Customer Service.

January 11, 2009

It’s only been three short weeks since I wrote an angry review about the customer “service” at Fry’s Electronics, but recent events have compelled me to whine about this subject once again. This time, however, my aggravation with one company – or rather, two companies working together – will be tempered by my satisfaction with high-quality service from a different company, and at the end there will be a snide (yet accurate) comparison of the two.

Let us begin with the company with the customer service that sucked. My mom got an iPhone from dad for Christmas, of which I am exceedingly jealous. Rather, I would be exceedingly jealous if it actually worked. But it doesn’t. When calls are made or received, the person on the other line can’t hear mom speaking at all. Of course we thoroughly examined every bit of the phone to make sure there wasn’t some hidden “mute” button we overlooked, but we found nothing. So mom brought it to the AT&T store from which the phone was originally purchased. They looked it over, said, “Hm, looks like a software problem,” and shrugged and gave it back. Mom inquired as to whether they could replace her phone. “No,” they said. “Go to the Apple store – it’s under their warranty once it leaves our store – and they’ll replace it for you.”

Mom drove half an hour to the Apple store (Not! The fruit store, but! The computer store, and now she’s at the door…) After a tremendously long wait, one of their service reps paid attention to her (though in all fairness, there was a line, so that part wasn’t a big deal.) He looked over the phone, said, “Yep, it’s a software problem,” and offered to replace the phone. Mom would have accepted, except that the phone he tried to give her was a used, “refurbished” phone with scratches in the case and a general feel of used-ness. As her iPhone was brand new and in perfect condition (aside from not working), she didn’t think it was quite a fair trade. The service rep refused to offer anything else and said to go to AT&T if an old phone wasn’t satisfactory.

The next day, mom returned to AT&T. They said that the Apple store only offers refurbished phones if they don’t have any new ones in stock, and suggested that she try the other Apple store at the Washington Square Mall instead of the one she’d formerly visited in Bridgeport.

The people at the Washington Square Mall’s Apple store first had to schedule mom for an appointment the following day. At that appointment, they said, “Company policy is that we can only offer refurbished phones since you bought it from AT&T and not from us. Return the phone to AT&T since they have a 30-day return policy, get your money back, and then just purchase a new one instead of trying to exchange yours.” This answer was satisfactory, but mom shouldn’t have had to run back and forth between stores for hours over a period of several days in order to get it.

The people at AT&T tried really hard to discourage mom from following Apple’s advice, but by this time, she wasn’t having any of it. They sulked and took the iPhone back and sold her a new one, all the while griping about how they were doing her a special favor by doing so.

So that’s the customer service that sucked. Standing in stark contrast is that of Nintendo, which is awesome. Our Wii has had problems reading discs for a while, which slowly got worse until we couldn’t play anything at all on it. I pulled up Nintendo’s website, easily found the support page, and got all the information I needed within about two minutes. We put the Wii in a box, shipped it out, and it was promptly returned to us completely fixed. Nintendo is great. Unfortunately, I won’t be playing any Wii Fit until Baby makes his appearance (Less than three weeks ’til the due date!) because my balance is terrible and the game would call me fat and old. But I can still trounce my brother at Brawl, at least.

In conclusion, here’s a simple table I created which illustrates the customer service-related comparisons between AT&T/Apple and Nintendo.

Nintendo is also Koopa-friendly.-Caitlin

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