Monday, January 12, 2009

iPhone - shattered screens and shattered illusions

I dropped my iPhone on Friday. Face down from pocket height to pavement. I don't know if the chill air made it more fragile, but the screen shattered.

It was still working. Just didn't look very nice or likely to last too long in that condition.

So I rang O2. Who didn't know who did repairs. Suggested I tried rivals Carphone Warehouse.

Actually O2 does have an exchange plan.  £156 and your phone has to be sent back to apple which will, only upon receipt, supply another. But the on-the-phone 02 people didn't know that.

So I rang Apple. They told me they didn't do repairs. (image courtesy)

They could do an exchange. And they would make an appointment for me with a Genius (member of staff) at my nearest Apple Store in Cambridge.

They made it for 3:15pm that day. It takes me some time to get into traffic-choked Cambridge. Even using the park and ride.

I had hoped to be working on a consulting brief that Friday afternoon. But staying connected is key for me. Needs must.

So, making the best of it, I trundled off to Cambridge with 4-year-old daughter in tow. She likes a ride on a double-decker.

And we arrive on time. And we sit down for our appointment. And just as the centralised apple care team had told us when making the appointment, there was no replacement screen available. Only an exchange could solve this customer's problem. But.


They didn't have any in stock.

Let me describe a simple logic flow here.

Has iphone got shattered screen?

Is only resolution of this a replacement phone?

Has apple store got that phone available to conduct said exchange?

Should you waste an afternoon of your customer's limited time sending him into town on a Friday afternoon with zero possibility of a positive outcome?
Can you guess the right answer?

Apple couldn't.

So, there's a customer service issue here. And I didn't half take up some Genius time explaining that in store.

And my annoyance at my wasted time left me asking a range of other questions I really think apple should have a stab at answering:

How much does a screen really cost? Given they break at the drop of a phone (my wife dropped her Nokia yesterday- zero damage) why aren't Apple making cheap and quick repairs available?

Why do you think mobile phones are the width they are? It's because it is the ideal fit for the average human hand (Nokia's interaction designers have known this for a long time). The iphone's extra few millimetres of width make for a great screen but an inherently more droppable design.

Yes apple, I am holding you partially to blame for all those cracked screens. We haven't all just got clumsy. I've owned mobile phones since the mid 90s - dozens. And I've never broken a single one.

And what about this pricing? £200 for a replacement. Hang on a mo. That's what I paid for my brand new one on contract in the first place. I'm still on that O2 contract.

Yet the replacement phone is made of recycled parts (in a new case). And you get no periferals, no charger, no earphones.

I'm all for secondhand recycling, cutting down on waste - but why do you get to keep all the cash saved apple?

The apple store rang me on Saturday to tell me they did now have a phone for me to go back into Cambridge to pay them £200 for (and they get to keep my cracked one - to recycle and charge someone else £200 for. WTF?).

Over a barrel,  I went to get it.

Apple care were meant to have rung me at just after noon to explain how they would resolve and recompense for my wasted time.

By 3pm they hadn't called. I had to call them as I dashed for the apple store to make my 4:15pm Saturday appointment.

Poor. You will hear more. Just another day in my life with an iphone.

BTW: My PC was running the wrong time when I restored the iphone from itunes. Which meant to get the right time on my phone I had to reset the computer's time, restart it, restart itunes and then restore the iphone to factory settings and then finally restore all the content and contacts etc. To adjust the time. Ouch.

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  1. This happened to my daughter 2 months before the G3 was to come out. Rather than replace the old phone we just stuck one of those plastic sheets over the broken screen. It worked fine for almost three months. The sheet solved the problem with glass splinters in your finger when dragging. You might also want to move some icons around of favorite applications to an unbroken part of the screen.

  2. Well Apple has brought down its prices but its not only a question of a company but a matter to look upon as why Apple has slashed its prices. I have my views on

  3. Well if I dropped my TV on the floor, i'd have to pay for it in full price, it's not covered by a warranty. You should be happy they offer you a replacement at the subsidised price. Seems more like a case of sour grapes here. Sorry.

  4. I had a similar issue, I dropped my iPhone and now what ever circuit is behind the volume down button gets stuck if tapped the wrong way and then I have to fidget frantically to get it unstuck and the volume up. I took it in to the Apple store a few months ago to see if they could fix it and the "Genius" told me that they considered the iPhone "a single component" so they could not go in a fix the stuck button, I would have to replace the entire phone at full charge. Rather than argue with Genius, I left. Verizon would fix my phone or find me a reduced replacement (they gave me one for free).

    Last week my Mother was looking to buy a laptop and knew I used a Mac, but I told her to buy a Dell. I was in line and bought the iPhone the first day it came out at the super high price, they lost a customer who was that excited about their products and for what? $200 dollars? They've lost all my and my family's future purchases which would have been well in excess of that.

    To anonymous, TV manufacturers rarely pride themselves on good, understanding service. When one gets a clue and realizes that the monetary benefit of loyalty on future product purchases will far out weigh the cost of replacement(which is cheap considering where they produce them), that company will become the TV category leader.

  5. Hey anonymous, read again. There's no subsidised price here. And a TV isn't intended to fit in the hand - eminently less dropable.
    My main beef is the poorly connected customer service - which ends up hitting the customer for half a day. Easily fixed too.

  6. I have to say, my boyfriend had a broken microphone on his iphone and they replaced it no problem, he even asked them to just send his off to be fixed and they said no. He had excellent service and came away very happy.
    I don't think you can expect Apple to pay for something like a cracked screen through your error. I chose the iphone fully aware that I'm clumsy and have dropped a Nokia down the toilet and a Motorola in a cup of tea, for that reason I take out insurance for anything not covered by a warranty. I've dropped my iphone and do have a tiny crack but I was drunk so can't blame Apple, it's a risk I take. Apple seem to have the same policy as most companies, I used to work in retail so I know.
    I do agree with you David when you say they shouldn't have sent you to the store if a replacement wasn't in stock. They obviously need some stock tracking in place.
    Also, don't set your time through your PC, just do it through settings. It took me a minute to change it and as you know David, I'm not the most tech savvy person in the world.

  7. David, be insistent. They'll give you the subsidized price. I know that first hand.

  8. Davidcushman1/12/2009 10:15 pm

    Sarah it's the timezone setting that needed changing, to London. I'm not expecting them to pay for my error. I am expecting lower cost of repair and more connected customer service.

  9. I dropped mine last Thursday and smashed the screen. I had one of those protective films on it, so the glass held together and I could carry on using it. Fortunately, I chose the £8/month insurance option on my contract, so I rang up and they couriered a new phone out to me the next day. It still had to pay the £25 excess, but that seems reasonable.

    Needless to say, my new iPhone now has a protective case...

  10. By the way, what service providers "Comment as:" pop-up below?


The rate of change is so rapid it's difficult for one person to keep up to speed. Let's pool our thoughts, share our reactions and, who knows, even reach some shared conclusions worth arriving at?