Apple Books – great customer service

Exceptional customer service really sets Apple apart from any other book printing services I’ve used so far. And while they may not get things sorted out the first time, they always have on the second.

One book I had printed had an ink smear on a page. I emailed Apple: the money was refunded, and they offered to reprint (and recharge) if I so desired. I did, but the second book had a different colored smear on a different page. I emailed Apple again, and 49 minutes later the money had been refunded, with an offer to reprint if I wanted. I did, and the third book came out perfectly.

The refund is key. All other services have offered to reprint (though Blurb took a month), but none have refunded first, then offered to reprint.

Wednesday, I tried to print some softcover books through Aperture and ran into a bit of a problem. I’d only done hardcovers before, and didn’t know where the soft/hard cover option was. I hadn’t reviewed the manual, but I assumed that it was somewhere at the end of the process. It wasn’t, but by the time I realized that, I had uploaded with 1-click purchasing, and had received an email confirming my purchase.

Well, no problem: it stated I had 90 minutes to cancel my order. When I got to my order page, no orders were listed.

No problem: I just emailed support, including a link to a couple of screen captures showing my username in the confirming email, and my username with no orders on the order page. But four hours later I received an automated email that delivery was temporarily suspended because a connection could not be made to luigi.corp.apple.com.

No problem: I figured Apple would just sort things out somehow.

Thursday morning I received a reply from apple, which in part reads:

Thank you for contacting Apple Photo Services Customer Support. I’m very sorry you had difficulty selecting the Softcover book option for your order.

I apologize for the inconvenience, but I am unable to cancel or modify your order at this time. Book and print orders are processed after a 90-minute waiting period, after which Apple is unable to cancel or modify them.

If you need to cancel or modify a future order within 90 minutes from the time of purchase or would like to check the status of your current order as well as your order history, please visit http://www.apple.com/internetservices/yourorderstatus and sign in using your Apple ID and password.

For future orders, please be careful to choose and review your order before finalizing it. Once you open your book in iPhoto, justclick on the Themes icon at the bottom of the screen, and select the Softcover option.

Clearly the person had not read my email, since I’d tried to cancel my order, but couldn’t, and was using Aperture, not iPhoto.

I reviewed the manual and determined that the cover option was selected via one of two similar buttons within aperture. There’s not really any indication that one is selected, other than text no where near the buttons.

I wrote back to apple and explained the problems again, provided an image of the soft/hard cover option buttons for future reference, and then suggested that actually reading the email would be helpful prior to replying.

Friday I received an automated message indicating that my three hardcover books had been shipped.

Saturday afternoon, I received a reply from Apple:

I’m very sorry that you were unable to cancel your order because it did not show up in your order status. I also apologize that we sent you steps to change your book in iPhoto when you are using Aperture.

I have issued a refund for your order in the amount of $154.36…

Again, I apologize for any inconvenience this has caused you. If you have any questions, please reply to this email and we will assist you further.

Thank you for being a loyal Apple customer and have a great day.

er, wow?

I’ve been refunded for books which I have yet to see, for a mistake which is essentially mine.

Pretty amazing, and a key reason why I’ll continue using Apple for any future books (the first being quality, of course).

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9 Responses to Apple Books – great customer service

  1. Karl Otto Henriksen says:

    Hehe… That’s great. Can’t wait to see the soft cover book (I reckon you’ll make a new order). Great to see posts at your site again. Persistency pays of I guess. I for one would not send the second e-mail, I am glad (for apples sake) you did. 🙂

  2. yachtman says:

    Since you seem now an experienced Apple book buyer, any suggestions for those of us on the verge of ordering a hard cover book? It’s been mentioned that increasing saturation 30% works well.

  3. Mike Franklin says:

    sam – yep.

    karl otto: well, they completely ignored what I said in the first email, and I wasn’t going to let them get away with it 😀

  4. Patrick says:

    High there
    A short comment on an iPhoto hardcover book I have just received. Note that I am not an expert printer, far from it, and that’s why I use Apple’s service.
    Well, the print quality is really not that great. Looks like the pictures have been softened or blurred somehow. The book still makes a nice present, but it’s quite a disappointment.
    I have ordered the very same book from sharedink with the pdf file from iPhoto, and will soon be able to compare.

  5. Patrick says:

    Me again
    I have now received the book from SharedInk and can compare their and Apple’s products. I don’t know what you can judge from just two books, but I’ll give it a try anyway. Note that I ordered a “standard” book from SI. They offer a professionnal-quality service, which I haven’t tried.

    * Pricing is about the same, considering that I placed my orders from France
    * Finish is about the same too : good linen, good finish, no problem there. Binding feels nicer on Apple’s though.
    * SI’s book is significantly smaller.
    * Comparing the pdf file and the books, it appears that both Apple and SI do trim pages to fit their book size. We are talking a few millimeters here, but it is noticeable : your printed photos are cropped. Plus photo format on iPhoto books is 4×5, vs 4×3 for most digicams… you get the problem.
    * Paper is a bit thicker at Apple.
    * Surprise : Print quality is about the same. Some photos print better at Apple, others with SI.
    Bottom line is I will personally stick with Apple. These books are great as souvenirs, or presents for relatives, but that’s it!
    I would have liked to try blurb as well, but they use their own layout software. I does access iPhoto’s library properly, but I do not have the energy to start again from scratch. Lazy me.
    Now, I don’t use Aperture, which may give access to more control over photo format and pdf quality, but certainly wish I could compare!

    Hope this helped.
    Patrick

  6. Leo says:

    Hello!! I write from Spain with a problem…

    Before click on the “Place order” button in Aperture to buy my first photobook, I’ve create a PDF version to see the final result. My surprise is: No photos on serveral pages!!!

    How is this posiible? I don’t know what to do… Didi it happen to you?

    Should I buy it and wait for the result (maybe is just a problem of the PDF) or should I write Apple before buy it?

    Ah, and I like this site, Michael. Great work.

    Leo

  7. Miguel says:

    I did have a similar problem; my iPhoto book did not show up on my Apple Store account. To make things worse I had used an expired .mac account so I was not able to access the confirmation mail. Customer service told me over the phone my credit card was not charged (but it was).

    A second copy of the book was ordered by mistake (while trying to change the 1-click account). Your post saved me as I was able to cancel the order created by mistake using the link you provide. 🙂

    Why this link is not provided somewhere else (on the Apple site) I don’t know.

  8. Dameron says:

    Nous sommes le 28 septembre 2009 et je n’ai toujours pas reçu mon livre parti le 11 septembre. Merci de me répondre

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