the number that is provided at the bottom of my order details.
Here is a detailed account of what took place on that 48-minute and 37-second call.
- Customer Support answered my call. I explained the situation above and they transferred me to Quicktime Technical Support.
- I explained the situation again and they transferred me to Sales.
- I explained the situation again and they transferred me to Online Sales Support.
- The gentleman in Online Sales Support seemed to truly understand the situation and wanted to help, and put me on hold while he looked for more information. While on hold, my call was somehow transferred to Customer Support.
- I explained to Customer Support that my call had accidentally just been transferred and that I had been on hold waiting for the person in Online Sales Support who was helping me. He asked for my case number, but I hadn’t been given one. I told him that the previous rep had asked for my Mac’s serial number (despite the problem having nothing to do with my Mac). Maybe the incident had been documented on my account. It hadn’t.
- I explained the situation again to the gentleman in Customer Support. This was now the fourth time. He told me that only Sales could get me the Registration Code. He put me on hold to transfer me. I checked the call duration on my phone: 21 minutes so far.
- He came back at 28 minutes. He introduced me to a lady from Customer Support for Online Purchases, and said she would take care of me.
- I explained the situation again to the lady in Customer Support for Online Purchases. She asked for my order number, my billing address, and my full credit card number. Then she put me on hold because she doesn’t “have access to that information.” 33 minutes.
- At 36 minutes she came back on the line to let me know that she’s still “trying to locate that key.” She told me that she found a page on the Apple Support website — the customer-facing Apple Support website — that explains how to retrieve a lost QuickTime Pro key: “You can login to the Apple Store with the Apple ID you used to purchase the key and retrieve a copy of the key.” I explained to her again that the Registration Code was not displayed anywhere on my Order Details. I offered to take a screenshot and send it to her. She put me on hold again.
- At 42 minutes she came back to tell me that she’s waiting for someone to get back to her who knows where to find the key. I asked her if I was the first person to ever call asking for a Registration Code for a purchase made online. I asked if no one had ever called before because they lost their Registration Code. I asked her why there wasn’t a standard process flow for easily helping someone to retrieve their Registration Code, either by resending it via email or simply telling it to them over the phone. Her only answer: “I don’t have access to that information.”
- At 45 minutes she got the response from the person she had contacted: It takes 24 hours to generate a Registration Code. This hadn’t been indicated anywhere in the purchase flow, the order confirmation, or anywhere else on the site. I explained this to her. She repeated that it takes 24 hours to generate a Registration Code.
- At 48 minutes and 37 seconds, I hung up.
The guys who were sitting around me at New Work City were as shocked as I was at what had just transpired. Mark Burstiner, who used to work at an Apple store, came over to my desk and told me that I should be to log into Me.com using my mac.com email address. He watched me do it. I saw the error. Then he said that I should go through the Forgot Password flow, so I did. I accurately answered the security questions and I changed the password. Then I went back to the Me.com homepage and tried to log in again. I got the same “Incorrect member name or password” error message. Even he was stunned.
Twelve hours after I purchased QuickTime Pro, I’m still unable to use it. Had I been able to walk into an Apple store and buy it, it would have taken me less time. But the Apple stores don’t even carry it anymore.
I needed to get something done quickly this morning, and my network recommended QuickTime Pro. But Apple has made it impossible for me to get my work done. Had I seen a notice that it takes 24 hours to receive a Registration Code for online purchases, I wouldn’t have bought it. I would have found an alternate solution or asked a friend who already has it to help me do this small task. But Apple doesn’t have the notice displayed anywhere. Instead they led me to believe I could have it instantly.
I’m disappointed in their failure to properly set my expectations, and I’m outraged by their inability to ameliorate the situation. There was no apology. No remorse. No recourse. It was one of the worst customer service fiascoes I’ve ever experienced. And it was with the last company I would have ever expected it from.
Apple has lost my trust. They wouldn’t reciprocate the devotion I’ve given them for 17 years. I don’t know what else to say. Today is a sad day.
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