∴ My Apple Care Experience

I own an iPhone SE. It’s one of the last iPhone models incorporating a mechanical home button. iPhone 7 and newer designs include a fixed button-like circle, with haptic feedback simulating a button click, and without the mechanical bits and non-watertight gaps inherent in a movable part.

I also do a fair amount of double-clicking on the home button, moving between, say, Waze for GPS navigation and traffic alerts, Overcast for podcast playback, the occasional text message in Messages, and, when I’m out for a walk, Pedometer++ for step counting. That’s my daily use. Add to that weather apps, a calculator app, Tweetbot, and occasional use apps and my home button gets a lot of presses, much of it double-clicking among recently launched apps rather than hunting down an icon.

I used an almost identical iPhone 5 for three years without any trouble from the home button. Maybe I’m using the double-click feature more now. Perhaps I got a lemon with a home button that would have survived longer with a less avid user. Whatever the reason, my SE’s home button went almost “flat” about two months ago. Its normally sharp *click* became a faint *tick*, like passing a detent turning a knob. I’d accidentally triple-click, putting the display into high-contrast mode (try it! Triple-click again to revert to normal.), or single-click out to the home screen.

It occurred to me after a few weeks of this that my AppleCare warranty was effective for a full year after purchase. I’d bought this phone last May, after drowning my iPhone 6S. If I got on it I had another month-plus of free repair available.

Trouble is, the closest Apple Store is almost an hour away in moderate traffic. There is rarely anything less that moderate traffic on I-66, so I put it off for a few more weeks.

The clock ticked down on my warranty while I dithered. I checked on the Apple Support web site – some devices can be shipped to Apple for repair or replacement and shipped back to the customer – but apparently not iPhones, or perhaps not for people who live within “reasonable” distance of an Apple retail outlet. I’d have to make the drive.

The Apple Support app, available free on the iTunes App Store, lets you find the closest Stores, troubleshoot your device, and make an appointment for service. I went through the motions with it and within a minute secured an appointment time on my next day off. Kelly and I would make an afternoon of it.

We arrived at the Apple Store a half-hour early, and so spent a while perusing the products. It was my first visit to an Apple Store.

I’m up for a replacement for my six-year old MacBook Pro when Apple introduces its next iteration of laptops, so I spent time handling and debating between the current 15-inch Pro and the 13-inch, the model I currently use. Kelly admired the (PRODUCT) Red iPhone, as she’s due for a phone replacement this fall. They’ve got a crop of interesting accessories lining the walls, too.

The place was teeming with blue-shirted Apple employees, each sporting an iPad mini loaded with Apple’s proprietary service software. I approached one when my appointment time drew near and explained why I was there. The employee scrolled through the appointment list, selected my name, and checked me in. A few minutes later a blue-shirted young woman emerged from the back of the Store to ask what she could do to help.

I handed her my phone and said, “try the home button.” One or two clicks and she replied, “oh, the home button. Or lack of it.” After ensuring I had a backup of the device’s data, she disappeared into the back of the Store with my phone.

A few minutes later she emerged with the button almost fully working. A technician had opened the display and passed a pry tool under the button, freeing it. He’d explained it would likely work correctly, but since the phone was still under warranty it’d be wise to replace the display unit, which includes a new home button. This way there’d be no return visit if and when the original button went flat again, after the warranty expired.

I was given a time for pickup forty five-minutes in the future and asked to disable the passcode securing the phone.

Apple is one of the very few companies I trust with my data. Had I known they’d ask for the passcode removal, I might have wiped the phone before traveling to the Store, then re-wipe and restore my backup after repair. Without hesitation, though, I disabled the passcode feature and handed her the phone.

We walked out for a stroll around the mall and a coffee.

Forty five-minutes later I walked back into the Store and explained to the first employee I encountered what I was there for. He checked on his iPad, communicated with the other employees over a wireless headset that I was there for a pickup, and asked me to wait a few minutes for someone to bring out my phone. Five minutes later I was showing a picture ID and taking back my phone, new display and home button intact.

The technician did an exemplary job, leaving not a trace of anything having been replaced. The button was fully clicky. I re-enabled the passcode feature and headed out the door.

My experience was seamless from beginning to end. Apple’s customer service, tops in the business, was prompt, friendly, and professional. Though I’d have preferred to simply drop my phone in a box and send it off for repair, I did receive additional benefit from visiting a Store in person. I heartily recommend the company not only for its software and devices, but for its customer service when something goes wrong, as well.

All-in-all, that’s what I’ve come to expect from Apple. I wasn’t disappointed.

#Apple #Care #customer #service #iPhone #Store

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