Posts Tagged ‘customer service’

Let me start off by saying, no, I didn’t drink the Apple kool-aid. (seems like whenever i make any comment about a good thing that apple does, i get accused of drinking the kool-aid or being a fan-boy.)
I recently had an issue with my iPad 12.9″ not recognizing the smart keyboard. it all started around beginning of april this year, so, well out of the warranty since I was one of the first to be on the bleeding edge an order the iPad Pro as soon as it was released. At first the problem was just once in a while, but quickly progressed into a nearly daily thing, and of course at the most inopportune times… not there is ever an opportune time for something to fail.The issue appears to be a somewhat common one for the first generation of the iPad Smart Keyboards. I would open up my iPad and flip over the cover to let it stand up ready for typing, only to be met with the annoying onscreen message saying an accessory is not compatible. I know, I know,… how could it not be compatible when it is an Apple accessory specifically made for the iPad? I went thru the typical fixes. Remove the keyboard, reattach. If that didn’t work, try again. If that didn’t work then restart the iPad. Sometimes turning off Bluetooth and all networking with the keyboard detached would do the trick, but not always. It seemed there was no common fix that would work.

As I mentioned, it got worse. Worse to the point I was seeing the message a few times a day, nearly every time I closed up the iPad actually. I gave in and contacted Apple after googling the issue in Apple Support (see this link) and also finding links to a couple of pages that mentioned that Apple had extended the warranty on the Smart Keyboard to 3 years due to connection issues.

Long story a little shorter, I talked to phone support, they determined it needed to be looked at in person and set up an appointment for me at the local Apple Genius Bar. About 2 days later I was there with iPad and keyboard in hand, and a few saved screenshots of the error message with date and time stamps (as included above) just for good measure in case the intermittent problem decided to not play nice with me. (As it turned out, it was replicated in the store while there, but better safe than sorry)

There was no trouble explaining the issue, I wasn’t the first they had seen about this, and after a quick diagnostic to ensure the iPad was not the issue, the Apple Genius Bar support guru put in the request for a new Smart Keyboard which was accepted under the extended warranty and thankfully they had one in the back just for this reason, replacing it then and there on the spot.

Say what you want about Apple and how expensive their devices are, but they do stand behind them when they fail, stepping up and accept their mistakes or flaws, going out of their way to ensure they make the fix as painless as possible. We should all take their actions on this issue as a good example on how to treat customers and how to admit our faux pas, gaffes, blunders, – whatever name you want to try and pretty it up with – and take ownership of them. After all, two air is human, write? to err is human, right?

Now, did someone mention Kool-aid? I’m parched.

barkerp

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social-media-icon-setI was in the Toronto airport recently and had some time to reflect on how much power, whether good or bad, society has been given by social media. Be it Instagram, FaceBook, Yelp or Twitter, anything you do, anyone you meet, and anywhere you want to go, people have messaged about it and those messages and posts can make or break an event/place/person.

President Obama has been in the news a lot lately discussing truth in news and how FB and Google need to ensure facts are being reported … If we can’t discriminate between serious arguments and propaganda, then we have serious problems.

To a lesser extent the same is true about the average Joe/Josephine and their use of social media.  How do we filter out the facts from the fiction?  The first thing many people do upon experiencing something new (I am guilty of this myself) is post about it.  More often than not, it is the negatives that get posted.  When you have a problem, you want to complain and think someone, anyone, is listening.  Social media to the rescue.  A platform with no real checks and balances, and more often than not the first place we go to find out what others think of something we are thinking of doing, or to “research” a place we are thinking of going to. (I am guilty of this too, especially when it comes to hotels and restaurants)

So often I have heard the same comments about a place, only to find out, it was because one person experienced it and then everyone else just regurgitated what they read, retweeted, reposted, etc without actually experiencing it themselves.

Take for instance a prime example that just happened this morning in my office.  Restaurant ABC gets a bad review on yelp and is taken as gospel because it had more than one bad rating, and as such the person I was talking to said they would not be trying it out.  Who knows, it could have been a bad day, it could have been an isolated problem, it may have been just not quite what was expected, or the person giving the bad review was just being petty.  Disgruntled worker maybe?  You can learn from others mistakes or experiences, but that doesn’t mean that they will have the same experience as you.  With restaurants especially, the particular cook can make or break a meal, your palate is different from someone else’s, maybe you like salt more than sweet for instance, etc., there are a myriad of possible reasons.  And hey, who knows maybe it does legitimately suck.

Everything you post should be understood and interpreted as “in my limited opinion and experience at this particular time and location” but rarely it is.  A few negative comments can quickly become a tidal wave simply due to our inherent nature of listening and trusting others opinions – It was on yelp/Facebook/Google/Twitter/ etc, so it must be true.  We can’t prevent the rants and negativity but we can learn to take it with a grain of salt and realize it for what it is, free advice.  And as with any advice, you usually get what you paid for.

One final note, getting back to the airport again.  Chef Roger Mooking has a new (or at least new to me) restaurant in Pearson.  Having eaten at another chef’s restaurant there, Massimo Capra’s Boccone, and thoroughly enjoying it we thought we’d try “Twist“.  Lets just say I hope chef Mooking pops in again soon to make sure they are preparing his menu properly since his “not so philly cheesesteak” to use some of his own words when judging on Chopped, is a one note, dry offering, in need of some sauce.  But that is just my opinion, well that and my traveling companion.  So two free opinions.  Take it with a grain of salt, … which wouldn’t have helped this sandwich.

barkerp

 

img_7298I like to peruse the blogs, ads, links, and Kickstarter for new products, and have come across a few over the years where I got in early and got a good deal.  My Thermodo for instance.  (if you are not sure what a Thermodo is check it out here.) I was hoping this little charge cable would be one of those things…. sadly, it fell short.  No pun intended.

The HandyCharger is basically a really short lightning cable for charging my iPhone/iPad.  It is meant to be kept on a keyring so you always have one handy in a jam, as long as you have your keys with you.  Sound great in theory.  But in practice, not quite ready for primetime as the saying goes.

I should have known something was off when I ordered back in april and got an email saying it could be 3 to 4 weeks to arrive due to “massive global demand” which turned into 6 weeks, with no explanation, or even a response from the manufacturer until after I had sent a few emails, and got told I would be informed when it shipped.  Gee, thanks, not even an ETA.

Fast forward to beginning of august, now almost 4 months after ordering, and I get notified it had shipped.  Apparently via rowboat from china it would seem since it took over  2 weeks after that notification for it to finally show up, and when it did, it was not as expected.

As in the email above, It should be noted, it didn’t come with a keyring, and the packaging as I noted was terrible, basically non-existent.  I showed it on a keyring to give scale to the photo and to show its intended use.  Another issue is the size of the connector that plugs into the iPhone/iPad.  Its too wide for most cases, so you either have to charge your device caseless or cut the opening in the case to allow the oversized connecto.  Yuck.

img_7297

This photo shows the packaging for it, a bubble wrap bag, not even a plastic bag inside it, or a piece of cardboard for rigidity and a little protection.  I emailed the manufacturer as you can see above, and did get a reply saying they were sorry, and to send photos of the damaged charge cable to them, but unfortunately I had already thrown out the faulty cable since it had to be held in place to actually work, and as luck would have it, the magnet on the ends of the cable that are supposed to keep it together are too weak and the darn thing fell off my keychain within a couple of days of receiving it.

Strangely, in searching around for info on the HandyCharger, I found a very similar looking product – like exactly the same looking product, by another manufacturer, InCharge.  (http://incharge.rocks/) Not sure which came first, but it makes me think the one I got is the poor rip-off version. Or maybe it did come first, but if so, the other company took the idea and did it better it seems.   At least it had packaging.  They even made a thin connector option.

handycharger-youtube incharge cable

Another thing to note is the look of the advertised product versus the actual received item.  The multi-colour cable, the actual name silkscreened onto it, etc.  Bait and switch anyone? Or just another example of a US company allowing their product to be manufactured in China and shipped direct to customer, and hoping it is done right without taking the time to inspect.

As I said, great in theory, terrible in practice.  That is my feeling on this one.  Waiting 4 months for a charge cable is ridiculous to begin with, but getting a faulty one after all that, as well as one that in my opinion is poorly constructed with respect to how it is supposed to stay together via the all-too-weak magnet, is enough for me to say stay away from this product until at least version 2.  If there is one.

PS:  I haven’t ordered an inCharge one yet, but probably will.  For one, it is cheaper, and says 2 day shipping with 6 to 10 days delivery.  So at least I won’t be waiting months to be disappointed.

barkerp

IMG_0376Well, we knew it was coming, although not for long due to Bell’s incompetence and the shitty way they are handling this “discontinuation of service”.  I was going to title this post “Bell, you suck“, but that title has been used way too often. (even in some variations by me, see here, and here.)

We’ve had the Portable internet or Unplugged service for quite some time now.  They’ve renamed it a few times over the years since Rogers bought up the Inukshuk internet service as part of the Microcell buy out, which ended up becoming a joint venture with Bell back in 2005.  It has never been great as far as speeds go, but at least it was available.  That is, up until now.  About a month back I found out purely by accident that the service was being discontinued at the end of March.  The story behind the shutting down seems different depending who you talk to, but in the end, it wasn’t making enough money is probably the real reason despite all the talk of the CRTC wanting that particular bandwidth back, or that the equipment was dated and in need of replacement, major repair, etc.

It seems this particular internet service has been in the process of being discontinued for some time now, depending upon your area.  I think the intention was to cancel the service once a reasonable replacement was in place.  Sadly, for those like me, that still hasn’t happened.  We are one of the lucky few not included in the government promises to bring high-speed to rural communities, seems we are too close to the city, and yet not far enough away to get coverage from the rural providers.

The worst part of the whole ordeal is the fact Bell really dropped the ball repeatedly in letting its customers know.  I found out while talking to a Bell tech about my slow internet, that the service was actually being discontinued.  I immediately got in touch with Bell internet customer service, and was informed that letters had been sent out to let people know, but strangely many people did not receive them.  WTF?  I was informed again later during another phone call that yes, in fact letters had been sent out a couple of times because there was an issue the first time.  But still, again, many people never got informed.  In this day and age how is it possible to screw up sending a letter to customers?  They would never miss making sure you get your bill, so why not just add it in there.

I got in touch with all the major players, Bell and Rogers, and long list of ISPs that I had never heard of or had little knowledge of.  Xplornet, Execulink, ISP Canada, Teksavvy, Canada Online, Falcon Internet, Allcore, and Terago to name just a few.  None of which could get a signal to my house, with the exception of Terago and they are just way too expensive to be considered a residential provider.  Wind mobile is available, but at a data cap of 10 gig per month, after which they throttle the speed down to 256kbs it is not a viable solution for a household internet service.  Especially one with teenagers that enjoy instagram, youtube, Facebook and netflix way too much.  10 gig would last about a weekend.

As it stands, we are awaiting our new turbo hub modem from Bell to start up our overpriced and data limited mobile internet service, since it is the only service anyone is offering that can reach my house.  I can physically see the city limits from my property, close enough I can read the population sign, but not close enough that any landline services have been upgraded in my area.  So for now, we are struggling by with our cell phones, trying to limit our data usage, and will be sitting in coffee shops and burger joints to do our updating of apps and OSes until such time that the powers that be finally bring real high-speed internet to ALL of the rural customers, and not just some.

barkerp

Well, it seems my luck is holding up as usual. My iPhone 5 started to have problems with the “wake/sleep” button not working. At first I just thought it was a temporary thing, it was so random and intermittent in nature, but it quickly escalated to being nearly even time I try to use it.
A quick google of the issue and much to my surprise (sarcasm) I wasn’t the only one having the problem. Not only that, but there is a “wake/sleep button program” in effect right now.

current programs in effect

current programs in effect

If you go to http://www.apple.com/ca/support/iphone/ and scroll down you will see the “programs” that are currently in effect.  And clicking thru to the site for it lets you put in your iPhone 5 serial number and check to see if you are one of the lucky few.  Guess what? I spun the wheel and won (or is it lost?).  Not only that, but there is another program currently in effect for the battery issue of certain iPhone 5’s.  “Woohoo, spin the wheel again, big money no whammies”… and much to my surprise (yes, more sarcasm) my iPhone is on that list too.  Guess it serves me right for wanting to be on the bleeding edge and getting my iPhone 5 as soon as they came out.

How’s that saying go?  “if it wasn’t for bad luck I’d have none at all“.

So I went into my local Apple store and booked an appointment to see a Genius, and after waiting to see the person I thought would fix my problems, was told yes it is broken but they had no loaner phones available.  I’m not sure about you, but I cannot be without a phone for a week for both personal and work purposes, and I don’t have a spare one lying around I can use as a backup.  My phone is my constant companion and used for so many things in my day-to-day life, that I wouldn’t be able to function and do my job without it.  It is sad its gotten that ingrained in some ways, but I’m sure I’m not the only one feeling that way.

I was told to just keep checking back to see if they have any loaner iPhones available.

I thought I’d go another route and check with Apple.ca, so after a lengthy chat session with a very understanding service rep in which I explained the situation and the problem with sending in my phone to be fixed and then being phone-less, (in which he said “if i could give you my iPhone I would“) it basically came back to being stuck waiting for my local store to have a loaner available.  My main concern was that my iPhone was not going to be fixed before the 2 yr period since I bought it was up and I’d lose the chance to have it fixed free.  He did state that he’d send me the transcript of the convo via email and to get back in touch if it got close to that magic 2 yr date and still was unfixed.  At least that is something, I’m hoping it doesn’t get that far though.

So, for now, I’m one of the many awaiting my turn to get my phone fixed and trying to be patient about it.

All I can say is that when the machines do rise up against us and take over the world, I hope that it is the first generation of devices that does it.  Making them wait for repairs on themselves will serve them right.

-barkerp