Off to the Apple store, preparing myself for the worst. Have spoken to a lot of companies in my professional life, and they all mention they invested millions in service programs, the last ten years. I know they really try, but I can’t shake the feeling that the main improvement is that service employees are saying ‘can't help you’ in a more friendly way these days. Today, it went better than I feared. Of course in a perfect world he would take a fresh battery and try it on my computer, at least verifying the problem. He doesn’t. Looking at my battery will take one week. I look horrified, he looks friendly but blank. I can’t miss my computer for a whole week! I ask if there is a faster way. Just switch batteries? He mentions a two-day repair at 80 dollar minimum. I say that even two days is a problem, because I’m writing a book on it, every day. He doesn’t answer to that. Then, after some silence, he says I might try and call Apple myself. He gives me the number and I say ‘thank you’. Why have a store if you have a number?
Apple wants to remain a young company, so you get radio-friendly grunge music and lounge remixes of old jazz songs while waiting. ‘Hello, this is James, may I have your first name?’ ‘Hello Tom, how are you today?’ ‘Not so good, my battery is dead’. I give him the production code of my laptop, what James ‘needs me to do now’ is to enroll my service number, which I don’t really get (may be it’s a language problem). It must be in a red box, he explains. I only have a grey box. I look everywhere in the apartment. Something in me says I should not hang up and look for it later: I need an answer now. It’s the box I have payed 200 dollars for, James proposes. I haven’t paid for such a box. James falls silent, that’s obviously out of his protocol. I say ‘Isn’t this under warranty?’ Yes, of course, there is a 90-day warranty, but he just wanted to help me enroll my prolonged service warranty, most people buy that. I sigh and say I just want a new battery. And then I see I have bought my computer on march 14. Exactly 90 days ago. Now I am glad I did not hang up to call back tomorrow. James can send a new battery. I am relieved. We encounter a new problem. The delivery address is not the same as the billing address on my credit card. I’m getting desperate. This was to be a non-paid service. Yes of course, Tom, but this is a security procedure: I must send the broken battery back, otherwise they’ll charge me. I promise from the bottom of my heart I will send it back, and then the magic happens and the clouds break open. James relents and the battery will be sent within 5 days. Service in the new century, it is the battle of the nerves, but there is light at the end of the tunnel. Thank you James.