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Upsetting the Apple Cart [26 Jul 2008|06:11pm]
My personal comment from the Slashdot story about Defective By Design supporters visiting Apple stores:

It's absolutely right that people should be polite, and we emphasized that in the handout and instructions we wrote for this. Being a jerk to someone just showing up to work after a late night at the bar doesn't help anyone. And many of the Geniuses are probably at least sympathetic to us, and they probably think the Genius name is pretty funny too — everyone has to make a living.

Our goal is to communicate a message to Apple, and we use the communications channels that Apple has provided in order to do this. It's interesting that people criticize making life difficult for the employees when we are doing something that disagrees with Apple, but not of the pro-Apple crowd. What about the 500 people waiting outside to get in when the new store opened? I bet that "made life difficult" for the employees too. Besides, isn't a day full of conversations about DRM going to be a pretty easy day for the Geniuses? They don't have to debug anything, or deal with people who are furious about not knowing how to use their computer, or about some legitimate data loss :).

Organizations and companies are set up to deflect and channel criticism. If we don't use the tools we have — our voices, our dollars, and our ability to organize with others — nothing will ever get changed. Organizing a concerted effort to deliver a direct message in a respectful but firm way seems like something consumers are supposed to do when they don't like what a big company is doing. I'm honestly interested to hear all the alternative suggestions out there for communicating this message to Apple. We can't just send letters to generic customer service addresses and wait quietly. We can't just stop buying Apple products but not say why. I think we're past that point — Apple said they agreed with us a year and a half ago and yet now they are pushing more DRM than ever.

As for taking time away from Apple customers who need tech support, that is indeed regrettable but it's also inevitable. Time is a zero-sum game and Apple only has so much of it. Any customer going to the store takes time away from another. The 500 people waiting outside the store stopped me from getting in to have the conversation I wanted to have too. The question is, who is responsible for this? If Apple stuck to what they said they were going to do about DRM, or if they spent a little more money on their support services and some executives took a slight pay cut, this wouldn't be an issue. Pointing the finger at people using the option as provided to ask salient questions about the way Apple technology functions of Apple employees tasked with answering these questions is not the right answer.

So, yes — we hope and expect that everyone will be polite, but firm. I am sorry for the inconvenience caused to other customers but in consolation I can offer the statement that if we succeed, there will be far fewer agonizing and annoying DRM-induced computer catastrophes for all of us to deal with.

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