AppleCare Support is Broken

As a fairly knowledgeable Mac and iOS user, I’m generally the go-to guy for people I know who are looking for solutions to their problems. I’ve been writing about Macs and iOS devices for more than fifteen years, and a lot of my work has been around troubleshooting, and explaining to users how to accomplish tasks, or work around problems. As such, I don’t often need to contact AppleCare.

I buy AppleCare contracts for my Macs, and for my iPhones (for my current iPhone, this is included in the package I purchased through the Apple iPhone Upgrade program).

When I have issues with my Macs or iOS devices, I can generally figure them out. I search online, post in forums, and, in most cases, I find solutions. But there are times when I can’t find solutions, and I turn to AppleCare.

In the past couple of years, I’ve had several issues that involved contacting AppleCare. The front-link staff is generally amiable, and try to be helpful, but given that I can generally resolve simple issues, I almost always get bumped up to the next level, to senior advisors. And these senior advisors always start by reading a script, saying that they will “take ownership of my case” and ensure me that they will help resolve my issue.

Until they don’t.

Several times in the past couple of years, I’ve had cases where senior advisors give me hope, have me send data to them, then nothing happens. They just drop the cases. There is no further communication, no information, nothing. They just forget me. On their end, they probably close the cases so they can juke the stats. And I don’t get that common request for feedback regarding my case, so they don’t get negative feedback.

In one case, I was having battery issues on a MacBook, which dragged on and on, as it was hard to figure out exactly what was happening. I eventually traded that MacBook in to buy a new MacBook Pro, because it wasn’t worth my hassling with Apple’s support any more.

For another case, the senior advisor sent me an app to collect data – which totaled about 650 MB – that I was to send to Apple via a webpage. I tried many times and was never able to send the data; the connection would drop each time before the transmission completed. (I have 1 Mbps upload speed, making large uploads extremely difficult.)

My most recent case is more than two weeks old. I found I could no longer log into my Mac mini with my MacBook Pro to run Time Machine backups to an external disk connected to that Mac. The first-line technician started a screen-sharing session, which allowed me to show him the issue, and bumped me up to the next level, saying he couldn’t explain what was happening, and had never seen this before. The second line technician started a screen-sharing session, but wouldn’t let me go through the entire process to show what was happening, and I was quite annoyed at having to deal with someone who clearly didn’t care about my issue. She said she would call me back in a day or two, after consuming with engineering.

And that’s the general result of my contacts with AppleCare. They “consult with engineering,” promise to call back, and never do.

I have had a couple of senior advisors who have followed up on my cases, helping me resolve issues, but for most of the problems I have had in the past couple of years, I have been ignored, and had to figure out my own workarounds.

Apple touts their high rate of customer satisfaction, but this is probably because so many issues can either be resolved by front-line support technicians, or in-store; my nearest Apple Store is an hour away, and, for my latest issue, going to a store wouldn’t help, because the issue involves connecting to another Mac on my local network.

AppleCare is expensive, and I feel that I’m getting cheater, at least for issues that aren’t hardware related. AppleCare is broken and needs to be fixed.

(If you’ve had this problem, please post a comment below. I’d like to be able to forward some information about this to Apple.)

20 thoughts on “AppleCare Support is Broken

  1. So, so sad concerning Apple. I have a MacBook Pro, my wife has a MacBook Air and an iPhone, but seeing as things evolve, I doubt we’ll remain “Apple fans”. Windows OS and Android phones have come a long, long way. And in a market which is becoming more and more competitive, awesome client care makes all the difference!

  2. A few weeks ago I had a case with Apple Developer Program Support where they simply stopped responding to me, so perhaps this is widespread behavior in the company now. We pay an annual fee for the developer program, not to mention 30% of app revenue.

    The difference was stark, because they had been replying to emails within 1 or 2 days before they stopped entirely. If for some reason they can’t help me, they ought to tell me that instead of going silent.

  3. I sympathize w your issue, luckily, I had a Mac guru to solve mine, you, thank you. I allow it to put a dent into my day or days till the issue is resolved. That’s my shortcoming, but I haven’t found Apple Care to be. I rely upon them receiving help and resolution, even call backs. But I share the pain of an unresolved issue.

  4. I had this issue of no follow up from senior advisors with several issues. One setting up my Mac Mini and the other setting up iTunes on that Mac.

  5. Was stung by an APFS bug (the system would accidentally create containers inside containers and misreport sizes thus overwriting data) and was told by a ‘senior’ advisor that “oh well, that’s tough luck” before he hung up on me whilst giggling. Never got the case email so when I called back they couldn’t find a record of who dealt with me. Was promised a call-back after they investigated (sounds familiar?) but there’s been radio silence from Apple ever since.

    After almost 40 years of using/owning Apple products, I’m seriously considering jumping ship.

  6. Yes, yes, yes…. 1st tear support, senior support, upload data apple data. & then no feedback…… Then you have start all over with someone new. It’s very frustrating.

  7. This is oh so true. I’m also an experienced and knowledgeable user (been a software engineer for 35 years) so I only tend to call AppleCare with real issues (bugs!) and for that kind of issue their support has become woeful. I have a currently open issue that has been under investigation for nearly 6 months now. Apple are still talking to me about this one to be fair but there is still no sign of a resolution despite multiple data captures and uploads. I’ve also experienced them just going quiet and then closing the case on a few occasions. It really is woeful, especially given the price.

  8. As the go-to Apple guy for friends, family and even at my company (because our IT guys are Windows-types but most people in the company use MacBooks these days), I always tend to say:

    “Apple – it just works. Until it doesn’t. And then you’re screwed”.

    In my decades working with Windows I had to endure too many little glitches and issues, but many had little fixes. When it comes to Apple, there are usually no glitches and real issues, but the moment you stumble upon one, you can already more or less give up all hope.

    Recently I was able to get my case bumped-up to senior advisors on my last day of AppleCare coverage. My 2015 27″ iMac was suffering from a kernel/graphics driver issue when putting too high a strain on the GPU.

    Apparently the AMD 390-series GPU is barely able to handle Safari’s “Tab Expose” feature in 5K, so after a few switches the whole screen glitches out and starts flickering. The easiest “fix” is to change the scaling factor in the display settings and immediately change it back.

    I’ve uploaded about 1GB worth of telemetry data (probably using the same tool that Kirk had to use) and luckily I have 38Mbit upload, so that part was a breeze. Two days later I got confirmation that engineering knows about the issue and it’s supposedly being worked on.

    It’s still not fixed and bugs out nearly every time I try to use iCloud tabs with Safari. If I had to guess, I’d put it down to a Metal2 driver issue with those AMD GPUs.

    So the bottom line is that we’re suffering from “frustration by a thousand cuts”. There are so many little issues and problems within macOS, which itself is slowly becoming more and more complex. So macOS has neither received major new features or reworks, nor many noticeable fixes to long-standing annoyances. Which begs the question what Apple is actually working on (which is a rhetorical question – they work on services).

    We still can’t use APFS-formatted drives as TimeMachine targets, because TimeMachine still requires hard-link support. Apple Mail is still stubbornly stuck in the 90s. Trying to use the Console app is an act of futility as the system by default logs so many errors and warnings during normal operation, that I’m surprised it keeps up appearances of everything being ok. Safari started freezing on opening new tabs in Sierra for me, an issue that seemed fixed in High Sierra and had its comeback in Mojave. And last but not least: Ever since High Sierra, the whole OS started just freezing without any errors messages or log output for what felt like half my company.

  9. Kirk,
    Clearly Apple Support is broken. This case involves data deleting from my Contacts several minutes after entering it. Several videos prove that it is happening, as it is relatively easy to watch (am I hallucinating? LOL). The case has lingered for months-at least since last November. I have summited at least 3 “system captures” to the engineers via the Sr. Adv. The last Sr. Adv. they have dropped the case, as I have heard nothing. The last call back did not occur. A subsequent follow-up call did not get a response. The issue, in part, is that when I get a sr. adv. from a non-apple support center (yes, they do exist). It appears they have quotas around time spent on a case, so I am assuming they just drop complex cases. Also, they seem less trained and have less access to resources. (You want someone from Austin, TX.)
    You and I both share the ability to solve simpler basic issues so when I call it is not a simple first level issue. Deleting data from contacts after I enter it is an important issue. I enter data: it disappears long after I move on to other things. Very frustrating as Contacts is so important for so many reasons.
    Apple Support: recently I got transferred to someone who was extremely knowledgable for an email SMTP issue. At the end of the 2 hour call, he informed me that I could not call him back, although he would leave notes so the next Sr. Adv. could know how to proceed if our solutions did not work. Luckily the solution seem to have worked.

  10. Knowledgeable user here, too. Similar experiences, and plainly awful experiences with Apple Store “geniuses.” Apple charges more of a premium for their gear than ever before, but the purchase and ownership experience has become ever more plain vanilla. As with Sony before them, we now find ourselves looking at other platforms rather than making the safe and delightful choice we once made. Because that choice is no longer available.

  11. There was a ‘golden era’ when buying a Mac was the smart thing to do. Beautifully designed, excellent features, small price premium and … just worked. That era coincided with Windows Vista – lucky Apple! – and with the introduction of the Macbook Air. It was not always true before then, and is certainly not true now.
    I am now thinking it is time to re-consider Apple and unpick the web of connections which ties us to the Apple eco-sphere.
    As for my recent service experience — I would just point to the AC Wall Plug Adapter Recall Program. I have no less than six of these adapters (that’s how many Macs are scattered around the family). In order to replace them I need to track down every machine, record the serial number, remove the AC plug from the user, and then somehow get the lot into Apple for replacement. What’s wrong with just sending out replacements given proof of purchase? A seriously dangerous issue, cheap is chips to fix, and zero help with sorting it.

  12. @sirsha: @davemark @mcelhearn “And that’s the general result of my contacts with AppleCare. They “consult with engineering,” promise to call back, and never do.”

    All of my AppleCare calls have gone like this: restart, log out of/in to iCloud, send to another support tech. Repeat from step 0 like I didn’t just do all of that. Promise to get back to me, never does. Or, when they do, it starts over and ends in the same place. I spend an hour on the phone almost every time and rarely get any help.
    My last Music-related issue (100308114497) was left open w/o progress until I told them to forget it after 81 days but I’m sure they had forgotten it already.

    My brand new Mac Mini sits unused right now because I have a problem with transferring my iMac because it has a corrupted iTunes library. I can’t yet bring myself to contact Apple, spend extremely stressful hours on the phone, and get no help.

  13. Thanks for your piece, Kirk. My experiences with AppleCare have also suggested that it is broken. I have posted about this elsewhere but I had a two-month-plus ordeal with AppleCare that turned Sisyphean. I bought an iMac Pro in November. I set it up clean rather than restore from a backup (as I typically do with a new Mac). The new system defaulted to iCloud Drive being enabled, even though I have never used it. After I copied my music to iTunes (200GB of my own ripped CDs) and books to the Books app (~75GB of PDFs and ePubs), unbeknownst to me the iMac Pro started pushing everything to iCloud Drive and maintained two copies of each file — one in either iTunes or Books, and another in an invisible iCloud Drive folder.

    The nightmare became acute when I started getting disk full errors on five other devices that iCloud Drive was DISABLED on: three other Macs with smaller SSDs than the new iMac Pro, an iPhone, and an iPad. iCloud Drive was propagating a copy to each device signed in with my Apple ID despite the fact that iCloud Drive was, again, DISABLED on all of them except the iMac Pro. Cutting to the chase, I spoke with nine different senior advisors (because iMac Pro owners automatically get bypassed to the second tier of Apple support) who confirmed what happened and channeled the case up to the engineer level, and literally none of them could understand why the problem occurred or how to solve it. I sent Capture Data at least 10 times. Each senior advisor gave me the same scripted speech about how much they cared about my case, statements of faux sympathy, and assurances they would resolve the matter. The senior advisors regularly failed to follow through on promises to call me back or email me with additional info or instructions. For all of this to take place so regularly, on the same case, over a two-month period, with nine different senior advisors strongly suggests that there are major systemic problems with AppleCare and Apple in general.

    Even though I disabled iCloud Drive on the iMac Pro as soon as I figured out what was happening, I could not delete the data from iCloud Drive or from the invisible folders (local iCloud Drive storage) on any of my computers. I finally requested that AppleCare reset my iCloud Drive at the server level, and it was a rigmarole of procedures and permissions to make that happen. That reset is what solved my problem after many hours wasted with unhelpful AppleCare reps. I estimate that I spent around 30 hours on the phone with AppleCare. That does not include all the time I spent troubleshooting on my own. I am not sure how to calculate my lost productivity or how to quantify the emotional stress I experienced. It was a travesty of support for a travesty of a product/service (iCloud Drive) that Apple should be embarrassed about. All this after I paid $8K for a computer.

    I’ve been using Macs professionally for more than 25 years. I’m an experienced troubleshooter. It’s a bad sign for Apple that just two weeks ago I, for the first time ever, warned a friend against buying a Mac instead of steering them toward Apple. My advice was based on my growing frustration over the last few years with Apple’s mishaps, embarrassing and persistent bugs, QA problems, and downright stupid and terrible hardware design and engineering decisions, culminating in the outrageous iCloud Drive problem I described above and the pitiful support I got for it. Apple has taken for granted the good graces of loyal, demanding followers for too long. They need to earn back our loyalty with world-class products and services. It is not just that AppleCare is broken; AppleCare is a microcosm of a much larger system that is broken, which is painfully ironic given how much revenue the company pulls in.

    Thanks again.

  14. Your spilling chucker may have hit the nail on the head – could your technician have been “consuming” a long and liquid lunch with the engineers, so in the end they all forgot what they were there for.

  15. Yes, yes and yes. I had an issue with a continued loop authentication problem related to 2FA and upgrade to Mojave. Had a case opened. They never did fix it. I did angry tweets, wrote in, everything.

    On my list of “25 Trends for 2025”, #24 is “Apple is DeListed”. I wrote it in 2014, and that part was to make a point that no company is ever guaranteed a future.

    Apple with this, and teh Butterly keyboard, seems to show this more everyday.

  16. Ditto what you said.
    Same here in France, for my Mac Pro (late 2013) continuity breaks a day or two after each reboot.
    Went through different senior advisors, they « consulted with engineering », then disappeared, not answering mail or phone calls.
    Tried many times, and every time they drop the case and I would have to start over.
    I have given up, and no, I still have don’t continuity working on a 4990€ computer.

  17. My goodness! I read this and thought I had written it. I’ve had much the same experiences with senior advisors. In fairness, I’ve had some really stellar experiences, too. But more of the type you described.

  18. That reminds me that I need to contact Apple again about a problem with purchased iTunes Movies and TV shows not showing up in my library. Haven’t heard from them in months!

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