AppleCare=>100% Joke; Genius Bar=>Extremely Disappointing

Discussion in 'Apple, Inc and Tech Industry' started by JTreehorn, Mar 16, 2011.

  1. JTreehorn macrumors newbie

    Mar 15, 2011
    Chicago, IL
    Hi all, let me just preface this post by saying that this is my first post, however I have been a long-time reader and forum peruser. So, I'd like to give a big thanks to the members and the people behind the site for providing this community, I truly appreciate it!

    To provide further background, I have been buying Apple products for nearly 10 years now, and I have always been very pleased with their performance. Beyond merely buying their products, I have also held AAPL stock for nearly 10 years because of my strong belief in the high quality of their products and services, as well as their inventiveness and ability to produce new, compelling products.

    However, very recently I feel I have arrived at a turning point with Apple, as I have had two very unpleasant Genius Bar experiences, both within the same month. These experiences have deeply shaken my core belief in the future direction of the quality of Apple's products and services; a development I am very disappointed in.

    Let me also say that, until now, I always bought AppleCare for my new Apple products, and was always pleased with the service and value provided by AppleCare. I previously had a few pleasant Genius Bar experiences, most recently in the fall of 2009 for an iPhone 3GS with a dead pixel.

    My first unfortunate experience occurred roughly a month ago at the Genius Bar at Apple's new Lincoln Park store (I'm a Chicagoan). I was getting ready to sell my 2009 17in MacBook Pro, a top-of-the-line model when I had purchased it less than two years ago, and I noticed that the battery indicator light on the side of the unit was not working. So I thought, "Ok, no problem, seems like a small item that should be covered by AppleCare". The computer had never been dropped, dented, abused, or anything. I waited my turn, and was promptly greeted by a female genius right at the time when my appointment had been scheduled. Off the bat, she was rude to me! Instantly, my attitude changed, and I realized "ok, maybe this will not be as simple as I originally thought". I understand firsthand how hard it can be to administer good customer service, and I calmly and pleasantly explained my problem. Suddenly, I felt as though I were being interrogated by an agent of the computer SS or something! I of course mentioned that I had taken out AppleCare on the unit when I first purchased it, and she gave me a shrug, essentially laughed under her breath (I could visibly see her holding back a chuckle, as though to emphasize "We got you on this one! You're screwed!!"), and offered to take the unit downstairs and open it up to see if she could do anything for it in-store. I said "sure", and as she walked away, I began trying to calculate the value of this non-covered repair. I was thinking it would fall somewhere between $300 and $1000, for a computer that I was hoping to sell for $1500. After some time passed, she returned with the computer. As I expected, she couldn't do anything for it in-store. She then quoted me a price of $600 to send it out for the repair. I politely decline, and then nicely explained how disappointed I was with AppleCare and this service experience. She apologized, and I walked away. As I was leaving, a store manager happened to be standing next to her, and I saw them nodding, smiling and laughing, as if to say, "Yes my genius, that was a textbook example of how to decline service, I am glad to see you paid attention to the training video on how to deny service to AppleCare customers" (granted, they could have been talking about a variety of topics, I was out of earshot, however they we glancing at me as they talked). I left the store in a state of disappointment and disbelief.

    Apparently, in 2011, that is the kind of service Apple provides customers who spend $3000+ on a computer. And apparently, that is also the kind of service provided by a $200 AppleCare plan, which I had always considered superior to other retailers extended warranty programs (Best Buy, etc) based off of my experiences. Unfortunately, I begin to think that the once high quality of AppleCare plans is no more.

    Additionally, it is one thing if the extended warranty plan does not cover the kind of repair needed (which I clearly think is garbage in this instance), but it is another concern entirely when the service provided is condescending or rude. And its a more troubling concern when the rudeness is exhibited all the way up to a management level! Very disheartening… When it comes down to it, after the experience I realized that I didn't really even care about the light repair, I still managed to sell then computer for near the value I was hoping (of course making note to the buyer about the battery indicator problem :) ). What I really ended up caring about after it was all said and done, was the bad feelings I left the store with that afternoon. Even more disheartening was that I felt powerless to help change the situation: I had no outlet to voice my concerns, no way to alert upper management to these problems, and of course, no way to have my computer fixed!

    So my saga continues, I had my second unpleasant Genius Bar experience earlier this week at the Michigan Ave. store. Again, to provide some background, I have an 64gb 3G iPad1 which I got on the release day last spring. It has been a great unit for me, operating flawlessly since I opened the box. However, sometime in January, the display developed a dead pixel. A pixel locked up red right in the middle of the display. Despite the problem being isolated to a single pixel, it is a very noticeable single pixel when on a white background (such as NoteTask). Of course, I had originally purchased AppleCare on the unit. Again, in my mind, based off what I had read and heard, I was thinking "Ok, this should be a simple one, the display clearly has a problem, and I have AppleCare on the unit. Great". I had been busy with other things (such as trying to sell my 17in MBP), so I didn't get a chance to make a Genius Bar appointment until this week. Following my prior experience at the Lincoln Park store, I decided to try the Michigan Ave. store to see if my experience would be different at one of their "flagship" stores. I waited for my appointment time to come up, and was promptly greeted by a male genius with a hat on. By greeted, I mean this: He shouted my name at the waiting area, I walked over, and he asked what my problem was as he sat there using a MacBook Pro, barely looking up from under the brim of his hat at me or acknowledging me. No eye contact, no hand shake, he was busy using the computer on the counter. So again, I instantly started thinking, "Oh no, here we go again!". (Keep in mind, if this were another customer's computer he was working on, there were at least 3 geniuses milling around behind the counter not busy with other customers who could have taken the unit.) In a friendly way, (hoping to warm the guy up to me, since he was clearly disengaged) I explained my problem, mentioned I had AppleCare on the unit, brought the unit out of my bag, and flipped it open to demonstrate the problem. He quickly picked up the unit, looked at, viewed it from a few angles, placed it back down, apologized, and said there was nothing he could do. "I can't give you a new iPad for that". Then he continued casually using the computer in front of him. I implored him to reconsider, reminding him that I had spent a lot of money on the unit (again, top-of-the-line, at the time) and the AppleCare plan. "But, I mean, this item was expensive, I spent a lot of money on this, its top on the line, 3G, 64gb", to which he offered a slight smile and said, "Yeah but that's just storage". Just storage, and MONEY! That doesn't change the fact that I spent over $800 on a device, and had the foresight to pay an additional $200 for the extended warranty, and am now stuck with a device with an imperfect display, despite this warranty! Of course I did not say this, I thanked him for his time, and walked away, to which he did not even offer a good-bye. The entire appointment lasted for less than a minute, as he continued to use the computer on the counter, occasionally glancing up at me, as if to emphasize the marginality of my problem! Infuriating, and majorly disappointing.

    One of the factors that used to set Apple apart from other electronics retailers was the quality of their store experiences. I now realize that the surging growth of the company has completely eroded this: Apple store employees are no more knowledgable or helpful than the people in the blue polos at Best Buy or the people working the floor at Walmart. If anything on average they're worse because they have a propensity to exhibit a condescending "hipster" attitude. I also now realize that the once superior extended warranty program offered by Apple is now no better than plans offered by Best Buy and others, which are well-known to be nothing but protection rackets pushed on customers at the points-of-sale.

    Needless to say, it has been the thrill of a lifetime to watch Apple grow from an underdog computer company that could into a premier global supplier of consumer electronic devices and services. Until now, I felt the fundamentals underlying that growth was their reputation for quality both in products produced and services rendered. However now, it seems their quality in both products and services is rapidly declining. I am afraid that soon, the public will become more aware of these problems, and this will greatly damage Apple's reputation.

    It was a sad day when I realized that the slogan AppleCare was equivalent in its hypocrisy to the slogan Microsoft Works.

    If you took the time to read my lengthy post, I sincerely thank you for your time. I am eager to hear responses. Now I'm going to stop, calm myself, and enjoy a beer!

  2. Gav2k macrumors G3


    Jul 24, 2009
    Wirelessly posted (Mozilla/5.0 (iPhone; U; CPU iPhone OS 4_3 like Mac OS X; en-us) AppleWebKit/533.17.9 (KHTML, like Gecko) Version/5.0.2 Mobile/8F190 Safari/6533.18.5)

    Email it to steve he won't be happy! This not how apple treat customers!
  3. belvdr, Mar 16, 2011
    Last edited: Mar 16, 2011

    belvdr macrumors 603

    Aug 15, 2005
    No longer logging into MR
  4. DeaconGraves macrumors 65816


    Apr 25, 2007
    Dallas, TX
    I'm curious, since you didn't mention it, but what was the reason for declining warranty coverage for the battery indicator light?

    I know you're frustrated and it stinks that you've had these experiences, but in my opinion, spending X amount of dollars on a product should never be the reason you should expect an issue to be serviced. (Better treatment from the genius bar? Maybe. But I can't really comment on that since I wasn't there.) Apple has to set standards for what warrants a replacement unit and what doesn't. And while we can argue all day and night about whether your dead pixel should meet that standard, you having bought a top of the line iPad and paid for AppleCare shouldn't be a factor. Just because you spent roughly $1000 for the device and warranty doesn't make you any different from the guy who spent $500 for the base model, or the girl who spent $800 for your model without Applecare (assuming we're still in warranty), or the guy who bought an iPad from a scalper online for $1500.

    I'm not saying I don't sympathize with your plight, but arguing that you paid more so you deserve better isn't going to fly with people low on the Apple totem pole who don't have full say over what they can service or not.
  5. aristobrat macrumors G5

    Oct 14, 2005
    Outlets to voice your concern:

    1. Speak to the manager on the floor at the time of your visit.
    2. If you feel the manager on the floor at the time of your visit is part of the problem, ask to speak to another manager.
    3. If another manager is unavailable at the time of your visit, ask for the business card of the Store Manager and phone that manager at a later time.
    4. If the manager on the floor is part of the problem, and also the Store Manager, ask them for the business card of their district manager.
    5. Google "apple retail feedback" and follow the first search result to directly give your feedback.
    6. Call 1-800-APL-CARE and voice your concern there and see if they can arrange for a repair-by-mail.
    7. Email one of Steve Job's various email addresses and have your concern viewed by the executive response group.

    Read through the various other "I received poor care at the Genius Bar" threads on here and see what others in your position have done to not only voice their concern, but also to get their problems resolved.

    Also, read through the threads on here where the Genius Bar has gone out of their way to help customers, such as providing free repairs for units out of warranty, or for units that were physically damaged (which voids the warranty entirely). You'll get a view of the Genius Bar that differs from your experience.
  6. MovieCutter macrumors 68040


    May 3, 2005
    Washington, DC
    Having worked at a Genius Bar, saying "I've spent x dollars on x product" doesn't do anything for you. Do you have any clue how much money Apple Retail Stores pull in on a daily basis? Your $800 is a drop in the bucket and you'll get treated the same as any other customer. Not to mention the LCD display on your iPad is the SAME LCD display used on the 16GB Wifi, so the Genius was IS just storage you paid for. I've spent over $30k on Apple products in the last 5 years, but I don't expect to get treated any differently at a Genius Bar than a new Apple customer who bought an iPod Nano. Your sense of entitlement is one of those things that would annoy the crap out of us...just saying.
  7. Consultant, Mar 16, 2011
    Last edited by a moderator: Mar 16, 2011

    Consultant macrumors G5


    Jun 27, 2007
    In reality, Apple still leads in customer satisfaction. All Apple employees are trained to be cordial, comparing them to the SS shows your ignorance.
  8. Crosby macrumors newbie

    Mar 30, 2010
    I hope you’re kidding. I understand the Apple brand is iconic to the point that service practically doesn’t matter to many of its customers, but, as a general sales and marketing principle, it absolutely DOES matter how much one spends with a company. Your best customers should get the best treatment.

    Attitudes like yours corrode market share over time, and the fact that Apple might be able to get away with it in the short term doesn’t change that. Hopefully, its management doesn’t share your philosophy that, because they’re on top of the world now, they’ll always be on top of the world. If they do, it might be a good time for AAPL shareholders to take their profits.
  9. aristobrat macrumors G5

    Oct 14, 2005
    AFAIK, in the decade that Apple Stores have been open and helping customers with its Genius Bar, Apple has never "reserved" their "best treatment" exclusively for the subset of customers that have spent the most money with the company.

    When I worked there, the only "special treatment" shown at the Genius Bar was for customers that had purchased the ProCare plan (which was eligible for any customer to purchase). That customer received head-of-line privileges at the Genius Bar, and on the bench for any machine they dropped off to get repaired. That program has since ended.
  10. DeaconGraves macrumors 65816


    Apr 25, 2007
    Dallas, TX
    Um. No. The way to acheive outstanding customer service is to treat the person who bought a $49 iPod Shuffle the same way you would treat someone who has spent thousands.

    My first Apple purchase ever was an Airport Express that shorted out minutes after I first plugged it in. I took it back to the store and received a replacement with no questions asked. According to your logic, I would have probably needed to unload significantly more cash to get such treatment.

    And how is an Apple Genius supposed to dtermine who has spent more? I'm sure everyone who walks in acts like they've spents thousands when in reality they may have bought a few iPods over the years.
  11. Crosby macrumors newbie

    Mar 30, 2010
    Those are good points (same to aristobrat). And, actually, I think everybody should get good service, as you did; I don't think the question is between bad service for the iPod Shuffle people and good service for the top-of-the-line MBP people. Given that, within the price range of Apple products, in a consumer business, maybe it doesn't matter as much, but if I have customers who shop from me frequently and spend a lot of money, I would want to make sure they're happy. That doesn't mean I want those who spend less to be unhappy.
  12. Alaerian Guest


    Jan 6, 2005
    A barstool, Innis & Gunn in hand
    There are two sides to every story. I don't like making judgement without hearing both sides, especially when it comes to retail.

    I've been to the Michigan Avenue store in Chicago. Several times, in fact. I've also been to the Lincoln Park store more than once. My younger sister lives in Lincoln Park and I visit her frequently. I have never had anything less than a pleasant experience there, including a stop for "emergency service on a fairly old iPod. I was treated fairly on every visit - even those on which I didn't buy anything but only had questions.
  13. roadbloc macrumors G3


    Aug 24, 2009
  14. SidBala macrumors 6502a

    Jun 27, 2010
  15. ashman70 macrumors 6502a

    Dec 20, 2010
    I am appalled at how the OP was treated at both stores and I think in both cases he should have spoken to the manager of both stores before he left. Its one thing to be told the problem with your device falls outside of the applecare warranty however its entirely something else to offer such poor customer service that the customer leaves the store feeling the way the OP did, that should NEVER happen. His second experience is simply unbelievable, for the Genius to be using the computer the whole time and not engage the customer is simply wrong, I don't care how busy they are or trivial they think the customers issue is, they are coming in because they feel they have a problem with their Apple device that they spend their hard earned money on, they should be taken care of politely and not be made to feel unimportant. I urge the OR to call applecare and complain about both instances, it never hurts to tell a company about your experience with their customer service whether they feel you are justified in your feelings or not, it can only help them become better.
  16. jaw04005 macrumors 601


    Aug 19, 2003
    I would call AppleCare Support about the notebook incident and the iPhone. They have more options than standard store employees. As for the snotty genius that you dealt with with regarding the MacBook Pro, I would have e-mailed Jobs immediately after the incident or complained to Apple Customer Relations (google their number).

    Mistakes happen. That's why both Apple's Customer and Executive Relations (who you deal when you e-mail Steve) departments exist.

    The people at Executive Relations don't mess around. They had an AppleCare Rep. call me back and personally apologize for giving me the wrong information (he refused to send out a notebook drive for my MacBook that was covered under the AppleCare Protection Plan, claimed Apple didn't ship notebook drives to customers and wouldn't transfer me to his supervisor).
  17. SidBala macrumors 6502a

    Jun 27, 2010
    Just read the whole thing.

    Your experiences are just unfortunate. The guys you spoke to might have had a bad day, etc. Of course that do not give them the right to be rude or offer crappy service.

    Try talking to the store manager - they have the authority to decide on stuff like the iPad dead pixel.

    In my own experience, I once took a 14 month old MBP I bought off craigslist to fix a lid misalignment issue. They fixed it for me for no cost, even though the unit didn't have AC and was 2 months out of warranty.

    I also bought an iPad1 wifi 16GB off craigslist, which I had exchanged 4 times because of dead-pixels/backlight bleed etc. again, at no cost and no AC.

    I did have to wait 40 minutes each time I went in though.
  18. Leet Apple macrumors 6502a

    Leet Apple

    Nov 10, 2009
    Personally I would've asked the first lady if i could speak to her manager...All My Trips to the Apple store have been pleasant. 1 Time i Had Gotten my iPhone 3G replaced because the genius had known it was my last day of warranty.
  19. wordoflife macrumors 604


    Jul 6, 2009
    Safe yourself the hassle and call Apple next time. They generally are more helpful.
  20. Full of Win macrumors 68030

    Full of Win

    Nov 22, 2007
    Ask Apple
    Apple Stores are becoming progressively worse. Long wait times, waaaayy... behind schedule by 30 minutes +, people there to check email only. Before they were an asset; now they are a reason to leave Apple.
  21. Demosthenes X macrumors 68000

    Demosthenes X

    Oct 21, 2008
    No, you just chose not to exercise them. You could spoken to the manager there and then, you could have called them later on or written them a letter, you could have called Apple's customer care line, you could have emailed Steve Jobs.

    Instead you chose to come on an online forum and complain.

    The attitudes of the employees you dealt with were unacceptable, but you had plenty of opportunities to voice your concerns and alert management. You chose not to use those avenues. That's not Apple's fault.
  22. *LTD* macrumors G4


    Feb 5, 2009
    One person's meaningless, isolated experience vs. another's:

    Pretty different, aint it?

    Now what?

    We can read more baloney from Customer A and Customer B (including trolls who bother generalizing about it), OR we can wait until the major surveys on Customer Service in the tech industry are in for 2011.

    So far:
  23. noaccess macrumors 6502

    Jun 11, 2005
    It looks like the OP mentioned the cost of the device, not because he expected to be treated better than other customers, but because he expected to be treated better... considering that the level of customer service he was getting was absolutely abysmal.

    So, what, because $800 is a "drop in the bucket", you should expect to be treated with complete arrogance and indifference at the Genius Bar, just like the other lowly sheeple?
  24. wildcat90, Mar 21, 2011
    Last edited: Mar 21, 2011

    wildcat90 macrumors member

    Jun 17, 2009
    I feel your pain. I had an experience like this last week that actually gave me the spark to get an Android to replace my iPhone.

    I dropped my phone on a puddle of water. It was not submerged, just the screen belly-flopped onto it. A little moisture touched the mic and speaker at the bottom. I picked it up quickly and dried it off. It worked fine except I couldn't hear calls, the speaker was very weak, and my girlfriend couldn't hear me talk. So I thought I fried the mic and both speakers. Great.

    I quickly went to the Apple Store and told them what had happened. He looked at it, and as he was inspecting the dock connector, he said "Uhh, this isn't going to be covered under AppleCare. There's rust here." My girlfriend and I were like "wtf? rust? is that even metal?" I explained to him there was barely any water that touched the area he was mentioning. And even if there had been a good amount of water that made contact with the dock connector, it had only been 15 minutes since exposure and I dried it off. He STILL insisted it was rust and explained it would be $199 to replace. I said "eff this" and went downstairs to AT&T to take a look at the HTC Inspire at $99 (albeit with an upgrade). The guy at AT&T was also in WTF mode when I told him what happened. As he was checking my account for upgrade eligibility, I grabbed a paper clip and scrapped whatever was in my dock connector that resembled rust (I don't think I mentioned... it was green). IT WAS POCKET LINT. POCKET-**********-LINT. It also uncovered the water indicator which was only half red/pink, most likely from my sweaty beastliness from daily exercise. The water indicator in the headphone jack was white. After I cleaned the offending substance out of the dock connector, it was clean as new. And the AT&T guy used compressed air to clean out the speakers and mic. Needless to say, the phone still works fine.

    I was very disappointed. I may be overreacting, but he didn't even take the time to see if it was really rust before giving me a final answer. I would expect them to be a little more thorough with the inspection before making their decision whether it was covered under AppleCare or not.

    Two days later, I got the HTC Inspire. So far, it's been great.
  25. alhedges macrumors 6502

    Oct 5, 2008
    Because Apple leads in customer satisfaction, he didn't receive bad service?
    Because Apple employees are trained to be cordial, they always are?

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