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

January 11th, 2018

Categories: Marketing, Passivity, Patience, Technology

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.

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8 Responses to “Service of a Rotten Apple: Disregard that Customers Line Up For”

  1. Lucan Said:

    This is appalling, not just because a utility such as Apple, which provides a supposedly essential public service, wireless telephone, to the public, is allowed to get away with cheating consumers, but also because the public, like a bunch of sheep allow the (expletive)s to cheat them. Where has our old “Don’t tread on me!” spirit gone!

    The only way to stop oppressors like Apple is to boycott them. If you must have one of these damned portable telephones, buy a competitor’s instead of theirs.

    In fairness, I will disclose that I DETEST all telephones because thanks to dyslexia and a deficiency in my hand-eye motor control it often takes me as long as ten minutes to dial a telephone correctly, especially a portable telephone. (Meanwhile, I have bothered all sorts of strangers both here and even abroad with my misdialing.)

    Furthermore, as a general comment, I think we have far too much talking, and not enough thinking, going on as it is. We need more doing and less talking.

  2. Jeanne Byington Said:


    Try a smartphone: You might like the fact that you no longer have to dial: If a number is in your address book or if someone has called you they will appear on your phone….you need only hit that number and voila. Amazing. So your Dyslexia is no longer a good excuse.

    As for doing vs. talking, I would posit that most people do very little talking on their phones: They text, email, post on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn and find out where they are going etc. As a distraction, it also keeps some folks from doing what they should…which is your point. As Hank Goldman has often noted in comments here, people bang into you on the street they are so involved with reading or writing on their phones.

  3. Lucrezia Said:

    For forgotten reasons, I never trusted Apple, let alone bought any of its products. Perhaps when a product morphs into a “must have” item, the manufacturer cuts corners, rather than enhance the product. The disgruntled clientele gets angry and sues. Winners: Lawyers!

  4. Jeanne Byington Said:


    Law suits enrich lawyers, not a customer who can’t show what intrinsic loss they’ve incurred. Time and frustration don’t count. David and Goliath is a lovely story but it doesn’t work on these shores. Even those who fell for the ruse and spent $1,000 for a new phone when they didn’t have to and are suing as a group will spend more time and money and against a behemoth like Apple, will get nowhere but a trip to the drugstore to buy headache remedies. This administration is all for big business…this isn’t a good time for the small fry.

  5. Edward Baecher Said:

    Edward on Facebook: Apple is a great product and is in desperate need of competition, until then all we can do is bow our heads.

  6. Jeanne Byington Said:


    Passivity is not a family trait.

  7. Lisa C Hickman Said:

    I couldn’t agree more! I love the products but . . . I went in our Apple store in Memphis–actually Germantown–and of course it was packed, per usual. All I needed was a new mouse! Found one on a shelf, walked all around the store trying to find help and a location to pay for it. I finally got someone’s attention and said, “Where would I do something as gauche as to pay for this?” Transaction finally occurred and from underneath one of the tables a receipt eventually was printed. Of course they also couldn’t imagine why I would want a print receipt.

  8. Jeanne Byington Said:


    I was hoping that this approach was a NYC metro area one. I am even more baffled to know that it isn’t exclusive here. Edward has the answer: Competition.

    I filled out a “customer satisfaction” form Apple sent and most of the potential answers/grades didn’t apply to my experience. At the end, I gave a digest size list of my grumps spelled out above in the post. I expected to hear back but no….I thought they might at least explain why a car recall costs $0 and I had to pay $30+ [tax included] to rescue my perfectly good phone with a battery.

    Mention “Blackberry” and folks roll their eyes. But I could change my own battery when I had one, and the battery was inexpensive besides. The phone was not temperamental either. I have friends who still have theirs and buy new ones.

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