The Core of my Problem with Apple Customer Support

The other day, I received an email from Apple letting me know that there had been a purchase (using my Apple ID) made on an unauthorized device.  “Okay, fine” I say to myself, “I will take their advice and change my password.” But I can’t. Close inspection of the email shows that  the Apple ID listed is… not mine.  Its a mismash of letters and numbers, ending in  Alarm bells and whistles go off in my head.  This is a big barrel of NOT GOOD.  I do some mad Googling and discover this siteTurns out that there is a known issue with security with non-credit card payments.  It turns out that if you use Pay Pal or have a gift card balance, it makes it easier for a hacker to take over your account, change your username and password and buy apps.

I then go to Apple’s help site.  The site suggests that for my issue, I use their ‘Express Lane’ email support service.  I fire off an email.  Then I notice that it will take up to 24 hours for a response. No.  I’m sorry, but Express is not ‘up to’ 24 hours.  Especially when it deals with my account being hacked.  So, with the help of jacobnorton and uraifenn I got some phone numbers and started dialing. This is where I started have a problem with Apple Customer Service.

I first called around 0700, EST.  The automated voice told me that no one was in.  Ok, no problem, I know its early. I go through the prompts and the voice informs me that it can’t help and that I should call back during operating hours.  Then the line goes dead.  I got a bit upset here as most places will have a message indicating the hours that you can speak to a human.  No such thing here.  I then call every 15 minutes until 0803 EST.  I give the required information to the automated voice who then transfers me.  I give the same information to the first human I speak to.

At this point I’m starting to reach a low boil.  I explain to him the issue that my account has been compromised: the information I entrusted to you has been stolen from you through no fault of my own.  He then transfers me to Human number 2 who proceeds to ask for the same information I just gave the last person and the automated system.  You mean to tell me that at no point the first two entries of my information were recorded and passed on?  Pretty lazy in my opinion.

Here’s where I (admittedly) lose my cool.  I tell Human number 2 the issue, that I was a victim of a known issue, my accounts been hacked and I want this fixed.  He goes off line to see what he can do.  He comes back 15 minutes later and says that nope, iTunes support is email or online chat only.  Excuse me?  My account and personal information has been compromised and taken over and all you can do is email? It took you 15 minutes to figure this out?   No.  I gave this poor soul some rather salty language.  I ask him questions like: ‘So, they can sit in front of a computer and type, but not pick up a phone?’  He did not have an answer for that one.

Around lunch time,  I get an email from the Apple iTunes support saying that they have reset my account information.  The also refunded me the money stolen, so that’s nice. I decided to send along an email to the iTunes support person who assisted me.  I just wanted to know what Apple was going to do about this known issue.  Surprisingly, I got a response.  Unsurprisingly, the email was just standard boiler plate about how to better protect my account.  Sigh.  I responded to that second email with the information I uncovered, but I’m not expecting any further response.

In the end, I’m glad that I was able to get my account fixed, and the money refunded.  However, I am still upset that a customer who was calling about a compromised account was brushed off so easily.  Will this stop me from using Apple products?  No.  I guess I just expected better.

6 thoughts on “The Core of my Problem with Apple Customer Support”

  1. Having worked customer support in various industries for many years, I can confirm it’s hit and miss when it comes to prompt issue resolution and/or good service. It’s a thankless job, 99 times out of a 100, and most of the time you are required to stay on script and have limited capability. This forces you to have to transfer people and get manager’s approval which normally just pisses people off. Sure many of the CSRs are to blame, as they are just low paid phone jockeys that don’t give a crap. Sometimes you get a good one who really tries but is likely hindered by corporate BS rules they have to adhere to for fear of loosing their $10.00/hr job.
    The real change needs to occur at the corporate level. Hire quality people. Pay them a fair salary for dealing with us idiots when we have stupid things happen to us. Empower them with the ability to actually take ownership of the problem.
    No offense, but it seems that your problem was resolved through the proper channels with one email. All the calling and frustration that came from it was unnecessary, unless it just gave you a place to vent.
    Regardless, let me share a good Customer Support story about an issue I had over the holidays. I ordered a Kindle Touch for my daughter and it was stolen in transit. How do we know this? Well I received an email saying a book was purchased before it was delivered. I was freaking out, not only because I thought my account was compromised but because the big xmas gift for my daughter may not get here in time. I called Amazon and just kept pressing 0 and * to get a live person, hint this is a great way to bypass automated systems. I got a nice guy on the phone who was unfortunately unable to help, but he would be happy to transfer me to the Kindle support department. Ok, that makes sense. Another nice guy picked up the phone. He was very understanding given the time crunch as the holiday was approaching soon. Get this, he easily bricked the device, credited my account… but was going to have to get manager approval to overnight a new one to me. Just wait, her comes the impressive part. He confirmed my phone # they had on file and said he would call me back within the next couple of hours once he got everything approved and resolved. Five minutes later I received a call and xmas was saved. 

    1. Ok, first I am not complaining about the resolution.  I’m glad that it was resolved quickly and to my satisfaction.  But when I call about a compromised account, I expect a little higher quality service.  When I see something called ‘Express Lane’ I expect it to be quicker that 24 hours, especially when its about a compromised account.  Yes, the money I am talking here was peanuts.  But lets say that I had a linked Pay Pal account with, $1000 in it.  In the six hours my account was not MY account, what’s to say that that $1000 is not all gone?  Would Apple would have been so keen to return that amount with such ease?

      Also, I had heard such great things about Apple’s help desk, that I was honestly shocked at the response.  I call you with a serious matter and you push me off to an email only support?  Not only that, i call you with a KNOWN issue?  The cynic in me wonders if I had an Apple Care account if I would have been treated differently.

      I take no offense to what you said.  I know the techs I spoke with were not at fault, and I apologized for blasting the one that I did.

      1. You’re absolutely valid in being dissatisfied with your phone support service and likely correct in the assumption having Apple Care would resulted in a more pleasant experience. 
        I wonder if Paypal has a policy to address these situations. Regardless anytime your identity/accounts become compromised it just plain sucks. Receiving anything less than a comforting, understanding, helpful customer support representative only exacerbates the whole ordeal. Once again glad everything worked out in the end. 

  2. Something’s been bothering me since I read this. If they informed you that a purchase was made from an _unauthorized_ device, it means that they detected an _unauthorized_ device. If it’s unauthorized, why did their system authorize said _unauthorized_ device to make the purchase?

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