iPhone 5suck

Or, “Apple Doesn’t Have a Customer Loyalty Program”

So, if you’ve been reading my blog at all, you’ve probably noticed that I go through cell phones like most people go through bags of chips. What can I say? I have relatively realistic requirements. One of those requirements, for example, is that any phone that I spend $1,000 on should last more than a year and a month, unless I drop it or get it wet, etc. Hardware-wise, a $1,000 device should last at least a year and change — preferably a minimum of the 2 years that most phones are on contract.

The reason I’m writing today is because that was absolutely not my experience with Apple’s old ‘flagship’ phone, the iPhone 5S.

I bought an iPhone 5S on launch day — switching from AT&T to Sprint in the process (something that has not been without its own caveats, but that’s for another day). That was September 20th, 2013.

In November 2014, I upgrade to iOS 8.1.1 (the day it came out), and my iPhone 5S started behaving somewhat erratically — it started rebooting itself randomly, with a blank blue screen beforehand. It threw some errors in the diagnostic logs about the NAND read/writes timing out. Sometimes it would reboot 6-7 times in a row before it would be usable again, sometimes it would reboot once and work. I figured it was just a bad flash, re-flashed the phone to 8.1.1, configured the device as new (didn’t restore from backup), but the problem persisted.

In December it got notably worse — now the phone was reliably rebooting at least 4-5 times a day, sometimes bootlooping for as much as 10-15 minutes before it was usable again. So, I set a reservation at the “genius” bar nearby and went to go meet some hipster idiot who didn’t give a crap about my problem. It rebooted in front of him, he said “oh, yeah, this. It’s a hardware problem, $270 to replace out of warranty”. I was pretty bothered by this — the phone was about 1-2 months outside of the 1 year included warranty, the problem only began when I upgraded to iOS 8.1.1, and I had already spent >$1,000 on the phone throughout the life of the contract. I talked with the genius for a few minutes before it was apparent he couldn’t really help even if he wanted to, they are seemingly not empowered to do anything other than parrot back policy to you. Nevermind the fact that his comment, “oh, yeah, this,” made me think this was a more widespread issue, which I then confirmed reading through dozens of exactly the same story on the Apple support forums. People with the same phone as me having the same behavior, right after upgrading to iOS 8.1.1. What a shocking coincidence.

So, I did what I do best — I escalated. I wrote Tim Cook an e-mail telling him that as a customer who bought a $1,000 device, I shouldn’t feel like I drew a “short straw”, and that I felt that Apple had a responsibility to ensure that their hardware actually functioned for a legitimate period of time. In contrast, my launch iPhone 3G, 3GS, and 4 all still function with no issues as of this posting.

Less than 24 hours later, I received a phone call from a woman who worked in Apple’s corporate customer care department who was interested in working with me to have one of their higher level technicians in Texas do some diagnostics on the phone to validate whether or not it truly was a hardware issue.

Flash forward two weeks of me taking logs and e-mailing them and uploading them and following up, etc., etc., etc., and I finally get the call back from corporate that they have confirmed it was a hardware issue (that could not have been caused by me whatsoever), and that they’re very sorry but it’ll be $270 to replace the device out of warranty. I offer to buy AppleCare for $100 retroactively, which would allow for the replacement of the phone damaged due to hardware problems, but they decline as I can only buy AppleCare during the first 30 days or so after I have the phone. Appreciably, it likely doesn’t make sense for them to sell insurance after the device you’re insuring already breaks, but I figured it was a realistic attempt to meet them halfway, after their expensive piece of crap broke itself for absolutely no reason. They offer no solution other than $270 to replace the phone out of warranty — the replacement phone would only carry a 90 day warranty as well.

I explain to the person that I’m dealing with that I’ve been an Apple customer for *years* and that I have never seen a piece of their hardware spontaneously break itself so soon after purchase. I tell them that I’ve been using the iPhone since the 3G model all the way up through the 5S, and that every previous one of their phones is still functional. I tell them that I’ve been using Macs and Macbooks and MacBook Pros as my personal laptops for quite some time as well — and she cuts me off to tell me “I’m sorry, but Apple doesn’t have a customer loyalty program”.

That pretty much sealed the deal. I was already frustrated that a $1,000 device had failed less than 45 days outside of its included warranty, but the fact that the woman I was on the phone with was so blatant in her response stopped me dead in my tracks.

I told her I was going to dedicate my life to ensuring that everyone I possibly could share the story with would hear it, and that if even one person didn’t buy an iPhone because of it, I’d feel solidly victorious. I’m pleased to say that my father ended up buying a Windows phone instead of an iPhone 6 based on my story.

Anyways, the long and short of it is that Apple doesn’t give a shit about you or me. They don’t give a shit about any potential sale they may lose because of me. They honestly and earnestly give absolutely 0 fucks about the quality of their product, or their brand, or their customers. So, keep that in your mind when you blindly go spending $600 on a terrible watch, $1,000 on your next vendor-locked app ecosystem that they call a phone, or 30% more on your laptop because of a unibody aluminum enclosure. Apple would pretty much prefer you just fuck the fuck right off after giving them your money, and it’s apparent in how they treat their customers.

Me? I spent $200 and bought an HTC One E8 out of contract (which comes with a better warranty than Apple and a replacement guarantee) and haven’t looked back. Removing iTunes caused my computer to breathe a notable sigh of relief.

Sorry, Apple — you may not have a customer loyalty program, but your customers have loyalty to companies that don’t treat them like shit. I’m pleased that I now no longer own a single one of your products that I paid any money for, and I am no longer tied to your eco-system.

If you have an iPhone, I hope you never have to experience what they classify as “support”. It’s frustrating and poorly executed, and engaging with them will make it readily apparent that they truly, honestly, and without a shadow of a doubt do not give one tug of a dead dog’s dick about your problem.

My iPhone 5S? I shattered it into about a thousand pieces in my driveway. Pretty excellent catharsis. In its defense, it took 3 or 4 pretty solid throws straight at the concrete before it truly exploded into components. Sweeping it up was like sweeping away my entire Apple past, which fell into the electronic recycling box with the pieces of my phone.

Fuck you, Apple, and goodbye. Enjoy your sheep, I’m just not one of them any more.

Talking from both sides of the mouth

Or, Nokia’s customer disservice team.

So, I had previously mentioned on my blog during a rant about iPhones and Podcasts and such that I had previously used a Lumia 920.  This becomes somewhat important to me again because Nokia was in the news this past week for offering a Samsung Galaxy S4 customer whose phone had caught fire a free Lumia as a replacement.  This struck an unhappy chord for me, because I had a pretty damning experience with Nokia customer support that put me off of using their products pretty much forever.  Yes, I will carry a grudge like you read about.  I will boycott products and companies that I don’t feel deserve my money, and I will be loud and obnoxiously outspoken to anyone who will listen when I do.

Let’s flash back to November of 2012, I’ve switched from an iPhone 4 to a Galaxy S3 (and am not liking it very much), and Nokia’s new flagship phone (The Lumia 920) is about to be released.  A buddy of mine is going to the AT&T store to pick one up, and I tag along in the interest of seeing the phone (and contemplating a purchase).  We get to the store and I get a chance to hold on to the phone, and aside from the plastic back that feels a little bit loose, the phone is pretty well built, I really enjoyed the UI, and ended up purchasing one of them out of contract for about $450.  On the ride home from the store, I’m setting e-mail up on the phone and it hard locks, gets really hot, and eats through about 20% battery in something like 10 minutes.  I hard reboot the phone and it starts behaving.

Over the next few weeks, I am introduced to the absolute worst battery life in any device I have ever, EVER experienced.  The absolute best that I ever got out of that phone (and only ONE TIME), I got 12 hours of idle time and absolutely no usage.  Mind you, after having battery life issues initially I turned every single turn-offable thing in the phone off.  I didn’t multitask apps (hell, I even forgot it was capable of doing it because I was so diligent about force closing apps in effort to keep my battery going), bluetooth was turned off, NFC was turned off, every single thing in the phone that I could turn off to enhance battery life was turned off.  I turned on their battery saver utility, never ran Nokia Drive (apparently a culprit for sucking battery life out of these things), and still managed to on average get 6-8 hours of idle.  Other times, the phone would randomly overheat in my pocket and eat about 30%-50% of battery in 15-20 minutes.  A quick search of Nokia’s forums showed many, many people having this problem.  Matter of fact, the Forbes reviewer that reviewed the Lumia 920 had the exact same problem.

I went back to the AT&T store in effort to have them replace the phone, but they were unable because the phone was a new phone, yada yada, I had to contact Nokia to arrange a replacement.  So, I did — and this was just a bad idea.  I should have just sold the phone at this point and called it a day.  BUT ALAS, I did not, and now you have something to read.

I call Nokia and their support is pretty useless — they parrot back to me everything I tell them I’ve done as though I haven’t done it, they ask me to reset the phone the way I already told them I had, they tell me to turn off bluetooth, etc. etc. etc.  Of course, I have already told them I’ve done this, but whatever, I do it again as a show for the idiot on the phone with me.  A few days later (they wouldn’t believe me that this didn’t fix the problem, I had to get off the phone with them and wait for time to elapse before re-calling them about the issue to explain that the troubleshooting didn’t work), and when I finally convinced them that I (and hundreds of other people) weren’t making this up, their only available solution was for me to ship the phone to them for a minimum of 2 weeks (they claimed it could take as long as 6 weeks!) for ‘warranty review’.  On a brand new phone, less than 1 month old.  I explained to the technician that he had his head jammed up his ass if he believed that in 2013 he could ask for someone to ship their primary cellular phone in for review for 2 weeks, and I expressed my surprise that Nokia did not have any sort of advanced replacement program.  They couldn’t even charge me full price for a replacement phone and then credit it back when they received mine.  They pretty much have the worst possible warranty support that could exist in 2013 short of not actually offering to look at the product.  I escalated the issue to Nokia’s executive office and unsurprisingly got the same bullshit back — no advanced replacement plan exists, you need to ship the phone in for 2 weeks minimum for us to review it.

So, fuck that.  I sold the piece of shit on craigslist at a loss ($200 loss, because no one wanted that terrible phone), and went back to my iPhone 4.

The reason I’m talking about this today is to point out Nokia’s inconsistent behavior:

1) Forbes reviewer got a Lumia 920 phone.  Their phone had the exact same battery life issue, and Nokia overnighted them a replacement.  I’d like to remind you, this was NOT a customer.  They paid $0 for the Lumia 920, and they got a free overnight replacement.  My guess is they didn’t have to return either of the phones they received to Nokia.

2) Samsung Galaxy S4 customer’s phone catches fire (allegedly).  Nokia’s twitter account reaches out to him and offers him a free Lumia.  Again, this is not a paying customer.  He paid Nokia $0, and is being offered a free phone.

3) User on twitter complains about their blackberry not working.  Nokia’s twitter account reaches out to them and offers a 2 week trial of a Lumia 1020.  Again, not a paying customer.  He paid Nokia $0, and is being offered a two week trial of the flagship Lumia phone at present.  (A solution, I might add, that would have been great for, oh, say a PAYING FUCKING CUSTOMER WITH A BROKEN DEVICE)

Through all this, Nokia’s support and the idiots managing their twitter account had absolutely no idea why I was upset — they just don’t understand why giving non-customers free phones while completely shafting paying customers is a problem.  A fact they have drilled in by continuing to offer non-customers free phones and phone trials, even after acknowledging (via the VERY SAME TWITTER ACCOUNT) that paying customers have to ship phones into a black hole for service.

So, in short, fuck you Nokia.  Your service is terrible and terribly inconsistent.  You obviously are more concerned with expanding your market share than taking care of any of your customers.  I’m not the only person you’ve screwed, and I’m 100% certain I won’t be the last customer your screw.  I will, however, make it my life’s mission to ensure that no one I ever have a greater than 5 minute conversation with will ever consider your shit brand of phones in the future.

Bad service pays in spades.  Even if 1/100th of the people I bicker to about this never buy Nokia again, I win.  Your lack of support has already cost you one customer, and I will do everything in my power (minimal though it may be) to ensure that as many people don’t buy from you as well in the future.