CRM-Forum writer calls Apple’s customer service ‘rotten to the core’

“Having installed some new software on my Apple iBook, I had problems reconnecting to my Alcatel broadband model to get access to my BT broadband connection. The problem appeared to be that the Apple systems software wasn’t deleting the old copie of the modem drivers from trash and as such the necessary new ones were not loading.

So I phoned Apple. My first contact was a man who spoke with such an incomprehensibly thick French accent that I couldn’t understand a word he said and vice versa. So I had another go and came across perhaps the least helpful individual I’ve ever found on the end of a customer service phone. As soon as he heard I had a broadband modem, he informed me happily that this meant that Apple did not offer support because I’d chosen to introduce a third party piece of hardware.

I pointed out that this was nonsense as the problem was that Apple’s own system software wasn’t deleting something and it was nothing to do with whether I had the modem, a printer or a George Forman Lo Fat Grilling Machine plugged into the side of my computer. Surely there must be some way of forcing a delete, I asked, ‘Well, you go and find it then,’ came the reply.

I must admit he was good. This totally took my breath away for a good ten second before I regained balance and demanded a supervisor. I was told there were no supervisors (nice try, but better to base your excuses on some kind of reality matey!) until I insisted so many times that he finally snapped (after complaining that I was ‘bullying’ him) and put a supervisor on the line. She appeared, I explained the problem and she reached for the first line of defence: I’d introduced a third party piece of equipment and as such Apple?s support was invalidated. ‘What do you expect Apple to do about it?’ she demanded.

At this point, I lost the will to live. If this is the attitiude of the supervisors at Apple, what hope do you have dealing with the front line Orcs? So there you have it: if you buy an Apple iBook, don’t put any extra software on it or plug any hardware in to the USB ports that they provide on the side or you can hardly expect anyone to do anything with that customer support you’ve paid several hundred pounds for.

This is a ludicrous scenario. BT blames Alacatel for the modem drivers, Alcatel passes the buck to BT, Apple says it’s the fault of Alcatel or BT or Saddam Hussein or the cast of Crossroads or anyone but them,” writes Stuart Lauchlan on CRM-Forum News.

Oh, before you go read Stuart’s entire diatribe, this is a bit of handy information to know:

Consumer Reports’ most recently conducted survey of its subscribers rating customer satisfaction with repairs and getting help from computer hardware companies found that, of the five companies in the survey, Apple ranked number one among Consumer Reports customers. “Except for Apple, satisfaction scores were somewhat lower across the board, which appears to reflect changes throughout the industry.” noted the report here.


  1. I have an Alcatel ADSL modem as well… it works fine with both my iMac and my Powerbook G4! You’ll need to either power cycle the modem more than likely. What errors are you getting exactly?

    As far as Apple’s customer support goes, it’s not the best in town, but it’s not exactly the worst… most PC makers make Apple look like the perfect little angel in that regard!

  2. For him to have the same problem with several different people, it seems that he was not communicating his problem very well. It is very unlikely that Apple would train all of their staff to be intentionally rude and uninformed. But, if you want the BEST possible tech support on any platform, it has to be Apple’s “Genius Bar” in their stores. If they can solve it on the spot with no additional parts, it’s absolutely free!! So, if you have any problems with your Mac, just take it (leave the keyboard & mouse at home unless that’s part of the problem) to your nearest Apple store during non-peak times, and you’ll get the quickest possible solution. These people are great!! With reference to the writer’s problem, I have seen the “Mac Genius” download the needed drivers from my friend’s Mac and install them on the spot (and updated other system aps). We spent a whole 20 minutes there, and his Mac is still running smooth. Other industries, not just computer, could learn from Apple’s customer care!!

  3. Unfortunately Aryugaetu, The origional poster is in the UK (Hint BT Broadband connection – BT = British Telecom) and the UK does not have any Apple Stores. the few retail outlets that sell Macs – John Lewis and PC World, do not have any Apple knowledge what so ever.

  4. I’ve had a similar problem following a software installation. I just logged out/ back in and deleted the trash. That forced the Mac to use the new software. Am I missing something here?

  5. Wow, I’d love to hear that taped conversation (as everybody who rang Apple support before knows – all calls are recorded)…

    I myself have worked at the mentioned support centre for quite some time.
    Training there is excellent and the support team is highly motivated. Under normal circumstances nobody would even think of raising the voice to a customer…
    After I read the original article at the above mentioned site, I can’t help thinking that this guy just rings in everywhere starting to hurl abuse at the poor soul at the other end of the line. And when people get thick with him he accuses the company they work for of ‘rotten customer service’.

  6. I’ve heard about a few freeware utilities that will empty your trash for you, regardless the obstacle. You can probably find them on I’m so use to the terminal, I just do this:

    Make a folder on your desktop. Drag the contents of your trash into that folder. Launch Terminal (it’s in your Utilities folder, which in turn is in your Applications folder.) type:

    “sudo rm -fRi “

    then drag the folder containing the items you want to rid yourself of onto the terminal window. Hit enter.

    It will ask for your password, give it (duh). The R and f flags tell ‘rm’ to delete everything, the ‘i’ flag tells it to check with you before deleting each item (a saftey procaution, to keep you from shooting yourself in the foot) Oh, and ‘sudo’ tells it to execute the command as a supreme being instead as your lowly user account. Makes the OS pay that much more attention.

    I know the point of your article was to complain about Apple, and they deserve it simply for not telling their support personell how to empty the trash, but I thought I’d give you a solution.

    Feel free to email me if this doesn’t work. I’d be happy to troubleshoot it with you.


  7. Actually Apple is not 100% right, merely 90%. The support guy should have mentioned that the knowledgebase and discussion lists are excellent alternatives and he might have better luck there (accessing the internet via modem or via another computer at work or at a library)

  8. There’s something not adding up here. He says that “[t]he problem appeared to be that the Apple systems software wasn’t deleting the old copie of the modem drivers from trash and as such the necessary new ones were not loading.” In years of using the Mac OS, I’ve never heard of the System loading in an extension/control panel/driver from the Trash. Generally, it works just like Dave Marsh says. If the software is in use, you drag it to the trash, restart, and you’re set.

    If he was using OS X, I suppose it could be that the driver was in /System or /Library, so he didn’t have access to it. But the OS wouldn’t let you drag an item from one of these to the Trash unless you were logged in as root. Or am I totally missing something here?

  9. Can I just make the point that the writer is in the UK and therefore is dealing with Apple Assistance based in Ireland. Apple support outside of the US is a completely different beast!

    Unfortunately, I can corroborate with the writer that Apple’s UK support is on a par with the likes of Dell! I won’t bore you with the details but lets just say the attitude doesn’t surprise me.

  10. To be honest with you, I’ve found the support I’ve gotten from the people who work at Apple in Europe to be fantastic. I’m not sure exactly what the remark about Apple Assistance being based in Ireland has to do with anything, but I have found Tech Support at Apple in Europe to be the best around. Their After Sales people at the Apple Store are all lovely too!

Reader Feedback

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.