Steve Jobs: “What an asshole”

Steve Jobs: “What an asshole”

When I worked in AppleCare, I worked across the hall from a team of people called Executive Relations. Among their duties was to field complaints from “important people” about Apple products that ended up in in inbox of Steve Jobs.

Executive Relations was tasked with placating these people. I’m unsure whether this organization still exists, but in those days, Apple was in dire straights. There was a fear that any small thing could blow up into a big thing. Remember the G4 cube that started showing up cracked? Even though the lines were aesthetic, surface scratches and were corrected early on, this reputation sunk the product, damaged Apple, and led to a one-day 50% drop in the stock price.

So, complaints from influential people were taken seriously and the people in this group had some latitude to make people happy, including replacing hardware or even giving out freebies.

Whenever the issue was handled over email, Steve wanted to be Cc:ed on everything. I worked across from someone who had a long exchange of emails pinned to their cube wall. I don’t remember all the details, but I remember the broad outlines of one of them.

  1. The customer was really being an unreasonable dick. I think even an impartial person would have taken issue with their attitude despite the Apple representative bending over backwards to help them.
  2. The customer was offered a complete replacement of a Mac system, which was far beyond what was really necessary.
  3. Despite all this, the customer unleashed a litany of complaints and was very rude and insulting to the Apple representative.

The “cherry on the cake” as my friend Tito would say was that Steve privately replied to the large email thread, sending a message only to the Apple employee.

Simple and to the point.

“What an asshole”