WASHINGTON: My needs for iPhones are modest: the ability to take and receive calls, including video calls; a good quality camera; access to a very small number of apps; and enough memory to make it all work. That’s it.
My iPhone 6 does the job. I don’t need 7, 8, 9, 10, 11 or any of their variants. In fact, my iPhone 5 was adequate. I have 6 only because one of my brothers gifted it to me. The 6, by the way, was in excellent shape; like new.
So, there I was, happy as a clam when, shortly after an automatic software update, my iPhone 6 could receive calls and texts only on my home network or other local wi-fi spots. I had no link to my cell carrier. So, off I went to its nearest carrier outlet, where two very helpful employees attempted to fix the problem, even replacing the SIM card.
“Sorry, sir, but it’s not us. It’s Apple. You need to take your phone to the Apple Store.”
Groan. One hour lost there, but, off I went, across town. My son’s in Eugene, my daughter’s in Jerusalem, my other relatives and friends are all over the globe.
At the Apple Store I found I had to make an appointment to see an Apple “Genius,” which meant that I would need to return an hour and a half later. I did, cooling my jets at a local library, only to find that I needed to wait inside for yet another 40 minutes. (I always carry a book with me for such occasions.)
The “Genius,” a pleasant young woman who had majored in psychology in college, then spent another half an hour diagnosing the problem. Her answer, “The recent software upgrade revealed a defective circuit your phone, making it impossible for you to connect to your carrier.”
“Wait, I can access telecommunications on my home network, the library, Starbucks, wherever there is wi-fi.”
“Yes, I know, but the software upgrade has made the circuit that connects with your carrier inoperable.” Her logic wasn’t meshing with the little I remembered about electronics from my HAM radio days. We repeated that exchange three or four times from different angles, but her answer never varied.
“Can’t I just revert to the old software configuration?”
“No, sorry, it doesn’t work like that.”
“What can I do, then?” (By the way, in the diagnostic process my phone had been completely wiped into an essentially dead instrument; no data.)
“You could just upgrade your phone, or we can sell you another iPhone 6 for $300.” (iPhone 11 is priced below $800.)
After paying the $7 parking tab, I headed home. Censoring here my intrapersonal conversation on the drive, once home, I reinstalled my phone data so that I was back at square one, but at least I could use the phone there.
Apple asked by e-mail about my experience at its store. Naturally, I expressed my frustration adding an explanation of my preference for the iPhone 6.
Final question: “Would you be willing to discuss your experience further with an Apple representative?”
“Yes,” I answered.
A few days later, an Apple rep called as I was preparing for class (I teach communications).
We went through it all again. Same result.
However, I asked, “How often do software upgrades result in broken phones?”
“We don’t have that information.”
“What? How is that possible? “
“Corporate might have it,” he replied. “All that can be done now, though, is for you to replace your phone.”
“I can’t accept that. I believe you are lying to me. I’m not purchasing another phone.”
“I will forward your comments on.” I didn’t ask to where, but thought I might eventually hear from someone else with another offer to purchase a phone.”
End of the story? Nope. A few days later, my phone miraculously repaired itself and has remained fully functional. If someone at Apple didn’t flip a switch, then I am a monkey’s uncle. I’ve since turned off the automatic updates, but they are knocking.
Many dentists, I have noticed over a lifetime, operate by the same ethical standards as Apple. Verizon, too, but those are two other stories.
David Alan Coia is a freelance writer, editor, and educator based in Arlington, VA
Lead Image: By Karolina Grabowska –