(if you’re not interested in it or Apple customer service, look away).

Two nights ago my iPhone suddenly had an emergency breakdown. Somehow the OS became corrupted, and the only way to fix it was to connect it to my mac and let iTunes try its best counselling skills.

The only problem was, iTunes couldn’t connect with it – just kept on asking me to enter the phone’s passcode …which I couldn’t do as the phone wouldn’t let me do anything except make emergency calls. Catch 22.

(For google reference, the error message read:

“iTunes could not connect to the iPhone “*” because it is locked with a passcode. You must enter your passcode on the iPhone before it can be used with iTunes”

This all happened when I was actually in the Apple Store on unrelated business (looking at new macbooks!), but they were so busy I had no chance of seeing the Geniuses (they’re the people who fix stuff), and the sales staff didn’t know what to do. I made an appointment for the following night, and using their in-store wifi started scouring the Apple forums.

Eventually I found out how to force the iPhone into recovery mode (connect to computer, open iTunes, press both buttons until Apple logo appears, then only release the top button, hole the bottom one until iTunes recognises it as being in recovery mode and restores it to factory settings). However, after it rebooted it just came up with another error, “The iPhone “*” cannot be used with iTunes because the information required for activation could not be obtained from the iPhone”. There was nothing I could do but wait until the following night’s appointment.

This being Japan, I was kind of expecting it to take a long time to sort out. Everything here seems to involve endless form-filling – you even have to provide a notarised copy of your birth certificate in order to buy a loaf of bread. (OK, slight exaggeration, maybe.) One problem I saw was the fact that the phone is registered to *Twinkle*, and she was unable to come to the store.

What happened then really surprised me. The chap listened to my story, quickly tested the SIM card in another iPhone (it was fine) …and then reached into the drawer behind him, pulled out a brand new iPhone and handed it to me.

“Is that OK?” he asked.

“Erm, yes!” I said, with a big grin on my face.

“Oh, if you could just sign this receipt to say that Apple will pay that’ll be it”.

And that was it.

Having left the store, it was simply a case of plugging the new phone into my Macbook and leaving it for 30 mins as it restored all my settings (and 15GB of emails, contacts, photos music and apps), resulting in a brand new phone that was identical in content & settings to my old one.

Now THAT is what customer service of the future should be like. It was even accompanied by the happiest music one could hope to hear, wafting up the stairs from the live concert on the ground floor.

Of course, there are reasons why this all happened so quickly and without any fuss. For a start, they were incredibly busy, and the guy was desperate to get through the queue. For a second thing, they already had all my details to hand, as when I made my appointment I’d logged in with my Apple ID.

Still, I thought it was all bloomin marvellous, Yet another excuse to give my money to Apple.

4 Responses

  1. So, iPhones are so unreliable they’ve had to massively streamline the replacement process to cope with the load? 😉

  2. it would kind of seem that way..! But no matter how error-prone they are they are worth it. I mean can you imagine how much richer your life would be if you had a virtual goldfish pond in your pocket? Let me tell you, this CHANGES LIVES. Like, loads. I mean, I can feed my goldfish when on the train. Well at least until the next stop when the batteries conk out. But it’s great! You need one! Woo! Hail Steve the almighty,, enabler of the mobile fish pond…

  3. On the one hand, it is nice that Apple replaces a defective unit so readily. On the other, you’ve had your phone for a month and it’s falling apart. The same thing happened to T’s iPod Touch. It became defective within a month or so.

    FWIW, Palm replaced T’s. Palm T|X with a new one because the off and on button became sticky, and that was after 8 months.

    I’ll grant that Apple’s customer service can be good, but I would prefer that their products just not be so fragile these days. I also think that the bar has been set pretty low if we’re applauding any company for replacing a very recent purchase that is still under warranty with a new unit. This is as it should be, and Apple knows it. Fortunately, their stores make the whole receiving service situation much less byzantine than with PC makers. Before the Apple stores, things were very different (believe me, I had to put up with it in the “old days”).

  4. orchid64: Absolutely, it does seem a bit odd that I should feel so grateful to be have been given a replacement like that – as you say, It’s only right that they do so.

    I think one reason is because I had such a bad experience of trying to get my Toshiba laptop repaired under warranty in the UK, oh, and a couple of Sony Cybershots too.

    Also, if I go in expecting the worst, then when things do turn out perfect I get the pleasure of feeling extra happy about it!