A year or two ago I went to visit my mom. I go as often as I can, do a few usually low-key chores to at least feel like I am earning my keep, and then we play a whole bunch of Canasta. On this particular visit, something had gone wrong with her computer printer, so we went to buy a new one. We got it home, attached it to the computer, and the computer promptly freaked out and refused to boot up properly. So, an eighty dollar problem became a thousand dollar problem. We bought her a smoking new Apple iMac, hooked it up and all was well except perhaps my mother’s checking account. Some helper I am!
I took the old iMac home with the intention of attempting to fix it. It has sat in my basement ever since, but a couple of weeks ago I decided I’d take a crack at getting it going. I don’t know what all of a sudden has compelled me to take action on this, but now I’m on a mission. I’ve tried various things to repair it, and it has become clear that the hard drive is on its way out.
Where does customer service come in to this? Well, I’ve had two good experiences on this project in recent days: First, I bought a new hard drive and some other stuff from Other World Computing. It shipped the same day, for free, and arrived the next day. I was floored. They had options where I could pay for expedited shipping, but I’m in no real hurry on this deal and a bit parsimonious so I just picked the free shipping option, yet there is was less than 24 hours later. Nice job, OWC! I imagine if I had paid for shipping, they'd have sent a barbershop quartet to sing to me as they delivered the box or something just to make it worth it, since it's pretty hard to do shipping better than what they did for free.
Greater accolades still go to Apple. I called them the other night to ask if I could somehow get a copy of the install disks for this seven-year-old machine, as I only had a disk that was labeled “Disk 1,” which implies that there is a Disk 2, and quite possibly a Disk 3, 4, and 5 for all I know. The telephone delivered me to John, who I should add was not someone whose real name was Sanjay who was calling himself John so I would feel more comfortable talking to him, John was actually John, who had a Midwestern US accent, which is to say no accent at all. He was easy to understand, pleasant and helpful. Nothing against the Sanjays of the world, who have been tasked by cheap-ass companies in the US with providing customer service because Sanjay will do it for a tenth of what John will do it—many Sanjays can indeed be helpful if sometimes hard to understand—but it was gratifying that Apple was happy to pay John a living wage to do customer service, which I assume they do because he was so helpful and pleasant. He seemed to enjoy his job.
John helped me try a few things to see if we could just troubleshoot our way through the problem. That having failed, I asked him if I could get the disks. He did some checking and found what I needed, and then as I braced to hear that it was going to be $150, he announced that the disks were free and that they’d be shipped the next day, also free of charge. He then asked for my email address so he could send me a follow-up email, which he did immediately. It contained of course his email address, along with his direct telephone number, the details about the call, and even the hours that he works so I could get ahold of him if I needed to. He told me if I needed anything related to this case that I should get in touch with him so he could help me solve it.
I hung up simply amazed. It is rare to get customer service that thorough when you’re staring someone in the face, much less on a telephone support call. Maybe it should sadden me that service like that isn’t more common. Perhaps it should. But instead I’ve chosen to marvel at how Apple, and more specifically John, chose to handle a call from a guy with a comparatively ancient computer, when they could have just as easily said “we don’t support that anymore, good luck to you.” They have earned future business from me, as has Other World Computing, simply by being good at what they do. In this day and age, it’s a rare find that deserves to be acknowledged.