I have a very simple message today. This post has no shiny picture to lure people, and isn’t being nearly so aggressively Search Engine Optimized as much of what I write. It’s just . . . a story.

Customer Service is hard.

OK, maybe not. Customer Service can be made easy; The Peninsula Hotel in Beverly Hills and The Lanesborough in London do customer service just about perfectly, simply by making it a priority.

This week, I needed to upgrade a Macintosh computer’s operating system. This Mac is just over three years old, and performs as well as its user needs it to perform. As with Microsoft making four year old computers obsolete, Apple does cut off support for new versions of the MacOS after a few years, but this one is . . . I hope—and Apple says—still OK.

But doing this upgrade will take a couple of steps. The computer is running MacOS 10.5.8. Apple stopped making MacOS  available on disks a few months ago, and the downloadable current version of 10.8.2 isn’t available unless you’re running at least MacOS 10.6. So Apple sold me a DVD of that version of MacOS.

I’m hoping that’s right, anyway. On-line, there’s conflicting information, suggesting that I need specifically MacOS 10.6.8 to pull off the upgrade to the current version of MacOS, and what Apple is shipping me is 10.6.3. Fingers crossed.

All those numbers are enough to make your head spin, right? Well, assuming that the two Apple representatives I’ve spoken with knew their stuff, this will all work out. And if it does, this story is about nothing more than customer service.

I’ve picked on Apple’s customer service offerings before. Apple Personal Pickup feels like the opposite of good customer service; others have picked on Apple Customer Service, too. And let’s not forget about Apple denying that there are Macintosh viruses in the wild.

But despite hurdles owing to the update changes in MacOS, Apple’s trying. And there are still problems.

I don’t think there’s any Apple Evil afoot. And The Apple folks are friendly, polite, and helpful practically to a fault. Yes, there’s some upsell going on, but that’s business and the price Apple is charging is reasonable. This is no Verizon Wireless Customer Service mess.

But as I said, Customer Service is hard. Despite the best intentions of Apple’s customer service folks I was first charged twice for shipping, then found out that the item I had been told would ship in a day was on six-week back-order (only because I looked into that double-charge thing), and then was offered a slightly different item that really will ship in a couple of days . . . and was charged again.

Apple claims the billing stuff will work itself out, and I’m hoping that’s right; I don’t want to have to spend time calling them again to get the refund processed. But what matters here is that Apple is trying. Apple understands customer service, even if they have issues executing it.

In short, Apple is no Virgin America.

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