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Apple Tech Support Tips: 4 Steps to Bend Apple to Your Will

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We usually love our Apple (s aapl) products. They work well, are easy to understand and when we have a problem, Apple works quickly to resolve it. Most of the time. What happens when Apple simply won’t play ball? Read on and find out how to work Apple’s system.

Step 1: AASP and Geniuses

For many people, their first interaction is with the Apple store, however some will go to an Apple Authorized Service provider (AASP). AASP determinations can be overridden by an Apple store, so going to the Apple store would be your first escalation if you are not satisfied by the AASP. Typically a Genius determines you have a problem, but alas, you may be out of warranty. Maybe they are claiming the item was abused or tampered with and you disagree. Often you are just barely out of warranty or fall right outside a Repair Extension. Be sure to keep careful notes of the dates and times of your conversations and with whom you’ve spoken. All is not lost.

Step 2: The CS Code

Your next step can be to call the general number for Apple technical support (800-275-2273). ¬†Explain your situation and ask for an accommodation; usually you want a repair at no charge to you. Your ultimate goal is to get a “CS code.” A CS code acts like a coupon. Give the CS code to the AASP and the cost of the repair will be discounted by the amount the CS Code authorizes. Apple tech support is based in North America, so you’ll unlikely have the communication barriers you face with other brands. Again, keep careful notes.

Step 3: Customer Relations

What if tech support won’t play ball? Your next step is to call technical support, or pretty much any Apple number, and ask for “Customer Relations.” That’s the magic phrasing that gets you talking with people who can override the decisions of any AASP. They’ll usually be the one to issue a CS code.

When talking with Customer Relations, always be polite, fair and accommodating. These are human beings who will often rise or fall to the level of politeness and aggressiveness they receive. Having learned from others’ success with Customer Relations, it’s best to focus on the fact that you are a loyal Mac user. Briefly tell them about your love of all things Apple. Be enthusiastic and authentic.

Next, tell them about your problem and your frustration that Apple didn’t cover it but you think they should. It may be that your Mac or iPod is just barely out of warranty, or maybe it’s been in for similar problems before and Apple didn’t fix it right the first time. Often it’s related to a known defect that Apple hasn’t quite admitted yet. Mention places you’ve read about others having the same problem you have.

In a previous article, I talked about reading Apple’s Annual Report to determine what issues Apple could be facing lawsuits about. Focus on the fact that you want to be an Apple supporter, but its actions in this particular matter that have shaken your confidence. You might playfully mention some of the ads you’ve seen and how much you are a believer.

Ask the Apple representative for something reasonable and fair — usually the repair of the item under warranty. Frequently Apple will meet you half-way by agreeing to cover the parts, but not the labor. Consider that a win. If you don’t get the answer you want the first time, don’t be afraid to call back and speak with another rep. Don’t get into an argument. Thank them for their time and try again.

Step 4: Bring in The Steve

What if even Customer Relations isn’t appearing to be fair with you? Now it’s time to bring in Steve. No, not the Woz, but rather Mr. Steve Jobs. Write him at [email protected] or [email protected] Your email will be read by a member of his staff (and even Steve himself on occasion). Make the same case you made to Customer Relations in the same fair, accommodating and professional way. They’ll often find you a solution. Maybe it’s not a CS code, but usually a fair deal that protects Apple’s financial interest, yet goes the extra mile to keep you as a Mac user.

Alternatively, and in addition to contacting Steve, if you are an Apple investor, contact investor relations (408-974-3123). You can mention all the things you mentioned to Customer Relations, but add the fact that this experience has tainted not just your technology buying experience but your confidence in Apple as an investor. If you’ve posted your woes on Twitter, stock boards, or on your blog, you can mention that. Be honest and direct. These people will get you in contact with people in the “Exec” team, who are usually the same people who handle the [email protected] email.

Still no dice? Well, I think you are out of luck. Sometimes it just happens. At least now you know the escalation methods and at least have a fighting chance with Apple.

Do you have a successful Apple war story?

17 Responses to “Apple Tech Support Tips: 4 Steps to Bend Apple to Your Will”

  1. Apple does have some of the best customer service I’ve seen in a while. Back in 2006 my MBP’s hard drive crashed for the third time. I was an architecture student and used my computer daily, so this was a major distraction and inconvenience. Luckily I was still covered by my AppleCare, and while on the phone with them I mentioned how frustrated I was with this, and how I’d convinced several friends to move to Apple over their old PCs. I wasn’t trying to threaten, or make a big scene – it was simply the truth. Without any prompting the tech handed me over to his supervisor, who offered me an upgrade to a 17″ MBP or the new (at the time) 15″ Intel. I went with the Intel, and have been a happy Apple customer since.

    • Best customer service? Not in Poland. I’ve gave my 2 weeks old iPhone bought in Orange to the service because of broken “home” button. After a MONTH they send me a letter that the liquid indicator in headphones jack is on, so they want more than 300$ for repair.

      I’ve checked this indicator – no signs of red colour, which means no liquid was there. I’ve made a makro photos.

      And there is a normal behaviour of polish apple service – a lot of people has the same problems. Apple warranty in Poland is a fiction.

  2. I had a lemon of MacBook pro. 4 logic board replacements 2 harddrive resets, network card, iSight, and optical drive all replaced. The optical disk was the final straw. I sat on the phone with customer relations and we worked out a fair compromise. I had my MacBook pro completely replaced. Took apple 9 full repairs but they gave me a brand new comp that was an upgrade!

  3. Simple and easy – go into an Apple store and cry. As a former Genius for an Apple store, I have seen this work WAY too much. Find the soft “Store Manager” (that is the important key) or the senior assistant manager – one of those two will always be there – and spill your story with some tears.

    Works like a charm. Sadly.

  4. Funny this article should be posted now. For two weeks, I was having a difficult time getting my local Apple Store to replace a dying, in-warranty hard drive. I spoke to six different people between AppleCare and the Apple Store, and got different answers from all of them about how long the work would take, whether or not a part needed to be ordered, etc..

    After almost a decade of great Apple experiences, I was frustrated enough to write a long but very polite email to [email protected]. I sent the email on Thursday at 3:30pm. On Friday at 2pm, the lead Genius at the Apple Store called me and offered me a replacement machine (new model of what I had) for all my trouble, apologizing profusely. I never received an email or a call from Apple HQ and the Genius never mentioned the email but they definitely got it. I didn’t expect anything to come of it but the experience definitely proved it can never hurt to try.

  5. Apple has been GREAT in providing fair results in dealing with any of my (few) warranty issues over the yrs…

    In september I bought an 24′ iMac and 30 days later found that apple had sold me a used iMac due to the Snow Leopard disc drop in… Very unusual for Apple or anyone to sell a used computer as new. They gave me a ipod touch (which i dont need) and my $ back for my trouble.
    After having heard the new iMac rumors I waited 3 weeks and bought a new 27 inch imac… I upgraded everything… This seemed awesome, but I am on my way to the apple store today to have them look at the superdrive because after hours of over the phone applecare it still wont burn DL disks!

    We will see how they will accommodate this time?

  6. Eek. Gack. That really comes across as “How to be a loyal follower of the Cult of Apple”. I am very happy with my Mac Pro, but really? I might playfully mention how much I love their ads, and how I’m a believer, to see if I can get Apple customer service to give me the customer service they should be giving me (even more so with issues “Apple haven’t quite admitted to yet”, something that has happened far more often than it should have)…?

  7. Great article!

    Having recently suffered a logic board failure on my 1.5 year old macbook pro and being told I would have to pay an ungodly amount for repairs this would have been an awesome article if I’d read it a week ago.

    However, I did discover another recourse even if all of these steps fail. If you bought your product with a credit card often they have customer protection that extends the warranty.

    I was out of my 1 year applecare on my mac, but my credit card company informed me that they match the warranty, thus extending it for another year. So I filed a claim with them and they are paying for the repairs/replacement for me!

    So just know that even if you go through these steps and it doesn’t work out, all is not lost!

  8. adam jackson

    Wow. As a former Apple employee ( I have the AppleCare number memorized) and as a Mac user for over a decade, this is the defacto guide to getting things done.

    I’ve never had to email Steve or flex investor muscle because the phone call and sometimes an escalation will result in getting what I want.

    I must add that having knowledge of the system and running previous tests will save a lot of time and thus get you further in a free repair. “my hard drive is dead” is the last thing a tech wants to hear because it means test after test.

    1. I began hearing a clicking sound 2 weeks ago
    2. Some data loss has occured
    3. The system has stopped booting w/ a sad mac
    4. I’ve reinstalled leopard, same result of sad mac
    5. Ran DiskWarrior
    6. Completed a full backup
    7. Mention, “there is no cosmetic damage or alterations to the machine”

    Be knowledgeable and request a box be sent out despite the fact an Apple Store is only “.75 hours away” because for higher profile stores, HDD repairs can take 5-10 days where sending it to Tennessee via FedEx overnight is a 3-4 day turnaround.

    But yes, these channels outlined are absolutely perfect. Great job!

  9. Second half of this blog post contains a very successful Apple-related service experience that did not include a “war,” of any kind, but keeping your post bookmarked for future use, especially the Steve e-mail information. Great stuff.