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Apple “Genius”

Recently I sold my old, damaged MacBook Pro on eBay, and in doing so I claimed that there was a chance that it could be repaired (by Apple) for free. But how, you may be wondering, could I make such a bold claim? Was it all a strategy to over-sell my broken laptop? Not in the least. Back when I first found out about this Apple’s KB article, the contents of which appeared as though they would entitle me to a free repair, I headed straight to the Apple Store at the Fairview Mall in Toronto. I’d had a fairly positive customer care experience there just a week before, and I was rather optimistic that they’d repair it for me.

After I arrived at the Genius bar, I had to wait for quite a while before having the displeasure of dealing with an uncooperative “genius”, a young guy whose unfriendly attitude far outweighed any technical know-how he may have had. He immediately denied any knowledge of video issues on MacBook Pros from 2007 and only agreed to check my laptop after I’d showed him a printout of the knowledge base issue mentioned above. He essentially humored me in a rather reluctant way, and after a very short while told me that my laptop didn’t qualify for the free repair. Annoyed by this guy’s lack of care regarding my problem, I left the store.

Around the time when this situation arose, I had already visited the Genius Bar several times regarding various matters and was feeling a bit tired of dealing with a broken laptop. Ultimately I gave up on my old MacBook Pro (my first Mac ever) and when it was economically possible, I purchased a replacement laptop. Though my old MacBook Pro had cost me time and money, I felt that its tale was done and over with once I brought my new laptop home. That is until the day I decided that someone else could get more use out it than I was (as it was just sitting unused in my office), and that I could get a few bucks by selling it on Ebay. The old Mac’s auction wrapped up with a selling price of $578. It was bought by a fellow from Ontario, who was a very pleasant person to deal with.

If fact he was so kind that he sent me a follow-up regarding his own attempt to get the laptop fixed. Here’s what he wrote:

Just a quick update. The testing on the Macbook Pro was conducted this week, and found to conform to the warranty exception Apple identifies with the nVidia chip problem. A replacement is being installed now, but likely won’t be ready until next week. While you’re probably more content to wash your hands of the whole matter, I’d seriously consider a complaint against the apple store you took it to, and more specifically against the “genius” who served you, given he was clearly no genius at all, and likely cost you significantly in time and money as a result. Hope you’re having a good day.

I am genuinely happy for the guy. He took a risk by buying a broken laptop from me, trusted my story to be true (as it was!), and ended up scoring a working laptop that’s (now) worth far more than what he paid for it. His bet paid off and I wish him all the best.

The truth of the matter is that, as he says, I’m glad to “wash my hands of the whole matter”. At this point there is little Apple would do, even if I made a fuss about it (which I’m not going to, of course). Next time I walk by that particular Apple store, I may have a word with the manager (regarding the Genius I’d dealt with), but that’s about it.

The moral of the story is not that Apple’s customer care sucks or rocks. Apple Genii are just people, some are very good, others exceptionally bad, and most of them are somewhere in between. The take-home lesson for me here was that when dealing with Apple, if you get turned down by one store, you shouldn’t stop there! Take the time to visit a couple more and to persue the matter as far as you can.


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6 Responses to “Apple “Genius””

  1. TurboBorland says:

    This happens everywhere. They attach a catchy title to a person so the customer thinks they’re dealing with people who actually know what they’re doing. The biggest fraud of this in the computer field, that I know of, is Best Buy. Their geek squad does attract some very good potential, but the bulk of those that I’ve come across have yet to show me anything spectacular.

  2. sambeau says:

    I have to say that my experience in Glasgow has been totally different to this. I’ve never had a problem. Even the on-hold experience was good (it told you how long you had to wait).

    My experience in other computer chains has been far, far worse.

    My only problem is that there is a waiting list to see a “Genius”.

  3. Matt Zago says:

    You were underserved by the genius because of his faults rather than organizational issues at Apple. I used to work for an Apple store and they understand that there is an imperitive to keep customers happy. The genius you got didn’t serve you in the spirit of Apple retail.

  4. Robert Bath says:

    I’d say it’s an organizational issue if the organization hires (or permits to stay employed) people with the aforementioned attitude problems.

  5. Unfortunately, when problems occur with mac products you have to go the “Genius Bar” for assistance, which to the most part is staffed by helpful individuals, though none really technically savvy.

    I met a particularly arrogant chap at the Tucson La Encantada Apple store. Keegan Allen, is the so called Lead Genius. He obviously dislikes anyone who has a higher technical education than him, because if you even hint at the fact that you know something technical about an apple product he becomes defensive in his manner.

    Perhaps that is because as a pima county graduate (qualifications not actually stated on his linkedin profile http://www.linkedin.com/pub/keegan-allen/8/310/27) he feels inadequate.

    The apple customer service “experience” is definitely hit or miss, often takes far too long to see anyone, even with an appointment, and is run like a disorganized airport check-in.

    Long time mac user since 2000. If I’m going to spend over $10,000 on apple products then you should care what I think. Apple should take note and care about their customers, especially when we can post the information online these days in a matter of minutes to thousands of people. I am NOT happy.

    Following the replacement of the logic board for a macbook pro, it has misaligned ports, no serial number, can’t back up to time machine, and over heats. On the phone the customer service technician was very helpful, and said that the installation of the new logic board, which was carried out in-store, was not a completed job.

    Our friendly ‘lead genius’ took exception to the fact the it was an incomplete job, and disagreed.. prior to running a tool to set the serial number. A step required to complete the installation, which can only be carried out by apple service technicians. So find me the logic that states the installation was ‘complete’ Mr. Keegan.

  6. Justin, I’m sorry to hear about your situation, and I can fully sympathize with it. The behaviour of your “Lead Genius” was clearly unprofessional and unhelpful.

    Getting customer care right most of the time is a very hard thing to do, but it’s fundamental for the success of any company. Apple can afford to charge a lot for their computers for three reasons: 1) Beautiful and (usually) reliable hardware; 2) An excellent, stable operating system like Mac OS X; 3) (In theory) Excellent customer care.

    If any of these three starts is missing, it becomes hard to justify the premium price. If Apple’s customer care becomes equal to or worse than that of Dell, I’m afraid many people would just consider spending much less on an equivalent, top of the line PC.

    Apple should be particularly careful when placing “power tripping” employees in charge. One rude customer service employee can alienate hundreds of customers in a year, which in turn could lead to losses reaching into hundreds of thousands of dollars.

    An Apple Genius is not expected to be an EE graduate from MIT, with an MBA, of course. But a friendly attitude, the ability to show empathy to customers, and a rational/logical approach when it comes to solving technical problems are bare minimum requirements for a person who wants to work in customer care.

    I sincerely hope that ultimately Apple will be able to fix your MBP issue, as they should. And I hope they consider having a talk with their “lead genius”.

    It’s worth noting that you only hear about such stories when they mess with the wrong people, such as you and I. But you have to wander how often does this kind of shoddy customer care take place that we don’t hear about. How many people are not even aware that they have been screwed over by their know-it-all “genius” of the day?

    Let’s hope that these complaints will help Apple realize that they need to improve if they want to keep their customers (happy).

    PS: I was pleasantly surprised to find a comment from you, JDOG. I’m a fan of your work, and truly enjoyed the first season of The Pick-up Artist. In an industry that isn’t short on “questionable characters”, it is refreshing to see your emphatic approach and professionalism. I’m glad you stopped by, albeit due to an unpleasant Apple encounter.

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