Friday, March 1, 2013

GGW, Apple, an iPod, a Broken Headphone Jack and a Heartbroken Little Miss 12

A personal story I'm sharing,  for my daughter's sake...

 Little Miss 12's iPod...
an iPod which is not really an iPod anymore

Christmas 2012 and, as any of you who follow Global Greek World know, we were in Florida visiting family.

It’s Christmas Day and a special treat was in store for our 12 year old daughter - little Miss A -   an APPLE iPod Touch … a gift she was particularly thrilled to receive.

Firstly, because it was a gift from her beloved older brother and his family, and secondly, because she had soooo looked forward to getting one …

We only had a few days to go before we were to leave to return to Greece, and we had already bought a set of SONY headphones so she was all set, with a gift she would have and cherish for a long time, or at least that’s what we thought!...

She had the pleasure of enjoying listening to her music on her iPod, for a grand total of … wait for it… 4 weeks!!!

Why? You might ask. Well, the reason her ability to listen to her music was cut abruptly short was because I decided to take off the headphones from the iPod one day so tried to pull out the headphone jack, and it appeared to be stuck… I pulled it harder and… oh no, disaster! The jack snapped – leaving the point in the iPod, and the wires, along with the rest of the headphones in my hand!

Now I’m not superman, so I cannot for the life of me understand how a headphone jack could snap so easily, but at any rate, surely we would be able to get it out? 

Surely said I… reassuring my daughter.

Next stop was a  visit to the Apple Service representative in Athens, Systems Graph. ‘We have been able to remove broken headphone jacks before’ they told me when I called them.

Reassured that I wasn’t alone, the only Super Mum who ever managed to break a headphone jack in an iPod, we took a ride to Mesoghion Avenue on Saturday afternoon and left our precious iPod with System Graph, full of hope that it would be fixed.

Alas, alack to quote the one and only Shakespeare!

The feeling of euphoria didn’t last long.  

Monday morning, System Graph called and told us that despite their expertise, when they opened it up, the technicians couldn’t remove the broken part of the headphones. Given that it was the 25th of February and the iPod is still only 2 months old, System Graph Athens advised me that the almighty APPLE in its superior wisdom, does not consider that the incident falls under the ‘proper use’ category and therefore the warranty does not apply.

However, because APPLE is also very ‘large’ as we Greeks say, it  made us a very ‘generous’ offer… they are happy to take back the ‘damaged’ iPod and replace it with a new one… great isn’t it?

Wouldn’t that make our 12 year old happy?

Of course, but… there are always buts and catches in this kind of story… the cost would be the incredibly low price of 150 euros…now if we convert it that would come out to probably what it cost Little Miss A’s brother to buy it in the first place in the USA! That would mean that two iPods were paid for effectively. Generous? Hardly.

Not impressed at all, but nonetheless keen to plead my case, for my daughter’s sake, I ‘dialled’ the number for APPLE Support given to me and had a conversation with a bilingual lady who I shall call Miss D – I say bilingual because the conversation started in Greek and ended in English, and as we Global Greeks tend to do, was laced with Greek and English throughout.

To cut a long story short, I spoke to Miss D at length, explaining that there was no ‘improper’  use of the iPod  (I mean what could I have done to it really –  at least nothing that I didn’t do to my  mobile phone when listening to music) and that when I googled ‘headphone jack broke off in iPod’  I obviously wasn’t the only person in the whole wide world to have the problem. In fact Google came up with 283,000 results in 31 seconds as you can see from the screenshot below!!! 

Screenshot of the search for 
'headphone jack broke off in iPod

Incidentally, that in itself says something, that maybe something is not quite right about the iPod and the headphone slot. Each of the results that I looked at had a broken headphone jack stuck in an iPod and there were various forums built around the subject discussing and giving various bits of advice as to how to deal with it.

At any rate, to get back to my discussion with APPLE Support, Miss D said that nothing of what I was telling her could override APPLE’s decision and that the only way would be to write to APPLE directly.

‘Ok’ said I, ‘please give me an email address where I can write a letter.’

‘There isn’t one’, said Miss D….

‘What????’ said I, almost picking myself up off the floor, ‘in the days of internet there is no email address where I can send a letter? Are you kidding me?’

No, said Miss D, you have to send them a letter to a physical address.

And how do YOU communicate with APPLE?’ I asked ‘Do you write letters to each other and send them by mail?’

No, she said ‘we have meetings’ (oh thank goodness said I, I could just imagine these poor employees taking ink pen to paper and licking stamps…is that what Steve Jobs meant when he said thinking outside the box, was he talking about the letter box?)

Oh, ok… they don’t send emails but they have meetings…So, ok, if I send a letter to System Graph, will they be able to pass it on, perhaps? asked I but I didn’t quite catch exactly what Miss D replied, just that it was negative.

‘Oh ok then, maybe I should just publish it in my blog, I said. Maybe they’ll see it then.’

Well, only if they read your blog…’ or words to that effect…

Now I don’t have any illusions or delusions that anyone at the Big APPLE is holding his/her breath waiting for my next blogpost,  and since by this stage I was ready to throw anything that said APPLE out the window, I decided that it was a good time to say goodbye, while I could still be polite…

‘Thank you. I am not impressed, but thank you…’

So, that’s it…now you know why this story is on my blog.

Please help us get the message to Apple that :

a) it really does need to get an email system so APPLE can hear of customer problems, complaints and objections first hand...

b) it really does need to listen to its customers and their concerns and 

c) it really does need to evaluate individual circumstances and not hide behind a vague but catch-all 'proper use' clause which eventually could be applied to anything that goes wrong...

(d) it needs to do something about the problematic headphone jack slot…

In the meantime, heartless Apple in its corporate arrogance quotes its all encompassing and inflexible proper use policy, not telling us what exactly I could have done which caused it to break without knowing that I was doing it, and our little Miss A is upset because she cannot listen to music on the iPod her brother gave her for Christmas.

Of course, you might say there are far worse problems in the world today, and we wholeheartedly agree. 

But, that doesn't change the fact that we are not at all happy with APPLE, or that APPLE has shown total indifference and inflexibility.

We have one very disappointed 12 year old daughter, a family upset at APPLE’s complacency and shortsightedness, which forgets that customer satisfaction is the best advertisement you can have, and a company which may well be a world leader in its field but really has a serious communication problem.

I don’t think that this is quite what Steve Jobs had in mind… or is it? 

Come on, APPLE!
Live up to your reputation for perfect products!
Think outside the Box! 

PS I forgot to ask but why did APPLE’s Miss D ask for our email address if they don’t communicate by email???

PS2 If APPLE thinks the SONY headphones did the damage by breaking and effectively rendered the iPod inoperable, we would appreciate knowing it.

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