Apple has gone from making just computers to a whole slew of devices, including the mass-market iPhone. The shift has increased the number of problems that crop up with various devices, putting a lot of stress on Apple’s support system. What has your experience been?

[qi:022] Earlier this evening, Apple sent out an email to Mobile Me subscribers, giving us free 60-days of service in acknowledgement of outages and poor performance that had plagued the service earlier this summer, leading to a lot of complaints. Earlier, the company had offered a free 30-day extension to MobileMe subscribers. In some ways I was a tad mollified by this latest offer.

The offer, ironically came hours after I asked people who follow me on Twitter if they were frustrated with Apple’s support. What prompted me to ask that question was that a couple of friends emailed complaining about long wait times on the phone to get help with their iPhones. One of them is a life-long Apple user and his anger was quite telling. Anyway, the replies on Twitter came thick and fast. A few had no complaints, some were willing to put up, but there were quite few who were not shy about their dissatisfaction with the support service.

These problems shouldn’t be a surprise: the company has gone from making just computers to a slew of devices, including the iPhone, a mass-market product. It has increased the number of problems that crop up with various devices, putting a lot of stress on Apple’s support system. For me personally, a visit to the Apple store typically solves all the problem — or they replace the device (iPod for example) itself. Anyway, I wanted to take a poll and get your read on Apple’s support system.

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By Om Malik

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  1. Right now the poll is 100% “Absolutely” – Twitter must just be a bunch of Silicon Valley whiners ;-)

  2. Of course, I was the first to vote:-)
    I’ve never had a bad Apple experience.

  3. I’m a switcher – 3 years ago, after 22 years in MSoft-land.

    Two experiences with Apple warranties: replacing a screen with dying backlight – Apple’s side was done in 24 hours; but, the local yokel took 10 days to get my critter back to me.

    A few months back, the second was my shiny new 24″ iMac which had HD problems practically out of the box and the folks I bought it from [Powermax] had a replacement on the way to me the day I called! Didn’t wait for me to get the original to them first. They said Apple would back them up and they weren’t worried.

    Neither am I.

  4. I have had the occasion to use their support once, an overheating Macbook Pro (first generation Intel Macintosh), I called, they sent me a packing box, they fixed mine and returned it in 5 days, issue resolved. Then called about 3 days later with a follow up to make sure the machine was working.

  5. My 13 year old daughter used her own money and bought a mini mac. 60 days later it was dead. Took it to genius bar. They said water damage void the warrantee, but could not show me the damage, trust me its because it wasn’t there. They wanted $975 to fix it and would not budge. My daughter cried then called 13 year friend who fixed it in 20 mins. Me and my daughter don’t think there are any geniuses at the genius bar just arrogant people who are out done by 13 year olds.

    My advice when buying apple products: know a real genius.

  6. I don’t think their shoddy service is understandable at all. If you make products, you should provide adequate support for them. Apple’s profit margins are some of the biggest in the business, so there’s no excuse in my mind for having terrible service and support. Even Apple Care doesn’t guarantee you great service anymore, and they charge hundreds of dollars on a new machine for it. My LCD died in my laptop at around the 14 month point. I asked at the Apple store, and they wanted $1000 to replace it. Instead, I ordered a new one off of eBay for $200 and fixed it myself in about 45 minutes.

  7. Very. I’ve gotten 4 iPhones replaced and a free DVD drive for my out of warranty MacBook with little to no hassle.

    Posted from GigaOM Mobile, using MoFuse.

  8. Regarding this whole MobileMe mess: As a “power-user” of Apple’s .Mac service since the beginning, it was easy to see the trouble coming. I was of two minds about iPhone and MobileMe: First, the rebranding was great for us .Mac users because it meant that our service would hopefully be getting much needed attention and upgrades from Apple. But secondly, .Mac had always been a bit rickety. So if there weren’t infrastructure upgrades on the back end, I was wondering how Apple was going to support the sudden addition of hundreds of thousands of new users. Surely, they were throwing a lot more time and server iron into to it to get ready?

    As it turns out, no, they didn’t. Quite shocking. It was all just rebranding and interface polish.

    I had always been a little surprised that Apple never used .Mac as a showpiece of what their XServe systems could do. I mean, it seemed like a no-brainer. But they never did.

    Besides dropping a couple things and interface polish, MobileMe isn’t really any different from .Mac other than catering to connectivity to the iPhone and Windows users. (I loved it when Steve Jobs demonstrated MobileMe’s Web mail on stage, wowing the crowd with a functional drag-and-drop GUI mail on a web page. The only thing was it wasn’t new. That version of web mail had been in .Mac for a year.)

    That said, I’ve really loved my iDisk server rental and Apple Mail service over the past several years! And the synching between my Macs and iPods has been great. So for me, the price of the service has been worth it. My MobileMe account is filled to the max. I pay over $200 a year, and I find it worth it.

    But Apple, damn it! Well, I guess thanks to amazingly wrong-headed expectations on Apple’s part and fantastic industry embarrassment, we .Mac’ers WILL finally be getting the attention from Apple we’ve craved for so long. Heh.

    Apple, if you really wanna say you’re sorry, bring back iCards. I mean, come on! Why was that axed? iCards from the iPhone would be a slick and friendly feature!

    If you really need marketing and service design plan help with this service, give me a call.


  9. I’ve had excellent support at the Genius Bar. Just remember to make a reservation online and not just to show up unannounced. I live in New York and if you simply show up, there’s no way you’ll be able to see someone that day.

  10. Sales and Service channels are rarely perfect but Apple’s decision to open their own stores and essentially ignore / screw their existing (and formerly passionate) channel partners might be coming home to roost.

    After they opened, most Apple stores were great for newbies but In most metros (as new users mature into experienced ones) frustration levels are growing with long lines at Genius bars.

    If you’ll pardon the pun, this may open new ‘vistas’ for Apple dealers worldwide.

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