A letter to Apple’s CEO, Tim Cook

I wrote this letter after my recent experience with the repair of my computer. What do you think the odds are of him responding?


Mr. Cook,

I recently had my 2011 iMac repaired at a couple of your Apple stores this month, and I thought you should hear of my experience. The staff at the Glendale, and the Grove stores (both in southern California) are friendly, helpful, considerate, and kind. My every interaction with them was excellent. Really. So good job there. Alas, when it came to actually repairing my computer, the service was terrible.


The first store I took my computer to (Glendale) was able to accurately diagnose and repair the problem (A faulty video card and Logic board), and do this a reasonable amount of time. That is until the tech damaged a part (the ambient temp sensor cable) which required an additional 5 days to be shipped and installed. None of this was explained to me when I called after 5 days asking about my computer. Over the phone I was told again and again it was “almost” ready. This went on for 4 days. It was only when I showed up in person that I learned what had happened. Had someone told me, I would have been happy to come in and take my machine, returning it when the part had arrived, since the temp sensor is not critical to daily use. Sadly, I was not given this option.


Then, when I brought my iMac home from the Glendale store I discovered that the audio output from the headphone jack was damaged, apparently as a part of the repair. Rather than trusting my computer to the same store again, I decided to try the Grove store as it is close to a client of mine. Much like my first experience, the employees at the Grove store were helpful and friendly. They even let me come back to the store a few hours later and download some files I had forgotten. But when it came to the actual repair, they were a no show. I dropped the computer off first thing Monday morning. When I called on Friday evening, I was told they hadn’t even started yet. And this was to fix a mistake caused by one of your own techs. It was at that point that I decided I was through with your service.


The computer now sits on my desk, unrepaired.


But I didn’t write you to complain. That was just the backstory. Here’s what I wanted to tell you. All of this is greatly unnecessary. You guys sell very good products, and your personal service is truly outstanding. Its just went a computer goes behind the Genius Bar that your service sucks. If I may be so bold, allow me to make a few suggestions:


  1. Remember that us users form relationships with our computers. We not only use them, we rely upon them. Having them gone, even for a little bit, is worrisome. A bit like leaving a pet for surgery. So when we leave our computers in your store, we are trusting them to your care. Be worthy of that trust. 
  2. Keep it personal, all the time. As it stands, when a computer is left for repair it is put in a queue, and all contact with the customer is lost. Why not do the opposite? Assign each repair to a tech, and have them contact the customer while they are doing the repair. Texting would do, FaceTime would be even better. Anything to keep the experience personal. This is, after all, what you guys excel at. 
  3. When your stores make a mistake, prioritize the repair. Expecting a customer to go an additional 3-5 days without their computer for a mistake caused by your staff is grossly unprofessional. 
  4. Your store’s standard repair time of 3-5 days is onerous and unnecessary. How would you feel if you had to go 3-5 days without your phone or your computer? Most of us “little guys” do not have the excellent staff you have, and cannot afford the money or time to rent a computer while our main rig is in for repair. Hire more staff. Train them well. You do want us using your products, right? You gain from our dependance, right? Well, back it up then. 
  5. Don’t overlook the little guy. I run a tiny business, a sole-proprietorship. Even though I’ve been using Apple computers since 1988, you are never going to hear of me. My needs are not large enough to for something like your Joint Venture program. It’s just not cost effective. It would be nice if your stores didn’t treat me, and others like me, like we were insignificant.