EXPERIENCES AT THE GENIUS BAR
HOW APPLE'S HELP CENTER FIXES AVERAGE AND NOT-SO-AVERAGE PROBLEMS. Having to get your computer or mobile device fixed always fills everyone with a sense of dread. It usually means countless phone calls, countless hours, and an unimaginable amount of grief. For that reason, Apple started what they refer to as the "Genius Bar" in their stores. It s definitely a bar, and many customers, yet not all, leave thinking that the workers toiling away behind the bar are in fact pure genius. At the back of every Genius Store sits a long bar populated with employees identified as "Geniuses". They aren't identified this way because they have certain ACT scores. They're identified this way because they will solve all your problems for you. When you're frustrated with your Mac, iPhone or iPad, they will fix it, replace it, or show you where you're going wrong. I wasn't aware of the Genius Bar when I found myself in need of them in a big way. The power cord for my iBook had broken off inside the laptop itself. The Apple retailers I was taking it to were saying they would have to send it out to be fixed. I really didn't have that luxury of time. I looked online to find a phone number to call for help and found links telling me to get help at the Genius Bar and to make an appointment. Of course, this was in the days before my iPhone or iPad. Now the same thing can be accomplished via the Apple Store app. The closest Apple Store is thirty to forty minutes away and this happened to be one of the busiest days of my life just made much busier, but I was panic-stricken. I chose the quickest appointment I could, made sure I had everything I would possibly need, hopped in the car, and headed out to the Apple Store. Once you choose the Apple Store closest to you, it shows you the available appointment times for that day. You can even set your appointment up to a week in advance if you have that luxury. For many of us though, our Apple products are our lifelines. We don't necessarily have that gift of time. Apples connect us, whether it s phone, texting, Facebook, iPhone, or email. We need it, or at least are reasonably convinced we do. After choosing the best appointment time for you, it asks you to fill in the appropriate contact information, and then generates an email confirmation. You don't have to set your appointment up ahead of time. You can just wait until you re in the Apple Store. However, you will still need an appointment, so the Apple staff will direct you to a computer in the store where you can set an appointment, or they will make an appointment for you. However, if it s a busy day, you could be waiting for quite some time. If you can make the appointment ahead of time, it's really the best option. Be sure to arrive at the Apple Store at least fifteen minutes ahead of your appointment time, just in case they re running ahead of schedule. Don t worry there are plenty of things to do while you wait. You can play with all the new computers and gadgets. Make sure you check in with an Apple employee as well. There are screens above the Genius Bar to watch for your name to see how long of a wait you will have. These screens also give you handy tips for your Apple products. If you have an ideas in the field of computer technology, and you needs service with professional software developers, you must seek better-known software development company, such as DataArt. Once your name is called, the Geniuses will do their best to help you. With my particular problem, they didn t have the part to fix it. I could have let it sit there for a few days while they got the part in, but I needed my computer that weekend. I had deadlines. I chose to let the Genius set me up with an appointment with a nearby Apple Store. They had the part, but told me it would still be a few days wait to get it fixed. I must have looked ready to have a nervous breakdown at this point, as they relented and promised to have it done in the next twenty-four hours if they could. Two hours after I arrived home, I got the call that it was fixed. Hallelujah. This really is how I ve been treated in every one of my Genius Bar visits. The only time I left frustrated was when I was being sent from one store to the next. The power cord issue with the iBook was legendary, and I ended up getting it replaced a few more times; thank you Apple Care warranty. I ve since also had issues with my MacBooks as well as my iPhones. In the six years since my first Genius Bar visit, I really haven t visited that often, which is definitely good news. The products usually hold up, and when they don t, I can usually find the help I need online without having to make a trip to the Genius Bar. I've even taken a water-damaged iPhone in to be fixed. I ll admit though, I pleaded the fifth when it came to admitting to that damage. It was working fine, just annoyingly restarting every three to five minutes, which was also an issue after an iOS upgrade on some iPhones, so when my phone dipped into the sink for a few quick seconds and dried out to be usable, I thought I had a case. The Genius was well-versed in what water damage looks like and called me out on it, but I held my ground. It was clear he didn t believe me for one minute, but he issued me a new phone anyway, telling me as I left to be more careful. I don t know if I would call that a fond farewell, but I did feel very lucky. And a month later when my phone fell out of my purse and into the toilet, I knew my luck had run out and that I just had to pony up the money to replace it. However, that restarted my two-year contract and warranty, and it s why I m still using an iPhone 3GS, looking to replace it next month with an iPhone 5. Apparently, I have no shame, as not only have I taken a secretly water-damaged iPhone to the Genius Bar, I ve also taken in a MacBook with a damaged LCD screen. The TV remote had fallen on it. I needed to know what my options were as far as fixing it or replacing it. The Genius didn't try to sell me a new MacBook, but told me their price to fix it, which was $300 or so, also told me I could take it somewhere else where it would be a little cheaper. Since I was trying to wait six months to buy a new one even before the damage, he also advised me that I could close it up and use it as a desktop computer with a monitor and wireless keyboard and mouse. That worked, and gave me those six months I needed. The MacBook I replaced it with, along with that old MacBook reconfiguration are both still in working order. Of course, for all of my positive experiences of using the Genius Bar, you can look online and find just as many stories from people who have negative experiences. The first thing to realize is that no matter how much the Geniuses try to stick to that APPLE acronym, it s not going to be possible. Every customer is not going to leave satisfied and happy. The Geniuses aren't always happy with the outcome of their experiences either. An "ex-Genius," Stephen Hackett, has written a short e-book about his time as the Lead Genius at the Apple store, "Bartending: Memoirs of an Apple Genius". He makes it clear that it was a great gig, but doesn t mince words about what he put up with from his employers and customers. Hackett fills the e-book up with mostly stories of customers unimaginable computer problems. These range from a college student with a urine-damaged MacBook to the PowerMac G4 that once opened up was filled with dead cockroaches and other bugs. These stories aren t just disgusting; they re also heartwarming. He told the story of the woman who came in with a crashed PowerBook. She had data loss, and after breaking down in tears, she told Hackett all of the pictures of her kids who had recently died in a car crash were on the PowerBook. He sent her to a hardware data recovery company, and she came back in a few weeks later to share the news that they had been able to recover all of her precious pictures. After dealing with those types of problems, from roaches to the death of a woman s family, it s understandable why the Geniuses experience burnout. For every one of my crazy stories of iPhones jumping out of my purse and falling in a toilet, and remotes falling on LCD screens, they re seeing much worse. We put our Apple products through a lot. The inclusion of i-Gadgets only makes that worse. It may seem disgusting to think about, but we don t take newspapers and magazines into the bathroom anymore. We take our laptops, iPhones and iPads. They go everywhere with us because Apple makes sure that they will do everything for us. We depend on them. Again, they are our lifelines. Because of that, we need to know they have experts working on them when they go down. We want to know technical Geniuses are working on our Apple products to restore them to working order. For that, we need the Genius Bar, where there is a whole team of experts waiting to help us with our problems, whether it be a water-damaged iPhone, heart-wrenching data loss, or a computer filled with cockroaches.