Titled in this manner because I’m listening to ‘The Beatles’ while writing this and “you know it ain’t easy” seems the most representative lyric.
Seven years ago for a milestone birthday I was given an Apple Watch. Perhaps ‘millstone birthday’ would be more appropriate as it’s for that age where you start to feel there’s something around your neck dragging you ever downwards. Because it was a new product and I’ve been tech a very long time I was aware of and understood the limitations of it. The same way as when I bought the first generation iPad. The watch was different, fun, useful, and I could see where it was going to go once it caught on past the initial adopters. I write software for Apple platforms so I tend to see where the problems are with products at any given time because I know I need to work around them.
A few years later I moved on from the series 2 and bought a series 6. Given all the masks we were wearing when I remember purchasing it then it must have been during lockdown. An improvement on a scale of a number of magnitudes. This is how tech done well generally works. Slow when first introduced because it’s different and struggling to find a market that understands it. Then it finds its market and rapidly improves because it has focus and people willing to give it money.
The new watch was great. So much faster, it instantaneously synced with the data on my phone and Mac. I could buy things electronically without removing my mask by simply tapping my wrist to the EFTPOS terminal. I would get weather notifications and could get other info without needing to pull the phone out of my pocket. What could possibly go wrong?
Here’s where the problems start.
The screen started lifting from the bottom of the watch. I initially felt it when tapping in that area. It wasn’t the hard unyielding response to the fingertip present on other parts of the screen. It felt slightly hollow to the touch. After a few days of this I looked closely and saw that the screen in that area was slightly raised. Tapping on it showed a definite movement of the screen downwards. Over the next couple of days this gap grew. I took it in to the Genius Bar. They didn’t find any evidence of damage (I treat my tech very well because working-class kids always remain aware of the cost of things) and all the factors that may cause such damage - excessive time on the charger, being in steam-filled environments, physical impacts - were not something I did.
So they gave me a replacement.
Then it happened again.
So they gave me another replacement.
Then it happened yet again.
At this point (August 2023) they said they could give me another series 6 from the few they had remaining of a former product or the nearest equivalent of a current product. Despite the current product having one less feature (although being quicker) I took it because I thought perhaps I just happened to get all the lemons from a previous batch and a new product line should mean this problem no longer affects me.
You can guess what happened.
A week ago it felt slightly strange when tapping on the screen. A close look showed it was starting to lift again. So once again I went to the Genius Bar. At this point I’ve spent at least 15 hours travelling to deal with this issue. For someone who works for himself at what point should I start invoicing Apple for having to deal with their quality control?
So today I went to the Genius Bar. They were very apologetic and said ‘we have never seen anything like this run of bad luck’. Apart from a tiny scratch the watch was in pristine condition. There was no evidence of battery swelling, there didn’t appear to be any failure of the adhesive but somehow the screen had started lifting. Because I work in software and so try to work out why things do/don’t happen I ran through every way I used the watch and the Apple person said “it’s designed to handle all of that”. There’s a 1/1000 chance of it failing this way. I’ve had it four times in a row. The Apple person suggested I buy a Powerball ticket because that sort of luck must somehow balance itself out.
So I took the (fourth) replacement watch home and went to pair it with my phone. Got a message that I needed a later version of iOS in order for that to happen. Realised that the watch has watchOS 10 installed. That means it needs a phone running iOS 17 to pair with. Slight problem: I’m still running an iPhone X and the latest version of iOS it will support is iOS 16. So I can’t use the replacement product Apple have (for the fourth time) given me.
From my software developer problem-solving mindset I could just buy a new phone; my current finances rule that out as an option (food & electricity slightly more of a priority at the moment). Also, if the original product Apple had sold me had not continually failed I would not be in this situation. I’ve asked on a couple of development groups and it looks like downgrading a watch to an earlier version of the OS is not possible for normal people (maybe Apple can do it but they probably have no reason to do so). I’m booked in (again) to see them tomorrow. Another three hours out of my day.
I’d be grateful to get info from knowledgeable people regarding this situation under Australian consumer law: Apple have kept giving me replacements for a product which has continually not performed to specification on four occasions over a number of years. Now it won’t work at all. What is the actual legal situation here? A refund? Can I claim for the hours I’ve spent dealing with this issue? I’m currently trying to deal with enough **** in life without this being thrown in.
I bought my first Mac in 1986 and out of all of the Apple products I’ve bought in the last 37 years this watch has consistently been the worst manufactured product I’ve purchased / had continually replaced.
All constructive comments about how to deal with this gratefully received.