I’ve been trying to book some time at my local Apple Store to get my iPhone’s battery swapped, and it has not been easy — at least, not compared to the way it used to be. Previously, I’d open the Apple Store app on my phone, open up my store’s page, and tap the button to get support. I could easily make a Genius Bar appointment from there with just a few taps.
Once you’re directed to Apple’s support site, you’re in for another blow: it’s probably the least-stable online service Apple offers, in a really big way. It frequently doesn’t load at all; when it does, I often see some form of server-side failure midway through the booking process. This isn’t new — a friend of mine asked me several months ago to help him book an appointment because the website wasn’t loading for him, and I wasn’t able to make it work either.
Even then, for me, it usually takes 3+ days to get an appointment, or a 2-hour walk-in wait.
My iPhone 6s suffers from the unexpected shutdown issue. When I talked with Apple about what to do, I had two options. I could do a mail-in repair, which would mean not having a phone or camera for a week or so. Or I could wait 2+ weeks until one of the local Apple Stores might be accepting appointments to replace the battery. (There is apparently a shortage of replacement batteries.) Even if I could get an appointment, this would be a big time commitment, as the closest store is about two hours away. So far, I’ve opted to do nothing in the hope that sometime I will happen to be near an Apple Store and be able to make a last-minute appointment. I’m also considering whether I should stop selling my old iPhones when I upgrade, so that I’ll have a spare.
Update (2016-12-07): It turns out that my local Best Buy, only 15 minutes away, offers iPhone battery replacement services. However, they do not expect to have batteries in stock anytime soon. Another local Apple service provider, which previously did not service iPhones, says that they do not have batteries in stock but can get one within three days after verifying that an iPhone 6s is eligible.
Apple initially said that it found that battery components in a particular batch of iPhones were exposed to the air for too long before assembly, causing the batteries to cut out. It has now updated its statement to say that some customers with phones from outside this batch have also experienced shutdowns, and that it will be issuing an iOS update to help track down the cause…
Update (2016-12-12): Dr. Drang:
The first thing I learned at our appointment was that the store had no batteries in stock and we might have to wait up to two weeks for them to come in (that was an overly pessimistic estimate). We were assigned to a store employee who checked the condition of our phones and filled out all the forms necessary for the replacement. She also walked us through the steps of turning off Find my iPhone, but she didn’t have us erase any data. The replacement, she said, would take an hour or two to perform.
One thing that surprised me was when she asked for our phones’ passcodes and typed them into the form she was filling out on her iPad. I guess it makes sense that they need the passcode to turn the phone on and test it after replacing the batteries, but I was taken aback by the sort of matter-of-factness with which she asked for the keys to all our data. I changed the passcode after I got the replacement, but had I known ahead of time that they’d need it, I would have created a temporary code for the store to use and then changed it back to my regular code afterward.
We left the store without new batteries or any concrete sense of when we’d get them.
Update (2016-12-27): Dr. Drang:
I’ve never had bad service at an Apple Store before. They’re very busy, and service is never instant, but I understand that and have always been happy with how I’ve been treated. This, though, was a pile-on of what used to be considered very un-Apple-like behavior. Whatever system they’re using to track customers and service requests failed 2–3 times on the same request. Both my wife and I wrote about the problems on the customer feedback forms we got from the store.
Is this whining? If I were dealing with a discount store, I’d say yes. But expectations for Apple are higher, commensurate with the price you pay for their products and the quality image the company projects.
Need iPhone repaired. Didn’t have patience for Genius route. Tried setting up mail service. 5 reps and 2.5 hours later I’m still on hold.
Update (2017-01-02): Joel Spolsky:
Bought new MacBook Pro. One of the keys didn’t work unless you really whacked it. Spent 4 weeks waiting for a replacement from Apple
Remember those 3h I spent with Apple Support to get my iPhone registered for a screen change? Well, they just sent my phone back, no fix ;-(
Despite being willing to pay whatever for the screen change, scratch apparently wasn’t big enough for them to act. Need to smash it more ;-(
Dealing with Apple Support really is akin to DMV. You wait in line forever to be served. Then they send you to the back with “wrong form!”
Update (2017-03-11): Nick Heer:
It’s good to hear that Laptop continues to find Apple’s support channels the best in the industry, but I worry that it’s seeing a reduced focus within the company. Yesterday, I linked to a report from MacRumors stating that Apple will no longer be training their Genius Bar staff in Cupertino, or even on real devices.
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