Apple’s “Genius Bar” Not Exactly Living Up to Its Name

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notgeniusbarThe iPhone is a sweet product and incredibly useful, but the Genius Bar needs serious improvement.

A few months ago I had issues with my iPhone turning itself off unexpectedly. When I went to Genius Bar and told them my problem, I was told “well sir, I’m not saying I don’t believe you, but iPhones do not just turn themselves off and I have never heard of that.”

That was not cool. Neither was the solution—“back up your iPhone and do a full restore.” I drove to the mall to get insulted and then told to essentially wipe and iPhone and start from scratch?

Last weekend, I went to the Genius Bar with three questions. First, my iPhone has inexplicably stopped pushing new MobileMe emails to my iPhone. The Genius verified my settings were correct, and then said “well, that’s weird. It shouldn’t do that. I would back up your iPhone and do a full restore.” My eyes began to roll.

Second, my iPhone will not connect to my office’s wi-fi router. After explaining that my phone could previously connect to the network, I was told to first erase my network settings, and then do a backup and full restore if that did not work.

Third, I asked about some security issues. The “Genius” had never heard of the issue. At that point, I was not surprised.

My visit ended with, “well, try the restore, and then if things are not working, come back in.” That is not what I call productive or helpful. Apple could just email me and tell me to do that before coming into the store, rather than wasting forty-five minutes of my Saturday.

Let me save you some time. If your iPhone has a problem, do a backup and full restore. I learned that from not one, but two “Geniuses.”

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  • Ben

    If you check the support section of the Apple website, instead of going into the Genius bar at the first sign of trouble, you may have been saved those trips. That being said, that’s no excuse for the attitude you were getting.

  • I usually do, and try and reserve trips as a last resort.

  • ben

    isn’t this rant a bit incongruous with this blog’s theme?

    • @Ben

      How so? We regularly provide technology tips and ideas for managing a law practice (including a lot of discussion this year about the iPhone).

  • Alli Gerkman

    Thanks to Apple, “genius” has become about as meaningless as “guru.”

    When I had a problem with my iPod (not even a year old at the time and I got the “sad iPod face”) awhile back, I had to go in 6 times before the issue was respolved. In an effort to determine the action I might have taken to cause the problem, I was asked “do you run with it,” “do you fly with it,” and “do you take it to the mountains” (this was at a “Genius” bar in Colorado, mind you, so that’s a pretty outrageous question).

    At one particularly low point, the “Genius” suggested that I simply give up on my iPod and explore buying a new iPod Touch.

    For all the talk about Apple being customer-focused, I’m not so sure. The AT&T coverage debacle is a perfect example. On its face, it appears to be AT&T’s fault. But why didn’t Apple contemplate the possibility of network overload (it knows its app-loving, web-browsing customers better than AT&T does) and work something into the contract to protect its customers?

  • @Ben – this is certainly not a rant, it’s a plea for an improvement in customer service and employee knowledge. Also, as Aaron noted, I have written a number of posts on integrating the iPhone with your law practice.

    @Alli – I’m beginning to wonder the same thing.

  • When I started working at Total Attorneys, the Genius Bar at the Apple Store on Milwaukee in Chicago was a lifesaver! They walked me through everything from questions I had about syncing my computer with other Mac users’ computers in the office to answering questions about Word for Mac. In my opinion, they went above and beyond normal standards of customer service to help me get my equipment up and running so I could do my job. Some of the guys even gave me their direct contact info in case I needed help in the future, and when I went back to the store a week later, a few guys recognized me from my previous visits, waved, said hi and immediately asked me how they could help me. Rude behavior is never acceptable, but do you think it could have been an isolated experience? I don’t know about other Apple stores, but if you live in Chicago, the guys at the store on Milwaukee Avenue get an A++ in my book!

  • @Kate – the rude behavior appears to have been an isolated incident. Unfortunately, in regards to iPhone knowledge, the employees seem to have a grasp of fairly easy “fixits,” but not much above that.

    That said, I’m happy to hear you had a better experience!

  • Wow, there’s a blast from the past. Hi Kate.

    I don’t think it’s terribly surprising that Apple’s store employees only have a grasp of basic fixits. That mirrors pretty much every tech support experience I’ve ever had, with anyone.

  • Jaime

    I can see this happening, I went there with my MacBook a couple of times because the edges were literally falling off. They told me there was nothing they could do. I went home, googled it and Apple had released a statement earlier that year saying they would replace the case on any MacBook with this issue.