My Apple Customer Experience: how it turned sour and why I am not buying Apple products

Let’s set the context for this conversation

Before I dive into the heart of this post it is important that I take the time to set the context so that you can really listen to what I am speaking.  The taken for granted automatic way of existence for human beings can be captured by the following:

  • Right/Wrong – I am right, you are wrong;
  • Dominate/Avoid domination – I want to dominate you and I will resist your efforts to dominate me;
  • Justification/Invalidation – I will justify ‘myself’ and invalidate ‘you’;
  • Looking good/avoiding looking bad – I will strive to look good in your eyes and go to considerable lengths to avoid looking bad.

This is not the context for my writing this post – absolutely not. I am not seeking to look good.  I am not stating that I am right and someone else is wrong…… I simply wish to share my story and stand with you.

Some personal stuff that gives you an insight into me

Allow me to share two personal incidents with you that may help you to make sense of this post and the stand that I am taking.

Between the ages of sixteen and twenty two when I was in college and university I would go out frequently to nightclubs.  This was something that I did with my friends – the vast majority of who were male and my age.  I noticed something that disturbed me.  My friends treated the ‘other sex’ present in the nightclub as ‘prey’ to be hunted / toyed with or simply as ‘meat’.  I simply could not understand this.  Even today, I can remember thinking that the young women were someone’s daughter, someone’s sister.  And I remember asking myself the question: “How would I want my sister to be treated if she was at that night club?”  So at the nightclub I danced and sometimes I made friends – certainly I got plenty of compliments on my dancing.  My friends ‘hunted’ and I left them to it once I had shared my perspective on the situation – why I was refusing to play the game that so attracted to them.

I happened to be working and staying in Amsterdam – famous for its red light district.  I remember that the people I was working with got very excited about going to the Bannenbar (that is what I think it was called – it was a long time ago).  I was until I arrived at the front door and found out what went on inside.  Being young and male, one part of me was keen to go inside and see the spectacle (something I had never seen before).  The other part of me put the following to me: “It is the people who pay who make this kind of stuff possible.  Is this the kind of stuff that you want to see in the world?  Are you 100% sure that the people performing the acts have consented freely without ‘oppression’ to do this stuff?”  I could not be 100% sure and so I turned back much to the puzzlement of my work colleagues.

So you could say that I have a certain disposition when it comes to my fellow human beings and what I am willing and not willing to do.  I am not saying it is right nor am I saying it is wrong.  I am not saying it is good nor am I saying it is wrong.  I am simply saying that I noticed that which is so for me when it comes to what I am and am not prepared to do.

My relationship with Apple – customer and advocate until now

Here is who things stood until relatively recently as regards my ‘relationship’ with Apple:

  • I have written positively about Steve Jobs and Apple in this very blog;
  • I use an Apple iPhone 4 and have thoroughly enjoyed using it;
  • My brother has an Apple iPhone 4S and I played a big part in shaping his decision to buy the Apple iPhone – raving about how great it is;
  • I bought Apple iPods for my wife and children;
  • I influenced my nephews to buy Apple iPods and iPhones;
  • I enjoy using my brother-in-law’s Apple iPad;
  • I had set aside money to buy Apple’s iPad 3 expecting it to be released around the middle of this year – this is something me and my family have been looking forward to.

Why did I buy, use and recommend Apple products?   THe following quote from Jean-Dominique Bauby says it all for me and my relationship with Apple as it used to be:

“I need to feel strongly, to love and to admire, just as desperately as I need to breathe.” Jean-Dominique Bauby

All of that changed over the last 10 days or so.  Let’s look into that.

Why I Will Not Be Buying Apple Products

Now, every time I see and use my Apple iPhone4 I don’t love or admire Apple.  And I do not love and admire myself for buying Apple products!  Why not?  Because I care about my fellow human beings.  I care about my ‘brothers and sisters’) who are assembling these products.  Here is something that I read (amongst a lot of other stuff I read over the last two weeks) that has touched me deeply and turned delight into disgust and shame at being an Apple customer:

“On the other side of the world, a young girl is also swiping those screens. In fact, every day, during her 12+ hour shifts, six days a week, she repetitively swipes tens of thousands of them. She spends those hours inhaling n-hexane, a potent neurotoxin used to clean iPhone glass, because it dries a few seconds faster than a safe alternative. After just a few years on the line, she will be fired because the neurological damage from the n-hexane and the repetitive stress injuries to her wrists and hands make her unable to continue performing up to standard.”

Last weekend I went out to buy smartphones for my wife and my daughter.  I did not buy Apple.  I simply could not buy Apple.  I no longer see ‘beauty’ when I look at Apple products.  I see the ‘ugliness’ of human misery and the ‘spilling of blood’ for the sake of a few extra dollars of profit per Apple product.

Please understand that I am not making Apple wrong for this nor am I saying that Apple is the only company that contributes to this state of affairs.  I am not even saying this is ‘wrong’ – from a zen perspective everything is perfect just as it is and just as it is not.    So what am I saying?  I am saying that whilst Apple can play this game of ‘profits through human misery’ I have chosen to bring my part in that game to an end.  It is a game that does not leave me moved, touched, inspired, uplifted.  That is simply what is so for me.  If you are OK to continue to play the game that Apple has constructed and perpetuates (either through indifference, accident or deliberation) then that is perfectly ok – each of us has his/her own conscience to live with.

An invitation to put your humanity into action

If on the other hand you are more like more in that you do not want blood on your hands.  Or that you are moved, touched and inspired by the possibility of Apple being a brand that is great as it makes great products AND is a stand for the best of humanity (our caring, our reverence for life) then I invite you to sign the petition or learn more here.

I thank you for listening to my speaking.  And if you are one of ‘brothers and sisters’ in the Foxconn factories know that I am thinking of you and I care for you.  I know that I am not alone – there are many more of us who care about you and your humanity else there would be no articles by columnists, no posts by bloggers and no petitions.

Want my loyalty? Then answer this one question

“I need to feel strongly, to love and to admire, just as desperately as I need to breathe.” Jean-Dominique Bauby

My fascination is us – human beings and the human condition.  As such when an opportunity comes to access us and our human condition from novel perspectives then I tend to take it.  Jean-Dominique Bauby  (“JDB”) provides a fascinating access to us and our human condition. Allow me to tell you a little about JDB in the words of the Independent newspaper:

“Jean-Dominique Bauby. He worked for journals like the Quotidien de Paris and Paris Match and for four years until December 1995 was the very successful chief editor of Elle. Then the unthinkable happened. A cardiovascular accident paralysed him and sent him into a deep coma, from which he emerged 20 days later in the Hopital Maritime at Berck, on the north-east coast of France, his brain intact, but able only to blink his left eyelid. He was diagnosed as suffering from the rare disease called “Locked-in Syndrome”, unable to breathe, swallow or eat without assistance.”

JDB’s mind (the butterfly) was locked into a body that was inert (the diving bell) so whilst all his senses worked he could only move his left eyelid.  Before departing from this world JDB dictated a book that captures his thoughts, feelings and experiences as “The Diving Bell And The Butterfly” and on of the aspects of his human condition that he highlights is the human need to feel strongly, to love and admire, just as desperately as our need to breathe. Put differently by virtue of being human we have a need: a need to look up to people and organisations, to feel strongly about who they are / what they stand for, embody in terms of values and what they are up to in life in terms of purpose / mission.  These people connect us with the highest aspects of our humanity: they remind us of what we are capable of, what we can be – the higher Self.

Which brings me to the question of customer loyalty.  You want my loyalty, you want my advocacy. OK, I get that and I have something for you to think about and provide a compelling and simple answer to:

I need to feel strongly, to love and to admire, just as desperately as I need to breathe.  What is it that you stand for, that you are doing and that you are up for creating in the world that enables me to feel strongly about you, to admire you, to love you?

What is you answer?  I should point out that “being the best, the largest, the most powerful, the most global…company in the universe does not do it for me.  Nor does increasing the share price my 100x and making your shareholders deliriously happy and filthy rich do it for me.

Again, my question: What is it that you stand for, that you are doing and that you are up for creating in the world that enables me to feel strongly about you, to admire you, to love you? 

Stunning silence!