It was perhaps the most important appointment in 14 years of consulting: a multi-million dollar government contractor whose in-charge leaders required my skill in navigating the tumultuous sea of federal government approvals. The contractor set the appointment. I accepted it. And I nearly missed it.

“Hello, are you coming to our 1 p.m. meeting?” asked the contractor’s representative at 1:05.

“You bet,” I responded, a bit confused. “I have our meeting down for 2 o’clock.”

Blame my shiny new iPhone 6. Blame my slightly smudged iPad Air 2. Maybe even blame my fancy MacBook Pro. Bottom line – blame Apple. I soon realized, I’d been bitten by the “GMT Bug.” And to realize what had happened took a ridiculous amount of time and research.

Plaguing most any Apple iDevice since the release of iOS 8, according to published reports and my experience, is the “GMT Bug,” which causes appointments to sync with altered time zones on different devices. Accept or create an appointment on one device, and the appointment’s time is potentially altered on another. Don’t bring your arsenal of Apple devices to every meeting? Well, there’s the problem.

GMT, which stands for Greenwich Mean Time (England; and the globe’s central clock), is somehow cropping up in calendars of Apple device users. The GMT issue is perhaps most problematic when one changes time zones or agrees to a calendar invitation that is edited later. Many Apple users are growing increasingly frustrated and angry. The source of irritation: our adorable, easy-to-use Apple.

Rather than escalate concerns and complaints about, and ultimately fix the problem, Apple’s customer service representatives chose to blame competing server technology, according to those among some 744 commenting in an Apple Support Community string (which Apple has reportedly redacted and has since splintered into alternate strings requiring a login and credentials before viewing and participating in the discussion). Among those facing blame, according to posts, were Microsoft’s Exchange service and the Google Apps service. Users of Apple’s support community weren’t amused or convinced.

According to a Forbes article entitled “Apple’s iOS 8 Crisis Continues With Controversial New Bug,” Apple, after initially denying the issue, has now admitted to the calendar sync problem. The Forbes article was seemingly spurred amid some 294,546 visits to the thread on Apple’s Support Community, with several users reporting a message from Apple that “This is expected behavior with iOS 8.”

“Really?” one frustrated user asked himself before publishing a YouTube video explaining the GMT Bug to more than 10,000 seemingly perplexed viewers (to date), like me.

If there’s a silver lining, it’s that Apple has reportedly released a new version of iOS 8 to developers and Apple intends to address the sync issue. Yet, from where I sit, and while I’d happily call for more product testing before releasing a software update to the masses, I’d also call on a better plan for crisis mitigation.

When it comes to public relations and, in the event of crisis mitigation or issues management, those I’ve worked with – many noted in my blog – know one certainty: Prepare. And never tell your customers they’re wrong.

So, back to that meeting I nearly missed due to the GMT Bug.

It’s unclear whether I landed the client. But Apple didn’t land the software update. And, like me, Apple’s public relations arm is likely missing an opportunity: In our new world of content marketing, either the corporation supplies the content, or users will.

Plan ahead. Decide early. Offer options. Contact Ryan.

 

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