Apple, a company known world over for their premium products and happy customers, is receiving strong criticism for their after-sale services in India. Here’s why.
Due to the strict regulations imposed by the Indian government that dictate that foreign retailers must source at least 30% of their goods from the subcontinent to operate from India, Apple has been long unable to open up the Genius Bar here. Consequently first-party service centers haven’t found a place in the country. Owing to this, Indians have to depend on 3rd party retailers for their purchasing and service support needs.
RedQuanta, a Mumbai-based analysis firm, recently surveyed 550 customers across 80 authorized service centers. Shockingly, they were grossly unsatisfied and marked the service centers negatively in terms or customer satisfaction, issue resolution, and the empathy that the employees showed towards the problems being faced by the customers. They were so disappointed, in fact, that they gave these stores a score of -22. To put this into perspective any score above zero is considered good according to Anushree Tapuriah, the Associate Vice President of Sales and Strategy at RedQuanta.
In addition to giving them one of the most dismal sets of scores ever given, the firm also reported that Indian customers were less likely to talk positively about Apple and its services. In fact, they were more likely to say good things about Samsung and Xiaomi service centers! Isn’t that ironic?
The Cause for Unhappiness
For starters, let’s talk about the fact that around 60% of the people surveyed remarked on how the employees of these 3rd party authorized stores were ‘arrogant’. We, for one, don’t find it hard to believe that because bhaiyas in Nehru Place are more helpful about what’s wrong with your Apple product than the people who work at these stores. Their sole purpose in life is to be miserable and make others miserable too.
Most of these centers have also been called out for their money-minting strategies. Service centers are supposed to comply with Apple’s official after-sale policies, but they often find ways to get out of this by claiming that devices brought in have sustained damages that were not covered by their warranties.
And while the state of affairs for the products covered by warranty is poor, those outside the warranty period are pretty much doomed. Because once out of warranty, these products aren’t protected by Apple’s pricing policies, leaving authorized service centers free to charge any price they see fit. Sometimes, they even charge a fee for just diagnosing the problem. In addition to this, they give no guarantee whatsoever for whether the out-of-warranty device will survive the repair process or perish in its midst.
Another cause for major complain was the fact that even uncomplicated and routine repairs like changing a broken screen or a battery replacement can take a ridiculous amount of time. But here it seems that the 3rd party stores aren’t to blame because, as reported by a manager at a repair chain iZenica, Apple is responsible for these delays as the third party repair shops are under compulsion to order the parts directly from the Cupertino based giant.
Is There a Solution?
Now, for the important question – is there a solution or is it the fate of Indian Apple lovers to suffer?
The main problem here is the helpless situation that Apple is in. A number of people, frustrated by their predicaments, reached out to the tech giant directly, and the only help they could provide was in the form of advice to either get their products fixed outside the country or send them to friends or family living abroad who’d be in a position to visit the Genius Bar and get the product the care and service it deserves.
An actual solution though might just be on the horizon. With Apple in advanced level talks with the Indian government to set up a production plant in the subcontinent itself, we would be able to have both 1st party retailers and service centers in the country itself, completely solving this problem. But this is far from being a reality. In the meantime, Apple is attempting to open “premium” franchise stores in the country in an attempt to remedy these issues and also to create a stronger foothold in the fast-growing smartphone market that exists in India.
The Crux of the Matter
The shape that Apple’s future in India will take can’t be predicted at this time because of how volatile it is, in terms of the smartphone market in India and Apple’s less-than-impressive sales in 2018. Estimates made at the end of 2018 suggest that Apple has no more than a puny 1% share in India’s smartphone market, and given Apple’s dwindling sales in China, the company was sure hoping to make India’s second largest in the world smartphone market its stronghold.
Will this happen? Will Apple come to India? Will Apple lovers in India continue to receive subpar service? The questions are many but we’ll only have an answer once Apple itself finds one.