Archive for the ‘Patience’ Category

Service of a Rotten Apple: Disregard that Customers Line Up For

Thursday, January 11th, 2018

Photo: LinkedIn

My service hackles first stood up when a Long Island friend’s iPhone no longer took a charge one Friday. The first appointment she could get at the local Apple service store was the following Wednesday. How can anyone wait that long for the repair of such an essential device as a phone? She was leaving for Europe that Sunday. Did Apple expect her to buy a new phone? She bought no phone and depended on her husband’s.

Entrance at Apple in Grand Central on a glacial, nasty winter day

Keep reading as I am beginning to see an unsavory marketing pattern here. And while a profitable company like Apple, with millions of happy investors, is expected to push consumers to the limit, and it gleefully does, I don’t understand why millions of customers accept paying top dollar while being given so many run-arounds and wasting so very much time to get service. Do most have assistants to do the waiting for them?

So when my iPhone 6 abruptly began running out of a full charge after I’d sent only a few emails and texts—a first—my heart sank. I blamed myself. I dreaded having to change phones.

A few days later I learned that many iPhone owners reported similar phone behavior. Like them, I’d made the mistake of upgrading to a new version of IOS with one click, which seemed to accelerate the demise of what was left of the battery.

By explanation, after the fact and once a grumble began, Apple shared some technical mumbo-jumbo about how batteries work and why what they’d done was supposed to slow the batteries to help their longevity. The real purpose, thought the customers of the older phones badly affected by the so-called upgrade, was to scare us into buying new devices or batteries.

Line to make an appointment wound around a table.

Public outrage leading to bad PR and some class action lawsuits later, Apple apologized and long story short, offered to replace older batteries with a new one at a discount–$29 plus tax instead of $79.

Those who sued in NYC, according to, felt bamboozled into buying new phones and were angry.

I wasn’t cheered by the so-called “largesse” of the $50 discount. When there’s a recall on my car, I pay $0 for the fix. I make an appointment, sit in a comfortable waiting room, take off my coat, sip a cup of coffee and I’m soon done. I’m in relative control of my time.

Turns out the battery replacement procedure was worse than the feeling of manipulation and an expense I was forced into. It involved four trips to Grand Central where the iPhone repair operation nearest my office is located.

  • On Day 1, I had to make an appointment. I had two choices: on another day OR I could expect an email within the next two hours and I’d have 10-15 minutes to get back to the store. The latter option made sense only if I worked at Grand Central. I don’t. And who has the time to hang around a place for two hours?
  • My appointment fell on the day of the snowstorm. I arrived early figuring I’d slip into a cancellation—everyone told me not to go out in the storm. I’m greeted with, “we’re closing in 15 minutes.” Seems they let “everyone know,” but they didn’t contact me. “Wait at that table.”  I do. I wait and wait. Nobody came to give my phone a diagnostic test that was a required part of the process. I was rescued by an Apple newbie who felt sorry for me—he was helping someone else at the table. Nobody else ever came. I had another choice to make: A) Leave my phone overnight or B) Drop it off the next morning. I chose option B.
  • I thought I’d be in and out but no, I waited 20 minutes for someone to take my phone. “Come back after 12:15,” he said. I did. The wait for my phone this visit was the time to look through the Business & Finance Section of The Wall Street Journal.

I have to give it to the Apple employees I encountered. All but two were gracious and tried to do their jobs. My grievances are not with them.

New Yorkers are used to lines and crowds because there are so many of us but we’re also impatient. Does Apple spray the place with a soporific? Nobody seemed upset. Could I be the only one who feels this way? Hundreds of people were testing the phones in one area; others buying parts in another. Don’t these people have other places to go? How does this company get away with it? Do folks get the same runaround with Samsung, LG and Sony?


Prospective customers at Apple in Grand Central on a frigid winter day.

Service of Computer and Software Support

Thursday, March 5th, 2015

software 1

Frank Paine, a retired Federal Reserve Examiner and international commercial banking officer, has previously written guest posts for this blog. He is more than comfortable around computers so when he proposed this topic, and wrote the following, I jumped at the chance to publish it and look forward to your answers to his questions.

Frank wrote:

laptopI just bought a new laptop, a Dell equipped with Windows 8.1.  While I haven’t had any problems with the machine, I have had many problems with the software I bought with it. 

Dealing with Dell’s software download department has been a nightmare, with several problems still pending.  I’ve been getting answers to questions I didn’t ask, lengthy prescriptions for what I should do to make something work using a browser I don’t use (and which I learned isn’t compatible with the software I had ordered), and a version of Internet Explorer (which I hate) that doesn’t work because of an extension that was added that I didn’t want.  Oh, and also, I received a bunch of software that I didn’t order and didn’t want and more…Very frustrating!

Help buttonI sent a couple of e-mails to Dell’s Customer Support on the specific instructions of Technical Support.  Both received automated replies saying that I could expect a reply within 24-48 hours (usually), although they gave themselves some wiggle room by saying that depending on the nature of the inquiry, the response might take longer.  96 hours later, there has been no response. 

I’m not expecting a clear answer, but I’ve had times (not yet with Dell) when software vendors never did reply.  What has your experience been? When should I stop being patient? How long is it appropriate to wait before following up?

As I read Frank’s story I imagined myself in a swivet with a looming deadline, programs I needed that weren’t working and an attitude from those I was counting on to fix the glitches of “you’ll hear back from us when you hear back.” My suggestion is to use the resource––that DManzaluni recommended in a recent comment to get Dell’s phone number [or any other corporate consumer service number] and call right away.  And you?


Service of Snack Toys for Time-Pressed Kids: Scrabble, Monopoly, Rubik’s Cube

Thursday, August 15th, 2013

kids playing games 5 vintage

I clearly remember game nights with prizes–small favors–that my sister produced for the family. I don’t recall whether we played Parcheesi, canasta or gin rummy, but I loved the time together.

I thought of those events while reading Ann Zimmerman’s article, “Toys for Tight Schedules Why Toy Makers Are Creating Shorter-Playing Toys—and One Monopoly Version Even Jettisoned the Jail,” in The Wall Street Journal. She says that the industry calls the category “snack toys.”

Timer 2One manufacturer noted that essential information parents want to see on packaging, along with the age and number of players, is how long it takes to play the game.

Some examples of snack toys that join quick versions of Uno, Yahtzee, Boggle and Rubik’s Cubes include Scrabble Flash which takes 2+ minutes to play and Monopoly Empire. The idea with Monopoly Empire is to accumulate big brands and it takes 30 minutes. Zimmerman wrote: “There is no longer a ‘jail’ for players to languish in while waiting for a lucky roll.” She quoted Jonathan Berkowitz, vice president of marketing at Hasbro that produces the game:  “Parents and children tell us they want a quick in-and-out, frictionless gaming experience.”

Watching TV and TabletZimmerman reported: “A Kaiser Family Foundation study found that children between the ages of 8 and 18 are filling their free time with more screen-based media consumption, from digital games to TV and video viewing. Between 2004 and 2009, young people increased the amount of media they consumed by more than one hour and a half to almost 7½ a day. The number does not include multi-tasking—children simultaneously watching TV and playing digital games on their smartphone, for example.”

About the traditional games played with magnets she quoted a parent who claimed they built motor skills. But Sandy Schefkind asserted the same about games on tablets. Schefkind, the pediatric coordinator for the American Occupational Therapy Association added that “traditional toys add ‘the social-interactive and social-exchange piece that the tablet doesn’t give.'”

I got lost in the next paragraph because the quote seemed to contradict the statistic that Zimmerman attributed to Matel surveys. They “show that more than 60% of parents would like their children to spend more time with traditional toys. ‘There is tension there,’ says Michael Shore, vice president of global consumer insights at the company, ‘because young parents are spending more of their time on social media, modeling that behavior.'”

That’s why I suspect parents are the primary impetus for the portable, fast versions of games that Zimmerman says are also easier to clean up. [What’s to clean up with a game on a tablet?] Time for play of any kind is not top-of-mind for a child who devotes from 1.5 to 7.5 hours a day on “screen-based media consumption.”

kids playing games monopolyZimmerman admitted “as toy makers strive to make games shorter, the opportunity to develop strategic thinking skills may be lost.”

Can’t blame manufacturers for selling what people want to buy but do you think parents realize that snack toys lose benefits of traditional games such as learning to play face-to-face with others and honing strategic thinking? What about discovering patience? How many challenges are solved at work in from two to 30 minutes? Whom can we depend on in future to perfect the stick-to-it-disposition required to perform cancer research, write thoughtful plays, movie scripts and books to reach a reliable diagnosis when symptoms and tests are inconclusive, to repair or create a mosaic, or to accomplish what you do for a living?

Scientific Research

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