November 05, 2003

How Apple Lost my Business Today

Today, Apple lost any chance of getting my business. What seemed to be a simple tech support experience ended up having me feel very uncomfortable and upset. I would have expected more from Apple, but if that is how they treat potential customers, forget it.

Maybe I should explain. Getting ready for my trip next week I decided I wanted to rip my Diana Krall and Chris Botti CDs to MP3. Alan recommended I should try iTunes as it apparently does it well. Sounded like a good idea, since I was looking to buy an iPod anyways, and may as well make sure all this software works together.

After installing iTunes and rebooting, I gave it a try. Nothing. Nada. iTunes does not seem to recognize my CDs. It plays MP3s fine, but it just doesn't seem to want to rip them. We scoured the newsgroups and found a few posts about others having issues, and was told that there was an update to fix it. Well, I am running 4.1.1 which seemed to be the newest, but just in case I tried to update. No new updates. Ok, so I am up to date with the software.

Alan found a good entry in which a few people had the same problem. Ok, so I am not alone. Thats good to know.. since Alan and the crew haven't had any difficulties and I thought it was just bad iTunes-foo. I tried all the suggestions in the posts, to no avail. In a last ditch effort, I called the Apple Support phone number that was in one of the posts.

The initial call was pleasant. The front line guy figured out I needed to go to the "iTune for Windows team" and passed me through. Seemed harmless enough... until I got to the next guy.

He started by taking my info. Then asked "So what is wrong with your iPod". I explained that I didn't own one yet, and that I was trying to get iTunes to work before I went and bought one. Silence. A dead silence. A sigh (you know the ones, where you think someone just died) and then the doozy... "you will have to go buy one first and use the complimentary 90 day telephone service. I need the serial number from the back".

Now on the surface, there is nothing wrong with that. I haven't actually purchased anything yet, so I can understand support is limited. (Well, non existant in this case) That didn't bother me; it was the way he said it, and the fact that I just told him I am looking to buy the iPod but wanted to ensure the software is going to work. If Apple wants to win me over, they should be trying to do everything to make sure the software runs. Or atleast be polite and cheerful and not make me, the customer who is going to potentially buys something, feel like I did something wrong.

When on the phone your tone of voice makes up more than 80% of how I will feel about the experience. Do it wrong, and you do not have a satisified customer.

I am so unsatisified that I am NOT only going to forget about buying the iPod, I am going to take the money I am saving up for my iBook and using it to buy something else, such as a TabletPC. Maybe Microsoft doesn't have the greatest software, but at least their pre-sales support WANTS to make me happy.

With my griping now done, I will go try to find some other Windows software that will rip CDs for me right to MP3 for free. If you have any suggestions, please let me know.

Posted by SilverStr at November 5, 2003 12:36 PM | TrackBack

Under linux, grip, abcde, and a host of others work fine. Too bad you're running that windows thing though :)

Course, now you'll just rip to DRM enabled WMA to spite me and complete your journey to the dark side...

Posted by: Arcterex at November 5, 2003 12:41 PM

try on windows.

my apple support vs. microsoft support experience. after purchase apple support has always came through for me. as in they usually has me fixed in a shorter time than i was on hold. with microsoft support after paying extra on top of the product purchase they spun ther wheels for months, repeat months! then try to dodge out of refunding the additional payed for support that never came through.

Posted by: fozbaca at November 5, 2003 02:19 PM

At work we've been fighting with fixing an IIS5-gone-sour install. Won't start, won't reinstall, etc. So the IT head calls Microsoft Support, who could only suggest to re-install Win2k SP4, which had already been attempted. And to top it off, they wanted to charge money for that "tip".

Posted by: Wim at November 5, 2003 05:17 PM

iTunes is the best digital music jukebox going IMHO. I think you really deserve it to yourself to give it an honest chance.

CDex ( is the next best thing on windows if iTunes isn't recognizing your cd-rom drive.

There _is_ an alternative to generating AAC encoded files.

Grab the PsyTEL MPEG-4 AAC encoder from the following url:

Once you install CDex you can use that to rip WAV files and specify an external encoder to which you can pass command line param args.

I can't lay claim as haveing actually tried this configuration, but in theory it should work.


Posted by: Pokernut at November 11, 2003 07:20 PM

it's sort of a knee-jerk reaction to label a whole company or refuse a purchase based on one support call. Apple techs have been more than friendly after the fact - i've actually received worse treatment from their telephone salespeople, which is strange because they're on commission.

i mean really, you wouldn't cancel a flight to Ireland because the Aer Lingus rep gave you a hard time... that's just irrational.

Posted by: some guy at April 30, 2004 04:58 PM

Customer service should be golden all the time. Apple techs may have been friendly to you... but they were not to me.

Worse was the WAY they treated me. I label it as I see it. If Apple doesn't want that label, they need to train their front line support to by nice to all customers. But they decided my business wasn't important enough to them.

If the Aer Lingus rep gave me a hard time, your damn straight I would find an alternate flight. Business is not about the product, its about the customer. Without it... you are nothing.

Posted by: SilverStr at April 30, 2004 07:29 PM

I just hung up with Apple tech support after they charged my $12 for an audiobook I was unable to download. What a JOKE!!!! Screw them, he couldn't tell me anything at all, he wouldnt even tell me if my email was recieved. I will never buy Apple.

Posted by: Alex at May 5, 2004 07:08 AM