Thursday, October 28, 2010
Sad to say, my 3G iPad was stolen from my house while I was on my last business trip. The thief was apparently a big user of the 3G service, because I began getting emails from AT&T about how I was almost out of the available data in the current month's plan, and if I wanted to buy more I could do so through the "settings" on my iPad. Not wanting the thief to enjoy another month of 3G browsing at my expense, I called AT&T to shut off the service. Notwithstanding that they have been charging my credit card $14.95 per month and sending me emails, in over 30 minutes of futile struggle Ma Bell's crack customer service department could not find (and therefore terminate) my account by searching (i) my name, (ii) my credit card number, (iii) the code AT&T puts on my credit card statement to charge me, (iv) the email address that AT&T is using to bombard me with emails, or (v) the serial number from my iPad. Apple Computer was unavailable to help, according to AT&T, but they would try again tomorrow. While AT&T has promised to search their records further and call me if they find a lead, I am apparently in some data limbo and will be unwillingly financing the thief's internet fun for the foreseeable future.
It is astonishingly bad service from both companies and tonight, at least, I wish them only the very worst. Think twice before dealing with either of them.
UPDATE (the next day): Both fairness and genuine satisfaction require me to report AT&T has come through impressively. Several of our loyal readers work for AT&T, and one of them reached out to put in an internal "complaint" in the AT&T quality system. Within hours it had risen in the company, and about 4:30 EDT I received a call on my cell phone from the "office of the president of AT&T." A very helpful solver of problems was able to connect me with the info tech people in "iPad support" and terminate my 3G coverage, no problem. An excellent and impressive recovery from a rocky start that has gone a long way to revising my attitude about AT&T's customer service. Yes, it still needs for its databases to talk to each other -- during the day, another reader reported that just today he had cancelled his 3G service and subsequently received emails reminding him that his data allowance was running low -- but I was impressed with the ultimately effective response from the top.
That is simply awful. Who has access to your home in this manner, and did you phone the Police if this was a break in? Will Homeowners insurance help?
One would think, an iPad would be able to be tracked in some way, or shut down - perhaps this will be a potential future offering. Someday you will probably be able to dial a number, and enter a code which not only tells authorities where the item is, but it will take a photo of the thief and store it for future prosecution - or even offer a little electric shock.
Do iPads work with typical MAC log on password capability? That is a must, even when we think no one else will use a laptop, it is essential to protect some crook using one's computer in the future.
Didn't you activate the "Find My iPad" feature when you bought it? I lost my iPhone in a cab on Capitol Hill a few months ago. After high-tailing it back to my hotel and jumping online I tracked my iPhone driving through DC and the Beltway, finally coming to a stand-still in Maryland after 3 hours. I had nearly drained my battery from calling it a couple hundred times and sending it multiple Display Messages with an offer of a reward. My wife and I drove through DC and into MD using her iPhone's GPS to locate where my iPhone was. Finally we pulled right up to the cabbies house and I knocked on the door. The look on the cabbies face? Friggin Priceless!
Mike, that would have been a good idea had I know about it. First I've heard of that feature. I am afraid I am one of the rare people who finds Apple products very challenging to use. I had a Mac for six months and could never figure out how to do all the stuff I could do on my PC notebook with even a fraction of the efficiency, probably because I still have to use a PC for the 10 hours a day or whatever that I am working. I am perhaps too old to reprogram. As for the iPad, I found it to be fun but totally baffling. I had sent away for a third party manual but had not gotten very far through it. So my use was entirely surfing the web and other reading, for which it was, I admit, very nice. Point is, I am sure the thief is getting much more use out of it, although he almost certainly hates my music library, which is pop tunes from the 60s, 70s, and 80s,
I appreciate how uncool and pathetic this makes me sound.
If it were me I'd be hating the low life that broke into my home. Oddly, there are many stories out there of people who really started to love apple (at&t is harder) after their iphone or ipad was stolen because they were able to look on Google and see where it was and, this is the best part, catch the thief. Nothing more rewarding comes to mind.
As for the choices, whatever works best. It's the American way.
You sure it isn't ATT that has your iPad?
I'm a customer of Verizon. The customer service is measurably, if only with a sextant, better, but I haven't had a dropped call since I switched--and I live in the Texas heart of ATT's cell coverage.
If it has to be solved by the office of the president (of the company), it can in no way be considered anything but an utter failure of customer service... regardless of whether you personally ultimately got your problem solved.
Apple has some nice security features for the iphone and ipad. First, you should set a 4 digit passcode that you must use each time you turn the ipad on. As mentioned above, the find my ipad feature works with Mobile me. It will locate any missing ipad or iphone that is in use. Finally, if your ipad seems irretrievably lost, but being used (as determined by 3-G usage messages) you can remotely lock it, and even wipe it clean so that to the thief, it becomes a useless piece of plastic. The last bit is just a cool piece of revenge.
The passcode is far better than no security at all, but at four digits, it's not a security feature on which too rely--it's too weak.
Several years ago in Germany, I played the same odds, only with a car key. As I was starting to unlock my Audi in a military commissary parking lot, I saw parked next to me an identical Audi (save for color). A lady with a large number of grocery sacks, and three toddlers in tow, was next to it, along with a military policeman. The cop was calling for help, as she had locked herself out of her car, and he had no ideas on how to get into the locked car. I could see her keys on the driver's side seat.
Trying the chance, I tried my car key in her door, and the car opened right up. Most car manufacturers also only make 10,000 key combinations, and this time, the odds came home for the lady.
Actually, there are two options for the screen lock on the iphone and iPad. The simple one is the 4 digit passcode and then there is an option for a much longer code.
Also, you can set the iPad/iPhone to erase all data if the passcode is entered wrong more than ten times in a row.
Also, I'd recommend Mobile Me, which can be had much cheaper through Amazon.
Among other things, it allows you to track your iPad, leave a message on the screen, and even remotely erase it.
In the meantime, I have no internet service at home because ATT has told me I exceeded the 5 gigabyte limit on my data connect unlimited MB plan.
Numerous calls to customer service where I point out that the contract on "their" website, the description on the bill that "they" send me and I pay, and various other places all say "unlimited MB", I have been told that there is a 5 gig limit, always has been, and now they're enforcing it. Period. And there's nothing I can do about it.
Except visit the local DA's office tomorrow with a consumer fraud complaint, and all the paperwork.