Monday, August 27, 2012

My .93 Cent Apple Billing Nightmare

A bit off topic for the blog, but this story must be shared. It is a story of stupidity, waste of time, waste of money, aggravation, horrific customer service and a system that is so computerized one can't simply make a payment to resolve an account issue.

Here is a story of great inefficiency caused by an overly automated system. If this is our future, we're screwed. All of the aggravation and time wasted in the following post was caused by a .93 cent billing issue that I wanted to pay but can't because Apple's system is so computerized they are incapable of simply taking a payment and crediting your account over the phone (like this is a sin in the 20th century as Biden would say). What should have taken less than 5 minutes has taken an 1:20 minute phone call, 4 or more emails and is still unresolved the following day.

My wife's Apple account was shut down last week because they say she owed them $16.05 from an old account. The problem started when BofA bought out the credit card issuer she was using and issued a new card with a new number. This obviously made the card on the old account (old as not in use anymore) invalid.

So, when she went to change the CC in her new account she discovered the issue. She discovered and triggered the problem, not the other way around. Apparently Apples computerized credit card processing is really screwed up. Apparently they charge your card when they want not when you purchase things. That's the way things happened here at least or we would never have had this problem.

First, how long the old card had been inactive and when the charge hit the old account is still up in the air. If a charge hits the account it should hit the CC immediately. Not in this case I guess. Were we hacked? Not sure, but I do know she has not used this Apple account in over a year. That is all beyond the scope and point of this post. All I wanted to do was pay Apple the 16 bucks, free up the account and move on. That, my friend, is not a simple task.

When attempting to change her credit card on her new account she discovered that the whole system was shut down, both her new (.12 cent credit) and old ($16.05 deficit) accounts had been locked down.

So, she contacts service via email as directed and after 4 or more emails and no real help or results I was asked to get involved.

I have had good (but often painful) results with the help feature where you can call and set an appointment for apple to call you. Here you always get the Noob Apple employees in Canada who do nothing but read the same posts from the Apple help section that you just read that led to being no help at all. To shorten this story and not drag you into the first HOUR (as in 60 minutes for me to settle a $16.05 billing issue) I'll summarize.

  • It took 15 minutes for me to explain to her that my accounts were locked and that all I wanted to do was pay the $16.05. 
  • They swore the two accounts were independent of each other and it was impossible for one to affect the other, yet both were locked down.
  • They discovered an unused $15 dollar gift card on the old account reducing what I owed to $1.05. 
  • That was all I got out of my first HOUR on the phone with the Noob from Apple help. 
Remember I have a .12 credit on the new account, so all of this aggravation and time is being wasted on a .93 cent billing issue that I want to pay but can't because their system is so computerized Apple is incapable of simply taking a payment and crediting your account.

I am normally a calm person, but at this point I was a bit irate and demanded to speak directly to the supervisor that she had been constantly putting me on hold to communicate with. That person was a bit testy which was great cause it only agitated my already unstable state.

.93 friggin cents! An hour of the Noob's time probably costs Apple $20 and now I'm eating into a supervisor's time! Oh, not to mention my time which is apparently meaningless to Apple. Let's assume we've wasted somewhere in the neighborhood of $60 of Apple employee's time solving this .93 cent issue. Brilliant!

To end this part of the journey the supervisor got me to change the PW on the old account, enter a new CC number and apparently the problem would be solved. But Noooooo. Question? How long does it take a computer to process your CC payment at any website you go to? Less than a nanosecond most of the time, but apparently not at Apple.

This should have ended the nightmare, but Noooo, the supervisor says if may take a day or so to process the payment. HA! At this point my blood pressure hit the roof and the insanity of it all came clear, I was lost, lost in the Apple Zone. I felt like I was in Tron and had been sucked in as a programmer to fight my profile.

So, now we sit and wait for the old account to be cleared of the $1.05 we owe Apple. We wait, 12 hours at this point, for a computer to process a CC payment to free us up to use our iTunes account. Never mind that the new account has a .12 cent credit (remember it is impossible for the two accounts to be linked). Never mind that the charges on the old account are most likely a hack or bogus. Never mind that all of this is over .93 cents. Never mind that Apple is incapable of simply taking a payment over the phone.

Folks, if this is the greatest most successful and richest company on the planet, we're in deep trouble. "Can I pay you my $16.05 and resolve this billing issue?" "No! You must enter computerized hell, fight the Noobs and survive the battles with supervisors on your venture thru the Nether and prove yourself worth to pay your debit."

We're still addicted to our iProducts, but this definitely confirms that our recent HP laptop purchase and not a total iConversion was the right move. Apple's products may be a wonderful personal advancement, but their service is the antithesis of what they sell you.

My suggestion, before you call Apple to help you with anything, make sure you have a minimum of 90 minutes to spare and remove all small children, animals and sharp objects from the room. First you will battle the noobs and then the supervisors on your journey to defeat your profile. I rate this game MA and it is not game for the meek.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Keep it civil and respectful to others.