January 31, 2009

Who Does Apple Think They Are?

By Mona Nomura of Pixel Bits (FriendFeed/Twitter)

I can't believe it's barely been a month since we were crammed in stores filled with irate last-minute shoppers. If you've forgotten, close your eyes, think back to the few days before Christmas and how brutal the holiday shopping crowd and all the stores are - even the grocery stores.

Now imagine, combining the tiring experience with raining glass. What a nightmare. I would not wish that on my biggest enemy but that is what happened to a couple from Kansas.

Last December, an Apple retail store's glass doors shattered shut from strong Midwestern winds and showered glass all over two shoppers. Luckily, the couple only sustained minor cuts with no major injuries, but the fact remains: Glass. Exploded. On them. In our country where everyone and their pets are quick to yell LAWSUIT, Apple got lucky, as the couple chose not to sue.

Instead, the couple's son wrote to Steve Jobs and Ron Johnson (VP of Apple Retail) about the incident, and the only response they got was a call from Apple Claims in Seattle, to verify that Andrew's parents decided to pass on taking the company to court.

There was nothing from Ron Johnson VP of Apple retail, or his office.
There was no press release from Katie Cotton VP of PR, or her office.
Of course, there was nothing from Steve Jobs (obviously it won't be from the man himself, since he is in no condition to do so) but not even an Out of Office reply?

Below is the letter, taken from Gizmodo:
"On Sunday December 21st, my parents were shopping in the Leawood, KS Apple Retail Store. After making their purchases they found a design flaw in the elegant stores of Apple. Glass does not hold up well in Midwest winters As they were leaving the store, a gust of wind caught the front glass door, the door slammed all the way around into the front of the building and shattered all over them. After many apologetic conversations with the employees of the store, they left and my father noticed he had sustained a cut on his hand. To make it home, they had to stop at the local grocery store to get bandages. Upon coming home, my mother discovered she had also sustained cuts.

This all seemed like a lot of trouble and trauma for just adding to the number of Apple products in our family (We have the new Macbook, Macbook Air, 2 iPhones, time capsule, Apple TV, airport extreme, countless iPods, etc.).

THE END RESULT: I emailed this information to Steve Jobs himself, as well as Ron Johnson VP of Apple Retail. My family has not heard from either of them. We did however get a call from an Apple Claims representative in Seattle to make sure my parents didn't keel over on the car ride home and probably trying to find out if we were planning any litigation. My parents took the high road on this one out of respect for the company of Apple which they know I greatly admire. I am an Apple shareholder as well as the Vice-President of the Mac Users Society at my University.

THE BOTTOM LINE: Our family LOVES Apple. We have all been to Cupertino and have seen Steve in person. It's just funny that all Apple did to rectify a retail door shattering on my parents was to make sure we weren't suing. It's ironic that people who get horrible service and whine about it walk out of stores with brand new macbook pros and whatever they cry for. Yet people like my family have taken the high road because we respect companies that give 1st class service to customers and deliver innovative products.

I've Attached a Photo of the Damage to the Store. My heart goes out to all the Apple Employees who braved the cold and stayed until the store closed."
I love Apple, I do. But Apple's course of action - or lack thereof, makes me sick to my stomach. Who does Apple think they are? Have they forgotten why a company succeeds? It is the paying customers. And from the letter, it sounds like Andrew and his parents are loyal Apple customers. To not even extend a written apology from the corporate offices is completely unacceptable - especially since Andrew and his parents handled the incident with class. The least Apple could've done was offered the nice couple a free year of MobileMe, since no one wants to pay for it anyway. Completely unacceptable.

Am I overreacting? What do you think Apple should've done? Do you have any nightmare Apple customer service experiences?

Read more by Mona Nomura at Pixel Bits