Posts Tagged ‘Apple’

Service of What a Difference One Person Can Make

Thursday, September 29th, 2022

If you’ve become dependent on your smartphone, as I am, should it crash, you panic.

I made the wrong decision when this happened to me, bought a new phone from untrained, irresponsible employees at a reputable company–Verizon Wireless–and was saved by a young man at Apple. He stepped out of the routine–he could have palmed me off to someone else, making me wait, but he sensed my distress and sprang into action.

As Paul Harvey used to say, and now the rest of the story.

AJ Rosario at the Grand Central Terminal Apple store rescued me last week. I thought that Verizon Wireless had sold me a damaged iPhone 13. He assessed my mood and quickly put an end to the drama.

Verizon staff did not know how to download my apps and programs from the cloud, which was clear after two days, and its staff washed its hands of the lifeless device they had sold me by ignoring me. Fortunately, the Apple store is in the same building. Once I realized I was persona non grata, simply warming a seat, I dashed to the Apple store.

AJ was at the top of the stairs crowded with people, the first employee I saw. He was as kind, understanding and reassuring as he was expert. He whisked me to a table and rolled up his sleeves. Quickly my thousands of contacts appeared in my address book as did my emails and texts and eventually the apps–and my sanity returned too. The new phone came to life in his hands.

As AJ worked on my iPhone I texted a friend from my iPad. I told her that a guardian angel at Apple was helping me. I told AJ what I’d just written. He whispered that he’s known by AJ at work but his name is Angel–“and don’t tell anyone.”

Do you share my anxiety when purchasing new electronic devices because like me you’re at the mercy of people who know their way around them–or maybe they don’t? Have you had exceptional service–good and bad–of late?


Image by Stefan Kuhn from Pixabay

Service of When a Company Listens to its Employees–or Not

Monday, May 24th, 2021

Image by Couleur from Pixabay

I knew a successful stockbroker who traveled the country at a time in which we manufactured a lot. He’d visit a corporation to speak with the employees on the line. He wasn’t interested in the boilerplate management wanted to share.

Today, employees voice their opinions of management’s decisions–some say even more than before.

Jeffrey A. Trachtenberg and Emily Glazer described a recent to and fro in their Wall Street Journal article “Inside the Simon & Schuster Blowup Over Its Mike Pence Book Deal.”

The article’s subhead reads: “Petition demanded publisher drop potential blockbuster, saying it betrayed company’s promise to oppose bigotry, while CEO defended commitment to broad range of views ” They reported that 14 percent of the staff–200–signed a petition. “While the majority of employees didn’t sign the petition,” wrote Trachtenberg and Glazer, “it continues drawing external support and now has more than 5,000 external signatories.”

They wrote: “The Pence conflict stands out because the demand struck at the heart of the publisher’s business. Book companies, which have long prized their willingness to publish a wide range of voices, in contrast to the silos of cable news, say they need blockbuster books of all stripes to carry the rest of their titles.”

In addition, they reported that Jonathan Karp, president and CEO, “said one reason Simon & Schuster is comfortable publishing Mr. Pence is that the former vice president refused to take an action to overturn the election.” He told staffers in an online gathering “there wouldn’t be any discriminatory content in Mr. Pence’s book.”

“In January,” wrote the reporters, “the company canceled the publication of a book by Sen. Hawley, citing his role in challenging the presidential election results on Jan. 6, when rioters stormed the U.S. Capitol.” Quoting Karp this was because “his actions ‘led to a dangerous threat to our democracy.’ He said the senator’s role in that day’s events ‘brought widespread disapproval and outrage to him and would have redounded to us.’”

Image by Natalia Ovcharenko from Pixabay

The reporters shared other examples referring to a pause in political contributions by Microsoft through 2022 to legislators who opposed certification of the electoral college, a move resulting from an employee’s appeal.

They mentioned that “Similar pressures [to address employee demands] have ricocheted across the business world,” mentioning  Apple, Delta Air Lines and Google. They didn’t specify the dynamics but in a Google search I found that:

  • Apple bowed to employee pressure to rescind its job offer to the author of a memoir in which he wrote disparaging things about women.
  • According to Shirin Ghaffary in vox.com, Google agreed to “scrap forced arbitration in individual cases of sexual harassment or assault after 20,000 Google workers staged a walkout demanding changes to how it treats employees. The walkout was prompted by a New York Times article that revealed Google had given a senior executive, Andy Rubin, a $90 million exit package even after it found he had been credibly accused of sexual harassment…..Employees who prefer to arbitrate privately will still have that option.”
  • Delta replaced uniforms for 60,000 employees because some claimed the originals made them sick.
  • On the other hand, CEO Jamie Dimon suggested that any of his employees who pushed him to restrict doing business with the military could leave JPMorgan Chase, Trachtenberg and Glazer reported.

Should corporations act on what employees request? Have you changed an employer or corporation’s mind about a major decision or can you name other examples where this happened?

Image by Couleur from Pixabay

Service of Status Symbols: Really?

Monday, December 16th, 2019

Photo: marketwatch.com

I once cut up a platinum colored credit card that came in the mail because I didn’t want to pay a premium. The standard one from this company was dark blue. I called and asked for a blue one and was told “Didn’t you read the note we sent in May?” It was November. “We aren’t charging extra for platinum ones anymore.” In the day, a platinum card meant something special to some people–but not to me. The company sent me a new card.

Status symbols don’t impress me but apparently metal credit cards should. “Customers typically can’t ask their bank to swap out their plastic cards, but at least 20 types of credit cards in the U.S. contain metal, including offerings from JPMorgan Chase & Co., Citigroup Inc., and Wells Fargo & Co., wrote Michael Bucher in The Wall Street Journal.

Photo: businessinsider.com

“Like other luxuries once restricted to the wealthy—cellphones, private airport lounges and French handbags—metal credit cards have trickled down the income stream.” A trade magazine Bucher quoted estimates that by 2022 the number of metal cards will quadruple from the 32 million there are worldwide today.

It’s funny that heavier cards appeal to the public according to Citi when I keep trying to carry around less weight. “American Express Co. introduced its black card, named Centurion, in 1999. The titanium card still is issued only by invitation. Customers pay a $10,000 initiation fee and $5,000 annually.” What a waste of money! If you never heard of the Centurion–they didn’t advertise–it may be because you missed it in James Bond flicks, “Entourage” on HBO and in Kanye West songs.

Marriott customers complained when its card went from metal to plastic. [Imagine the savings for the lighter card in postage alone!]

Photo: wallethub.com

Not only is the card heavier, it requires special care. Apple advises customers to protect its titanium card from pocket change or keys that could harm it. “The Apple guide instructs cardholders to clean the card with rubbing alcohol.”

Bucher wrote about a supermarket employee who has handled the metal AmEx cards of affluent shoppers.  Capital One replaced her plastic card with one in metal.  “I opened it up and I was like, ’Whoa.’ It really did make me feel important instantly.”

There are tangible benefits: titanium ones are handy to scrape ice off a windshield or to tighten the screws on a drawer’s loose handle though if you need to destroy one, it’s nigh impossible reported Bucher.

What status symbols impress you? Do you have any metal credit cards? Do they give you bragging rights?

Photo: mercurynews.com

Service of Upgrades that Are and Aren’t

Monday, October 29th, 2018

Photo: pixabay

Shiny Apple

Some upgrades are amazing. Apple gave my iPhone 6 a new lease on life with a recent upgrade that allows it to act pretty much like one of its pricey new phones. I read that this was the latest marketing strategy for the company that formerly encouraged customers to upgrade frequently.

iPhone 6. Photo: gadgets.ndtv.com

Even so, hearing the word “upgrade” these days sends shivers my way and, in my experience, for good reason.

No Service Self Service

Have you tried the new USPS self service mailing machines? They don’t work. I don’t mean they are complicated—they literally don’t function and the old ones worked like a charm.

I tried to use several at the Grand Central post office on different days and at a satellite office with no employees. The former wouldn’t respond to light or heavy finger touches by me and countless others who ended up behind me on line for a clerk; the scale didn’t work in the latter which was problematic because I had a package to mail.

Exploding Devices

Last week almost 3,000 new body cam devices were pulled from use by the NYC police department. Why? One exploded.

Out of Order Train App & Info Man

Photo: play.google.com

The Metro-North app. “TrainTime” has issues. I couldn’t link from the TrainTime app to the specifics about substitute busses for trains I usually take so I stopped in at Grand Central Station’s customer service desk. The link was dead last Friday. The attendant explained that Metro-North needs to upgrade the app. He also misinformed me about the bus situation. Fortunately, another staffer set him—and me—straight. His excuse: “I just got to the desk.”

Not My Car

Photo: gm.com

General Motors emailed to tell me that my 2016 Chevrolet has a soft tire and to bring the car in for service. I knew this had to do with the 2016 we turned in for a 2018 earlier this year because that car always had tire issues. So I informed the dealership, from which we’ve bought and leased cars for 20 years, that GM needs to update its records. When we first dealt with the dealership our salesman took care of everything and there was never a hiccup. Since then it has upgraded with specialists in various areas of the business. This is the second such glitch we’ve encountered since we leased the 2018 model so the specialists aren’t clicking our info in all the right places.

Does the word “upgrade” excite you or make you anxious? Was it always thus? Have you encountered either super or dismal results from a recent upgrade?

Photo: siteuptime.com

Service of Too Big and Too Powerful

Thursday, March 29th, 2018

In my line of work, I’m thrilled by the stories I bring to media that they embrace. I’m critical of some I read, see or hear when I think of a few appropriate leads I’ve proposed that were rejected by key players. The most glaring example of “how did this get past the editor/producer?” is the constant coverage by legitimate media that gave credibility to the shenanigans of the current chief of state when he started his campaign.

Photo: boldomatic.com

But PR, with its constraints, is the game I’m in and when I hit pay dirt I still get a thrill; when I don’t I try harder.

Richard Whitman’s commentary on Mediapost.com struck a nerve because he wrote about the advertising world that unlike PR pays for its communications and if what it sells is legitimate, gets in. The commentary dealt with an uncooperative gatekeeper setting up a roadblock for dissemination of essential information that could save young lives.

In “Cancer Awareness Campaign Supported by Google, But Apple Won’t Play Ball,” he wrote about an advertising campaign for the Testicular Cancer Awareness Foundation to “raise money and awareness to fight the disease via a set of testicle emojis that consumers can download for $3.99.”

Photo: emel.com

Whitman reports the foundation’s findings: There’s a 95 percent survival rate when the disease is detected early. Also, it is the leading cancer for boys/men 15 to 24.

The ad agency, Oberland, prepared the sticker packs to launch with April, Testicular Cancer Awareness Month. Oberland reported that Apple’s reason for declining was: “Your sticker pack is not in compliance with the App Store Review guidelines.” Whitman commented: “Whatever that means.”

Photo: emojiisland.com

He wrote: “Oberland appealed, even sharing a note from the founder of the Testicular Cancer Awareness Foundation — Kim Jones — which included a personal story of the passing of her son Jordan from the disease at the tragically early age of 22. But the appeal was denied.”

He concluded: “And Apple seems to be going out of its way to prevent that message from being heard by more people than it otherwise might. That’s a head scratcher.  What gives, Apple?”

Photo: psychmechanics.com

I once reported to an editor who would wrinkle her nose, hand copy back to me and say, “I don’t like it.” I’d ask what she didn’t like—the topic? the headline? the lead? It was my first magazine job and I was flummoxed when her only response was the look of disgust. Apple acted just the same. Someone could have said to Oberland, “this is what you must do for the app to be accepted.” Nobody did.

Advertising is a different game than PR. It’s more costly and those doing it have control of the message and where/when it plays. Or do they these days—when the gatekeeper to a crucial target audience is a giant corporation that carries a lot of weight? Is this a healthy precedent?

Photo: everydayinterviewtips.com

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 theverge.com, 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.

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