Apple support company sues customer for complaining

In a landmark case in Greece, an official Apple support company is suing a customer after he went online and described its repair service as "dodgy."

Returning to my inbox after the New Year's break, I found it full of Greeks bearing rifts.

The national press, the tech blogosphere, even normal, ordinary human beings on Twitter are railing against Systemgraph, a support company officially approved by Apple to be its reseller and authorized service provider.

Dimitris Papadimitriadis, a physician in Greece, was apparently having a little trouble with his iMac, so he took it to Systemgraph in order to enjoy its authorized servicing skills. According to the Greek newspaper Proto Thema, Papadimitriadis discovered dark patches on the screen of his machine.

As Papadimitriadis describes the story, Systemgraph recommended an interior and exterior cleaning, as well as a replacement of the LCD panel. However, when he came back to pick up his computer, he felt it was in an even worse state.

There were, allegedly, now spots of moisture behind the screen and the LCD panel wasn't, according to Papamitriadis, fixed either. Systemgraph allegedly offered to perform another service, although Papadimitriadis felt he had lost confidence in Systemgraph's servicing abilities.

So, in his words (translated by Yahoo): "I insisted that such computer ceases to be credible and relied on Article 540 of the Civil Code and section 5 of Act 2251, pursuant to which I have legal right to ask for a refund or replacement with my new PC under warranty."

Screenshot: Chris Matyszczyk/CNET

He claims Systemgraph refused because the iMac wasn't bought there. Papadimitriadis insisted he had followed the procedures set out at Apple.com. And he says he took his case to the consumer ombudsman, although that is a lengthy process. Clearly, there wasn't going to be accord here. But it was what transpired next that has captured Greece's imagination.

Papadimitriadis posted his story on a forum, something that seems to have upset Systemgraph. For the company has sued him for 200,000 euros (about $267,000), claiming he damaged its reputation.

His post, as translated by Google, does not seem to offer harsh or emotive language. The most anyone who has reported on the case claims is that Papadimitriadis described Systemgraph as "dodgy."

However, there were clearly human emotions involved here. Systemgraph reportedly claims that Papdimitriadis was "rude and aggressive."

And yet there is reportedly to be a court hearing on January 19. The company reportedly claims in its complaint that, given that the issue has spread to the Web, this is "an organised attempt to slander and insult" its very fine name.

This will be, I am told by Greek correspondents, the first time a Greek company has taken a customer to court for something written online.

Papadimitriadis is currently enjoying huge sympathy on Twitter, where the #Systemgraph is extremely active with mentions of the Streisand Effect.

One poster, Marq Riley, even offered: "In defense of #Systemgraph, their feelings were very hurt. 200,000 Euros is a bargain considering how hurt their feelings were."

Yet one can hardly imagine that this would have happened had the friction not been exacerbated even more than that between the fans at your average Greek basketball game.

Perhaps Systemgraph believes that it will somehow manage to clean its already tarnished reputation slightly better than Papadimitriadis claims it cleaned his iMac, with the help of a kindly judge.

However, hasn't the damage largely been done? If the company succeeds in squeezing 200,000 euros from Papadimitriadis, will people rush to have their iMacs serviced there? Or will they avoid Systemgraph just in case one of its no doubt talented service personnel is having a very bad day?

And what if you're Apple? Do you enjoy the spectacle of one of your authorized servicing companies attempting to sue one of its customers out of its last stethoscope? Or might you suggest that, given that your company ethos is all about delighting its customers no matter what, you don't want to be associated with such a leaden-headed course of legal action?

I have contacted Apple to hear their perspective on matters and will update, should I hear from them.

 

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