September 16, 2008

speaking of apple

Wait until you read this crazy story that happened the other day about my service with Apple and the Genius who wasn't!

I have an old iBook G4. The power adapter is a prong that fits into the side of the computer. Apple has since replaced this type with a magnetic adapter, and for a good reason. I have had my adapter break three times. Usually I pony up the $79 plus tax to get a new one because I always lose the receipt, but when I bought charger number three, the associate told me that she could e-mail me my receipt. That way, if it breaks, I can just print out the receipt. Sure enough, it broke again. This time I was armed and ready to get the part replaced under warranty.

I live closest to the Fifth Avenue Apple store and it's open 24/7, 365 days. On Sunday night when my adapter wouldn't produce a charge at all (usually I replace it before it gets to this point), I knew I had to get a replacement fast (before this story ends, both of my batteries will be completely dead.) The boy and I get to the store at about 12:30 am, and I am directed to the Genius Bar to exchange my part. Even at midnight, there was an hour wait on standby to speak to a Genius. We happily spent the time playing on the iPhones and comparing cases (see my previous post.)

Genius Bar
Finally, it was my turn. I explained to the Genius what happened and he completely understood. He examined the adapter thoroughly for several minutes, explaining to me why the break had happened. He was very helpful and nice. He went to get the part, handed it to me, and I signed a piece of paper that said I had made the exchange. We left the store and went back home, stopping for a late dinner at the diner.

I come in the apartment and whip out my brand new adapter to get a-chargin'. I only had an hour left of juice on my battery. But when I unwrapped the plastic, to my horror, I saw the magnetic 60 watt adapter, not my prong, 65 watt one! I had come all the way home without the right item. How could the Genius have done this to me?

I called up the store right away. I told an associate what had happened, and he responded by saying there was "nothing he could do." Of course there was. I asked, can you please let the Genius' supervisor know what happened. Also, I would like to come in tomorrow, and I would like them to be expecting me, so I can just walk up to the Genius Bar and get my item replaced right away. The associate had no problem with either request. He entered my name in the computer, and all I would have to do was let the concierge know when I arrived tomorrow. After I hung up with him, it was 3:30 am, so I went to bed.

At 5:51 am, the boy is still awake doing work on his laptop in the living room. I am awoken to hear him yelling to me that my cell phone is ringing. By the time I reach it in my grogginess, there is already a voicemail. Who is it from, you ask? It is from the Genius who had given me the wrong adapter. At 5:51 am. He said in the message that he was so very sorry, and here is the case number so that I can give it to the concierge tomorrow to get this all settled (even though I had already handled this on the phone earlier.) Fine.

At 6:15 am, the same Genius sends me an e-mail saying, word for word, the same exact things he said to me in the voicemail. I did not see this e-mail until the afternoon on Monday, though.

At 8:00 am, I am again asleep. My cell phone is now on my bedside table after claiming it from the living room after the first call. The phone rings again. I am half asleep, but I answer anyway. It is the Genius. Again. "I am so, so sorry about what happened earlier and I am sorry for calling so early," he said. "Yeah, it's ok--" I try to reply, "I'm sorry for calling so early, but I wanted to tell you--" he interrupted. "Yes, it is too early, and don't call me again," I said and hung up.

At 7:10 pm after class, I went to the Apple store as planned. I headed up to the concierge. He told me that I would be helped as soon as possible, but at maximum 30 minutes. Hardly the "walk right up" I had expected as payback for having waited an hour the night before, but I was in no rush, and I played with my new iPhone the whole time.

But by 7:45 pm, I was getting a little antsy. That's when I remembered that I wanted to speak to a supervisor to make sure that my story was heard and that this could not happen again to me or anyone else. I asked a concierge if I could please speak to any supervisor. "Why? What's wrong?" He asked me, worried. "No, no, I just wanted to speak to someone to tell him about what's gone on in the past day, that's all." A supervisor was quickly brought to me, and I began to recount the events of the past day. I'll spare you the details of the conversation, but here are some things I learned about Apple, its employees and practices:

-- Genius Bar staff do call customers. That is, when Apple is in possession of the customer's items. They call to report what's wrong and when to pick it up, but rarely do they call after the fact.
-- Apple has a policy that they do not place phone calls to customers before 9 am. I was called two times before 9 am.
-- Two phone calls was extremely excessive, especially after a voicemail and an e-mail.
-- He agreed with me that it was awkward to be called by the employee that made the mistake. It should have been a supervisor who called, if at all.

Trees at Central Park
[the trees on fifth avenue walking back to the Apple store, taken with my iPhone]

Supervisors take these issues very seriously. He immediately took me up to the Genius Bar where in about 5 minutes he had made the exchange. He even offered to give me the entire contents of the power adapter set, which I declined because I had plenty of extras from previous sets. But I appreciated his generosity and his sincerity, and I had to keep reassuring him that I was ok, that I wasn't upset, and that he didn't need to feel that I was in a rush. But he explained that he was personally upset that such a thing had happened and he was going to do whatever it took to rectify it. Apple, he said, rarely drops the ball like this, even at a store of this size.

So in all, I returned home yesterday with my adapter, and I felt good about how everything had been resolved. This isn't an entry about the evils of Apple. All of my computer electronics are theirs and I wouldn't have it any other way. On the contrary, it is an example of how well issues are taken care of there, and I wanted to share it with you all. And the supervisor even gave me his card just incase the Genius called me again! Luckily nothing so far.


  1. Oh good! I'm so glad it ended well. Me being a faithful Apple customer I was getting a little nervous that it was going to end badly. :)

  2. That's good that it ended well, but the man calling you at 5:30 AM sounds like he was bi-polar or something. Knowing not to call someone at that unGodly hour is a no-brainer. It doesn't require a store policy, LOL.

  3. Wow what an ordeal - i would;ve been pretty mad too!! Atleast they sorted it out at the end and tried to compensate you!! hope you've caught up on all your lost sleep!!

  4. It was resolved but I resent the time and energy so often necessary to get the simplest thing done...

  5. ah---. what a long story about apple craziness :)

  6. Hi! Thanks for stopping by my blog. The funny thing is I was just reading your blog yesterday (but can't remember how I got here). Good luck with that leak in the roof :)

  7. thanks for your comment on my blog! what a crazy experience -- i, too, am an apple-products lover (in fact, i'm about due for a new laptop; mine's going to die soon!), but i can't imagine dealing with an employee like that! 5:51 a.m.?! yikes!