Saturday, October 13, 2012

Confessions of a Disillusioned Apple Loyalist

I am not a morning person.  I do not make good decisions in the morning.  I know this.  And yet I let myself try and resolve something this morning when I had no business being awake, let alone making decisions.

Last week, my 4th generation iPod died, after three years.  It's been on its last legs for a few months now, but the death knell tolled.  So I did what any loyal Apple customer would do - I logged on to the store and bought a new one.  I was excited to see a new generation - in fun colors no less!  I placed my order and was giddy.

Then I realized that the iPod I'd ordered was brand new and was just now starting to ship.  Okay.  So I checked the order status, and it said it would be delivered between Oct 24-26, too late for my current address.  So this morning, while waiting for the moving company to come do my pre-packout survey, I tried to change the shipping address.

Now.  This is when user error enters the equation. 

It was impossible to change the shipping address for an in-process order.  So I made the horrible, terrible, no good, apocalyptic decision to cancel my order and place a new one. 

It became quickly apparent that this was a bad decision, since the new ship date was November 2, after I would already have left the country and surrendered for two years my ability to receive items containing lithium batteries by mail. 

So I called Apple.  And over the period of two hours, I spoke to five different representatives and one online representative.  There was no way to recall a canceled order.  I really shouldn't have done that.  No, there was no way to get expedited delivery.  No, there was no way to skip into an earlier place in line.  No they couldn't tell me if stores had it stock.  No they couldn't ship to a store in the time frame.  No.  No.  No.

Now.  I realize I made a stupid mistake by canceling my initial order.  But.  For the company to keep transferring me to different departments and telling me there was nothing to be done and making excuses for system limitations just made my blood boil and the tears run.  I know it's a new product, I know Apple likes its cloak and dagger routine, I know all this.  But frankly the whole experience was just frustrating.  Because I know that a company as technologically savvy as Apple does not have the system limitations it was touting, and the fact that nobody would transfer me to a supervisor was just annoying.  Now all the reps were nice and pleasant and sympathetic, but they just had no collective power and no helpful solutions.  One woman even unhelpfully told me that the prohibition on lithium batteries via U.S. mail really shouldn't be a problem since all Apple products are made in China and have to get to the U.S. somehow.  Umm - seriously?!  Seriously?!  Another told me to just wait until I got to Uganda and buy one at the Apple Store there.  Again, seriously?!  There is not an Apple Store on the entire continent of Africa, let alone in Kampala. 

By this time it was 40 minutes before stores would start to open, so I began to resign myself to a day spent driving from Apple Store to Apple Store in pursuit of the elusive iPod. 

At 9:50 I called the closest store.  I told my story and asked about the availability of the iPod model I wanted.  Yes, they had them in stock.  But there was already a line at the door and I better get there quickly.  No, they would not reserve one.  No, they would not indicate how many they had.  I finally said to the guy, look, can you at least tell me whether I should try you first or start going to other stores first., based on the line and his knowledge of their inventory  I think he got my drift because he told me I should definitely try their store first but quickly.  Of course.  Because urgency is the best sales tactic.

I was there 18 minutes later.  No line.  The store was as empty as I've ever seen one.  There were veritable hordes of underutilized Apple employees waiting to help.  And, lo and behold, there was indeed a 32GB pink iPod Touch in stock.  Based on the sales clerk's reaction, there were many of them in stock.  I bought it, relieved that my entire day wasn't ruined with having to drive all over the DC metro area.  But I was still angry and disappointed and frustrated.

This is a company I love.  I've been an Apple loyalist since the 1990s; I've owned stock for more than a decade.  I use few other tech products and am fiercely loyal and protective to the brand.  But the cloak and dagger routine is just annoying.  I mean, it's one thing to be mysterious when an item is released or in preorder status, but once it's out, the jig is up.  Really.

I am especially frustrated because I've just seen companies like Amazon, Old Navy, and Nordstrom go out of their way to replace orders destroyed when the U.S. Embassy in Tunis was attacked last month.  And Apple couldn't even expedite delivery, a service for which I was willing to pay.  

As I went about my day, I happened upon the Ballston craft fair.  One of the stalls had jewelry made from salvaged computer parts.  It was unique and quite pretty.  I liked the teal pendants in particular.  Then I had a brainstorm.  I asked if any of the pieces were made from Macs.  And, amazingly, the beautiful teal ones were.  I bought one on the spot.  (Here's the vendor, if you're interested.)

I liked the pendant on its own merits, but it made me feel a little more vindicated and powerful to wear a broken piece of Apple around my neck.  I know that's a wee bit dark, but it's the truth.

It's 12 hours later, and I'm still hyped up and angry - hence the blog post.  I haven't opened the new iPod yet - I want a clearer head before I do that.  But that beautiful pendant is firmly around my neck.

Excuse the poor lighting - I should have shot this in the daytime

Blurry, but more of the detail is visible

It's staying in the box until I'm no longer mad.  Or tomorrow, when I finally break down.

Thursday, October 11, 2012

So. Far. Behind.

Just a quick post to say I have not fallen off the face of the earth; I've just been consumed by consumerism and training and post prepping.  Seriously - home leave and training and pre-post U.S. time is just a money suck.  Part of it is my own fault for having a slight addiction to Coach Factory Outlets, but most of it is for consumables - particularly liquid consumables, which will be more difficult to replenish via pouch.

I do love, though, that when you go to Trader Joe's in NoVA and ask them to package up 30 jars of pasta sauce and 25 bags of ravioli they ask you, "oh, are you throwing a party or moving overseas?" instead of looking at you like you're absolutely insane.  The cashier, when confronted with my ridiculous cart of copious amounts of dried exotic mushrooms and 150 dried fruit bars, had the exact same "party or moving?" reaction and again did not consider this a freakish occurrence.  Have I mentioned how much I love Trader Joe's.

One more stop - the grocery store - for the particular chicken broth and cream of mushroom soup that the bulk foods stores didn't have and then I'm done.  I hope.  I really, really, really hope. 

Anyway, lots of stories and photos and observations to share, but for now it's time to sort these consumables.

Also, I am loving meeting so many FS bloggers!  So far I have gotten to meet the masterminds behind such blogs as The Dinoia Family, Travel Orders, dp's Blog, Tuk and Tam, My Intermittent America (formerly of Life in the Land of the Long White Cloud), and 365 Bad Days.  So much fun!