Dealing with customer service representatives can be one of the world’s most torturous experiences. Apple isn’t perfect, but they usually give customers the best experience possible, no matter. Proving that point, earlier today a story surfaced of Tim Cook stepping in and forcing AT&T to make a special exception to a request the deny to most customers.
The customer in question was reassigned to Canada and decided that he wants to take his iPhone 3GS with him to use on a Canadian pay-as-you-go carrier. His contract with AT&T had been up, so he figured they would be willing to unlock his phone for him. AT&T refused to unlock the device and told the customer to go ask Apple to do. Apple then told the customer that only AT&T had the authority to unlock his phone. So back to AT&T he went, only to be told “no” again with the added advice that he should just jailbreak his iPhone.
In a wave of understandable frustration the customer sent an email over to Tim Cook who has kept up Steve Jobs’ habit of replying to customer emails. The customer never got a personal reply from Cook, but a response did come from AT&T Parternship Operations who informed him that Cook saw his email and requested the carrier to unlock the iPhone. The customer was told they were making special exception to unlock his iPhone. One of Tim Cook’s assistants even called to followup that AT&T had done their master’s bidding.
Here’s his full email to Tim Cook:
My family is immersed in the Apple brand. All 4 of my children (aged 2 to 8) have been using iPod touches, iPhones, iPads, and iMacs since they were a year old. Our television is a 27” iMac using eyeTV. My kids talk to their grandmother every second day via video Skype on the iMac. All of our computers are Macs (we have 4 in the house). Apple has touched every aspect of our lives and made it richer!
My company recently moved me to Canada for a work assignment for a few years. My wife’s iPhone 3GS had finished its contract with AT&T so I bought her an iPhone 4 the day we moved to Canada. I took her iPhone 3GS and I contacted AT&T to see if I could have it unlocked so that I could use the phone with a Canadian carrier with a “pay as you go” plan for casual use (I’m forced to use a Blackberry for work, but I hate it so I’d like to use the iPhone for phone calls). This is where my problems began.
Basically AT&T told me that they couldn’t unlock it, only Apple could. I called Apple (but was routed through Apple Canada) and they told me “ask to talk to a supervisor at AT&T because the customer service rep won’t know the process, but AT&T definitely can unlock it”. So I called them back and the supervisor was adamant that they couldn’t help me. “Just jailbreak your phone” was their advice.
I didn’t want to jailbreak my phone, I like Apple’s curated experience and I don’t want to stray from that. However after several more calls to both AT&T and Apple, I made no progress. So I’m turning to you for a final plea.
I love Apple and will continue to buy your products regardless of what happens with this situation. However, I did pay $600 some odd dollars for this device (even though I bought it on contact and they say its subsidized, I’m basically paying for the device in my monthly payments) and I’d like to be able to use it.
My thanks to the Apple team, keep innovating!