Posted by: Corri van de Stege | February 3, 2007

iPod foibles

Like millions of others I got an iPod for Christmas – I love gadgets and I sit on trains a lot, so what better present could I get.  On Thursday on the way back from a particularly tiring day in London, the train quite full and noisy, I sit back, unwind my earphones, plugg them in and click it on.  Something is wrong, I try to start an album, but although it cheerfully announces ‘ now playing’ nothing happens, I try increasing the sound, nothing happens, I go back to menu, fine.  Start again, go to songs, again the label ‘now playing’ appears and so I should be able to listen to some soothing classical music, or some jazz, or perhaps even Leonard Cohen, nothing happens.  The more  I try, the more jumbled the screen, the thing is jammed. 

Opposite me, some people staring and then looking away, bored, what are they thinking?  A single minded guy gets a battered briefcase from behind his legs, carefully balances it on his knees and peers inside.  I look, fascinated by what he is up to.  He gets out a packet of sandwiches, rubbs his hands and then gets out a flask and a packet of crisps.  Typical English office lunch, only it is 7.30 at night.   He carefully stalls it out on top of his briefcase, prises the packet of sandwiches open and starts to eat, totally unperturbed by anthying or anyone.  He fixedly stares in front of him.  The woman sitting next to him peers across and stifles a snigger, nodds to her neighbour on the other side, who holds a book in front of her face.  She looks dishevelled, quite hefty, her knees wide apart stretching a green skirt that reaches almost to the floor of the carriage, covering boots,  a smallish black raincoat is buttoned across her stomach with one button, the rest open, yellow sleeves covering her hands flowing from within the black raincoat sleeves that appear too small.  The man continues to eat unperturbed.  I give one look at my iPod and decide it’s hopeless, it has crashed completely and I don’t know what to do with it or how to restart it.  So much for gadgets. 

The man, having finished his food, puts the briefcase on his seat and moves to the end of the carriage to discard his waste, wrappers, he again rubs his hands clean, goes back to his seat, perches the briefcase back on his knees and contemplates whatever else is in there, then chooses and lays out four chocolate bars in different wrappers in a neat row on top of his case.  He opens one after the other and delicately eats them, wipes his hands again, pushes the wrappers back in the briefcase and jumps up.    We have travelled quite a while and it is clear that his station is coming up, he removes what looks like a black balaclava from his briefcase, some headwrappers, and then a helmet from the rack above his seat, as well as yellow fluorescent bands and a blue coat.  The balaclava goes over his nose and mouth, then what seams to be a headwarmer over that, then the helmet, he then gets out bicycle clips and puts wraps his trousers, he’s wearing a suit and a tie), pulls on his jacket with the yellow light reflectors which announce that he is a postman.  He’s a smallish man, the two women giggle again and I am totally absorbed by what’s happening, too tired to think about work, my brains empty and feeling exhausted, it’s almost like watching a movie and trying to understand what it is actually all about.  Nothing in particular.

 At home I read up the instructions for my iPod but cannot find anything that tells me what may have happend and I decide it’s faulty.  There’s a one year guarantee ‘against mechanical failures’ and so we decide to take it back .  On Saturday we go to the shop where the iPod was bought.  Four shop assistants looking quite bored stand around.   ‘It’s faulty’ I say ‘I cannot make it work’.  One of the assistants presses some buttons on the till ‘Oh, got to start again,’ he says after four attempts ‘I keep pressing the wrong button’.  Eventually he says that we have to ring Apple, he cannot do anything about this.  ‘What do you mean’, my husband says ‘it was bought here and it’s got a guarantee.  It’s not working and we have not got the time to go chasing around, phoning here and there’.  We have visions of endless waits for call centres to respond, people not having a clue what it is we need.  ‘Who’s Apple anyway’, I say furiously, imagining the frustration with endless call centre waits.  The shop assistant looks at me as if he cannot  quite believe me ‘the manufacturer’, he says.  

My husband is getting more worked up ‘what kind of customer service is this?’, he says ‘we’ve got a faulty iPod here, you sold it to us, you are responsible to your customers for having sold it to us.’  I can see he is getting more and more angry, really in his stride now, demanding to see the manager.  ‘he’s not here’, the shopassistant says ‘I have not got the authority to exchange this, according to the message on my desk.  All I can do is advise you to ring Apple’.  the other shop assistants have scuttled away, mindful of the fury expfressed by my husband who now says he will take this up and log a complaint with the company.  ‘We haven’t got the time nor the energy to spend weekends chasing up on faulty goods that are your responsibility.  What kind of service is this?!’,  he announces.  Another assistant sidles up to provide support to his colleague: ‘We cannot do anything sir’, he says.  ‘we can debate this for the rest of the day but it won’t get you anywhere’.  One of the assistants presses a compliment slip with a telephone number in my hand.  ‘Well, this certainly is not the end of it’, my husband says as we leave the shop.

Outside I decide to ring the number written down for me from my mobile.  After a number of referrals, press this button, press 1 or press 2, I eventually get to a bored girl who asks if I have the iPod with me.   I get it out of my bag, one hand on my mobile, the other opening the box and getting it out, spreading myself across the pavement.  Luckily there aren’t many shoppers around at this spot.  She tells me to start the iPod and then to press the Menu and centre button at the same time.  ‘Hold it’, she says ‘until the Apple logo appears’.  It dawns on me that we are doing a reset, as I’ve done umpteen times with my smart phone.  ‘Now find a song and start to play’, the girl says.  The iPod works perfectly, I plug my earphones in and listen.   All in perfect order. 

I look at my husband who stares at me and the iPod.  ‘thank you very much’, I say to the girl.  Then we both howl with laughter.  Why, we splutter, didn’t those shopassistants tell us this?  Why did they not even attempt to try and resolve this for us whilst in the shop?   Their inane response just got us angrier and angrier.  Anyway, my husband clearly felt much better having been able to vent his fury, and we both dive into the next shop and start laughing again.

I’m so glad it works and I now know how to reset the thing, but why oh why doesn’t anyone tell you?   So basic, so simple…  We again start to laugh.  I’m relieved I don’t have to reload all my music.  Let’s go for a coffee.


  1. Gotta admit that I just did a websearch and found out how to do it. The instructions for a reset and many places on the net.

    Not sure about the experience with the Apple store. I actually returned my Nano without issue because of the case cracked the first day.

    I gotta admit though that next time you have an issue with an item, explaining what the situation was and asking for help instead of saying “it’s faulty” and automatically requesting a refund may go a long way. As you discovered, it was just a misunderstanding. 🙂

  2. I agree wholeheartedly with 51 stories that too much technology these days is happily sold by retailers but when anything goes wrong it becomes a nightmare potential crock of proverbial, and they the retailers are the last to want to know. Hey let’s face it we are the customers keeping these retails guys in wages – why should we cowtow and ameliorate their dislike of taking responsibility for the crap they sell! The customer is king and the retailer is responsible for putting it right. Keep at it 51 stories and give them box shifters hell!

  3. i could’ve told you! same thing happened to me. i read the instruction manual and it actually tells you what to do 😉

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