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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