Sept. 21, 2010 — -- A New York college senior got more than she may have bargained for when she fired off an e-mail to Apple CEO Steve Jobs to complain about the company's media relations department's lack of responsiveness.
Jobs reply? "Please leave us alone."
It started when Chelsea Kate Isaacs, a journalism student at the C.W. Post campus of Long Island University, called Apple's media relations department to ask questions about the use of iPads in an academic setting.
She needed the company's input for an article she was writing on the topic.
But her repeated phone calls and voicemail messages to Apple's media relations department went unreturned.
So she wrote to Jobs himself. The father of the iPhone, iPad and iPod is known to respond personally to e-mails sent to the address firstname.lastname@example.org
First, she told Jobs how much she liked his products and how helpful they'd been to her in school. Then she expressed surprise at how unresponsive the company's media relations department has been.
"The completion of this article is crucial to my grade in the class, and it may potentially get published in our university's newspaper … I have called countless times throughout the week, leaving short, but detailed, messages which included my contact information and the date of my deadline. Today, I left my 6th message, which stressed the increasingly more urgent nature of the situation. It is now the end of the business day, and I have not received a call back. My deadline is tomorrow," she wrote, according to the website Gawker.com.
She also went on to say: "In addition to the hypocrisy of ignoring student needs when they represent a company that does so much for our schools, the Media Relations reps are apparently, also failing to responsibly handle the inquiries of professional journalists on deadlines. Unfortunately, for a journalist in the professional world, lacking the answers they need on deadline day won't just cost them a grade; it could cost them their job. Thank you very much for your time and consideration."
Jobs to Student: 'Please Leave Us Alone'
Jobs is well-known for being brief – and often blunt – when he answers e-mails from the public. This time was no different.
"Our goals do not include helping you get a good grade. Sorry," he wrote.
Isaacs wasn't deterred, and she wrote back, ""Thank you for your reply. I never said that your goal should be to 'help me get a good grade.' Rather, I politely asked why your media relations team does not respond to emails."
Jobs parries: "We have over 300 million users and we can't respond to their requests unless they involve a problem of some kind. Sorry."
But Isaacs, who is a senior at LIU, persisted. "I AM one of your 300 million users...Please, I am on deadline," to which Jobs replied: "Please leave us alone."
The 22-year-old told ABC News she was taken aback by Jobs' tone.
"To me was rude and very unexpected. I just sat there kind of doing a double take wondering why Steve Jobs was battling me through e-mail," she said. "I never expected that it would be a rather rude response. I think that a person who runs a company that is just so popular and has tremendous influence and power and had a huge marketing campaign, they're not obligated to -- but they should treat their customers more respectfully."
Nick Bilton, the lead technology writer for the New York Times Bits Blog, reacted to Jobs' replies to Isaacs.
"I think most things are calculated. I don't know if he said, you know what, if I send this response maybe all these college students that e-mail us on a daily basis trying to get quotes will stop, or maybe he just lost his temper," Bilton said.
Isaacs is worried about her assignment.
"The article can go on, but it just won't be with the quote that I really needed. I probably won't get an A, maybe I'll get a B," she told Gawker.
Apple declined comment for this story, and Jobs did not respond to an e-mail from ABC News.