My iPhone was gimped, but not yet dead. The problem was with the “home” button, and being the only button on the front face, you can imagine it gets used frequently. It had lost the crisp, original clickyness and trying to press it was like using a sausage to play a snare drum. Sometimes I’d press and get no response, sometimes a double click, whisking me away to the favorites list instead of the home screen.
After dealing with the pain that is Vodafone (my previous carrier)’s repair service, I was reluctant to go down that dark path, and just dealt with my limp iPhone for a couple weeks. Remembering that my 1 year warranty would expire in November, I finally got around to making the call to get some reparations.
Fortunately, as I discovered, Apple’s customer service and repair arm is a class act, even in a country where the bar has been set pretty low. The first phone call to Apple went well: short wait to talk to a rep with fluent language skills, and a competent sounding manner. He issued me a repair ID and ordered a returns kit sent to my house.
Now, the story hits a few bumps in getting the returns kit delivered. Of this I hold no malice against the rep I spoke to; it was a simple misunderstanding. When he read the address they had on file, I assumed he left out the house number for brevity, but as it turns out, it just wasn’t there. So UPS received an address with the correct street, but no house number. As helpful as I have found the order tracking website in the past, once there was a problem the cryptic “delivery exception” messages were of little use in deciphering what the problem was. Fast forward about a week, several phone calls to UPS, and several mornings wasted waiting up for the deliveryman who seemed to need a signature to deliver me what is essentially an empty box; I called Apple to have them deliver to my lab instead. I had my kit the next day. This time didn’t bother me too much, since the iPhone still worked OK, but if I had a dead phone, I’d have been pissed at UPS (and probably Apple for hiring them).
Opening up the returns box was almost like unboxing a new gadget from Apple. Carefully laid out were all the things I’d need to ship my iPhone to Apple, right down to an included paper clip to open the SIM card tray on the iPhone. Also included was a pre-paid envelope and address label to ship the iPhone to Apple.
Once it shipped, I could use my repair ID to track the status, but it turns out I needn’t have worried. Apple sent me an email once my iPhone arrived, and, 3 hours later, after they shipped a replacement. That impressed me—3 hours after my gimped iPhone arrived at their repair center a replacement left destined for me. Unfortunately, this was on Friday afternoon, and the replacement didn’t arrive until Monday. Since they picked up the entire tab including shipping both ways, I couldn’t begrudge them for not splurging on Saturday delivery.
The difference between this and Vodafone’s service, which they charge £7 per month for, is like night and day. I knew where my iPhone was at any time via the web, even during transit using UPS tracking. When Vodafone repaired my phone I gave it to a man in the store and just waited until the predetermined pickup day. Several times (yes, I had several repairs) I returned on the appointed day to be simply told that it hadn’t returned yet and that I should come back tomorrow. Apple took 3 business days (5 including the weekend) to return my iPhone, while Vodafone typically took a week. Apple proactively informed me about the progress, while Vodafone didn’t even let me know when there was a delay.
Good customer service includes the tenet that a customer’s problem is your problem until it’s resolved, and it includes keeping the customer in the loop. Good customer service is something Apple UK has, and Vodafone doesn’t.
“Unboxing” Photos of the Return Kit below: