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Apple’s International Obfuscation

Many are the joys of life in New Zealand, but frustrations occasionally arise; among them is an absence of Apple retail stores. Authorised resellers abound, but Apple itself has only made it as far as Australia, and so my options for repair of my Apple kit are limited. Recently, my iPhone 4S has been draining its battery more quickly than seems reasonable, but apart from the usual software tweaks (turning off Bluetooth, reducing the frequency of Mail checks, disabling unnecessary location services, shutting down unnecessary background notifications, and so on), there wasn’t much I could do.

So on a recent trip back to Manchester, UK, I took the opportunity to bring my iPhone 4S in to Arndale Centre’s Apple Store. The Genius who looked at it told me that my battery usage was, as I had suspected, excessive, but also said that the problem, according to his diagnostic software, lay not in the battery, which was behaving itself. According to the work authorisation he completed, “behaviour scan indicates that there is no issue with battery but looking at the iPhone diags it appears the phone is draining the battery too quickly.” His proposed solution: “Replacing in warranty for possible component issues with the phone (not the battery itself).”

Excellent, I thought — a quick switch-out of old for new, and when I get home to New Zealand, I’ll restore my new iPhone from an iTunes backup and all will be well. The Genius started tapping away at his laptop, scowled, and disappeared into the back — never a good sign. Ten minutes later, he came back to the Genius Bar and explained that, while he would very much like to be able to give me a new iPhone, he couldn’t — he had to replace like with like, and he couldn’t replace a Kiwi iPhone with an English one. “But they’re the same thing, surely,” I protested. “No,” he replied, “they have different antennae.”

Now it was my turn to scowl. He explained to me that Apple sells iPhones in three different regions — the United States is in one region, the UK is in a second, and New Zealand a third. “Really,” I said, “what could be different?” When I moved to New Zealand from the United States in 2009, I brought my iPhone 3G with me, and it worked just fine; I gather it’s still working fine for the mate I sold it to when I upgraded to a 3GS. My wife took her New Zealand-bought 3GS to the States and used it without any problems, and our daughter, similarly, has used her iPhone 4 in both countries. On the way from New Zealand to England, I had layovers in Australia and Singapore, and my iPhone 4S, bought in New Zealand, worked as well in those countries as it did in both New Zealand and the UK.

“What could possibly be so different that a straight swap isn’t possible?” I asked. “Well,” he replied, “there are different kinds of networks.” “Yes,” I said, “I know, and all of these markets use GSM phones — such as the iPhone 4S.” “Ah,” came his reply, “but there’s also CDMA.”

I sighed; inwardly I wept a little. Knowing when to give in, I asked him to send me the work authorisation by email, which he did — he also helpfully printed me a copy. I could have stood and argued further, but I could see he had no part number available on his MacBook’s database for a foreign iPhone, and so I simply wasn’t getting a new one today. Besides, my brother was waiting outside to take me out for a curry. “You could have out-geeked them,” he remarked later as I ate my chicken korma; indeed, I thought.

So the next afternoon I spent some time — an hour, almost — on the phone with Apple support. I dialed a toll-free New Zealand number, and found myself speaking to a customer support rep with a distinctly Australian accent. I explained the problem to him, and he told me there wouldn’t be a problem. Either I could send Apple my iPhone, and they would replace it, or I could choose the Express option — they would send me an iPhone and a box in which I could return my old one. “That sounds good,” I said, “let’s do that.”

But there was, of course, a catch. There always is, isn’t there? In order to use the Express option, Apple would have to put a hold on my credit card. For the full purchase price of a new iPhone — NZ$1199. “No,” I said, “that’s not going to work. I would just like a new iPhone sent to me, without having to surrender my current iPhone first.”

I was put through to Matt. Matt, like most call-centre workers, has no surname. All I know is that he was the senior advisor at Apple’s call centre in Brisbane, Australia. I explained to him that I was unwilling to surrender well over a thousand dollars to Apple (yes, I know, it’s only a hold, but it’s a thousand dollars that I can’t access while the hold is there; from my end there’s no practical or functional difference, and for a teacher like me, that’s a significant chunk of change to have tied up). According to Matt, if Apple simply sent out a replacement iPhone without requiring a $1200 bond, the customer would have no incentive to return the other iPhone. Aside from the fact that one of them is broken, which is why it’s being replaced in the first place, I pointed out that this shows a complete, and disappointing, lack of trust in customers. “People,” I was told, “aren’t working off trust in business any more.” (Incidentally, when I mentioned for the fifth time that I would be writing an article about my experience, Matt stressed that he wasn’t speaking for Apple at this point.)

I’m old enough to know that not everyone is as honest as I am. I’m not so naive as to imagine that nobody would ever take advantage of this kind of opportunity, but, as I pointed out to Matt the Senior Advisor, this was a very one-sided requirement — if I were to send my phone to Apple and then have them send me a replacement, there would be no comparable burden placed on Apple. I, apparently, would have to work off trust. Frankly, I was not happy — rightly or wrongly, I expect better from Apple — but at this point I realised that I would not be getting any kind of satisfaction from Matt on this score, I decided to change tack, and this is where the fun really began.

Since I had a senior advisor on the line, I thought I would try to extract a little more technical information regarding localised iPhones. The problem, I was told, was that there were hardware issues. Knowing a handwave when I hear one — I’m a high-school physics teacher, for heaven’s sake — I wasn’t going to let this pass. Really, I asked, what kind of hardware differences? Matt reiterated the Manchester Genius’s line that Apple sells iPhones in three different regions, the details of which were not forthcoming, and each had its own requirements. I pressed for examples. China was offered as an example; the Chinese government require Wi-Fi to be disabled, apparently, so they can control what Web sites their people visit.

I understand that China is a special case in this discussion; the civil servants of the People’s Republic are even bigger control freaks than Apple. But this still didn’t explain why I couldn’t be issued with a replacement, in Manchester, for my antipodean phone. “Well,” Matt said, “sometimes phones need special software to be installed on their hardware.” I pointed out that I can handle big words like “firmware.” Matt then explained that, for example, India requires that FaceTime be disabled. Fascinating, I thought, but this can be dealt with, and presumably is, through firmware changes. I mentioned that when I bought my iPhone 3GS in New Zealand and first activated it, one of the steps in the activation process reported by iTunes was “Updating carrier settings;” in that case, MMS messaging was being enabled (if memory serves, AT&T only supported SMS texts at the time) while visual voicemail was being disabled (Vodafone NZ still doesn’t support it, a massive disappointment). This was all handled through firmware — one model of iPhone, clearly, was being shipped to all markets, and then being fine-tuned to suit the needs, and weaknesses, of each carrier.

(In the interests of accuracy, I decided to confirm Matt’s statement about FaceTime in India. His grasp of the situation was a little weak; the India section of Apple’s Web site touts FaceTime as one of the standout features of the iPhone 4S. To be fair, FaceTime is in fact unavailable in Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, and for a time was unavailable in Egypt, Jordan, and Qatar.)

Matt had yet to give me a compelling reason for differences in hardware between my two home countries. I asked again about the different antennae, and was told that my iPhone 4S might have a different antenna to enable it to handle 4G networks. At this point I sat up and paid very, very close attention — was I about to score a massive scoop? Was Matt about to leak to me news that my iPhone 4S could handle true 4G networking (whatever that might be)? I asked him for more details of this massive development, but this was clearly nothing but another attempt to handwave me away. So I pressed again. “What,” I asked Matt, “was the difference in hardware between an iPhone 4S bought in Auckland and one sold in Manchester?” “There are differences,” he replied. “What are they?” I asked. “Could you please give me a single example of a hardware — not a firmware, not a “software built into hardware,” but a hardware — difference between a British iPhone and a Kiwi iPhone?”

None, unsurprisingly, was forthcoming. Apple’s Web sites for the three countries in question — their American, British and New Zealand sites — all offer identical tech specs for the iPhone 4S. It is, all three claim, a “World Phone” supporting UMTS/HSDPA/HSUPA (850, 900, 1900, 2100 MHz); GSM/EDGE (850, 900, 1800, 1900 MHz); and CDMA EV-DO Rev. A (800, 1900 MHz). Same frequencies, same technologies. I’m not the world’s leading authority on cellular, but there seems to be no meaningful difference. I’m willing — in fact at this point I’d be happy — to be corrected on this, but as far as I can tell, the only difference between the various devices is the part number.

I’ve used Apple equipment since the late 1980s — possibly since before the Manchester Genius and Matt were even born. I’ve written about Apple for several years, I’ve been an Apple-certified consultant, I’ve even worked for Apple. But this phone call with Matt the Senior Advisor was one of the most frustrating Apple experiences I’ve ever had. The lack of trust shown by Apple’s support team for a territory that doesn’t have a local Apple retail presence is disappointing, but, I suppose, is little more than a sign of the times. More annoying, though, was Apple’s intransigent part-numbering system that prevented the Manchester Genius from replacing like with like when only part numbers differed.

But what bothers me most about this entire interaction has been the dismissive, faintly patronising attempts by everyone I’ve spoken with to blind me with science. Even after I made it quite abundantly clear that I am quite reasonably techno-literate, I still encountered the hand-wavy “Oh, it’s technical, sonny” answers that added up to little more than, “Look, we’re not going to tell you anything.” Or, if I were to be charitable, I could assume simply that neither Manchester Genius nor Matt the Senior Advisor really knew what they were talking about in the slightest, and were just grasping at jargon straws to get me off the line rather than admitting their ignorance.

Either way, Apple, I expect better.


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Comments about Apple’s International Obfuscation
(Comments are closed.)

David Morrison  2012-06-28 18:49
Now this is interesting. My iPhone 4 was bought in Australia. While travelling in Britain, I dropped it and the wifi stopped working very well - maybe the antenna was damaged.

I went into the Apple Store in Bath and they confirmed the wifi problem. They said they can repair some things in the store (camera, glass, something else), but not antennas. They offered me a replacement for £119. This was odd, the genius said, because he had never been able to replace an Australian phone before.

So I now have a UK iPhone 4. Will it work as well in Australia as my original phone?

But that is not the end of the story. The replacement phone has some problems, but intermittent ones so hard to pin down. If I take it into an Australian Apple Store when I get home, will they be able to replace this "UK iPhone"?
Kevan Pegley  2012-06-28 18:48
Steve, if I had had the time, or the verbal skills, to have written such an article several times over the last few years, I would have done. Every new development in your story made me wince in pained recognition.

I have a MacBook Pro which just shuts down randomly when it's not connected to a power supply, and wakes when you lift it up. Being intermittent problems Apple, through their various agencies, have failed to find them, and dispute that they in fact exist. (My wife now uses the MacBook, and tries never to unplug it or move it.)

I have an iPod Touch that doesn't hold charge. Never has. Except that sometimes it does. Completely random. I've done everything: reinstalled the operating system, removed all apps, turned off all network connections, disabled all notifications. All to no avail. Apple claim there's nothing wrong with it.

Both of these extended incidents -- more ways of life than incidents, they went on so long before I gave up -- led me feeling let down, and yes, patronized. Like you I'm pretty techno-literate, and honest. I'm left with two pieces of Apple hardware that are dysfunctional almost to the point of unusability. And it makes me so angry that Apple make such superior products and related ecosystems that switching to alternative suppliers is, for me at least, a non-starter as a solution to my frustration.

So I live with it. But Apple, as Steve writes, I expect better.
Alan Forkosh  An apple icon for a TidBITS Supporter 2012-06-28 20:11
I don't have a problem with Apple putting a hold on a credit card until they receive the damaged phone. While you may know yourself to be an honest and trustworthy person, why should an impersonal company that has had very little interaction with you have such trust?

I've had that arrangement in the past on several defective item exchanges (not with Apple, but with other vendors) and never had a problem with it. Of course I cannot remember ever coming close to my credit limit on any of my credit cards, so the fact that a portion of that limit is temporarily denied to me is of little concern.

My main concern in this type of transaction would be to ask about insurance for shipping. If not included, I would pay the small fee for it so there would be no issue of having the hold become an actual debit.
I had a similar problem with my iPhone. Having bought it from Vodaphone, I called them and asked for a replacement. They sent a new iPhone along with a return box for me to send my original iPhone back to them. (This was not for a non-functional iPhone. It was an iPhone that had some trouble switching back and forth between normal and silent mode. So not a useless iPhone.) I didn't think about it at the time, but I'm quite pleased that Vodaphone trusted me to return the phone that wasn't working correctly. I did, of course.
Rick Lobrecht  2012-06-29 09:35
Your relationship with Vodaphone is a bit different than Steve's relationship with Apple. You have an ongoing monthly contract with Vodaphone.

I've also found it to be standard practice to have a hold placed on a credit card when cross shipping defective hardware. I realize that it may be a financial burden to you, and that sucks, but it is normal.

I also understand the antennae thing. It may not even be physical, and more about licensing with each government for use on the airwaves.
Steve McCabe  2012-06-29 01:41
You're right — Apple don't know they can trust me. But then surely the inverse is also true — I don't know I can trust Apple, especially since, as Matt The Senior Advisor pointed out, people aren't working on trust any more. But Apple expect me to trust them to honour their warranty and send me a replacement phone if I send them mine, without any kind of collateral or assurance.

My issue isn't so much that it's an unfair constraint, but rather that it's an entirely one-sided lack of trust.

As for credit limits, it's good that you've never reached your limits. I'm a teacher. Shall I go and eat some cake now?
Steve, I'm kind of with you on this. The rules should be symmetrical. If you send your phone to them first, then they should at least offer to credit the value of your phone to your a/c until you get the new one, when you could be charged again.
Whether the transaction costs would be worth it all is a whole 'nother issue.
Nevertheless being sat on by big companies (even one as nice as Apple) isn't pleasant. And it happens all too often here in New Zealand. The truth is we're considered a market irritant rather than one to be nurtured and supported.
Adam Engst  An apple icon for a TidBITS Staffer 2012-07-02 17:33
You know, perhaps I don't entirely understand how the credit card holds work, but why couldn't a company record the customer's credit card number, with the understanding that it would be charged if the broken device wasn't returned, but without actually placing a hold that would prevent the credit balance from being used? That would seem to address the concern on both sides.
Steve McCabe  2012-07-02 17:36
I'm assuming that the issue would lie with credit limits. If I only have a dollar of available credit remaining on my account, and then decline to return my old, unwanted iPhone to Apple (which, obviously, I would....), then Apple would attempt to put a charge of, say, a thousand dollars on my account, but my bank would refuse the charge. "Card declined."
The other possible issue is that after someone gives them the credit card number and then gets the new phone they could cancel the card and not send in the old phone. Probably less likely then the credit limit issue, but still a possible additional reason.
deltaman  2012-07-02 21:25
Once a customer has a working replacement in-hand, THEIR ptoblem is solved, so the threat of financial sanction is a tremendous aid in getting even the most-honest folks to return defective goods promptly, rather than scenarios like: "Soon as I can get around to it" or "Did you send a label yet?" "Sorry, the dog ate it" or "Gosh,my spouse saw it was broken & tossed it into the trash" - etc...
Steve McCabe  2012-07-02 21:40
Once a company — Apple, say — have the purchase price in hand, THEIR problem is solved.

My frustration comes from the fact that I have to inconvenience myself non-trivially in order for Apple to feel obliged to fulfill their warranty obligations.

Where's the threat of sanction at the other end? I send my flawed iPhone to Brisbane, I wait, I wait...."Did you send my new phone yet?" "Oh, arm, yeah...right, I'll get it out to you tomorrow..."

A *very* clear assumption is made — they'd never do this, but I absolutely would. Apple — corporate entity — is utterly beyond any suggestion of wrongdoing; I — human with conscience and honesty — can't be trusted in the slightest.
Steve ... I'm another Apple stalwart that agrees with you. Owning Apple products (and being an Apple Shareholder) since the first Macs hit the street back in 1984, Apple apparently has lost its way as to its customer base. Like Nordstroms, Apple should understand that the majority of its customers are reputable and that's why they love Apple products ... treating its customers as KING is imperative. Treating them as chattel will only drive them away. Besides ... they could still "brick" your phone if you tried to abscond with it!
deltaman  2012-07-02 21:13
Adam, without actually encumbering (reserving) the amount of an authorized charge, there's no assurance that the money will still be available at some future point, since the cardholder can continue charging up the their specified limit. (It's a pleasure to encounter such an honest person, that this hadn't occurred to you!)

Even so, many vendors - Apple (USA) included - actually do what you suggested, but take considerable risks for do so...
Kevin McKenzie  2012-06-28 21:25
The folks behind the TriggerTrap have discovered that there are a large number of different variety of iPhones, having to do with volume limitations, antenna laws, and so on. And I really can't fault Apple for not sending you a replacement beforehand without a credit card deposit on file; every hardware company I'm aware of that offers cross-shipping and the like requires this. So while I can undersant all of this was inconvenient for you, I don't think Apple did anything wrong.
Steve McCabe  2012-06-29 01:43
Thank you, Kevin. You're the first person actually to give me something resembling hard facts and details about this. I'll certainly look a little deeper into what you've said — shame nobody at Apple could give me similar information about an Apple product.

And no, Apple did nothing *wrong.* I am simply old-fashioned enough to be disappointed that trust and faith appear to be little more than fond but distant memories.
I was also gonna suggest that it was tied to antenna laws/certifications and other such law/certification issues. Keep in mind that in the US cell phones (and I believe WiFi devices) have to be tested and "approved" by the FCC. I would think that other countries have similar laws/requirements. Thus, my guess is that Apple has a certain number of "base" designs (from your article it seems like maybe three or more) that then work with different countries. If so, while a US phone will work in NZ, it might not meet antenna laws/certifications for sale in the country.

And I suspect both of the Apple support folks had no clue why it really was and were tossing out BS in the hopes that you would buy it. In my experience, this is common for ANY technical support. While Apple tends to have better support, they are still gonna do some of the same things that others do. Heck, I consider myself lucky if they can help me with my problem so not knowing a rather technical detail ain't too bad.
Michael Schmid  2012-06-28 22:51
Very unfortunate.
I bought my iPhone 4 in Germany, I live in Indonesia and the phone died on me in Singapore. It was swapped for a replacement without hassle and even all my data were transferred to the new phone.
Rounak  2012-06-29 01:14
FaceTime works perfectly in India :)
This one is great for Apple haters.

Kind of funny that the writer didn't trust Apple but he expected Apple to trust him.

One more thing it is time for bloggers to drop the meme that they have every Apple product at home and love using them when they write an article about apple.
Kevan Pegley  2012-07-13 12:09
Err, Adam, that's not a meme. That's long established behaviour.

Apple users, without any exception that I've ever come across, love using Apple products. Now I wonder why that is. Are Apple users predisposed to evangelism? Are they particularly susceptible to a mysterious "Apple is great" meme? Or are they struck by the superiority of Apple products? I know where my money is.
deltaman  2012-07-02 20:32
The regionalized differences between cellphones are primarily due to required regulatory approvals (certifications) for both the cellular and WiFi functions. In addition, WiFi bands differ somewhat between regions, and the best performance is obtained by tweaking the antenna(s) to the mid-point of bands utilized in the intended region. Although phones may perform acceptably well when used outside of their target regions, it would be illegal for providers to furnish them, so a UK store would have no reason for stocking phones intended for the NZ market. It's not merely a matter of keeping a drawer-full of all the required stickers; each phone has a traceable certificate of compliance on file by its manufacturer.

As far as the whine about a credit card 'hold' to ensure return of a defective product -- this is a widely-accepted practice, and Apple doesn't actually process a pre-authorized charge unless the defective product isn't received back by the agreed deadline.
Hate to tell you but virtually NO company is going to "trust" you while also expecting you to completely trust them. Apple is no different in that regard...especially since they are such a HUGE company that will likely large numbers of phones, computers, iPads, etc being returned on any given day.

While I agree it sucks that they won't trust you while expecting you to trust them, it is what it is. Life ain't fair! :-)
Peter Breis  2012-07-02 21:38
The truth probably is the person you are speaking to isn't as technically literate as they make out, but isn't going to admit it.

I had a problem with trying to write an AppleScript (I'm pretty raw at this but knew when I hit a problem) as part of an Automator routine. So I went to the Sydney AppleStore, where I was introduced to the resident "AppleScript" expert as everyone described him in enthusiastic admiring phrases.

I knew I was barking up the wrong tree when I had to explain how it worked and he was struggling to keep up.

The hand waving away is an excellent description of what Apple often does. They seem to have a contempt for their own users and find it easier to keep them in the dark, because that way we won't notice rthe holes in Apple's stories.
Steve McCabe  2012-07-02 22:42
Let's see what the phone itself says. Go to Settings-->About-->Regulatory, and let's take a look. My iPhone 4S, bought in Papakura, in Auckland, claims to be certified compliant in: (takes deep breath) the U.S., Canada, Europe, Mexico, Australia, new Zealand, japan, Taiwan, South Korea, Singapore, the Philippines, Brazil, Russia, South Africa, Costa Rica, Argentina, Thailand, Indonesia and the United Arab Emirates.

That, then, would be why my iPhone has so far worked just fine in NZ, Australia, Singapore and the UK. It's because it's *certified* to work just fine in each of those territories.

So there's *still* no good reason why Mr. Manc Genius couldn't replace my phone.

Oh, and "whine?" Please. I'm a pom. We whinge.
Dennis B. Swaney  2012-07-03 00:42
Ah, there is the problem, Steve, your iPhone 4S does not list it as being compliant in the U.K., thus the U.K. iPhone must not be compliant in N.Z.

Steve McCabe  2012-07-03 00:54
*sigh* Europe. It's compliant in Europe. The UK is, for better or worse, in Europe. Therefore, my iPhone 4s is compliant in the United Kingdom.

I looked in the little booklet that came with the phone, the one that's printed in two-point text and faint-grey ink, the better to make it illegible. In the section that discusses compliance, in the paragraph about the European Union, there is a little chart that shows which member states of the EU it's compliant in. "GB" is in there.

It's a bloody world phone!
Kevan Pegley   2012-07-03 03:36
Just goes to show how vague all this small print is. On one hand they're referring to Europe (bizarre considering all the other places listed are countries, and telecommunications laws differ widely across Europe), on the other hand the European Union -- which includes maybe half the countries of Europe (I haven't counted). Then they refer to "GB", which isn't even a country: it is a part, albeit a large part, of the UK. Or does Northern Ireland have their own iPhone version?!
simonlc  2012-07-03 03:24
Surely the only difference would be the other stuff in the box? A UK phone will have a UK plug adaptor for the charger, for example. This would then create a different part number to the NZ package.
Dave Laffitte  2012-07-03 06:43
Perhaps a customer-friendly Apple would only nick your credit card for the value to Apple of the to-be-returned phone, not it's "retail value". Apple has already been compensated for the value of the one you have that's faulty. The value of the replacement from Apple is either their original fully-burdened cost to build and deliver or, if you are getting a refurb as a warranty replacement, the cost to repair/update/test one that has already been returned. After all, by agreeing to exchange your original phone, Apple is admitting that it is faulty under warranty. Isn't the obligation for performance on Apple? This would make a wonderful legal case.
Ian Downie  2012-07-03 09:54
It's common practice for hotels to take your card details on check in in case you fail to pay on check out. They don't always put a hold on your card but if they do, they should tell you how much they are holding - as the UK Apple representative told you, Steve. If they do, the problem then could be that when you try to make another purchase, the hold plus the new purchase takes you over your credit limit. If a hotel tells me they want to put a hold on my credit card (it's usually way over the room rate), I normally then prepay with a debit card, but I then know not to use the minibar or charge meals or drinks to my room.

I can confirm that my UK iPhone 4 (under Settings/General/Regulatory) has exactly the same list of places in which it is compliant as Steve's phone, and I suspect that the only difference is indeed in the mains plug included with the charger, and probably also the terms and conditions booklet - the latter may be the clincher.
Ian Downie  2012-07-03 10:11
I ran out of characters - continued. I was moved to find the box for my iPhone 4 (kept safe for the day I buy my iPhone 5 and sell the 4 on eBay), and the 'Important Product Information Guide', printed in China, appears to be universal. It lists the same countries as the phone does under Certification and Compliance; there are specific statements for various countries and for the whole of Europe (which includes the UK) but crucially it lists the Warranty Obligor by country of purchase; in the case of a phone bought in New Zealand, that is Apple Pty Limited, Sydney Australia.

As an ex Physics teacher myself, I am not surprised to find that customer service representatives and managers know less about technical details than I do; this applied to most of my pupils but I am not bitter about it! The joy comes when you have a pupil who develops to the point where she or he knows more about a topic than you do.
Iowill  2012-07-03 11:11
The "Apple Store" model of service is lovely when you live in a city that has more than one Apple Store within relatively easy travel distance, by car or public transportation, or by foot/bicycle. But Apple phone support always seems shocked when you tell them, "No, going to the Apple Store is a 300 mile round trip for me." It's as if no one who works in support has ever actually looked at a map, or uses any of the myriad mapping apps available on their kit.

It's like the country store in "O, Brother Where Art Thou", when Clooney's character says, "Why, Ain't this place a geographical oddity! It's two weeks from everywhere!"

Take a page from LL Bean or any number of business that empower their front line staff to be preemptive and direct. "Yes. I will overnight a return package to you along with a replacement iPhone." And this would have been a glowing article of praise for Apple Service.
Christian Völker  2012-07-03 14:33
Hello, I have a bad story running with Apple Care Service for an iMac. It is in since over a week with an AASP and they could not diagnose the problem. The iMac has Apple Care, it is two years old and has been in repair six times so far. Got a new power supply, DVD drive etc. but never got fixed, crashes randomly.

I expected to get the iMac exchanged, but Apple denied the request placed by the AASP. We have an Apple Store here. I went there, told them the Serial and asked for advice. They saw the repair history and started arguing. I should claim dealers warranty instead of manufacturers (id est Apples) guarantee. This is a difference in germany, but with the dealer I have to prove that the defect was there from the start. Plus, I had paid Apple Care for getting guarantee, no excuses.

They told me to bring in the unit. Ok, but I wanted to send it by courier. No way: "Apple appreciates direct contact to the customer." The Store is Apple Retail, not Apple Care. The issue is not solved.
Paul Albert  2012-07-12 03:34
Buy a Droid 4. Although I am a Mac guy, I opted for a Droid and full dedicated slide keyboard. No problems, ever.