Apple support getting worse? It sure seems like it!

Over the 37 years I’ve been an Apple customer, the company’s support has  gone from bad to worse, worse to acceptable, acceptable to great, and now appears to be heading downhill again. I’m basing this on one situation, so perhaps this isn’t indicative of the general level of support.

Here’s the situation. Every year, I order a new iPhone on the iPhone Upgrade Program. I order online, and I’ve always received a return kit around the same time I get the iPhone. The return kit advises me to remove the SIM card, slide the iPhone behind a plastic window, and then seal the package with the included sticky tape.

Well, this year I waited patiently and the return kit never arrived. Now, I suppose I could have been horribly unethical and just kept the old phone for resale, but I’m not that kind of person. So today, I decided to contact Apple Support and have them send me a return kit. Sounds easy enough, right?


My first mistake was to use the Support app to send a message. That took about 20 minutes, during which time I engaged in a text conversation with someone with bad spelling. That person set up a phone call with support, which was supposed to happen at 9:30 AM MDT. The phone call finally came in at 9:37 AM.

The first person I talked to after going through a series of automated questions seemed confused, but finally said that this was more of a sales issue than a technical issue (DUH!). I was transferred to a sales support person and we were making progress when the phone call was cut off. CLICK!

I waited for a phone call, since they allegedly had my phone number. Nope.

I called back, went through the automated rigamarole again, and was once again connected to a tech support person. I explained the issue again, at which time the person said she’d transfer me to sales support.

After the transfer, I could hear people talking and what sounded like a person shuffling a phone in their pocket… and then they hung up on me. Again.


Now, I pride myself on being a patient person, but this was getting ridiculous. I called again, went through the automated junk again, talked to a tech support person, explaining that this was my third phone call and that all I wanted was to get an iPhone return kit. I even joked that if I didn’t get it, I’d keep the iPhone 12 Pro Max and sell it.

Apparently this person could sense the irritation in my voice, because she told me she’d wait on the phone until the inevitable transfer to sales. The sales person asked me the same questions I’d answered by now at least six times: my name, my shipping address, the order number for the iPhone, etc…

Finally, I was told that I would have the box shipped to me. Initially she told me that I would get an email “in about 10 minutes” with shipping info for the return kit. Later, she amended that to “within the next few days”. Why do I have the feeling that I’ll never get that email OR the return kit?

An hour of my life

An hour of my life

When this was all done, I had wasted an hour on what should have taken a click or tap on an online form. Perhaps Apple is still reeling from the effects of the pandemic, but considering that many support personnel were working from home before COVID-19, I don’t find that to be a valid excuse.

Part of my warm feelings towards Apple over the years has been the continuous improvement of their support mechanism. I sure hope that this episode was the exception rather than “par for the course” for user support.

Steve Sande
the authorSteve Sande
Steve is the founder and former publisher of Apple World Today and has authored a number of books about Apple products. He's an avid photographer, an FAA-licensed drone pilot, and a really bad guitarist. Steve and his wife Barb love to travel everywhere!


  • Unfortunately I can’t disagree with you. I too have noticed an increasing decline in the quality of Apple’s customer support. I still remember back in the day calling AppleCare about a recurring video card issue with my PowerBook and being offered a brand new machine to replace it. Now THAT is customer service. These days the chat support is staffed by apparent high school dropouts and the phone support is in India. Extremely frustrating experience dealing with either one and inevitably they tell you that you need to go in to a store for an appointment. I made the mistake of allowing one of them to make that appointment for me and they scheduled me at a Best Buy instead of at the Apple Store across the street so when I showed up at the Apple Store we discovered I didn’t actually have an appointment.

    I hope Cook is listening and I hope they can turn this around.

  • Imagine writing an entire article on a company’s support based on one experience. Boomer energy.

  • Former apple T2 support person here. You’re not wrong in your assessment. The training the apple care reps receive and the way they are promoted from T1 to a T2 senior rep has totally changed in the past ten years. You really used to be able to specialize in your role but now they want every one to do everything since they burn their representatives out so quickly from the ebbs and flows of that job. Apple Care was by far one of Apples Greatest products, now it just feels like everyone else’s customer care.

  • Most companies support is pretty bad, Steam is a prime example but unfortunately not the worst.
    It seams mostly about closing tickets than actually giving support.
    There have been many times where I have re-submitted issues with different companies because the ticket is closed prematurely.
    Obviously if they have support feedback they get zeros.

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