Is Apple Customer Service Good? 2017 Rating

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Apple is the longtime leader in tech support, and the company expanded its offerings in 2016. Apple now addresses queries via social media, documentation, live online chats and calls with agents via the Apple Support app. These options join the company's existing Genius Bar, support.apple.com and telephone support channels.

Apple Tech Support
Overall Web Score Phone Score Avg Call Time Phone Number Web Support
93/100 56/60 37/40 6:00 800-694-7466 Link
Phone Hours (ET): 24/7

This year, we reached out to Apple tech-support reps to see if they understood the changes to macOS and how to use the Touch Bar on its recently released MacBook Pro. Did they know how to undo moving Documents and Desktop to iCloud, which macOS Sierra asks you to do during the upgrade process? What about enabling Siri on the Mac, which doesn't respond to "Hey, Siri"? Also, how do you find the Function keys on the Touch Bar MacBook Pro?

tss 2017 report card apple

Despite a couple of snags, Apple still offers the best and most comprehensive support of all the laptop-makers we reviewed in this Tech Support Showdown.

Web Support

After searching "How do I undo moving my Documents and Desktop to iCloud?" on Apple's support web page, I found a page that explained how to use iCloud to store the contents of these directories, but no explicit instructions for undoing this change. I figured out how to reverse this step by going through the process listed and unchecking the Desktop and Documents box.

Apple_support_options
Then, I turned to Apple's online chat for further guidance. After I navigated through several complicated menus and got disconnected from my first chat session, a rep named Ben took 3 minutes to recommend a simple solution: manually move those files from iCloud. When I asked if there was any way to regain the option of storing files on my desktop, Ben told me I'd have to turn off iCloud Drive to do so. Although that solution works, it isn't entirely correct; unchecking the box next to Desktop and Documents in the iCloud section of System Preferences also accomplishes this task. It took another 8 minutes of conversation to resolve this issue.

Next, I typed my next query: "Siri doesn’t respond when I say ‘Hey, Siri, how do I get it to work?’" into the Apple support site's search field. The fourth item in the results, “Use Siri on your Mac,” included the explanation I needed: Users activate the assistant by clicking the icon in the menu or dock.

Support_app_touch_bar_2In December 2016, Apple finally revealed its Support app, which makes it slightly easier to jump straight into Apple's support page from an iPhone or iPad. When you open the app, it shows buttons for the Apple devices registered to your name, which made it easy for me to find documentation about my Touch Bar MacBook Pro.

Support_app_touch_bar

I typed "Function keys touch bar" into the search field, and then selected "Using touch bar." The next screen started with options to schedule a call, but instead, I selected the "Use the Touch Bar on your MacBook Pro" article on the bottom of the screen. This document answered the question, explaining that you hold the Function (fn) key to show the F1-F12 buttons in the Touch Bar.

When I asked Apple's newly minted Twitter account @applesupport for help in finding the Function keys, I received a response 6 minutes later. The tweet directed me to a page with documentation about the Touch Bar, which solved my query, though "click the fn key" could have fit into the service's character with room left over, and would have provided the answer in less time.

Phone Support

To call Apple's telephone support agents, I navigated the same menus I used to get live chat support, selected the Phone Call option and entered my machine’s serial number. I received my first call at 2:03 p.m. ET a mere moment after I requested it and an automated voice agent let me choose my own hold music. After I waited 4 minutes, I was connected to Hayley in South Florida and asked him my iCloud question.

tss 2017 bar chart v2 3071051489009674.2 3071051489009674

Hayley then instructed me to disable iCloud Drive, and explained how to keep a local copy of the files. During the 2 minutes it took to download the files, I chatted with Hayley about the weather down in Florida, as he was positive and easy to talk to.

At the end of our chat, I asked if there was some way to turn iCloud Desktop and Documents off without disabling iCloud Drive. Hayley said there was not, which is, unfortunately, not the case. The call took 8 minutes in total.

My next call connected me to Frank in Oregon, who explained that the physical fn key makes the Touch Bar show the Function keys. Frank also showed me how to set specific apps to use the Function keys in the Touch Bar, and he needed to place me on hold to ask colleagues if I could do the same for Finder.

After telling me that there was no such option, Frank directed me to a feedback page where I could ask Apple to add this option in a future version. In total, the call took 15 minutes, but Frank solved my main question in only 3 minutes.

My last call connected me with the upbeat and chipper Letasha, who showed me the icon in the dock and menu bar that you click to activate Siri. Before we concluded, Letasha explained how to change the keyboard command used to start Siri. The call lasted 7 minutes.

On average, it took Apple's reps 6 minutes per call to get answers a minute less than its time last year.

Warranty

Out of the box, Apple offers only 90 days of complimentary telephone technical support. Those who need more can pay for three years of hardware service and telephone support coverage via the AppleCare Protection Plan, which costs $249 for the MacBook, MacBook Air and 13-inch MacBook Pros, and $349 for the 15-inch MacBook Pro.

Bottom Line

While calls did not go perfectly, Apple's customer support team provided solutions in a speedy and positive manner. The company does not get any points for finally creating a Twitter support account (and is it too good for Facebook?), but we do applaud the team running that account for the timely, helpful replies.

If Apple wants to improve its support, it should ensure support techs learn about all of the new features so that they can give completely accurate answers to questions on topics such as iCloud Documents. Its Twitter account could also improve by providing answers directly, instead of linking to posts where the content is found. Overall, though, Apple offers the best support of any laptop manufacturer, as it has for many years.

 

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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15 comments
  • 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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