Wednesday, September 10, 2003

Bought an iPod yesterday at the online Apple Store. I've been on my way to get one for years, and now they just upped the capacity to 40Gb, so I just couldn't resist.

Being the obsessive madman that I am, I immediatly started trying to track the shipment. But, lo and behold, my account status soon showed an error message, "Action required". So I click on that. "APPLE IS NOT ABLE TO SHIP TO A P.O. BOX. PLEASE CONTACT 800-676-2775 EXT-55200, SO WE MAY ARRANGE FOR A DIFFERENT DELIVERY ADDRESS." A sidenote: Why does everything slightly relating to legal matters require CAPITAL LETTERS HERE IN THE UNITED STATES? IS IT BECAUSE NOBODY WANTS TO LISTEN TO LAWYERS, SO THEY THEREFORE NEED TO YELL? OR ARE THEY JUST SO STUPID THAT THEY DON'T NOTICE THAT THE CAPS LOCK IS ALWAYS ON? I start trying to find out why there is a P.O.Box number on my order, since I specifically remember not putting that on there. Discover that the reason is that the Apple browser (probably like all other browsers nowadays) has used some sort of auto-completion feature to put more information, into the fields of my order, than I put in there. Including my P.O.Box. But here is the insiduous thing: The Address 1 field on the ordering page is only one line, but the auto-completion mechanism added a line break after my address, and put that P.O.Box in a separate line, which I couldn't see on the screen. Sigh.

Anyway, like a good customer, I call the 800 number, hear a welcome message and get an error when I try to enter the extension number provided: "Please listen to the menu options again." So I wait for the machine to bid me welcome to the Apple Store. Again. Then wait for the explanation of the menu options. Pick a menu option. Wait. Get greeted to the Apple Store. Yet again. Wait for the explanation of the menu options. Pick a menu option. Wait. Yet another greeting. Finally get to input the blessed extension number.

The pleasant machine now tells me I need to wait on the phone. For approximately fifteen minutes! Jeez! So I begin to wait, and discover at the same time that you can't change the address on an existing order online, even though it's there that the problem lies. You can only change the address on <>future<> orders! I'm starting to feel like I'm in Dell country by now. Next, the pleasant machine tells me that, if I would like, I could leave a message, instead of waiting online. Great! I choose that option, am immediately told by another pleasant machine that the message box is full, and am promptly disconnected!


I call again. A servant to dumb macines with pleasant voices. Am greeted to the Apple Store again. Several times. At the same time, try to cancel the stopped order online. No luck there, of course. Where is the intelligence in this system: Here is an order, stopped and going nowhere. Online, where the order was made, you can neither correct the problem (deleting the P.O.Box) nor cancel the order. Stupid, stupid, stupid. Who is running this company?

So I wait. On the phone. Like I'm ordering something from SEARS twenty years ago. I have my "Web Order Number" ready to go. Finally, yet another pleasant voice. This one real: "Hi, my name is Christian. Can I have your Sales Order Number, please?" Eh, Sales Order Number? I fumble around. I only have the Web Order Number. I quickly scan through the confirmation e-mail again. No Sales Order Number, just the Web Order Number. I mumble something to keep Cristian from hanging up on me, while I log in to to check the Apple Order Status. Sure enough, right beneath the Web Order Number, I find the prescious Sales Order Number.

I explain my ordeal. Cristian is calm. I guess he's heard it all before. He deletes the P.O.Box from my order. Does he need anything else? Nope. Should I have able to do that myself? Yup. He apologizes. Even says he'll point out the problem to someone else. I thank him, it's not his fault, and hang up.

Granted, this wasn't a Mac I was buying. Buying a Mac has always been a joyous experience for me. Not only because of my excitement over getting every one of them. But the sales people have also kind of been in a celebratory mood. Here you go, sir! Enjoy! And, perhaps most importantly, the system has always worked, more or less. At least I haven't had to deal with the same kind of stupidity that you encounter every day when dealing with other companies. Like *shivers* hp, from whom I am currently trying to buy a printer.

Maybe it was because it was an iPod, and not a Mac. But it is still an Apple. So the buying experience should be just as good. Right? But it wasn't. And that turned me off.