Saturday, November 19, 2016

My Neverending iPhone 7+ Fiasco

If you've already read the beginning of this, you can scroll down to the Addendum added on 1/17/17, or to Addendum #2 added on 1/26/17, or Addendenum #3 added on January 29, 2017

Please note that while this is usually a psychiatry blog, today I am using it to vent for my own personal psychotherapy.  Please feel free to offer words of support, to make helpful interpretations to improve my insight, or if you know CBT techniques that may help me, I'm open to that.  Is there a 12 step group for iPhone users?  Medications to treat Post Traumatic iPhone Seven Disorder? 
Dear Mr. Jobs,
I know you've died and left the job and I should leave you to your death in peace, but I imagine you are spinning in your grave at a mind-boggling rate where there is no peace to be had.  You used to run an amazing company with great products and great service, and since you've left, it's gone to hell.  I don't know where you are but  perhaps you might know this?

Let me tell you my iphone 7 story.
~First I'll start from way back: I loved my iPhone 4.
~At some point I upgraded to an iPhone 5s, it had terribly short battery life of 3-4 hours.  I thought I'd cracked the screen (it was a plastic protector) so it looked pathetic.  Touch voicemail didn't work, and since this is my only phone and I run a medical practice from it, it was often difficult to retrieve messages, and I spent about an hour on the phone with support figuring out how to change my greeting for vacations.  Simply put, it was time for an upgrade many months ago, but I waited for September for the latest model: the iPhone 7 which came with many promises.
~I went to the Apple store to buy my iPhone 7, which is constantly advertised on TV.  Ha!  No such product.  Order it, the color I want will be available in 3 months, I opted not to.
~There were ways to order it online, but I really wanted a live person to help with set up, oh, and what I want still wouldn't be available for months.
~I gave up on the color and began calling Apple every few days.  They repeatedly told me to check on line at 8 AM everyday for availability, but I could not figure out how to do that on the website (all those Ivy League degrees for nothing).
~One day, I was told that a gold (meh) phone was available at a mall 30 minutes from me and I could reserve a time to come get it.  Yes! I arrived at 5:30 to get my iPhone 7, I brought my MacBook Pro because my phone was not backing to the cloud. They got me the phone, backed my phone to the computer, erased my phone (despite my suggestion that they wait until the new one was set up) and handed me off to the next guy to set up the new phone; I was told this would take a few minutes.   I was able to cash in my old phone for $90. The new phone with Apple Care plan cost over $1,000.
~I remained at the store until 9:30 when it closed.  My 4 year old MacBook Pro has Lion and it was incompatible with the new phone, and try as they may, 2 set up guys and 3 geniuses could not get the information transferred.  At one point, the genius just vanished for half an hour (maybe on break, but he could have said so?).  The geniuses were helping several people at once.  There was little sympathy for my plight, but occasionally, my genius offered a reassuring word that it would eventually work. My operating system could not be updated because I was not sure if the computer was fully backed up, and when I suggested they use an external drive to do this, they said they I could buy one.  No one suggested that I pay 99 cents to get enough storage space in the cloud to back up there.
~At 10 AM the next morning, I arrived at an Apple store closer to my home with my new phone, my old phone which I had purchased back, my MacBook Pro, and an external drive so the computer could be backed up. Now a new operating system could be installed that would compatible with the new phone.  I was told to come back at noon because there was a wait.  I did so and was told to come back at 3 PM because there was still a wait, at which point I asked to see a manager and be given special consideration since I had been trying to get the phone set up for many hours and was on day 2 now.  They did expedite me, and by 5 PM, my phone was set up and my computer upgraded to Sierra.  I also learned that I needed more RAM on the computer, which Apple does not do, but they suggested outside business which could help me.  Really, they can't add RAM to their own computers? In all, 11.5 hours including an entire business day in Apple's stores for a process I expected to take 30 minutes.  And no, I would not have purchased the phone if I was aware that it would be this difficult. And that was the beginning of the story.
~The new phone has good battery life.  I'm told it has a better camera.  The fingerprint unlock sometimes works, I finally turned it off.  I can now back to the cloud for 99 cents a month.  
~The phone itself does not work -- people are constantly telling me I am breaking up.  At first I thought it was a connection issue, but then I realized it happened everywhere, on every call.  I'd touch the phone and it would get better.  But every call is stressful and people often hang up on me frustrated that they can't hear me.  
~I called Apple support, the technician immediately knew I was on the phone that didn't work because she couldn't hear me breaking up. Diagnostics revealed a problem that would take 40 minutes to fix.  I had to go to work and arranged for a call back time later.  They had me re-hook to my own network, but the phone doesn't work even when I'm not on my home network.  Still, it was better: fewer people complained I was breaking up, but in the middle of almost every call, people continued to tell me that they've lost me.  "I can't hear you, can you hear me?"  (Yes I can hear you).  Have I mentioned that I run a doctor's office off this phone, and that I have a new book out and planned to be doing a live radio interview from it on Monday for a Sirius XM show --Ah, I will stay near a landline.
~I tried to make a Genius Bar appointment on the website.  There used to be an option for Get Help and Make A Genius Bar Appointment.  No more.  It took clicking through many many screens, some repeatedly, to get to that point where you can actually schedule and I would not be able to find it again.  The contact info all wanted me to chat or call, which I'd done.  At this point, I now dream my Apple Password because I've entered it roughly 100 times in my many hours of iPhone 7 hell.  Appointments were all 4-5 days away during times when I have patients scheduled.  Plus, I know that if I enter the store, I may never leave, so I am scheduling an unpredictable amount of time.  I was later told that if I had the Apple App it would be much easier to make the appointment -- I suppose I should have magically known that?  It does not suggest that on the website.
~Yesterday I prepared myself: I went to the iPhone store steeled for however long it might take. The next technician could see me as a walk-in in 3 and a half hours, at 6 PM.  Too long to sit in the store, but I could buy some groceries, run them home, and come back, no problem.  I talked to him about what if they called me earlier, he said they probably wouldn't, and said I would have the option to delay the appointment. I said I would return by 5:30.
~Forty-five minutes later, I'm checking out of Sam's Club with  space heaters and a rotisserie chicken, among other perishables when my phone texts me that they are ready.  I try to delay the appointment by pressing the button for 60 more minutes, but after repeated texts to me, they cancel my appointment.
~Perishables in the car, I return to the mall where I'm told the wait is 3.5 hours.  I rant about how they told me that and then called me after 45 minutes, and oh by the way, I spent 11.5 hours having the phone set up over 2 days.  There is no sympathy, I'm told there is a line, but I'll be moved forward, have a seat. 
~I sit.  I'm soon texted to check in.  I check in with the guy with the gray cap and am told to have a seat.
~I sit.  I'm soon texted to check in.  I check in with the guy with the green cap and am told to have a seat.  I sit.  Maybe an hour since I've been back, maybe not quite.
~I rant at the guy sitting next to me.  Then I get the guy with the green cap and the gray cap together and see if they can help me.  These employees are robots.  They have a line and a procedure.  No one apologizes, no one empathizes with the frustration, no one thinks it's odd that I keep getting to texted to check in after I've checked in.  I see other people in the very crowded store with 3-4 slow moving 'geniuses' and other people also rant at the intake guys.  I know I am getting distraught as well, and I apologize to the young men because I realize that neither the system nor the problematic phones are their fault, they are just the messengers.  I just want my thousand dollar phone to hold a call.  I think they hire Apple store employees from the poker tables at the local casinos.
~I ask to speak with a manager and they say yes, then send over a security guard.  The security guard listens to my saga, he actually expresses a degree of kindness and sympathy. I feel sorry for the man across from me (his phone heats up to the point where it's untouchable then goes blank), who has now heard the tale four times.
~A manager comes over.  She apologizes (much appreciated) and gets a technician who asks what would make me happy.  I tell him I want my phone to make calls without going silent in the middle.  He offers to exchange the phone for a new one.  I ask if mine can be fixed.  He runs diagnostics and says there is a problem with the phone.  So a new phone it is,  but they don't have another phone in stock.  He'll order it.  He doesn't know when it will come-- a few days-- and he doesn't know if it will take 11.5 hours to transfer my information but he says the usual is 10 minutes.  I ask if I can have a different color since gold was never my preference and I've been through a lot.  I can't, it has to be the same phone.  And for some reason I had believed there was a 30 day return policy--- since I still have my old iPhone 5s which I repurchased from the store when they couldn't transfer the information.  Nope 14 days, I can't just return it and buy an Android.

Mr. Jobs: You need a better product.  And please don't constantly advertise a product that is so unavailable.  You need more employees.  You need to train them to express some sympathy and kindness to those who have unexpected delays and waits and poor quality products.  You need to tell them not to tell people to come back in many hours, then call them in 45 minutes.  It's a mall, if I knew it would be a 45 minute wait, I wouldn't have sushi in my trunk, I'd have wandered around or gotten a cup of coffee.  You need to instruct them to be kinder to people who've already had problems with the product and service and to have a mechanism to put people to the front of the line who have been there multiple days and have had  hours of frustration.  A restaurant would have offered a free dessert, and not that I want dessert or that that makes things all better, but it does acknowledge that the customer is right in expecting something for their money.  Your staff acts like they are doing me some great favor in providing their expensive, malfunctioning product, with no concern about customer satisfaction.  Given my awful experiences, some empathy and a willingness to provide timely service and to change the phone color would have been appreciated.  And yes, we sold our Apple Stock this week.

I still don't have a fully functional phone, let's hope I'm not back venting about problems picking up my new iPhone.

Thank you for your attention to this matter, Mr. Jobs, and I hope you are in a better place.

 -----Addendum to my iPhone 7 + fiasco 
(please note I am ranting as therapy.)
The story above began in November, and I was soon provided with a new phone and an easy transfer of data --I was in the Apple Store for under an hour.  End of Story?  No, the second phone didn't work either. The reception was poor and calls went in and out for no reason.  I called Apple, they said to call my carrier.  I called my carrier, they said there was in fact an issue and they did something that made things better: my reception was better, but phone calls still went to mute periodically so that the other party was left to say, "Are you there? Are you there?"  I was there. I'd touch the screen or push a button, and things would improve.  In the meantime, since the Apple folks had backed up my phone to my computer and had to upgrade my system from Lion to Sierra, I lost access to iPhoto, and the newest version doesn't seem to exist.  And my MacBook is now more wonky than ever.  

I had to let it rest; my $1,000+ phone was driving me crazy and I felt like I was in a feedback loop that was always my fault.  Make a genius appointment: how? The website used to be so clear.  If you had the app it would be easier.  I downloaded the app.  It took 50 clicks to get to "Make a genius bar appointment" and it was always a week away with the ability to set it for one device only.  I had to take a break for my own sanity.  

Today, after a conversation the other day that dropped three times, I decided I had the time and resilience to deal with my iPhone issue again.  And I want to see my photos.  Three months ago they were on iPhoto and I could see them for free.  When I got the new phone, I figured out the cloud and paid 99cents/month for storage.  Today, if I want to try to see my photos in whatever app is on my computer, it will cost me $2.99/month. Whatever, I clicked yes. Have I mentioned that I can't always access my voicemail? Or reliably change my outgoing message? The battery life is much better, the screen is bigger, but otherwise, I hate this phone.  And the touch unlock doesn't reliably work -- I use the password and still find myself swiping to turn it on.  Also, no jack-- you need to hook it to a separate thing through the charging port to use headphones: one more thing to keep track of and you can't listen and charge at the same time.  But for $159 they'll sell you new Apple bluetooth earbuds (another thing to lose).

I tried to schedule a genius bar appointment.  None until Sunday, but I have time on Thursday, and after all I've been through, can't they be accommodating? -- I'm on phone #2 with 16 hours logged sitting at the iPhone store.  I call Apple Support.  Oh, the diagnostics run in November showed a software problem that had transferred to the second phone.  Really? They didn't want to mention that then? They could restore my setting to store bought and walk me through this if I have a reliable internet connection and another phone to talk on, but my Macbook does NOT reliably connect to the internet, it's iffy and comes in and out and is very slow, and if I didn't hate Apple at this point, I'd gladly buy a new MacBook.  Is it funny that I'm worried about what I could lose?  Option #2 is they can charge me for a third new phone, send it to me, and refund me when I send the second phone back and  I'm on my own for transferring my information.  I don't trust me either with this.

I ask for a supervisor. I rant some more.  What would be helpful?  I'd like her to make a genius bar appointment for me.  She can do that on Saturday.  I'd like her to call one of my local Apple stores (there are two within 25 miles) and schedule an appointment for me on Thursday, and know they'd have another phone available, and that they could look at my Macbook  at the same time.  She can't do that, I can't be moved because other people have scheduled appointments to have their screens replaced and have issues dealt with.  That I'm on my second poorly functioning device, have spent 16 hours in Apple Stores over this, and have had many conversations with Apple Support doesn't matter.  She's sorry, but obviously, she's not.  Ah, and the call ended when my phone dropped it.  She didn't call back.

In therapy, it's not unusual for people to talk about their frustration with technology.  By this point, you probably think I'm a madwoman (I think I've lost it, so feel free) but I bet you aren't surprised to know that I'm rather sympathetic to my patients who are frustrated with their devices.  

So I don't know where Mr. Jobs is, but I do know that Apple has gone to hell. Mr. Cook, please do feel free to contact me. 
26 January 2017.  The saga continues: I decided I needed to be able to talk on the phone, and I made a Genius Bar appointment for yesterday at 4:30 pm.  It was a short wait and I a very pleasant young genius named Jeff who felt that the problem had to be a transfer in a software issue from the first phone to the second phone because it would not make any sense for two phones to have the same problem. The solution, to reset the phone to factory settings and start fresh, individually downloading my apps. My calendar is on google, the contacts and voicemail remained, but I lost all my texts (I often use them to track when I've called in medications, to find pharmacy phone numbers, and to keep track of communications, but oh well). Set the phone up from scratch. Log another hour at the Apple Store and a couple in set up.  Trying to find the Contacts App, which shows up in the search window but not on the Screen.  Trying to figure out why some people are in the Contacts App but not in my contacts within the Phone App.  Oh, well, I'm managing, but everything is just a little different.   And I wish I could tell you the phone works reliably, but it doesn't, still having people say, "Are you there? Are you there?  Can you hear me?"  Yes I can hear you. No clue where to go from here. Yes, yes, I know I should have gotten an android, and No, apple feedback does not respond. 
I think the count: 17 hours in the Apple Store.
Not sure how long on the phone with Apple Support: I'm going to guess 2 hours.  And countless hours of aggravation.  Aren't you glad you asked? 
Inspired by the inability to hold a cohesive conversation with one of my kids calling from out of town, I tried a new format for reaching out to Apple Support: Text.  Dan couldn't help me but he passed me along to Janae.  We chatted for one hour and she had me reset some phone/cellular options on the phone, but she was convinced the problem was with my carrier, AT&T.   I then called AT&T and talked to Uba in the Phillipines for some time.  Because the problem is intermittent, Uba insisted the issue was with my phone, not the carrier.  But Janae had wanted AT&T to open a case number and thought the issue could be with my SIM card.  Uba first said she'd send a new SIM card, then she insisted the phone was fine (right, tell that to my kid who cut out 6 times over 2 calls in a matter of minutes) and said she couldn't.  She sent me to a supervisor in Kansas who had me make a voice recording, "because if the voice recording is muffled, then it's the phone."  The voice recording was not muffled so a new SIM card is on it's way and there is a case open to be resolved (whatever that means) by 1/31.  And actually, since I was told to alter the settings to WiFi ON and Data Only (remember, the phone was swiped clean a few days ago), I have been able to have 3 conversations without anyone yelling "I can't hear you !".
The nice thing: when I reset the phone I picked much nicer wallpapers than I've been using: A photo through an arch at a castle overlooking the beautiful parliament building in Budapest for my lock screen, and the Grand Tetons in Jackson Hole for my home screen background. Makes losing all records of all my texts worth it?  

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