Technical difficulties can drive us to do foolish things.
I learned that lesson this week, and I hope to help you avoid the same mistake.
I’ve owned Apple gadgets for years and have always been a fan of their products and support. I’ve called Apple support at least a dozen times over the years. If the lines are busy, there’s an automated system that will call you back. If your product is out of warranty or you don’t have “Apple Care,” Apple’s tech support line will help you.
Last week, I ran into trouble with iPhoto, the program that allows me to view the 8,000 photos I’ve uploaded onto my iMac. Instead of calling the official Apple tech support number, I Googled “Apple support contact” on my iPhone. Without noticing the mistake I was making, I dialed an 800 number provided by a sponsored link. That link led to a third-party tech support company.
The experience was very similar to calling Apple. And with three kids running around while I was on the phone, I was distracted and in a rush to fix the problem. I was vulnerable.
I was transferred from one department to another. When a “senior support” person came on the phone, he told me I was in luck. They were running a special on software support coverage and I could get two years of coverage for $200. The package also included coverage of up to $300 worth of repairs on iPads, iPhones and other Apple products. It sounded like a good deal, so in a moment of weakness and frustration – and in a hurry to resolve to my tech difficulties – I accepted and paid for the coverage.
It turns out they weren’t equipped to help with my iPhoto problem. There was a deeper issue with my overall operating software that meant I needed to take my Mac into a brick-and-mortar tech support location.
Have you guessed where this story is headed?
The warranty I bought didn’t translate to the official Apple support retailer. They suggested I call the third party back and ask for a refund. But the third party wasn’t quite as quick to help this time. After being on hold and transferred to a series of departments (for almost an hour), I finally got the right person who told me I could get a “full refund,” but only if I replaced my two-year warranty with a $90 one-year warranty.
What? I have to pay $90 to get back $200? That doesn’t sound like a full refund to me. It sounds like a scam.
The moral of the story? Only call Apple’s official tech support number and make sure you avoid the sponsored links. Also, when you do get a tech advisor on the phone, always ask if you’re talking to third-party tech support or to Apple directly.
The story doesn’t apply just to Apple. There are third-party support lines for all manner of products, and they’re just waiting for you to click on a link and offer you “help.”
It’s a trap. Avoid it.