Is Apple Customer Service Good? 2018 Rating

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Apple is the king of consumer laptop tech support, and the company added to its repertoire in the past year. In addition to answering questions via social media, live online chats, its support app and phone calls, the company began posting tutorials to a YouTube channel in November 2017. These options flank the company's existing Genius Bar, which still stands out as one of the few ways users can get in-person support directly from a laptop-maker.

Apple Tech Support
Overall Web Score Phone Score Avg Call Time Phone Number Web Support
93/100 58/60 35/40 10:40 800-275-2273 Link
Phone Hours (ET): 24/7

This year, we reached out to Apple tech-support reps to see if they understood how to keep laptops safe from the Meltdown and Spectre vulnerabilities, which have been grabbing headlines for months. On top of that, did they know how to change Siri's voice? And could they tell us how to adjust Safari's new setting for automatically playing videos?

Despite some hiccups, Apple continued to offer the best and most comprehensive support of all the laptop-makers we reviewed in this Tech Support Showdown.

Web Support, App and Live Chat

Apple's official support page was an easy way to find answers to each of my questions, though the documentation could be more direct. On the main page, you simply type your question or search terms into a field and click Return.

After searching "change siri voice," I clicked on the second item, "Change Siri voice or language," which provided the correct instructions. The page listed steps for both Macs and iOS devices, so you can learn how to do it on your other devices (if you have them).


I again found what I was looking for after typing "spectre and meltdown" into the search field. In the description under the second result, "About speculative execution vulnerabilities in ARM-based and Intel CPUs," I noticed text that suggested it had the correct information — to keep my system updated — which was indeed found on that page.

I found the same information in the Apple Support app by signing in with my Apple ID, tapping the MacBook Air I was using and typing in "Meltdown spectre." Similarly, typing "siri voice" into that field also produced the same information.

My answer for reversing Safari's new rule for blocking autoplaying came to me in a slightly roundabout way. After searching for "videos in safari aren't autoplaying," I only got results about disabling videos from autoplaying. But clicking on the "Stop autoplay videos" result brought me to a page where I saw a link that said "Customize browsing settings per website," which revealed how to change the autoplay settings for specific websites.

To test Apple's live-chat support, I submitted a question about modifying Siri's voice. I received a wait-time estimate of 5 minutes, and after 7 minutes, I was speaking with a rep named Zann. First, Zann walked me through the steps of checking my system version and confirming my device, and then gave me the correct set of steps to find Siri's preferences.

Social Media: Still Just Twitter

When it comes to our digital lives, many of us still spend our days primarily on social media. Therefore, it makes sense that Apple decided (in 2016, years after competitors did) to make a Twitter account — @AppleSupport — to take tech-support questions. Though many computer-makers also have Facebook-based operations, Apple has opted not to.

When I tweeted — from my secret social-media account used to hide my identity as a reporter — for help about Spectre and Meltdown, Apple responded a short 10 minutes later. The company also included the correct information (update macOS on your Mac, and you're OK), along with a link to documentation on Apple's site that explained the situation in greater detail.

Phone Support

Apple's phone-based tech support provided accurate answers in a speedy process, though I encountered an odd bug during my testing. Apple's phone support number (1-800-275-2273) isn't highly visible on the company's site, so most people will find themselves navigating to http://support.apple.com, and then clicking through a short series of prompts and filling in contact information to arrange a phone call.

Unfortunately, on my first day of testing, I ran into a bug that nearly prevented me from arranging calls. At first, it just seemed like a mistake; on the page where you enter your name, email address and phone number, the last field didn't have the words "phone number," though all the others were properly labeled. Ignoring this, I filled in my information. But then, I got an error reading, "We're unable to schedule your call. Please try again or choose a different solution."


Starting over again, multiple times, I kept getting the same result, until (without any real indicator of why) everything worked properly. The words "phone number" finally appeared above that field, and the form also automatically formatted my number in the (123) 456-7890 style and allowed me to receive the calls. This error came up during my first two calls, but not my third.

The first time I used the Apple site to schedule a call, 4 minutes passed between the call beginning and an adviser joining me on the line. In that time, I tapped "1" to opt for pop music; the Apple support line is like its own iPod, where you get to pick your waiting music of choice (or opt to wait in silence).

At 12:57 p.m., when Natasha in Georgia (the U.S. state, not the country) picked up, I asked her how to protect my MacBook Air against those Spectre and Meltdown dangers I've heard so much about on the news.

Natasha quickly walked me through the steps for checking my operating-system version and looking for system updates, which she said proved that my system was safe against Spectre and Meltdown. She then explained that applying updates from Apple was how to keep my system safe. I was off the line by 1:02 p.m., for a total call time of 9 minutes.

For my second call, I asked about Siri. I opted for waiting music of my choice at 3:03 p.m. and was on the phone with John in New Mexico at 3:05. John, a friendly and to-the-point representative, pulled up the relevant article and walked me through the steps by 3:07 p.m.. He even emailed me a link to the related support page so I could have those steps handy in the future.

The only time Apple Support didn't have the answer at the ready was when I called to ask about autoplaying video. The call was set up at 9:28 a.m., and I was on the line immediately with Tonya in Idaho. After we joked over our equally poor weather, she attempted to connect to my system remotely but could not do so (likely because of our office firewall).

Then, Tonya asked me if she could place me on hold while she went to look for an answer to my question. At 9:46 a.m., 18 minutes after the call started, Tonya returned to the line with the answer and walked me through the process. The call concluded at 9:47 a.m.

On average, Apple's calls took 10 minutes and 40 seconds from start to finish, which is 4.6 minutes longer than the company's average call time last year but still rather brisk.

Warranty

Apple offers 90 days of complimentary telephone technical support. If you need more than that, you can pay for three years of hardware service and telephone support coverage via AppleCare+ (formerly the AppleCare Protection Plan), which costs more than it used to.

AppleCare+ still costs $249 (a one-time purchase) for the MacBook and MacBook Air, but you now have to spend $269 (formerly $249) to protect the 13-inch MacBook Pro and $379 (up from $349) for the 15-inch MacBook Pro.

Don't be afraid to contact Apple if your 90-day window has closed, though, as my MacBook Air was purchased much more than 90 days before I made these calls. However, I was never asked to pay. But don't take my good fortune as a reason to skip the purchase of AppleCare, which is valuable in case of needed repairs.

Bottom Line

Although Apple's calls took a little longer to complete this year — because of one answer that took a while to find — the company still batted a thousand, with correct answers for every question. Further, its technicians continued a long-standing tradition from Apple, marrying that accuracy with the power of positivity.

We don't know why the support.apple.com site glitched out on multiple occasions, but we were happy to see the issue disappear by our third call. If Apple wants an even better score next year, we'd suggest its agents find footing on Facebook, and make sure its employees know all the ins and outs of its latest features so that callers aren't put on hold while techs investigate.

Still, though, Apple's support division paints the picture-perfect image of customer service, giving its competition something to aspire to.

 

Tech Support Showdown

Author Bio
Henry T. Casey
Henry T. Casey,
After graduating from Bard College a B.A. in Literature, Henry T. Casey worked in publishing and product development at Rizzoli and The Metropolitan Museum of Art, respectively. Henry joined Tom's Guide and LAPTOP having written for The Content Strategist, Tech Radar and Patek Philippe International Magazine. He divides his free time between going to live concerts, listening to too many podcasts, and mastering his cold brew coffee process. Content rules everything around him.
Henry T. Casey, on
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33 comments
  • Geraldo Gonzalez Says:

    I have been experiencing terrible customer service waiting over 45 plus minutes on hold for assistance on the top of apple taking money from my credit card on file without any purchase being made. While Apple make nice products their customer service assistant is one of the worse I have ever deal with in my life and makes me change my mind about their products. They need serious improvement on their customer service assistances when customers call their number. Terrible experience and very frustrating.

  • William james Says:

    Very useful information. keep up the good work. Thumbs up for your time and efforts. I truly appreciate your efforts and I am waiting for your next post thank you once again. A really informative blog keep sharing your knowledge with us. The best thing about your blog is easy to understand language. Keep up the good work. In order to resolve all the issues related to ios devices do visit https://www.applesupportphonenumbers.com/apple-support-uk/

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  • Augustus Says:

    Thanks for the article. However, if by "power of positivity" you mean condescending attitude, providing cookie cutter replies to one's questions for the sole purpose of diverting the issues, and overall being insincere and shifting the responsibility of the problem onto the consumer, well, yes, Apple is at the top of the list. The so called "Genius Bar" is useless and its geniusless techs feign ignorance of problems which are listed in the millions on a basic online search. As others have already pointed out, I have been a faithful Apple customer for many years, but the lack of "customer service" (ie: "resolving problems") leads me to say Apple no more.

  • Hannah Says:

    every time i try to open a folder on my desktop it doesn't let me

  • Lawrence Bucci Says:

    Brought a mac air laptop with extended warranty new buy a mac again wrost policy's in the service department I had to ever deal with never again mac

  • ANNETTE HELLINGRATH Says:

    A few days ago I spoke to an Apple customer service rep about getting an adapter. I first went on line to see which one I needed, wasn't sure so I asked for professional help. After twenty minutes, after being on hold for about fifteen minutes, I spoke to someone who didn't seem to have a clue. She put me on hold and then got back on the line to tell me which adapter would work. I needed an adapter for my older printer, so one end had to fit into the back of my new Mac and the other fit the printer plug. The adapter arrived today and it was too small at the computer end. I called Apple back. To make a long story short, I spoke to five people - all of them useless. I was wondering if I was speaking Klingon because nobody seemed to understand that I needed the adapter to plug into the back of my computer and that the other end did fit my printer. They kept assuming that the printer end was the problem. I was passed on to a supervisor who was just as clueless. I was then passed on to someone who was to source the right sized adapter for me and she was the worst of the lot. I can't understand how a company that makes my computer has no idea which adapter I would need for it and after five people, finally one of them realizes that Apple doesn't make them. I got all my other adapters at The Source and they fit perfectly, unfortunately they no longer carry this product. The worst customer service ever and not once did anyone say to me to return this item because I was recommended the wrong size. Not once did anyone offer a refund. I sent the stupid thing back this evening with a note for them to 'stick it where the sun don't shine.' Go anywhere else if you need help with products for your Mac - Apple customer service reps don't have a clue.

  • Juliette Says:

    Apparently Apple owns this blog page because is certainly doesn't portray the truth about Apple customer service. I bought my first and last apple product a year ago an IPad Air 2. I had a variety of issues with shutting down instantly, the power cord failed after six months, I was told I had to buy a new printer if I wanted to print using the IPad. Customer service was useless each time I called which was many. I believe Apple deletes most negative reviews from the web and portrays a false perception that Ipads are prefect and loved by everyone. Its total crap!!

  • M Naame Says:

    On Thursday, 6/7/2018... I was on hold with Apple Support for 90 minutes and a representative NEVER came on the line. On Friday, 6/8/2018... I was on hold for 2 hours and a representative NEVER came on the line!

  • Melissa Says:

    On Tuesday 9 th January was on hold for almost 30 minutes finally got a representative from tech support named Chanelle, 2 mins into the conversation and of telling her the situation it seemed that she did not have the patience to help didn’t say anything and just hung up, gave her the benefit of the doubt just maybe it was a drop call but she never called back. Still on the phone again waiting for over another 30 Mins on for another representative. Apple for being such a expensive product has very poor customer service and responses to calls aren’t efficient not professional at all

  • Bruce Says:

    To the Apple rep here. Worked in IT and hated my monthly rotation when I tested as a cust. supp. level 2 rep. It is stressful and I agree - be prepared to wait or have Apple call back. When I was looking for a job, I considered cust. supp. for a brief time and warned my spouse I'd be stressed out if I took the job, so again, I understand. But I'm a user and this is different.

    We're paying a lot more for an Apple. That includes the extra money we pay for cust. supp. and Applecare. We're not getting what we paid for.

    I also understand there are so many variations of sw upgrades and peripheral devices. Not everything is tested or known. But again, we pay more for support and we're not getting it.

    Best of luck to you. I'm glad you commented (and I agree - a wait time complaint seems silly).

  • Bruce Says:

    I worked in IT for 30+ yrs., so I have a slight technical jump on most folks.

    Bought Apple because they don't GPF (Windows OS did), they're not as prone to hacking, it was a better built and supported pc over so many Windows-based brands, and support was in the States.

    BUT, they never resolve my problems. A rep. recently told me to replace my spouse's keyboard but (I told him I disagreed - looked like a sw issue). It IS a sw problem! Once, in seven years, my spouse got a rep. who actually helped. Otherwise, don't count on good support other than a rep. speaking English here.

    So I totally agree with Cristina. Support is bad - not just "not that knowledgeable."

  • Cristina Says:

    One of the worst customer services experiences ever! I dread having to call Apple with any issues! Navigating through their website is horrible, their customer service reps are not that knowledgeable... I could go on.

  • Denise Miller Says:

    I had occasion to use customer support this week after my family gifted me with an IPad. I had difficulty with accessing after setting it up. I didn't catch the gentleman's name but I found his explanations way too fast and his tone arrogant, despite my telling him I was a senior and needed patience. I sat through a lengthy discourse on the difference between a password and a postcode, and I remained locked out. I think his telling me to hang up, sit back, relax and meditate and the password would come to me was his giving up. I give the service a zero. Once I can figure out how to reset the thing it will be going back.

  • Katy Cribbs Says:

    I had a very nice experience with Nim, when I called about a problem. He was very patient, helpful and friendly! I hope that he gets to see this! Thanks again for the job well done!

  • Ex - AppleCare representative Says:

    Hi,
    As a former AppeCare representative I can't stress enough how difficult this job really is. We have to deal with angry customers who waited too long on the line, give accurate information about endless features and provide an instant resolution. It is mentally exhausting and would take anyone I know into the paths of a breakdown. Now imagine when new products or software are launched. We are given a set of trainning modules to perform on a given amount of time, as per Apple recommendation. Now, what a lot of people are unaware of, is that only a few call centers are actually managed by Apple directly. Other centers are paid by Apple to train people as per their standards, but in the end of the day this is a business we are talking about, so the larger the amount of calls taken daily equals more monney for these centers. Basically, forget the trainning, we are just pushed by our local managers to do these modules as fast as possible because we are needed to take more calls. There is never time to breathe or learn anything.
    You are upset because you waited too long on the phone? You wouldn't last a single day! And people who go through this experience, as myself, say "Working on Apple's call centre? Never again!"

  • Andrew Toy Says:

    Apple Official Tech Support Toll Free Number - 1-800-982--082O

  • Andrew Toy Says:

    Apple Official Tech Support Toll Free Number - 1-800-982--082O

  • school teacher Says:

    looks like math is not a strength of the author as the average of 8, 15 and 7 is 10 min... not the 6 min ave call time listed

  • Minal Says:

    worst customer care .. been waiting on the phone for over 45 minutes to hear the same thing that was said initially

  • Mac Smart Australia Says:

    Better hire 3rd party Apple technical support technicians / companies from your country. They are more dedicated on their work and can service your devices onsite or remotely.

  • Tyler Says:

    HA! I have been on the phone for over an hour with Apple support waiting for someone, and I scheduled a call!

    I was billed for an automatic renewal that I did NOT sign up for. Just want a refund and the service canceled. Apples support is virtually non-existent. This "review" is clearly paid for by Apple to toot their own horn because no one else will. Disappointing.

  • Helen Says:

    I rec'd a pop up it would not let me log off gave # 844-576-0514 not sure if it was a ligt # for apple support could not understand anything the person was saying I guess I need to call the banks I deal with to be sure my accounts are not compromised. Not happy!!!!!!!!!!

  • makanjuola Friday ola Says:

    please, i have a mac apple laptop and i could assess it again due to misplacing of password that i used to secure it. so, i need your help on what to do.

  • Sandra Maxwell Says:

    I can't understand why I can't access photos I just took with the camera for forwarding or display. What is up with that??

  • nokwanda Says:

    am seeking for a IT job,what i have is a certificate of technical support and am buys with my IT diploma,

  • GlobalRoamer Says:

    I have a one year old MacBook Pro 15. I grew so unhappy with the service I asked for, and got, my $295 extended warranty back.

    If you are an IT rookie they will tell you what you want to hear. Just try one time to ask a question about the SSL problem from Feb 2015, and they do an about face. In August 2015, my MacBook got hacked with the same SSH Cross Site Scripting using the Man-In-The-Middle. When I called Apple, they were dead silent. Dissembling, misdirecting, obfuscating, worst of all no help. Denied it had anything to do with "Apple" but refused to offer even the simplest of suggestions on how I can prevent it in the future. How do I know if I have the SSL fix in MBP? Well I can't because the SSL problem was in iOS. I went to the developers website and found the same iOS SSL is part of Yosemite. So again, misdirection and lies.

    I was going to buy a nice apple lap top for my daughter going to college. But I don't want her getting half answers, and misdirections, when she is trying to her studies done.

    Then there is the other part of the MBP with the packages that are sent to your computer without your knowledge that they contain emedded URLs. A collection of the URLs revealed to me the real Apple Cloud is a small group of servers in the Netherlands, not owned by Apple, that get your Cloud data. So if you don't mind your personal data in the cloud going to the Netherlands that should be OK, but of course, Apple won't admit that either.

    Anyone doing consulting work for banks and financial services companies don't be surprised if you cannot bring your MBP upstairs into the IT area. The MBP is NOT PCI compliant, but Apple will misdirect your line of question, or simply not answer.

    Compared to HP or Microsoft I would rank Apple well below them. When HP and MS send out a fix it is a release, with details, software involved, hardware involved, how to install, and what to do if something goes wrong. Apple provides NONE of the above.

    When it comes to reporting problems, I tried by sending them their own software with fixes put in it the examples. 40 examples in first six months, so far none of them have made it to production.

    It doesn't matter that I have no updates turned on, one day my printer acted crazy. After getting some half truths from Apple I found Apple downloaded a new CUPS daemon Configuration file without me knowing it. The new file screwed up my printer. So I went to time machine and got the old one back.

  • Allister Says:

    Safari has not been working properly on my new MacBook Pro for months. Technical advisors have not fixed the problem, and do not follow up, so each time I have to explain the issue from ground zero. Customer service has not helped either. I won't buy any more Apple products.

  • Sparsh Says:

    I was trying to call to Apple Customer support for my macbook, I kept on waiting for 35 minutes and then I disconnected because no one was answering the call.
    Even most low grade companies do not take that long to answer a call, but apple did. What a pathetic experience.

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