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July 23, 2013

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Queue misery for Apple customers

APPLE customers are having to queue for hours to get iPhones and iPads fixed after the technology giant suspended its online repair reservations system.

In recent days, queues have been forming at Apple's Hongkong Plaza store on downtown Huaihai Road, with customers complaining of waiting more than two hours.

Apple said it stopped online repair reservations to drive out scalpers who would obtain multiple slots and bring out-of-town Apple owners' devices to be repaired - for a fee.

The company also said it has brought in extra staff on weekends to help deal with crowds.

At 4pm yesterday, more than 30 people were queuing for the repair service at Apple's Hongkong Plaza store.

One man, surnamed Li, said he had been waiting for more than an hour. "It's really time-consuming," he complained.

Li claimed the new system hadn't even deterred scalpers.

"Two thirds of people here are ticket scalpers, and they jump the queue," he complained.

There were even longer queues last weekend, the Shanghai Evening Post reported yesterday.

More than 100 people waited to have Apple products fixed on Sunday morning, with some saying they waited for more than two hours, the paper reported.

One elderly man said he started queuing at 11am and was finally seen to around 1pm, by which time he was exhausted.

An iPhone4S owner, surnamed Dai, said he'd not expect such a long queue. It took him more than three hours in total to have the problem fixed, with two hours spent queuing.

Dai said he'd used the online repair reservation system in the past and only had to wait 10 minutes.

Apple said it canceled its online reservation system last week as scalpers were cashing in on consumers in neighboring cities that have no authorized Apple outlets.

They reserved many numbers for repair service online to sell on, but then did not turn up, wasting resources, said Apple.

Apple's Nanjing Road E. and Lujiazui stores have not yet taken a similar approach.

But a member of staff at the Nanjing Road E. branch said it is difficult to make an online repair reservation and suggested customers avoid coming for repairs on weekend afternoons.

Apple has come under fire recently over its consumer services in China.

In March, its after-sales service in China was condemned by China Central Television, which said iPhone and iPad repair policies didn't meet national requirements.

Apple's Chief Executive Officer Tim Cook apologized to Chinese customers in April, saying it had now adjusted some of its after-sales services to meet China's requirements.


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