Print 58 comment(s) - last by leuNam.. on Mar 1 at 12:16 PM

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.

Comments     Threshold

This article is over a month old, voting and posting comments is disabled

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!

"Well, there may be a reason why they call them 'Mac' trucks! Windows machines will not be trucks." -- Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer

Copyright 2016 DailyTech LLC. - RSS Feed | Advertise | About Us | Ethics | FAQ | Terms, Conditions & Privacy Information | Kristopher Kubicki