Apple fans, I think we

by francine Hardaway on May 4, 2006

Apple fans, I think we are in for a rude awakening. The new, more successful Apple doesn’t need us anymore. Once we buy a product, we are apparently chopped liver. I’ve heard this on many occasions about IPODs and what happens when their batteries die, but now I’ve got my own real life experience.

About three weeks ago, I was in California with my daughter, running some last minute errands with her as she got ready to leave on a business trip to Bangalore. She and I are both Mac users, and we’ve always felt pretty smug that we had an Apple store to take our computers to when something was wrong, instead of having to mail a Windoze machine back to Dell or HP. Like every other Mac addict, we sometimes went to the Apple store just to try the new toys, and walked out with unintended purchases like home speaker systems or video IPODs.

It was about 2 PM when we arrived at the Apple Store in Burlingame, where my daughter was picking up her G4 laptop to take with her on the trip.

She had brought it in a couple of days previously, when she discovered that the internal mouse was acting a bit quirky; she had made a deal with the Genius Bar to leave the machine there until Saturday afternoon. Her flight was at midnight Saturday night. It was definitely the last minute.

We bellied up to the Genius Bar and were told to wait a minute, while the laptop materialized. An hour later, we still didn’t have it, and we had gotten tired of reading our email on the demo machines. We went back to the Genius Bar, and this time the guy behind the bar again told us to wait a minute.

I abandoned my yoga patience and began to bark at all the clerks. Shortly after that, we were told that the machine wasn’t ready, but that the technician was just putting it back together. We weren’t thrilled, but we figured they just hadn’t started working on it until we showed up to pick it up. We went down the street and had something to eat.

When we came back, we were told that, in putting the case back together, the Genius who worked on her machine had actually broken the keyboard. So now the mouse wasn’t functional, and neither was the keyboard. This was told to us very matter of factly, as though it didn’t matter.

My daughter freaked: she was about to go meet with a client half way across the world with a broken laptop.

After a bunch of deep breaths, we asked if we could have a loaner machine, and if the Genius would move her data and applications. They didn’t have a loaner. Cheerfully, they made the following suggestion: my daughter could BUY A NEW MACHINE, take it with her to India, and return it when she got back. And there wasn’t enough time before the store closed to move the applications and data.

Although the Geniuses in the Apple store thought they had reached a clever solution, I reminded them that my daughter was going to India, not Iowal, and there was a good chance the laptop would be stolen or broken and she’d be out another $2500.

Nobody seemed very concerned that they had broken the machine. They then suggested that she buy an external mouse and keyboard and take those with her on the trip.
When she told them an external keyboard wouldn’t fit into her backpack, they offered to SELL her a bigger backpack.

She finally convinced them to LEND her the backpack to take the mouse and keyboard on the trip. By this time, she was thoroughly frazzled and we were late to everything else we had to do.

What stunned me was how little they offered in terms of customer service, how little authority they had to offer a real solution, and how little they cared. The manager was about to go out to dinner, and her husband and child appeared in the store to accompany her; she looked at us as though only we stood between her and ultimate happiness.

Fast forward to the end of the trip. After tramping across several continents with her makeshift gear, now my daughter still has to solve the problem of the keyboard the Genius Bar broke and the mouse they didn’t fix.

But can you guess all they wanted to know at the Apple Store–How soon was she going to bring back the twenty dollar backpack?

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