I am a proud owner of an Apple PowerMac G4 Laptop. I have had the thing for nearly two years and have loved every minute of it. Apple is a great company with terrific products that are worth every penny. In fact, I doubt seriously I will ever own a Windows product every again and I cannot recommend Apple’s products strongly enough. However, I recently ran into a snag with Apple Inc. that, although it was resolved quickly and amicably, was nevertheless most disconcerting. Due to the nature of the problem I felt the urge to relate my experience to any Apple users visiting my site. In truth, Apple left me no choice in the matter.
About eight weeks [editors note: correction, make that eight MONTHS] ago I made a small purchase through Apple’s Online Store. Well, actually the purchase was made over the phone, but the order person ran the transaction through the Apple Store online. It was a small purchase of no real consequence, other than the fact that it was a replacement CD Rom of the operating system called Tiger. The charge was for $16.80 and was transacted back in July of 2006.
Fast forward to a few days ago when I was diligently checking my back account information. I noticed a small charge of $16.80 appearing on my account that I had no record of. I contacted my bank and they told me that the charge was with Apple Store! Of course, I knew I have not shopped at the Apple Store in many months, so I knew something was afoot.
I waited the weekend and called Apple first thing on Monday. Over the course of one hour, most of which I was on hold for, I was told by several people that there was no way to determine the source of the charge and that as far as they could tell it was not Apples fault. Being a persistant sort, and after much backing and forthing, I finally got an Apple representative on the phone who felt she could help me.
What’s interesting is that from the moment I got her on the phone I told her that I suspected Apple had somehow mistakenly charged my credit card for a purchase I did not make. She assured me that was not the case. Again, I insisted that it was the case and I asked her to look into this more carefully, which she did. Back on hold I went.
When she came back to the phone, she told me that she was able to see that I had made a purchase back in July of last year for a CD-ROM in the amount of $16.80, but she assured me I had only been charged for the disc once and that the charge was just now hitting my bank account. This made no sense whatsoever due to the fact that it was a phone purchase I had made, and there was no way that the transaction would have gone through if my account had not been successfully charged then and there. She put me on hold again. I waited.
After some period of time she came back to the phone, only this time her tone was much more conciliatory. She admitted that she was able to see that in fact Apple’s “system” had accidentally charged me again for that transaction of 8 months ago, effectively billing me twice for one transaction in a span of 8 months.
She agreed to “make an exception” and refund me my money. I was miffed by that remark and told her that this was not a situation that required an exception of generosity, unless Apple was in the habit of taking money from customers that did not belong to them. At any rate, she issued me a refund. Great! Right? Well, no….not exactly.
After a few minutes I took the opportunity to express my frustration at not being given the benefit of the doubt. Moreover, I pointed out that what happened was the result of a system flaw, and that there is no way this was the first an only time it had happened. System flaws like this are likely to repeat themselves over and over until the programming glitch is discovered and fixed, if indeed it is a programming glitch. I told her that I was of the mind to mention this on my blog to give other Apple clients a heads up, at which point…well…all I can say is that she offered to “compensate me for my trouble in a gesture of kindness” by sending me…something. I did not like the sound of this because it seemed as if I was being encouraged not to say anything. She assured me that this was not the case, but that Apple just wanted to thank me for my business and wanted to extend their appreciation for my patience in this regard. Hmmm.
I confess to not being sure what to do. That offer had all the earmarks of being something inapproriate, even rising to the level of, dare I say it, a bribe? Look, I am not some teenager that can be bought off with the promise of goodies. Yet, in the interest of good will I wanted to give Apple the benefit of the doubt. Intitally, I refused her offer, saying that it was not necessary to “keep me quiet”. She insisted, assuring me that her offer had nothing to do with my blog. I was still torn as to what to do.
In the end, I told the Apple Rep that if Apple wanted to send me something I would graciously accept it, but that it was not necessary. Moreover, I told her I could not promise her that I would not print my story. She said that it was up to me as to what I ended up doing. Again, the Apple Rep assured me that her offer had nothing to do with my blog, so I am giving her the benefit of the doubt. I think it is worth noting that before we hung up, she said, “Sir, I want you to know that this gift is worth $79.95.” Again, it was pretty clear to me that she wanted me to feel that Apple was being very, very generous.
The fact that you are reading this is a result of some overriding concerns I have. Namely this: Other Apple customers could be having the same problem I had and may not be aware of it, thus I felt a need to inform them of my experience.
If you do business with Apple, check your records often and regularly. If you spot suspicious charges from “Apple Store” on your bank account, contact Apple immediately and ask to be transferred to the Dispatch Department. Make sure you have any and all information for the transaction in question (such as amounts, dates, order confirmation numbers etc). Make sure you have checked your financial records very carefully. Do not be overly accusatory. I am sure Dispatch will be able to help you resolve your issue. They are very nice, so you be nice :D.
As a postscript, I am sure that there is no cause for alarm. If there is a flaw in Apples customer database/merchant system, I have no doubt that Apple will find the flaw and fix it. In the meantime it just makes good sense to do your own homework. Look for duplicate charges on your bank account. If you see any, you now know what to do.