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Apple has successfully angered its service staff. It is forcing its certified consultants to join a new oversight organization, OnForce, which has strict new rules. Those who don't comply won't get referrals at the Genius Bar.  (Source: Cracked)
Upset about lack of control, Apple is making significant alterations to how its services its computers

Apple computers, just like any personal computer, can break.  Likewise OS X and its software, like any operating system and its software, can experience bugs, crashes, and other issues.  When that happens users have two choices – perform repairs/diagnostics on their own (often exploring online resources) or take it to a qualified repairperson.

In the Apple world, the first line of repair support has been the Genius Bar that is located at every Apple store.  But sometimes problems are too confusing or severe for the Genius Bar specialists, so they get referred to a network of certified technicians.  Previously this network operated largely independently, but Apple is reportedly making sweeping changes to drastically cut the independence of these technicians and increase oversight.

The change applies to the Apple Consulting Network (ACN) technicians.  ACN members must go through certification courses and testing.  They must also pay annual fees to keep their status.  Local ACN members give their business cards to the Genius Bar who then passes those cards along to customers having tough issues.

But Apple -- a company obsessed with control, quality, and oversight -- took notice of the tech's autonomy and it "rubbed Apple Retail the wrong way."

According to a report by TUAW writer Steven Sande, Apple began to quietly prepare a replacement system in 2009 in LA and Boston.  Writes Mr. Sande, "Apple began testing a new support structure that used an existing organization, OnForce, to distribute support calls to ACN members who wanted to sign up as part of the program."

In 2010 the system was rolled out to Denver/Boulder and Detroit.  Now Apple is extending it to its entire retail network.  If ACN members do not comply with Apple's edict and join OnForce, they will no longer get service referrals from Apple retail.

The good news for customers is that they can expect lower prices and perhaps more service accountability.

But there's plenty of bad news about the change, with much of it on the consultants' end.  OnForce implements very strict policies.  Consultants can no longer represent themselves or their businesses when on call (making it impossible to get long-term customers).  They also are upset about the amount of paperwork OnForce requires.  And OnForce's rates are much lower than what Apple consultants typically charge.

Also of concern to both customers and techs alike are claims that OnForce is recruiting uncertified technicians with little to no iOS or Mac OS X experience.

The ACN members and some Apple fans don't mince words about their frustrations at the company.  Writes "Jimmy01" on the Apple Insider forums:

Is it just me or Apple really starting to turn into this disgusting company? Left and right, they are alienating everything and everyone that made them into what they are today and they are doing this because of the hordes of cash they now have without any consideration to the consequences. What they don't realize is that no matter how big you become, if people turn against you, you will fall. And this time around, no one will give a damn.

The on-board program is a BAD BAD idea and will lose a boat load of really good ACNs that will go rogue on their own. The ACN will become no different from the monkeys at Geek Squad or other crap like that.

"79 Apple //e", another user and self-reported ACN member offers a longer, more thoughtful complaint, writing:

OnForce is getting a piece of the action from the consultant. Apple is probably getting some kind of participation fee from OnForce. Ultimately, it's the Apple Consultant who gets screwed. And I say Apple Consultant because the most important thing you have to understand is that OnForce consultants don't have to be Apple Certified. It could be a High School student who is looking to make some money on the side. Of course they can underbid an experienced consultant! Also, if you've ever done consulting, it can be very difficult to "estimate" your time for a job. OnForce determines what "should" be the time to complete a job. Well, with IT, it's never quite that easy. There can be so many unforeseen circumstances that can complicate a job. Let's say you're getting a job to do a quick and easy setup which includes installing MSFT Office, getting on the Internet and setting up printer on a brand new iMac you just purchased from the Apple Store. Sounds like a job that should take about an hour or two? Generally yes. But any good consultant who is worth his salt will also run Software Update. As of today, a brand new iMac sold at the Apple Store needs about 1.5GB of downloads, including Flash(which is no longer included). Well, if you have a fast 5mb/s internet connection, that should take about 40 minutes. If you have a slower connection, it could take much more!

Outraged ACN members are discussing ceasing to pay their ACN dues and starting their own independent certification and consultation program, which will preserve the independent spirit of the ACN.  We're guessing Apple won't take kindly to that rebellion.

From a business standpoint, it is hard to argue against Apple.  The company has managed to double retail sales at its stores from $1.9B USD in fiscal Q1 2010 to $3.8B USD in fiscal Q1 2011.  Of the record 851,000 Mac computers sold last quarter, approximately half of them were to customers who had never bought a Mac before.  Apple is aggressively expanding its retail network and is preparing to open new stores (according to reports) in Shanghai, Palo Alto, and New York's Grand Central Terminal.

But for all that success, one has to wonder what will become of Apple if it alienates the very employees and customers that built that success in the first place.

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By amanojaku on 2/22/2011 11:39:17 AM , Rating: 5
It's just you. Apple has always been a disgusting company.

By FITCamaro on 2/22/2011 12:07:47 PM , Rating: 5

Like before this Apple was a free and open company.

By Iaiken on 2/22/2011 12:30:05 PM , Rating: 5
One of my friends is an ACN technician over in Huntington Beach. While he charges more than OnForce does, he makes house calls between 5-9pm for customers that can't come to him during his regular business hours and otherwise offers an amazing level of service to both residential and business customers.

I haven't talked to him yet, but I can guarantee that he will either stop going above and beyond for his customers (since they will cease to be HIS customers and become OnForce customers), or he will go rogue and tell Apple where to shove it's fruity PCs.

By kattanna on 2/22/2011 1:52:12 PM , Rating: 3
and if he is a really good tech, he will get called directly im sure.

just because one can pass some test does NOT mean they can tech a real issue.

real techs are always in demand

this, IMO, will mainly hurt the majority of useless techs, as it should.

By vol7ron on 2/22/2011 6:51:25 PM , Rating: 3
How often does one's computer break to know a good tech from a bad tech? It's not as each to compare IT techs to car mechanics unless you know what to look for in the first place; if you've got a problem that you need a tech, more than likely you don't know what to look for.

Still... craigslist and - the inde-tech friend.

By FITCamaro on 2/22/2011 1:55:37 PM , Rating: 5
Sheep don't really pay attention to much so its easy to make them happy.

A friend of mine at work, as much as I like the guy, is a good example of this. He has an 80GB iPod that he filled up. What would be the next logical step? Buy an MP3 player that offers the same or larger size, and can be expanded through replaceable memory cards. What does he do instead? Buys another iPod.

By Iaiken on 2/22/2011 3:45:13 PM , Rating: 2
Not to defend his stupidity, but it is actually one of the more cost effective paths.

iPod Classic 160GB = $1.55/GB
32GB Micro SDHC = $2.50/GB

HOWEVER, I manage just fine with an 8GB phone + 32GB micro SDHC card and the ability to remotely access data from my home PC from anywhere. Remote in, make a quick Google search (or browse the file system) and viola. I can even stream obnoxiously large media files (movies or playlists) over 3.5G or WiFi.

By damianrobertjones on 2/22/2011 3:47:50 PM , Rating: 2
Tony, PLEASE, how can you be so damn blind? Please, go read a whole load of damn forums, filled with people having problems and issues, really annoyed by the level of service at Apple.

By inperfectdarkness on 2/23/2011 10:09:33 PM , Rating: 1
i would just like to thank daily-tech for making tony swash's posts nearly invisible. it makes the comments so much easier to read.

it's not like i'm missing much. all i have to do is imagine, "blah, blah, blah...i suck steve job's cock".

By leuNam on 3/1/2011 12:01:01 PM , Rating: 1
Tony, no matter what you say, or try to point're really Steve's b*tch...

By themaster08 on 2/22/2011 4:37:54 PM , Rating: 2
I guess Apple being a disgusting company is the main reason that it consistently tops all surveys of customer product and support satisfaction.
And the main reason it bottoms all surveys of supplier and environmental ethics.

By lolmuly on 2/22/2011 9:12:20 PM , Rating: 2
I believe his comment was deliberately waggish.

Just in case you didn't notice.

By themaster08 on 2/23/2011 1:40:15 PM , Rating: 3
From the second link...
The Institute of Public & Environmental Affairs (IPE) published a report (Chinese-language PDF) on Thursday ranking Apple and 28 other companies when it comes to taking responsibility for supplier conduct, with Apple coming in dead last on the list

Why is it that Apple was the only company out of the 28 confronted by the coalition of 32 environmental organizations to evade the issue of heavy metal pollutants?

Why is it that Apple refused to take part in O2's green initiative?

Why does Apple refuse to publicly acknowledge Wintek as one of their screen suppliers?

Why has Steve Jobs not replied to workers of Chinese suppliers who were left with permanent nerve damage from the chemicals they used to manufacture screens for iPhones?

Did you even watch the video in the third link?

Obviously you're only reading what you want to read as opposed to the truth.

By Tony Swash on 2/23/2011 6:30:07 PM , Rating: 1
I repeat again that what is claimed is that 'Apple came bottom of all surveys on environmental ethics' in business - show me some evidence to back that up. Should be simple if it's true and your comment was prompted by evidence, rather than, say, prejudice and luddite fear :)

By themaster08 on 2/24/2011 3:04:51 AM , Rating: 2
lolmuly had it right by saying that my post was waggish, and it was to an extent.

But there's no doubting from the evidence I have posted that Apple is an extremely environmentally unconscious and supplier unfriendly company, doing its utmost to avoid the consequences of its actions. Akin to how you continually avoid questions thrown at you, such as the ones in my previous post.

Apple is no longer a small company. They are one of the largest technology companies in the world. With that comes huge social responsibility, which Apple seems unwilling to be accountable for.

The links I have posted are factual. That said, prejudice against one company makes more sense than having prejudice towards every company except one.

By kingius on 2/24/2011 7:17:07 AM , Rating: 2
Are you really surprised though? There are no ethics in business and no rewards for acting morally - on the contrary - the reverse is true. For many of these executives, the competition exists to be crushed and greed is the only creed there is, for which they get promoted and rewarded.

By invidious on 2/22/2011 8:13:22 PM , Rating: 1
1. Who ever said being evil wasn't profitable?

2. No one cares what the morons who work at Apple think about how great Apple is.

By Akrovah on 2/23/2011 1:29:08 PM , Rating: 2
Actually (and I know this is anecdotal and is not a measure of Apple emoloyees in general), the one Apple employee I know hates thier products. He even bought an HTC HD7 running Windows Phone 7. Big conversation piece when he goes in to meetings at work.

By fteoath64 on 2/27/2011 10:11:31 PM , Rating: 2
"He even bought an HTC HD7 running Windows Phone 7".

I used to work for Ericsson and was the first and only person to use a Nokia phone. Reason: my customer the carrier asked me to do it!. They said have some respect for your competitors, they are good in many areas we are not!.
I was also the first to use the iPhone and that did not cause much anguish of others but far more envy. The iPhone cost the SonyEricsson's CEO his job (of USA division) due to serious erosion profits in the high-end handsets.
I was really upset that SE took 2 years to get into Android. They did a WinMO as an interim and it failed drastically. Now the company is bouncing back. They probably lost 2.5 years of opportunity, countless jobs and millions.
PS: I happen to support Nokia's move to WP7, actually predicted that over 1 year ago. I knew they would NEVER do Android (something about Europeans fearing the terminator or similar...). Talking to Google was just a politically correct way of ensuring they cover the bases {Corporate responsibility}.

By Smilin on 2/23/2011 1:50:05 PM , Rating: 2
It's a variant of Cognitive dissonance Tony closely related to rationalization and effort justification.

If you overpay for something your mind will artificially inflate the value of it.

Tell someone that a $50 watch is worth only $2 and they'll believe you if the evidence supports you. Tell someone who just bought that $50 watch that it's only $2 and they'll deny in the face of all but the most overwhelming evidence.

Tell an Apple user that just paid hundreds more for an equal or lesser quality device and you'll get all sorts of emotional and subjective justification with few objective facts.

Apple has some great stuff and I think their quality is pretty good. I'm also aware of egregious quality lapses they have had on many occassions... and so are you . Your own cognitive dissonance has morphed into full blown confirmation bias when it comes to matters of Apple. In other words you're a fanboy.

I can give Apple props and I do. You on the other hand MUST give them props.

By Smilin on 2/23/2011 4:32:01 PM , Rating: 2
Nobody has sheep quite like Apple. They know it's shiney and they know it's expensive. Ask them technical details or specifically why they like it and you'll get asthetic and subjective answers that are highly succeptible to cognitive dissonance.

The technically inclined can give more objective answers like "battery life" but then again the technically inclined aren't lining up to say that Apple is Gods gift to man.

So I'll take:

C) Somewhere inbetween.

By kingius on 2/24/2011 7:19:38 AM , Rating: 2
Apple have just made themselves 'cool' that's all. It's fashion people, just wait a while, when they'll be so last season and the cool kids stop using them. Every dog has his day, woof woof!

By leuNam on 3/1/2011 12:16:26 PM , Rating: 2
Apple is what Adam ate in the garden and Tony is the Snake...hahaha

By walk2k on 2/22/2011 3:11:41 PM , Rating: 3
Knock Knock.

Who's there?


Apple who?


Apple has become the Big Brother
By Nutzo on 2/22/2011 12:58:48 PM , Rating: 5
But sometimes problems are too confusing or severe for the Genius Bar specialists, so they get referred to a network of certified technicians.

So much for their "Genius" title.

The ibots still refuse to see it, but Apple has become a prime example of a greedy/exploitive company. From the
sweat shops in china, to the poor treatment of store employees, and now the independant consultants.

Apple has become the Big Brother enforcing conformity, the opposite of the 1984 commercial that introduced the Mac.

RE: Apple has become the Big Brother
By DEVGRU on 2/22/2011 1:51:31 PM , Rating: 2
The ibots still refuse to see it, but Apple has become a prime example of a greedy/exploitive company. From the sweat shops in china, to the poor treatment of store employees, and now the independant consultants. Apple has become the Big Brother enforcing conformity, the opposite of the 1984 commercial that introduced the Mac.

You forgot Apples 'Code of Silence' internal security thought police.

The beatings will continue until morale improves!

RE: Apple has become the Big Brother
By HammerStrike on 2/22/2011 4:40:48 PM , Rating: 4
I'm no fan of Apple, but you do realize that you are lambasting them for lowering the price point their clients are charged for specific services? Seems a bit hypocritical.

"Apple inflates the price of their product because they are greedy monopolists that don't care about their clients!"

"Apple lowers the cost of advanced support to their customers and, in the process, pays third party technicians less! The heartless bastards!"

I guess this is a case of damned if you do, damned if you don't...

Full disclosure, I dislike Apple intensely, but I find it hard to fault them for offering lower price points. Obviously that means suppliers are going to be paid less. As consumers, we like that.

The ACN tech's are a little bit like the IRS in this regards; if you feel that you are underpaying I'm sure they'd take anything extra you'd be willing to chip in.

By Alexstarfire on 2/22/2011 5:25:07 PM , Rating: 2
It can certainly look that way, and to an extent you're probably correct; however, these lower prices are hurting the technicians, ACNs in particular it seems. If consumers still get there stuff fixed properly then it's a win for them, but ACNs seem to lose out a lot. I can't say that I care since I'm not an ACN, but I can certainly see the problem. Apple takes something that is working just fine and "fixes" the problem so that they can get a cut of the money and have control, if the article is to be believed. If this was simply implemented from the start then there would probably still be some stuff to complain about, but not nearly as much.

You're always going to find people who complain.

BTW, IDK much about ACNs in particular, but I know when I'm fixing computers that I usually end up telling them that they don't have to pay me that much. I might just be one of the few that does that, but it seems that some people have no problem in ripping themselves off.

RE: Apple has become the Big Brother
By Smilin on 2/23/2011 1:57:27 PM , Rating: 2
The (hopefully) lower price to consumers isn't the complaint here.

The gripe is that Apple is making no effort to lower it's price. Instead it's passing the costs of lower prices on to it's partners PLUS introducing a new revenue stream for themselves...and passing that cost on the the partner as well.

Net result: The partner has to offer lower quality service, or go out of business and reduce choice to the consumer. The option of "just keep doing what you're doing and don't make any money" isn't realistic.

The price change to the consumer will be negligible (have you seen the prices Apple charges for parts?) but the risk of lower quality service is very high.

Hopefully customers benefit but that would be the exception in most money grabs like this.

By kingius on 2/24/2011 7:30:25 AM , Rating: 2
Apple failure rates for hardware seems to be abnormally high. In the company I work for, its about one laptop or iMac every four weeks that has to be sent back or taken to the Apple store. There's only about forty of them in the whole building. Some of these are bricked by recent software updates. Quality control seems to have gone out of the window.

Also, what's with the widescreen iMac blocking my mobile phone signal? Grumble grumble!

I think you are mistaken!
By frobizzle on 2/22/2011 12:06:28 PM , Rating: 5
Apple computers, just like any personal computer, can break. Likewise OS X and its software, like any operating system and its software, can experience bugs, crashes, and other issues.

No way!! Apple hardware and software is magic. If your Apple product is not functioning correctly, it is most likely due to being low on Pixie Dust! Just pick up a fresh tube of Pixie Dust today, sprinkle it on your Mac (or iPhone or whatever) and it'll be like brand-spanking new!

By DominionSeraph on 2/22/2011 12:11:47 PM , Rating: 5
It didn't work for me.

You're sprinkling it wrong.


RE: I think you are mistaken!
By jwdR1 on 2/22/2011 12:22:04 PM , Rating: 2
The stuff in that tube may be yellow and shiny...but that ain't pixie dust! :)

RE: I think you are mistaken!
By Mitch101 on 2/22/2011 3:07:19 PM , Rating: 2
Forgot the third option Install Windows 7 on that Mac hardware.

RE: I think you are mistaken!
By rudolphna on 2/23/2011 8:45:00 AM , Rating: 2
In addition it includes a reminder when you boot your magicmac back up to check the blinker fluid in your car! ;)

By Lazlo Panaflex on 2/22/2011 11:49:51 AM , Rating: 5

Kinda reminds me of the Soup Nazi. "No referrals for you!"

Friends don't let friends buy Apple "computers". Just like Bose, and Monster stuff.

RE: lulz
By someguy123 on 2/22/2011 4:44:08 PM , Rating: 2
You plebeian. Us cultured folk have high quality, $6000 24k gold HDMI cables to help those little 0101s get to the tv with maximum fastness.

RE: lulz
By Lazlo Panaflex on 2/23/2011 11:59:13 AM , Rating: 2

Funny Comment
By Flunk on 2/22/2011 12:02:35 PM , Rating: 4
"The ACN will become no different from the monkeys at Geek Squad or other crap like that."

That's right, because right now the only difference is the price they charge and when Apple cracks down on that they'll be exactly the time.

RE: Funny Comment
By Flunk on 2/22/2011 12:03:20 PM , Rating: 2
that should read "same" not "time.

Who cares about the faithful?
By ICBM on 2/22/2011 2:37:33 PM , Rating: 3
Apple doesn't need their faithful anymore. Their products are popular with the "in crowd", and as long as they stay popular, they don't need anybody else. The "in crowd" is the group that has made them successful, the faithful just barely kept them in business.

RE: Who cares about the faithful?
By kingius on 2/24/2011 7:32:57 AM , Rating: 3
That's right. No wonder these guys are getting upset; it's a betrayal of their loyalty. Perhaps they'll wake up to the fact that no company can ever really be trusted, they are not our friends, no matter if they are in your friends list on facebook!

By DominionSeraph on 2/22/2011 11:39:53 AM , Rating: 5
Apple sells trendiness. So nothing else actually matters.

By EasyC on 2/22/2011 11:50:47 AM , Rating: 5
But Apple -- a company obsessed with control and oversight


By HammerStrike on 2/22/2011 4:25:24 PM , Rating: 4
We use OnSource at my company from time to time - while they bill it as a "service network", it's really just a match making and routing service, sort of like Ariba. They just charge a flat rate (something like $15-$20) per order to facilitate the transaction, regardless of the scope.

On one end you have available labor (techs), and on the other end you have the procuring party, in this case Apple. When Apple has a L2/L3 request that their Geniuses can't handle, they can route the service call through OnForce. In OnForce, you can search for techs by geographic region, as well as skill sets that OnForce has confirmed they have completed (MS certs, back ground checks, or in this case, the ACN cert). Apple selects the techs it wants to offer the job to, creates a scope of work, provides location information and the price it is willing to pay and sends it out to the tech(s) it has selected. While Apple can wait as long as it wants for responses and route the job to any tech, typically the first tech to respond gets the business.

Benefit to the tech is that they have exposure to every procuring company in the OnForce system and, as procuring companies need to maintain an escrow account, once the job is acknowledged complete the techs get paid right away.

Obviously Apple is looking to capture the entire revenue stream for their service orders, as opposed to just referring the business over and only receiving the annual subscription fee. I can understand why the ACN techs would be upset, but, on the other hand, from a business perspective I can’t fault Apple for finding a way to capture more revenue while, at the same time, lowering pricing to their client. They have customers coming into their store saying “Help me – I’ll pay you money” – hard to fault a private business for trying to innovate and figure out how to take care of their needs. The ACN techs are not entitled to the business, and if they do not like the terms Apple is offering they are under no obligation to accept any work from them. If the service becomes as bad as they claim the market will correct with some combination of the following:

1. Apple offering more $$ via OnForce for same scope.
2. Apple reverting to old model.
3. Customers won’t pay Apple directly for a poor experience and will seek out third party tech’s independently.

You are fixing it wrong.
By chick0n on 2/22/2011 12:14:15 PM , Rating: 2
But Apple -- a company obsessed with control, overpriced garbage, and oversight -- took notice of the tech's autonomy and it "rubbed Apple Retail the wrong way."


Just a joke
By INeedCache on 2/22/2011 12:46:04 PM , Rating: 2
I knew as soon as I read the first line saying Apple computers can break, that this was one of those joke articles just meant to jerk you around. Because EVERYONE knows Apple computers never break. It's not even April 1. Everyone can just calm down, they never break.

Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy.
By drycrust3 on 2/22/2011 3:36:41 PM , Rating: 2
The Complaints division of the Cyrius Cybernetics Corporation is the only division in the company that makes a profit. Expect a few mergers in the foreseeable future.

Does this
By burnstagger on 2/22/2011 10:36:48 PM , Rating: 2
Apply to John C. Welch too or does he get a free pass for being stupid?

iPhone 3G for $49.99
By atlmann10 on 2/23/2011 2:15:21 AM , Rating: 2
Better behave
By marraco on 2/24/2011 2:32:16 PM , Rating: 2
Big Brother is watching you, iZombie

By DKantUno on 2/26/2011 2:21:41 AM , Rating: 2
Combine that with the image up on the article, and they couldn't have POSSIbly chosen a worse name or a worse-named partner.

If they made their cerifications more stringent, it's understandable - that's what Apple does. But this just goes too far.

"This week I got an iPhone. This weekend I got four chargers so I can keep it charged everywhere I go and a land line so I can actually make phone calls." -- Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg

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