3+ Hours with Apple Technical Support = Success

It started yesterday when we took Paris’s iPod to have the cracked screen replaced. Turns out that they don’t replace the screens, but we could pay a little more than I had heard the screen replacement would cost and swap her broken iPod for a brand new iPod which was the exact same model and colour. Perfect, I knew Paris would love getting a shiny new iPod even better than just getting her screen replaced.

When we got the new iPod home we restored it from the backup she did before we left for the Apple store and it looked like there was going to be a happy ending. But two of the apps that she had installed on the old iPod didn’t install with the restore and two new apps that she wanted were not installing either, even though iTunes showed that they were installed. I tried to help her for a few minutes, but after all of the time I had already spent setting up the appointment, and then waiting for the appointment and getting the iPod replaced in a very loud, crowded Apple store I needed a break and asked her to wait until tomorrow.

This morning, the problems compounded: now every time she tried to synch her iPod it would get to the last step of the process and then display an error message. “The update can’t be completed because the iPod disconnected.” She got this message every time she tried to update, even though she wasn’t disconnecting or even touching the iPod. Frustrating. I could tell I was going to need to get involved. I tried an update, with the same results. I looked up the problem in the troubleshooting section on the Apple website. I made sure that the iPod software and the computer software were up to date. I unplugged everything that didn’t need to be connected to the Mac. I restarted both the iPod and the Mac. No luck. I started to compose an email about the problem which I was planning to send to the store where I bought the iPod before I realized the email account they had used to send me the receipt would not accept incoming emails. So I called the store and was told they couldn’t help me themselves but they would connect me to the Apple help desk. At this point I had already spent about 45 minutes trying to resolve the problem.

After a surprisingly short time on hold, I was connected to a helpful Apple tech support person. I described the problem. The tech support person told me right away that she wasn’t going to be able to help me, but she would connect me to her supervisor who she was sure could help me. He asked me several questions and walked me through several steps and it looked like the problem was resolved in less than twenty minutes. We were able to synch the iPod and we didn’t get an error message. But once I hung up Paris and I realized that those apps were not installed and when we tried to synch the iPod again, the error message was back.

Sigh. So I called Apple back. I got a different, helpful tech support person, who once I described the problems and the history with tech support, agreed that she needed to hand me off to her supervisor. The new tech support person walked me through many different things, including connecting to my desktop remotely so she could watch what I was doing, installing a new administrator account on the Mac and synching the iPod there. Eventually she decided that my problem was a software problem (not a media device problem) so she handed me off to a software tech support person. The software expert had me try a few things before deciding it was not a software problem and passing me back to a new media device tech support person.

I spent the most time on the phone with this last tech support person. They also connected to my desktop remotely and had me change several settings and reset preferences and clear caches. Finally, at least two hours after the second phone called had started it looked like we had a resolution to the problem. The iPod had been restored to the last backup from the old iPod and we weren’t getting any more error messages when we tried to synch.

Fortunately I had learned my lesson from my first call to Apple support today and before I hung up, I checked to make sure that the apps had installed. We were not out of the woods yet. The two apps that Paris was trying to install would say that they were installed when we looked on iTunes, but they didn’t show up on the iPod. My tech supporter walked me through more steps, and finally after about 20 more minutes, success. The apps were installed and working on the iPod.

I had really good support from Apple today. Everyone was very friendly and tried to be helpful. Apple support people seem to work all over the U.S. and they have a variety of different American accents.

It doesn’t seem like anyone reads user agreements, at least when connecting to Apple Remote desktop. Both times when the connection was setting up I was faced with a user agreement, which I tried to read. I am very fast reader (especially when I can sense the frustration of the tech support person waiting for at the other end of the phone) but I was only able to read about half of the user agreement before the session timed out and the remote desktop session was disconnected. I hate to admit it, but I then just started the connection again and agreed that I had read and that I agreed with the user agreement even though I had only read half of it. It was frustrating. I try to actually read user agreements even though they can be very hard to read, but I really wanted to resolve the issue, and letting Apple connect to my desktop remotely seemed to be what I had to do to accomplish that. The second time that they tried to connect to my desktop remotely, I started halfway through the user agreement (since I had already read the first half) but I was still unable to read the whole thing before I was timed out. How frustrating! Apple is trying to help me, I had very helpful tech support people, but the system is designed so that it is impossible read the whole user agreement before you are disconnected. Both Apple employees seemed surprised that I was unable to read the whole agreement and had never seen this happen before when they were connecting to other users desktops. This tells me that people don’t try to read the agreement, or they start and are so overwhelmed at the jargon that they give up.

I can’t wait until Apple gets on board the trend to simplify user agreements into something that it is possible to read in under fifteen minutes.

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