Peter Street on tourGuest blog from writer and poet Peter Street:

As a writer the iPad for me is an important tool – it is light and it work – I have to take every with me including outside to take photographs. As a national and international poet/writer with six collections of poetry short stories under my belt it is the tool for my work.

Last wednesday (15 May 2013) is where the Apple turned sour.

image-2 My iPad rubber cover had split at the joins. It means that the case it’s in (which covers the whole iPad) and means I can grip it properly is making the ipad fall out. I had to put tape around it to try hold it in place.

With the case being just ten months old I thought there could well be a good chance of a replacement. I was wrong. It might have cost £39 but I expected it to last better than this.

My iPad is not just there to help with my writing but it makes it easier for me to grip with my disabilities.

imageWhy did I buy the iPad in the first place? It was also because of my disabilities of epilepsy, osteoporosis, dyspraxia and dyscalculia.

The cover is important for my ability to use the iPad – one without the other is impossible.

It enables me to grip it without fear of it dropping. I can’t grip the iPad’s mental back so the rubber case is crucial.

Without the iPad cover the iPad machine itself is impossible to use in the way I need it.

When I took it back to the Trafford Centre Store in Manchester last Wednesday – the same place  I purchased it from I expected help.  I didn’t expect to be made to feel inadequate by their staff.

The Manager was called he removed the cover, to my shock there was a slight discolouring he suggested was caused through a liquid of kind he thought was rain. Not only that but the huge 6 foot 3″ tall Manager stepped into my personal space to deliver his message.

The IPad case is made of polyurethane which has the strength of metal and the elasticity of rubber. Yet it has split and he is blaming rain.

Yet when I challenged the Manager over this in a reasonable and honest manner he said he was getting a second independent opinion from other managers of the same store – of course they agreed with him!

It’s a mobile unit, which for me has a disabled person is really important – it gives me freedom. The case is essential for me. And yes it will be used outside. So how do I protect it now if the cover is so inadequate? How do I now use the iPad other than hold it together with tape?

Who saying everyone else disagrees with me – so therefore I must be wrong? But by stepping into my personal space to deliver his message it frightened me.

Peter Street image Kansas copy

The mobile unit is not just a want it’s an indescribable need. I needed my iPad when I was promoting my last book in 2012 when I toured the mid west of America in Autumn 2012 I blogged about it on Disability Arts Online.

My ipad is not just there to help with my writing but also to take superb photos of the places I am commissioned to write about. Such as my time in Kansas City, and also my journey down to New Mexico to see arise about the highly secretive Pueblo Taos indigenous group and the attempt of ethnic cleansing in 1847.

I have had a long professional relationship with Apple Mac products. They have been there for me when had to write my six collections of poetry. My Apple Mac helped me to be awarded the highly prestigious Royal Literary Fund.

I used a desktop mac to write the hugely successful war poems from my time as part of a humanitarian convoy in the Balkan War 1993.

The worst part of the experience in the store was that feeling of being alone and not even finding anyone support of the kind I needed. Yes I phoned thier support number but then was switched over to some one in Greece. Yes they have been trained to answer technical problems but rubber covers for ipads – No!

Not only, but my wife and I cannot remember being given any paperwork regarding the care and repair of the ipad cover when we purchased or the fact that rain could cause damage to a case that is like rubber.

He seemed to have used a very subtle form of bullying – is/was this part of their training?

I was so shocked at their negative and bullying attitude – because all other times when we have bought Macs they have been wonderful – i think it was that more than anything else which really put us on the back foot.

I need to ask – is it me or do all the advisers in the apple stores all seem to be young, pretty, handsome, able-bodied and in most cases some would perhaps say they have the perfect image for this image conscious society?

I’m just wondering that’s all – again wondering if that is the case could this be the reason why they don’t really want to advise other than mirror images of themselves?

I seem to not be alone in my view – A friend sent me this comment about her experience (she’s in her mid-60s and has a hearing loss):

“I signed up for the teaching sessions at Apple Mac and they were not prepared to extend my 12 months when I said I was out of the country for 3 of them. Of the 52 sessions I had only 8 because the rudeness of one of the ‘trainers’ who treated me like a village idiot and marched off in the middle of my session when I tried to challenge one of the things she said because I did not understand it. It was very upsetting. Their computers are great but they are SO arrogant. They act as if we who purchase their very expensive equipment should be cravenly grateful!”

An interview with Peter about his work and publication New and Selected Poems, by Peter Street, published by Waterloo Press can be found on The Guardian.

Postscript  from Pesky People: Having been told of other negative experiences faced by disabled and deaf Apple fans staff don’t appear to have  disability or deaf awareness training and are unaware of accessibility features of individual individual products. Back in June 2011 David wrote on Pesky People about how Apple were failing deaf customers.

It seems Apple’s obligations to disabled and deaf customers in their stores have a long way to go despite their track record of accessibility in their products especially as Peter’s experience shows.