At the end of the year I wrote about problems with Apple Store service. So six months later I took the plunge and bought Pro Care. Since I live so far away from a store the promise of first-in service appeals. Just under a week ago I took a machine in with a problem that required ordering a part. "We'll call you when the part comes in," the Genius told me. Yeah right, I thought.Sure enough I call today to see what the delay might be (since the Apple website was unable to show anything but an error for the service status). The parts are in. Great. Now I explain my situation to the Genius and ask whether I have even a chance of same-day service today. Not a definitive answer but a sense of what the odds might be. I explained further that "If there's no chance today I'll wait and bring it in first thing in the morning." You'd have thought I was asking for the key's to Steve Jobs' secret product development lab with a video camera in hand.Twenty minutes later I walk in the store and wait another ten minutes as there are no Geniuses in sight. The store is not busy but they're somewhere in the back. After I drop the machine off I'm told it will likely be tomorrow as they're really backed up. This leads to the question of what self-respecting service organization doesn't have visibility to the queue while talking on the phone but does half an hour later in person. The simpler answer is likely that the Geniuses have undergone extensive training on customer stonewalling. Now this might seem a bit over the top but it got me thinking.About a year ago the local Apple dealer went under. Not surprising given Apple's death hold on them. The store had an Apple genius, not an Apple Genius but somebody who really knew Apple computers inside and out. All the way back to the Apple II this person had been providing first rate service. The thing is Apple wouldn't even consider this person since they had too many years experience in customer service. That's right too many years. I run a technology service department now and I've run a large technical support call center in the past. The one thing you can never have too much of is customer service experience. In fact I'm a firm believer that customer service experience and communication skills are far more important than technical skill.
P.S. To all the Apple does nothing wrong crowd you can save your time. I know Apple does many things very well or I wouldn't buy a bunch of their computers every year.