a feminist technology blog

Month: September 2005

wireless ipod headphones

I’m liking these Logitech’s new Bluetooth wireless iPod headphones.. well, they’re sort of new, they launched in July.

For $150 these are a bit much for my sad-ass budget but the features are groovy – I love the built-in volume & track controllers on the right headphone. There’s a black pair for non-Apple branded mp3 players.

(Speaking of which, why can’t anyone else seem to enter the market competitively? Apple’s products really aren’t that great. I guess at this point the iPod is such a status symbol and has such a high percentage that even if you have a cooler product with more features and more storage space it’s still perceived as an iPod knockoff.)

customer service, part i

I have this thing about customer service: when I’m spending a lot of money on something, like, say, cable, internet, electronics, or takeout pizza, I expect to get treated a certain way. That is, with courtesy and with logical, customer-friendly policies. The fact that almost no large US corporation has sane, customer-friendly policies means that I end up writing a lot of letters and complaining a lot. Sprint and Time Warner Cable both really hate me; Sprint has me locked into two more years of an endless contract due to all the free phones I’ve gotten from complaining and Time Warner has gotten to the point where I get put through to Level 3 tech support regardless of my complaint (because I wouldn’t, you know, spent 45 minutes to 1.5 hours (!!) on hold with a tech support line unless I had already restarted my computer, unplugged and replugged in the modem, and all the other bullshit that the unbelievably annoying and frustrating automated menus make you go through before you can actually talk to a human being).

Anyway, in early summer I noticed that my iPod battery life wasn’t that great, but I didn’t really think about it until a friend of mine posted on her LJ that she had gotten her boyfriend’s iPod battery replaced and its life was back up to 8 hours. After I drove cross-country this summer with the Monster iCarPlay iPod cable device (I loved this thing, by the way – it charges your iPod while it’s playing, so you never have to worry about remembering to charge it at night. Worked awesome. Spencer and I would have gone crazy without it), the battery life was just terrible, like an hour. This made my iPod no longer really usable for the subway or my marathon grad student reading sessions.

So I sucked it up and called the Apple Store for directions. Then we start a really fun ass process. Let me outline the steps:

1. Call Apple Store. Customer service rep tells me I have to bring the unit in to the Genius Bar. Need to make an appointment online to get a Genius Bar timeslot.
2. Make appointment online to get a Genius Bar timeslot. They give me a time that I am in class/a meeting. (Unless you have an AppleCare agreement, you can’t specify a time. At all. Not even a vague time.) Repeat this three times.
3. Call Apple Store again and complain about Genius Bar. Employee tells me I have two options: a) come in at 7 a.m., or b) go to depot.apple.com and they’ll send me packing materials to ship it off.
4. Pick choice b.
5. Go to depot.apple.com and am unable to find any option where packing materials are sent to me. Sign up for repair service anyway. Am confused as Apple Store rep said nothing about having to pay for repairs up front, but figure I will get my $50 credit from the iPod Settlement forms so is no big.
6. Go to FedEx and ship iPod exactly as told.
7. Wait a week. Have heard nothing from anyone.
8. Go to Apple support site and check on support request. Only message is “Dispatch Sent.” There is a list of Apple’s support codes and what they mean, as Apple recognizes that most of them are internal-focused and therefore somewhat abstruse to the average owner. “Dispatch Sent” does not appear on this list.
9. Try to send Apple a message asking what “Dispatch Sent” means. Only way to do this is through email form. They promise response in 24 hours.
10. Send form. Get email back saying Apple has an “unusually large volume of emails” and will not be able to get back to me in 24 hours.
11. 96 hours later, go back to support site and see that status message has been changed to “Replacement Unit Ordered”, which even I can figure out.

Overall I’m not horrified by this experience, which should tell you something about how low our expectations of service from companies have gotten. I have a 40gb 3G iPod which, if you’ll recall back to the long-ago days of 2003, is a $500 product. Now of course the price point for even the most expensive iPod is $400 and that’s for a 60GB color. Also, battery failure on the 3G’s is a “known issue” (I’m not sure that I agree with Cory Doctorow that it’s planned obsolescence, but it certainly is annoying), hence the class-action suit. My point is that I spent a lot of money on this device, and I expect better service than an 11-step process which still hasn’t resulted in me actually holding a fixed iPod in my hand.

I guess I don’t really see why Apple gets so much love. My dad is an IBMer, and I grew up using 8086 architecture; I’m never going to make the switch as I’m too much of a Windows power user to bother. (Everyone says now that Macs are running Linux it’s time to switch, but I can just never make Macs do what I want them to. I’m lazy about software learning curves, which is why after six years of using Photoshop my skillz are still mad rudimentary). I’m just saying that their customer experience, beyond buying pretty stuff, pretty much blows. There are 8 million people in NYC and one Apple Store; I understand why they require you to sign up for Genius Bar slots, but Christ, I shouldn’t have to pay for the basics of customer service, which in my opinion include talking to someone at the store.

Maybe I’ll feel differently about this if they send me a radder iPod than the one I sent them.

Listening: new Ladytron (fucking awesome)

welcome to tiara.org

Those of you who have wistfully returned to the site over the years (it hasn’t been updated at ALL since August 2002, and very rarely since 2000) should be happy to know that this blog indicates a major relaunch of the site. I’ve been spending all of my time on livejournal.com for the last four years, but I’m keeping LJ as a separate, more personal space where I can continue to communicate with the RL friends & LJ friends I’ve built up over the years (OMG I AM LJ NERD). Tiara is going to be a more public-facing site to include my academic and professional work, particularly around technology, plastic surgery, mass media, and the like.

I probably will not be blogging a lot about my other interests, which are really trashy and make me sound like a hyper-cynical 16 year old, as they include a lot of celebrity gossip and bad television and stupid fashion mistakes.

A short ABOUT ME before I actually write an ABOUT ME section: I am 28, I live in Brooklyn and work in Manhattan, I am originally from NewYork but have been living in Seattle part-time since 1996 and full-time since 1998 and I totally love the West Coast and will totally miss it. I do totally miss it. Most of my friends are tech nerds just like me, and a lot of them will be guest blogging or showing up here at some point.

OK I am going to Bittorrent the new Veronica Mars and go to bed.

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