Good Customer Service? Surely Some Mistake

I freely admit that this is a sweeping generalisation but customer service in the US is generally quite good whereas customer service in the UK is really quite crap; it doesn't seem to give any form of service to the customer - which we seem to accept in the UK. Even for US companies which open operations in the UK the whole customer service ethic seems to be somewhat less that that offered by their US parent.

So I was sitting at my dining room table last weekend with my, work issued, MacBook Pro surfing the CBeebies site for In The Night Garden. This is for the benefit of my two year old son I hasten to add. He's particularly fond of this site as it's able to access the built-in iSight web cam that MacBooks and MacBook Pros have so he can see himself in the game for one of his favourite TV shows.

I wasn't really concentrating on what was going on and was mildly annoyed when a small piece of plastic zipped across the table missing my nose by about half an inch. I started concentrating surprisingly fast when I heard my junior surfer issuing those key words which means something's gone wrong; "Uh Oh".

There seemed to be a large hole in the middle of my MacBook Pro's keyboard; exactly where the B key should be. It's a work issued machine, did I mention this?

I tried to snap the key back in to place. Oh how I tried. My best attempt was only able to get the key secure on the keyboard but at an angle of about 45 degrees from the rest of the keys. I viewed the prospect of taking my laptop to my company's IT department for repair with a negative level of enthusiasm.

An Apple Store had recently opened in Kingston which is about a mile or so away - and there's a Genius Bar as well. Not really holding on to too much hope I phoned the store.

And got through to a human!

Not a machine. Not a call centre. In the store. The actual store I'd called. This was a new experience for me.

I explained my problem and this very nice lady suggested that I book an appointment at the Genius Bar so someone could take a look at the machine; she couldn't guarantee anything of course but it was worth a try.

11.00AM the following morning I'm stood outside the store. Five minutes later I'm being assured by a Genius Bar bloke that my B key has all the right bits still in place and if he puts it on the keyboard like so and presses, quite hard, just about here it should just ...

... snap back into place. Which it did. Just like he said. 11.10AM and I'm back in the car on the way home with a fixed keyboard and a happy heart; and for this Apple charged only my time, not a penny did they want, as the Genius Bar guy explained ... "you're already a customer, the Genius Bar is free". Of course, if I'd needed a replacement keyboard it would have been a different story - but at least they'd have tried and explained to my face exactly why I'd be spending some money. Superb customer service in the UK, with emphasis on both customer and on service. Who would have thought it?

Gary Gale

I'm Gary ... a Husband, Father, CTO at Kamma, geotechnologist, map geek, coffee addict, Sci-fi fan, UNIX and Mac user