All I wanted to do was give you some money – a customer service story.


iPhone 4S disappointment… why?

So the new iPhone 4S. Who’s excited about that eh? Not the technorati apparently. More fool them, it seems. I guess a lot of tech commentators feel let down because they had decided among themselves that Apple were going to release something called the iPhone 5 and it was going to have 4G (despite no-one being entirely sure what that means exactly), be a nice new shape, possibly come with some kind of matter replicator and who knows what else exactly. But I guess if you’re sure that someone’s going to make star trek technology come true today then you’re always going to be disappointed with mere reality.

The fact is that Apple were never likely to release some kind of miracle phone this time around, for three reasons:

  1. They don’t need to. The iPhone 4 is still an insanely great phone, and while some might argue that Android and maybe even Windows Phone 7.5 are competing with it, they’re not exactly eating its lunch and having it all their own way. Apple only need evolution rather than revolution to stay competitive on the hardware side.
  2. I think they’ve moved over to the “tick-tock” release cycle popularised by Intel among others. The “tick tock” release cycle is nothing to do with hiring worn out popstars and everything to do with having a release cycle that allows you to announce a product based on a new process in one release cycle and refine that product (e.g. make it incrementally better for customers and cheaper to produce, thereby enjoying improved profits for comparatively little effort) on the next release cycle.
  3. They know that most of their “normal” (e.g. none-geeky, none-rabid Apple fan) customers buy phones when their contract comes up for renewal, and most iPhone contracts are either 18 month or 2 year contracts. This release wasn’t aimed at providing an amazing upgrade for iPhone 4 users (though I’m sure Apple will be very glad to have your money if you want to upgrade) but instead is targeted at providing a stellar upgrade for us iPhone 3GS users.

So the tech reporters might be indifferent but I’m excited though, very excited. My order is placed, my faithful 3GS has been priced up to recycle around various “cash for your old phone” sites and I am awaiting my new toy’s arrival on Friday with great excitement.

Customer service disappointment – and delight.

Getting to that point though, was a bit of a bind, thanks to the obstinate stupidity of O2 here in the UK. When Apple announced that phone details would be available on the 7th of October, O2 messed their customers about all day, continually promising on twitter that details would be posted “Soon” while other networks were merrily signing people up. O2 finally got around to posting details very late Friday night / real early Saturday morning where they revealed ok-ish tariffs… and that they were not doing pre-orders. Instead all customers would have to go their shops on Friday and fight the crowds for a phone. Apparently this is done to make it “fair”. Apparently O2 either don’t know or don’t care that some of their customers have jobs.

Anyway, enter The Carphone Warehouse. Now, in the past I’ve had very bad experience with these guys which made me reluctant to shop with them until I ordered my 3GS 2 years ago, at which point they stepped up to the plate and gave me exactly the deal I was asking for when no one else could. Which they’ve done again, but there’s more to it than that.

I had phoned them Friday to ask if they could do iPhone pre-orders for O2 customers who wanted to upgrade, and got the reply “Not yet, but I’ll phone you when we can. Now here in the UK, when customer services tell you that they usually mean “We won’t call you”. But to give CPW their due, they phoned me back at 8am this Monday morning, told me the phone I wanted was selling fast, but in stock and mine for the taking if I upgraded with them right then, which I was pleased to do so. Not only that, but despite the fact that they were very busy, their customer services person took the time to walk me through all the different choices I was thinking about to help me pick the exact ones I wanted and has since been very good at keeping me up to date with the progress of my order and a faithful promise that I’ll have a new phone on Friday no matter what. Well done Kim at Carphone Warehouse.

As for O2 – all I wanted to do was buy something from you. Why did you make it so difficult? Your loss is CPW’s gain though, but it would be nice if you stopped treating paying customers with contempt.

And finally… R.I.P.

It seems to be the month for sharing how someone important who touched your life has gone.

I’d like to share a brief moment and thought about someone who meant a lot to me, and who was cruelly taken from us too soon by an awful disease. Cancer is a cruel disease which can strike any of us down at any moment, and October is now one of the months (sadly, there are more than one) where I now like to stop and remember important people this disease has stolen from us.

I’d like to say thank you and ‘miss you’ to one of the biggest inspirations in my life – my mother, cruelly taken from us 3 years ago this month. Some diseases can strike anyone, no matter who you are or where you are in life. F**k cancer. Seriously.

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