Rarely am I bothered by a story on Apple’s international plans, but I came across one today that really, truly has me concerned. MacDailyNews picked up, but did not opine on a report that Apple is planning to open a tech support center in India.
I could write a lot on this subject, but I won’t. I’m simply going to say the following.
Dell permanently lost me as a customer because of its Indian tech support – in fact, Apple could directly attribute my purchase of three Macintosh computers in the last two years directly to the awful experiences I had with Dell. It wouldn’t take much work for Apple to recognize that Dell’s previously stellar customer service ratings fell off dramatically – and with much bad publicity – immediately after it switched to Indian tech support. Many of the readers of MacDailyNews have expressed similar concerns, albeit mixed in with regrettable, immature tinges of racism and jingoism.
Putting aside the racist and jingoistic comments, which really have nothing to do with this story, I know the standard arguments on this point: Apple’s not as stupid as Dell. Indian tech support isn’t necessarily a bad thing. And of course, cheaper labor means cheaper computers. Or cheaper iPods.
Simply put, as far as computers are concerned, I don’t care about any of these arguments. Switching call centers over to India – or any other country with less than complete language fluency to fully handle customers’ concerns – is penny-wise, pound-foolish. And in the end, more likely than not, doing so would serve as a major sign that the Apple experience is no different than Dell’s, except in the external aesthetics of its products. With Intel inside both companies’ computers, that’s the last message Apple needs to be encouraging these days.
Please, Apple, and you know I don’t say this often: keep charging reasonable premiums for your computers and giving me the support I expect, and I’ll keep buying them. I’m an Apple computer customer now because I eventually got tired of the third-rate experiences I was having at third-rate prices, and I’m not looking to go back to that. If I wanted a Dell, I’d buy a Dell. But I don’t, and because of these sorts of experiences, I now actively go out of my way to discourage others from doing so.
For iPods? They might be a different story – you don’t need quite the same level of technical support for an iPod as for a computer, and perhaps many of the most common iPod problems could be handled adequately by quasi-fluent technicians. Readers, what do you think?