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“And breathe! Not long now!” A phonecall with Apple Support

2014 October 20
by Zoe Strimpel

Getting help from Apple Support often feels like what I imagine birth coaching to be. Especially the two-hour session I had this morning – I mean, some women go from contractions to birth in two hours, right?

I’ll spare you the details of the phone call, but its origins lay in the fact that my phone obstinately and immediately rejects the definitely, now-memorised-it’s-been-entered-correctly-so-many-times password for my home Sky broadband.The agent and I worked together to troubleshoot. Perhaps at this stage the metaphor with birth isn’t quite ripe – though there was the “let’s try everything rather than declare this iPhone faulty” vibe throughout, which could, if one were feeling insensitive, be analogous to the “let’s do everything to avoid an emergency C-Section” thing.

But to my phone call. For two hours this morning, from the moment I answered the phone while still in bed to the moment I showered mid-way through while iTunes was downloading an update to the moment the agent told me in mystified tones that I’d need a brand new iPhone 6, we troubleshot.

And boy did we troubleshoot. There was so much trouble, you see.

I had to download lots of new updates – apparently, a ten-day old iPhone 6 has old software. The agent was sure this would be the ticket.

I hoped along with her, though had my doubts. At two hours for the download and various tinkerings, the stakes were high. I mean, time isn’t just money, time – poorly spent – is sanity-busting.

My emotions went up and down. Sometimes, I felt excited at signs of my technology functioning properly – the “about 20 minutes remaining” bar getting slightly smaller; the iPhone duly shutting down and starting up with its new update installed.

But then something bad would happen, or nothing at all – a box would appear on my computer saying everything had stopped and could not continue because my disk was full (deleting Sense and Sensibility helped relieve this problem but took a long time – it was a major set back). My coach, I mean, agent, tried to keep me calm and my spirits up, saying things like: “Almost there” and “Sometimes it’s like this” and “I’m confident the current update will work”.

And when the two hour session climaxed, and – with the updates installed satisfactorily all round – we tried the internet connection again with baited breath on my side and confident reassurance on hers, it was all smash bang, catastrophe, nothing doing, same same same: “INCORRECT PASSWORD” spat out immediately.

It was time for the unwanted but unavoidable emergency measure: go to an Apple store and get a replacement iPhone.

The thing with a birth is that after all that time and the emergency measure, you have something to show for it. A new person.

The thing with a malfunctioning iPhone 6 is that you have much, much less to show for it. On the plus side you have enough information to merit a swapped phone. As for the rest, you’ve only lost time, you’ve installed an update in a phone you won’t have in five days, and you’re paying for every second of it all.

I think I’d actually prefer to give birth than go through another morning on the phone with an Apple coach – encouraging as mine was.


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