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Getting to the Core of a Rotten Apple

Some big electronic company’s customer service departments need to install a “1 simple problem or less" express lane. See Why?

I just experienced one of the most frustrating experiences I have had in the last 10 years.

Late Friday evening, my son was working a college assignment on his Apple MacBook Pro laptop and experienced a problem. The unit would not charge and the AC adaptor became intermittent. The computer is under warranty with Apple and an extended warranty company in case it gets damaged physically.  

On Saturday morning, we called Apple Care warranty service and the gentleman there was very helpful, or so we thought.

He helped go over the issues and figured, like I did, that the problem was actually in the AC/charger unit and not in the computer. We explained that it was very important that we get this resolved immediately as my son needed this to finish his assignments. Ned at Apple Care suggested go over to either Micro Center on Merrick Ave., our closest authorized dealer, or to the Apple Store in Roosevelt Field Mall to get this re-diagnosed and taken care of in all haste.

We jumped in the car and headed to the experts. Silly me, I did not think to also call a co-worker’s daughter, who lives nearby in East Meadow, who was an Apple genius barmaid for years and see if she had a spare AC/charger unit we could borrow. This way we would not be under pressure to get this resolved speedily.

We immediately headed to Micro Center and after 25 minutes of paperwork, they confirmed that it the AC/charger unit was defective and not the computer. They explained, as they were an authorized Apple Dealer and warranty center, we could give them the AC/charger unit and they would mail it away for replacement and we could pick it up in two weeks at the store.

We explained that the computer would not work without it and of our rush dilemma and they said that the factory would ship it to our home instead, saving us three days. This was still not acceptable. I asked them about buying a new AC/charger unit and putting the defective one in the box and returning it for an immediate refund, but they said that too would not work. They explained that their stock was different inventory that Apple’s warranty replacement inventory.

This seemed like a battle of the internal SKU’s to me and not my concern. Instead we packed up and headed to the mall.

At the Apple Store in Roosevelt Field Mall, we were met with a whole bunch of friendly faces that nodded and smiled as they greeted us. We explained our issues to four separate people, most of whom wanted to make an appointment for us to see a technician on Wednesday, but today was Saturday. We decided to talk to Supervisor Lillian who put us on “standby”.

Now this is like going to a hospital emergency room with severe water blister, you get taken eventually. Having a computer that was stabbed or with a gunshot wound does NOT get you on the “fast track” with in person Apple Care. There is no express lane and there should be.

After an agonizing two hour and 20 minute wait, and some unique conversations with others awaiting “I-service,” we met with genius bar trainee Drew.

After six minutes of back and forth testing, he re-confirmed that the AC/charger unit was defective and not the computer, and 10 minutes for Supervisor Lillian to come over and sign off on the replacement part and six minutes of back and forth testing of the new unit, we were on our way back home. Finally!

Now let me tell you this, if you walked into any electronic store I have ever worked in or the one I work at now and had a similar problem, you would have been satisfied and on your way in a mere fraction of the time. Let’s say you bought your Nikon or Canon camera from us, it was under warranty and in stock and the AC/charger unit was not working properly and we would give you a new one, from wherever, in less than five minutes from when you walked in our door.

That is including with waiting for an employee to finish with a customer, an incoming call or ringing the register and testing it. Maybe Applehead Tim Cook needs to take a lesson from the “Undercover Boss” TV show and play customer to see what is really going on.

I know a lady who gave birth to her son in less time that it took the I-Bobbleheads and the Apple Core Team to fix our simple non-genius issue.

I guess when you are as big as they are, matching t-shirts and nametags are more important than in-person customer service.

This post is contributed by a community member. The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Patch Media Corporation. Everyone is welcome to submit a post to Patch. If you'd like to post a blog, go here to get started.

paul February 11, 2012 at 03:46 PM
Interesting. I will say that I too have had an Apple that was in need of warranty repair and was told to go to Micro Center. I have nothing but praise for them. They are a big store and they deal with all types of characters/people all day long... With that being said. My issue got resolved in a reasonable amount of time. Sometimes it depends who you speak to. And other times it is WHO is doing the speaking..... I wonder????
Susan February 12, 2012 at 05:37 AM
The Roosevelt Field Apple Store is the worst one on Long Island. Next time go to the one in the Walt Whitman Mall. They are much better for technical issues. Apple is known for their excellent service but you do have to 'take a number' and wait along with everyone else. I also had issues at Micro Center with a non-Apple laptop. I have an in home service contract but needed to bring it in for insurance purposes. They told me they do 48 to 72 hour "in house" diagnoses but then sent my computer out without asking my permission and only informed me after the fact. They told me it would be about a week. Needless to say I was out a computer for about a month and THEY still didn't know what was wrong! Never going there EVER again, especially since I TOLD them what was wrong when I brought it in. In home service is worth every penny! And so is computer insurance! Might I suggest that school work be downloaded daily onto a flash drive so it could be used with another computer if need be? My kids do that all the time.
paul February 12, 2012 at 04:25 PM
To Susan: Sorry to hear of your computer issue that took longer than expected. In this day and age that is really a bummer. Your comment about downloading is a homerun and advice for all of us to follow. Great comment...
Bill Alderman February 12, 2012 at 05:09 PM
Thanks Susan we will try the Walt Whitman mall next time. He did do the flash drive thing, and woyuld have went to school to work on it, but this seemed too easy. Like I said , my store would have resolved it in under 6 min , had it been a camera and not a Smack-book
Susan February 12, 2012 at 05:52 PM
I guess your store wishes it did the volume that Apple did. It's all relative. But seriously, the Walt Whitman store is the store to go to. A lot of EM 'kids' work or have worked there.
paul February 12, 2012 at 08:38 PM
It would all depend on the issue/concern and how it is presented.....
Christopher February 27, 2012 at 07:39 PM
@Bill Your comments and comparisons in this post are totally off base. You compare your visit to the Apple Store to an ER? I didn't know they can triage electronics. The correct analogy would be that you showed up to your Doctor's office without an appointment and expected to cut the line because you had a sniffle. Apple customer service is unparalleled in the world of IT. You can find thousands of testimonials online where customers were treated above and beyond what is normally expected. All you had to do was make an appointment on Apple's web site for the next day, gone to the store at the appointment time and you would have been out of there in 6 minutes. I had recently made an appointment for a cracked iPad screen at the Roosevelt Felid store on a Saturday Morning. I was fully prepared to pay for the repair. However, Apple replaced the iPad for FREE. BTW, if you had a HP, Dell or Lenovo laptop, where would you have been able to go to get a replacement power adaptor? Best Buy? Im sure you would have just breezed through the Geek Squad and received a new one free of charge. No, you would have had to spend an hour on the phone with a call center and they might get you a new one in a week. Also, referring to hard working employees as Bar Maids and ibobbleheads is completely inappropriate and disrespectful. Think what you want about Apple, but if you just made an appointment like you would for any other service you would have had a different experience.
Oman March 01, 2012 at 06:29 PM
Bill, I just got through reading your blog and the related comments re cyberbullying and other inappropriate online behavior. You took great pains to express displeasure with being called names and then you turn around and use unflattering and snarky labels like "bar maid" and "Ibobbleheads". The height of hypocrisy. Also, you had to wait in line?!? For a long time?!? Shocking. This smacks of the perpetual attitude of entitlement that is so pervasive on Long Island. Everyone thinks their problem is the most urgent and is incensed to find out that they are not everyone else's priority. Please show your son the proper way to behave like an adult.
Bill Alderman March 01, 2012 at 08:26 PM
Dear Oman, As you can see by the blog that i wrote.... #1 "call a co-worker’s daughter, who lives nearby in East Meadow, who was an Apple genius barmaid for years ". which is how this past Roosevelt Field Apple employee referred to herself and her mom refers to the past position, I just used their quote. It is like someone referring to their job as a glorified gofer or hash slinger and you repeat it. #2 "Now let me tell you this, if you walked into any electronic store I have ever worked in or the one I work at now and had a similar problem, you would have been satisfied and on your way in a mere fraction of the time. Let’s say you bought your Nikon or Canon camera from us,(WHERE I WORK ... IN ELECTRONICS) it was under warranty and in stock and the AC/charger unit was not working properly and we would give you a new one, from wherever, in less than five minutes from when you walked in our door." I do not think I am entitled. I just feel that i should get what i give in business. Quick customer service and easy satisifaction on simple problems without appointments, hassles or riger-marole. Especially since the phone support never indicated it as such. I don't need an appointment at Cameta, Blackberry, Dell, Sony, Tourneau or Yurman. And a 2 hour and 20 min wait is ridiculous. #3 You are correct about the i-bobblehead comment, I was wrong there , but I felt justifiably frustrated. Thanks for your insight.
Christopher March 01, 2012 at 09:23 PM
I love the Brands you reference, Blackberry, Dell, Sony. You obviously didn't ready my post. You really mean to tell me that I could walk in to your store with my Nikon D3 with a cracked LCD and you would replace it with a brand new one in 5 minutes like Apple did for me with my iPad? Would you replace it when it was one week out of warranty like Apple did for my MacBook Pro's motherboard? Have you every tried to get anything done at Tourneau that didn't take a month because all they do it send the watch to a service center. Funny, I haven't seen to may Dell and Blackberry stores around either. You must tell me where you work because I would be a customer for life with that fast service.
Bill Alderman March 01, 2012 at 10:11 PM
No Chris That is not what I said. Obviuosly you did not read ANY of what I wrote. A cracked LCD is a major problem caused by customer error and not under warranty. A non working charger/ac unit is an under warranty item and Yes if you "bought your Nikon D3, D3s, D3XS or other camera from us, (WHERE I WORK ... IN ELECTRONICS) it was under warranty and in stock and the AC/charger unit was not working properly and we would give you a new one, from wherever, in less than five minutes from when you walked in our door." The 2 issues are not comparable. And Mine was so simple that the Phone service at apple care never said I would need an appointment. BTW-At&T Blackberry store Customer Service is in Hicksville 6 min in and out , when my battery died last Christmas. Dell monitor bought at Microcenter was exchanged in less time than that a few years ago.Perfectly simillar experiences with ALL the brands i mentioned. Now THAT is Good Customer Service Chris.Apple was the Pitts
Christopher March 01, 2012 at 10:24 PM
And YOU missed what I wrote. That Apple replaced a cracked iPad. Your so called "customer error" was covered because they want to keep their customers happy. THAT "IS" CUSTOMER SERVICE.
Susan March 01, 2012 at 11:38 PM
And I explained to you weeks ago that the Roosevelt Field store is the worst one on LI and told you to go to Huntington next time. It truly behooves you to stop bad-mouthing such reputable companies. (Libel).. Maybe it was your attitude. (Hey I said maybe but based on what you wrote.....you decide). I would have gone over to a manager, explained the problem nicely, and asked if he can help me without waiting 2 hours because it was an easy fix. Sometimes it's all about how nice you are. And sometimes the store is a zoo and they don't know how to react. Apple is all about it's customer service.
paul March 02, 2012 at 01:13 AM
To Chris: Your comments are a breath of fresh air. Please let me open the window and smell the flowers. You have nailed it, hit a grand slam, threw a touchdown, a hole in one, a goal, and jump shot all in one.... Way to go. My thoughts exactly...... Please keep up the good work.

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