Apple ticked off its customers when it purposely slowed down their iPhones.
But don’t go looking for an apology.
At least for the moment, you won’t find one in Sarasota.
It’s been about two weeks since the technology giant fessed up to releasing an update designed to slow down older phones with batteries that were on the verge of fizzling out. To make up for it, Apple at the end of December announced that it would reduce the price of out-of-warranty batteries, which typically cost $79, to $29.
We were getting reports from Herald-Tribune readers that they were hard to find in town.
So I went looking for one.
It’s worth noting that in most cases Apple can get you a battery, if you ship it to the Apple Repair Center through getsupport.apple.com. There’s been some buzz on social media lately that some models, like the 6 Plus, could be on back order until March, but the company hasn’t formally confirmed that yet.
If they’ve got your battery, though, Apple says it can repair it in five business days if you mail it in.
But who really wants to go five days without their phone?
I decided to call the Apple store at the Mall at University Town Center to check and see if they had batteries in stock.
Do yourself a favor. Don’t try that.
Even though it’s a 941 number, you don’t actually get to speak to the store. You’re greeted by an “automated system that can handle full sentences” and then eventually put on hold to speak to an Apple Care technician.
The system was kind enough to give me four choices of music — modern pop, jazz, classical or silence — while I waited on hold for about 12 minutes. When the technician finally answered, she couldn’t hear me. She repeated “hello, this is Zeda with Apple Support who do I have the pleasure of speaking with today” twice before she seemingly hung up. I had to try again.
The second time the automated system seemed a little less literate than it was before. It ended up steering me to a service I didn’t need, and didn’t seem to understand commands like “go back,” “back to previous prompt” or “seriously, don’t make me start from the beginning.”
Between the two calls I wasted about 20 minutes, and that’s when I gave up on the phone. Driving the 15 minutes from the newsroom to the mall seemed much easier.
It only took about 2 minutes at the Apple store to get a real human who actually did understand full sentences to help me, but even that didn’t do much good. The clerk told me that they were out of stock. I had the choice to wait there for a technician to run the diagnostics on my phone to see if I qualified for a new battery or a technician could call me in 10 minutes and do it remotely.
Either way, I wasn’t leaving that store with a battery.
I left the mall and went across the street to the ATT store on the other side of Cattlemen Road where I had bought my iPhone about a year ago. I was greeted by a very candid team of three salesmen who all explained very sympathetically that they couldn’t help me. The discount, the battery and the repair all needed to come from Apple.
This wasn’t going to be like popping off the back of the old Nokia bricks and slipping in a matchbook style battery. Ten years ago changing a battery in a cellphone was as simple as changing a battery in television remote control. An iPhone, though, has tiny little screws that my eyes couldn’t even find on my 6S model. Even if ATT had a battery, there would be no easy way to get into my phone.
So I went back to the newsroom, and I got on getsupport.apple.com. There I found a list of the three “authorized service providers” in our area. The Mall at UTC and the Mac Rx Inc. store at 4974 Fruitville Road weren’t taking any appointments. Computer Advantage at 7810 N. Tamiami Trail couldn’t get me in until Jan. 19 at 11:20 a.m.
If I really wanted a battery, the Apple store at International Plaza has an appointment available at 3:30 p.m. but driving 43 miles to Tampa seemed like quite a bit of work though to take advantage of Apple’s apology.
About half of the Tampa authorized service providers had slots available before Tuesday, and several were just as sold out as our Sarasota store. They’re only in slightly better shape than we are.
I wasn't sure Apple could look much worse than it did when it purposely slowed down iPhones, but these delays and this kind of scarcity certainly aren't helping.
Yes, Apple, we’ve all heard your apology.
After the afternoon I’ve just had trying to accept it, though, I’m probably not the only iPhone customer who’s not convinced you really mean it.
Maggie Menderski, the Herald-Tribune's retail and tourism reporter, can be reached at 941-361-4951 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow her on Twitter and Instagram @MaggieMenderski.