Apple Store dis-service

I haven't blogged about this before hoping it would go away. Today however it became even worse. About six weeks ago I got a new iMac iSight. The computer is great. For the first few weeks it worked fine. Then the DVD drive stopped working. Kaput. Done. So just over two weeks ago it went in to the Apple Store Fashion Show in Las Vegas.

This was the first problem. I'd called Apple Care. They had diagnosed the problem. We were pretty sure what the problem was. I called the Apple Store to see if they had the part in. They patently refused to help save one of their customers a 100-mile drive to a pre-Christmas mall teeming with people. Using the flimsy excuse "what if it's not the optical drive" but a cable or some other part. So we already know that the primary purpose is to make the customer bend to the rules of the shop.

Wednesday night they finally call, as promised, and say the part is in. Today the machine goes in. The 10-minute job of replacing the optical drive, OK make it 40-minutes with extensive testing, will apparently take the store two-days. So they will have the machine back in a week. A week to replace the optical drive component in an iMac G5 - a minor variation on the machine that Apple allows customers to do themselves.

So the new computer that I need to get work done has been inoperable for half the time I've owned it.

Of course I could have saved all this headache by simply buying their Pro Care offering which would have cut the repair time to overnight. What this really means then is that the Apple Store, once a customer has spent thousands on computer equipment, and purchased an extended warranty, is made to wait three weeks for a repair that if I'd pay the extra fee of Pro Care for would be overnight. Somewhere along the line they have failed to take into account the thousands (hundreds of thousands that is) of dollars that have gone Apple's way at my direction over the past few years because we normally avoid just such these tactics.

Apple needs to learn quickly that their hard-won position atop the service satisfaction ratings will disappear overnight if they continue these practices. We expect this from Best Buy but not from Apple. And at $99 a customer for Pro Care they'll need to increase the price to make up for the thousands they'll be loosing in other sales.



> iMac G5 - a minor

> iMac G5 - a minor variation on the machine that Apple allows customers to do themselves.

Unfortunately, this is not true: the iSight version of the iMac G5 represents a significant departure in internal design from its predecessors. As a Mac tech, I can assure you that working on the new iMacs is much more difficult and time-consuming than the previous models.

> The 10-minute job of replacing the optical drive, OK make it 40-minutes with extensive testing, will apparently take the store two-days.

I wish it only took 10 minutes to replace the optical drive correctly and accurately on a new iMac G5. And my understanding of how the Apple Stores work is that they give estimates, not exact times, on how long repairs will take.

> So the new computer that I need to get work done has been inoperable for half the time I've owned it.

Your SuperDrive was inoperable; the rest of the computer, unless there's more you haven't mentioned, works OK. It's far from ideal, but computers and their components fail sometimes and need to be repaired, and that takes a finite amount of time. I'm sure you don't want to hear this, but complaining like this about a situation that could be far worse makes you sound small and petty. Just thought I'd add a little understanding.

iMac not user fixable any more

That is poor service.

Just one small point - the new iMac with iSight is no longer serviceable by the user. Apple has changed the case and it does not open at the back anymore. To access the optical drive you have to now remove the front bezel and then take out the LCD screen, then you remove the motherboard and have access to the drives etc. It's a much bigger job than before.



I can not understand why anyone with something this new would not demand a new product.

RE: Apple Store dis-service

What you forgot to mention is that there were other people before you on the Genius Bar service queue and their repairs will push yours back. Oh, perhaps you were the only customer in the store who needed tech support that day? The Apple Stores have become the defacto service centers for Apple in the eyes their customers and as a result the Genius Bars are busy. What makes you think that your repair is more important than the person's ahead of you who has waited for 30+ minutes to be seen? I've seen this at my local Apple Store: people like you yelling at the staff that you've "spent thousands of dollars and I want my repair done now!" You do nothing but look like a spoiled idiot throwing a tantrum in front of everyone else. The actual repair may not take long for the service team to perform, but they have to be fair to the people who got there before you.

You get what you pay for

Having been on both sides of the situation I have to say that there are various levels of customer care. If you want to put any damaged computer in a box and ship it to Apple, fine that costs zero dollars. Thats the way to deal with it if you call 1-800-sos-appl and follow through with them. If you drive to a retail store then you get in the que for repairs. You can cut to the head of the line with Pro care or not. Depends what you want. Nothing is free and computers are a big investment and they do not always work. They are not and never will be an appliance. So you get what ylou pay for in life with anything. Escalate it to computers and we get irate people who do not understand technology. Thus computer retailers get a thick skin. I run a customer on-site technical support service with the customer in mind. But I am not free I cost fifty dollars an hour. Human nature is human nature after all and it is not what happens it is how you deal with it. Ranting at Apple is not the answer. The ends do not justify the means, they never do. Next time ask Apple for a shipping box put your computer in one and ship it to them. Do NOT deal with the retail store if you do not wish to.

This is a business model problem

I don't work at Apple any longer, but as far as I know the following is still true. Apple has a fundamental problem with the business model in this case. Apple has five sales divisions: online store, retail, education, government, and channel. These divisions all compete with each other in different ways.

For example, some channel partners advertise that they will beat any price, including the Apple on-line store or Apple direct. (They do this by dropping the price on Apple equipment but increasing the price on accessories, or substituting expensive Applle RAM for 3rd party RAM, or other tricks.) The Apple on-line store also advertises that they will price match any quote. But retail is where the most conflict is. Retail acts as the service depot for any Apple customer, whether they purchased the product from any of the sales groups. But, as you noted, they treat different customers differently. There are three tiers:

- Least important: Someone who purchased Apple product, but not from the Apple retail store (even if it was directly from Apple).
- Medium: Someone who purchased product from the Apple store.
- Most important: Some who pays for ProCare.

In high-volume markets like new york, this is a real problem, since the sheer volume of customers means that someone without ProCare who didn't purchase from the Apple store could be treated much worse than a retail or procare customer. For example, if you purchased a computer from the Apple on-line store and it was DOA, you can't swap it out at the retail store because you didn't buy from retail.

In addition, our retail divison head is extremely competitive with all the other groups, and she will only help out the other groups as much as she has to. The policies on how to treat customers were drilled into us at training, and there is a definite tiering. I don't think anyone in retail fails to understand that when a customer comes in for help you ask them up-front where they bought the product from. If it wasn't from an Apple store, the way you handle them is different.

I expect this problem will get worse as Apple retail locations shut down local VARs, so that the retail outlet becomes the only place to go for local service. I think its a serious problem. For example, I just returned some books from the Barnes & Noble online store to my local store with no problems. It's a competitive advantage for B&N. But, because Apple operates all the sales groups as separate divisions with separate profet centers, they are going to compete bitterly unless they get orders from above to play nice.

Customer Service

I think that the root cause of the problem here is not so much part availability, or even repair time, but availability of Mac Genius technicians to do the job. As you indicated, if you had bought ProCare you would of had next day service or, in this case, bumped to the front on the queue. Still, taking 2 weeks is far too long to take on a repair, IMHO. Being a technician myself, the policy of not replacing a part sight unseen or without a technician’s diagnosis is a good one because loose or damaged cables are often the cause of part failure and you cannot see this stuff until you pop the hood and take a look. If this repair was not under warranty you would of been thankful that the technician took the time to try to save you hundreds of dollars. Finally this model of iMac is completely different from the previous generation. There are no DIY parts here unfortunately. Whoever designed the product had a penchant for complexity and not one for user serviceability. Was there a local service provider in your area, rather then an Apple Store?

The main purpose of ProCare

The main purpose of ProCare is to offer one-on-one training. However expedited repairs are part of the deal. It's not like Apple won't repair your computer if you don't have ProCare, you just have to endure the normal wait.

To clarify

I did not ask for a part to be ordered sight unseen. I did as it happens manage to place a DIY parts order on the Apple website. To this day it says the parts shipment is pending on the website. What I asked for was information that any reasonable service provider would have provided to a customer in order to save unnecessary time.


It is a bit difficult to reload the OS and install developer tools without an operable SuperDrive. If I had something more than a pathetic internet connection (and one is not available where I live) I could download the developer tools but I could not. It's somewhat like saying one should not be upset if they have a car with a working engine but no way to put oil in - you'll probably be able to do some things as long as there are no problems but if you have a catastrophe then you're really in deep stuff.

Funny they don't give you that option

I've often used the box and ship option. In fact earlier this week had the powerbook in through this service. Total turn around for a non-functional powerbook is usually 3-4 days. When I called Apple they did not offer the option of shipping the iMac back. When I went to the store there was no mention of the option of shipping it back to Apple. In fact when I called they told me I could only take it to the Apple Store or CompUSA.

It wasn't until I talked with an Apple SE a week later they told me this is an option for all but the towers.

And what makes you think I

And what makes you think I didn't wait for more than an hour past the appointed time to be seen at the Genius Bar? The Genius Bar is an imperfect system but is much better than other places. As noted in other comments here the real problem seems to stem from competition between branches of Apple. ProCare is a Retail Store product not a service product. To be clear I've never gone so far as to even raise my voice or be anything but polite with the staff at the Genius Bar, Apple Store etc. In fact I often help other customers while waiting at the Genius Bar and in spite of the fact that I've never been seen within an hour of the estimated time I sign up for I continue to make appointments for the time I think I'll be there instead of making them earlier times and hoping they're down the list by the time I'm there.

It has also been my observation that the people yelling about what great customers they are and being rude in general are not great customers. Those who truly are good customers of the company know that yelling at a Genius Bar employee has far less of an impact than going home and contacting our sales exec or other representative.

Even when I had a terrible experience with DHL I called the customer service line and left a complaint. No yelling. No getting impatient with the person on the phone. It just doesn't get you anywhere. Nor does my lack of being an ass make it acceptable to give me the shaft when it comes to service. Every customer should be treated as though they were a major customer, not just the major customers.