Sunday, February 20, 2011

Apple Customer Service

Those of you who know me, know that I am a big fan of Apple, Inc. Yes, I have the iPhone, iPad, MacBook Pro laptop, MacPro desktop computer, etc. I'm telling you, if Apple started manufacturing and selling cars and houses, I'd buy those too. Whenever one of my "PC" friends asks me why I like Apple so much, I simply say, "Because everything just works the way it's supposed to". And even on one of those rare occasions that it doesn't, they do everything they can to fix it.

This week I happened to have one of those moments. My MacPro tower has been acting up for a little while now. I just chalked it up to old age. It's at least 4 years old and was given to me as a hand-me-down. So it definitely has it's share of wear and tear. But this machine is a workhorse. I have (4) 1 terrabyte hard drives inside that hold all of our most precious family photos and videos. Now I am very cautious of all of this digital media, so I have all of the data double-backed up. I have an external hard drive backup as well as an online cloud-based backup system. Every once in awhile on a reboot, it either takes longer than usual to start up, or it requires a little extra TLC. Because all the data is backed up meticulously, this latest non-rebooting episode didn't scare me too much, but I still was dreading the fact that I may have to shell out $3000 for a new machine in the near future.

Being so old, I knew this machine was out of warranty, but I set up an appointment at the Apple Store anyway. From start to finish, this whole process couldn't be easier. Just like the commercial says, "there's an app for that". Apple's app allows you to choose your closest store, see available times, and pick the one that's best for you to meet with one of their Mac geniuses (no really, that's what they are called) right from your phone. I arrived 10 minutes early and they took me right away. Not once did they even check the serial number for warranty coverage or ask me how old the machine was. Their main concern was getting it running again. After running a bunch of tests and restarting it with different configurations of hard drives installed, they narrowed down the problem. One of the 4 hard drives had failed and was stopping the machine from booting up. Luckily, it was just one of my spare backup drives. So the Apple tech removed that drive, closed up the machine, shook my hand and sent me on my way. He even gave me a tip about configuring my RAM a different way to maximize the processor speed. And it didn't even cost me a penny. The machine is running as good as new now. Big thanks to Anton at the Rockaway, NJ Apple store!

My biggest praise for Apple, Inc. as a company has to be in their customer service. First of all, whether you call them on the phone or visit one of the Apple Stores, you are always talking to someone who speaks perfect English. Customer service at Apple is not outsourced as with 99% of all other PC companies such as Dell or HP. Also, the fact that they could have charged me for an out-of-warranty repair but didn't even mention it, is outstanding. Or they also could have easily told me that they couldn't help me and that my only option was to buy a new computer.

Yes, I know that Apple computers do cost more than your typical PC, but for me, you really do get what you pay for. Aside from the fact that the Mac delivers a much richer, simpler user experience than a PC does, I think it's their customer service that sets them apart. For me, it's definitely worth the extra money up front. I've owned PC's in the past and while they are cheaper, by the time you are done adding in your virus software, pop-up blockers, laptop cooling pads, etc. I really don't see how the saving is that great. Plus, if something ever does go wrong, it's nice to know you have a support system of knowledgeable, friendly "geniuses" to help solve your problems (apparently for free even if out of warranty). To me, that's invaluable and what puts Apple head and shoulders above the competition.