The Genius Bar within an Apple Store - Image Credit: Apple
A trip to the Apple Store is never a positive experience. You might intend to buy a new device or get your current one fixed, but either way it'll waste your time and money, while giving you even more problems to deal with.
Repairing a Device
A good example of this was when I accidentally got water on my iPhone. It was still operational but there was water underneath the glass screen. I didn't want to deal with paying all the expensive fees for getting it fixed or replaced at an Apple Store, so I placed it in a bag of rice for a few days. While the rice did manage to suck most of the water out of the iPhone, a little water remained behind the screen and a new, arguably worse problem emerged.
A single grain of rice had gotten lodged within the Lightning port my iPhone. How comfortably and accurately the rice fitted into the Lightning port was almost comical, at the time it seemed as if Apple had based their entire design of the Lightning port off of a single grain of rice.
After attempting to remove the rice myself, which involved a box cutter, a staple, and a lot of iPhone shaking, I quickly realized that I just couldn't get it out. So, I drove to the Apple Store for help.
Upon my arrival at the Apple Store, I approached an employee and explained that I needed assistance removing a grain of rice from my iPhone's Lighting port. He told me I had to make an appointment. I begged him for someone to see me quickly because it was very inconvenient for me to leave the store only to come back later. He was adamant. I exited the store the store and scheduled an appointment as instructed, following Apple's bureaucratic customer support system.
I returned to the Apple Store the next day, when my appointment was scheduled. I was sent to the Genius Bar, Apple's in-store customer support hub. There, I explained the issue at hand to the Genius working with me. He took my iPhone to the back and quickly removed the grain of rice from the Lightning port. I was pleased, although I would have been happier had Apple fixed my phone the day before, without the need to schedule an appointment.
I decided to put my iPhone back into the rice bag after my visit to the store since there was still some water behind the glass screen. This probably wasn't the smartest decision, as another grain of rice became jammed my iPhone's Lightning port. I tried to remove the rice myself again, still to no avail. I scheduled an appointment at the Apple Store, still following Apple's unnecessarily bureaucratic practices.
On the second grainy visit to the Apple Store (no pun intended), I was paired with an Apple employee with a very kind façade. I say façade because he did something different and unnecessary: he asked for my device passcode. As the issue was with my device's hardware, not its software, I found this request very peculiar. He said he needed the passcode just in case my iPhone went to sleep, since it was already awake because he wanted to see my device's serial number, claiming that his eyes were not good enough to see it in small print on the iPhone's backside.
I gave him the passcode and let him take my iPhone away, to the back of the store, within the realm to which only employees could access. As I couldn't see him anymore, thoughts of him messing with my iPhone in strange and invasive ways manifested in my head.
Thankfully, at least to my knowledge, the Genius did not mess with my device's software and personal information as he removed the grain of rice from its Lightning port. He did, however, cause a new hardware-related issue. The struggle continued.
I asked the employee if before I left, he could check to make sure my iPhone charged properly. He said he had already checked it in the back, so I departed the store thinking that all my Apple related hardware issues had been solved. I was wrong.
When I got back to my car, I plugged my iPhone in. I had a sinking feeling that the rice, or the method of removing the rice, damaged the iPhone's Lightning port and that the sketchy employee lied to me. I was right, at least about the former.
The iPhone would not charge whatsoever. This may have been due to Apple's removal methods or my own. Either way, it seemed as if the Apple employee had lied to me.
So I headed back into the Apple Store, with the hopes that they would acknowledge my issue without the need for an appointment since I had been in the store mere minutes ago. Surprisingly, I didn't have to schedule yet another appointment with the bureaucracy known as Apple.
I was greeted by a man who he himself embodied Apple: he looked like a young, long-haired version of Steve Wozniak. I explained my situation to him and he took me to one of the iPad displays. There, he unplugged the iPad Air 2 that was charging. He then proceeded to repeatedly and rapidly plug and unplug its Lightning cable into my iPhone. He smiled and said "Watch this."
I carefully watched him in anticipation of what he would do next. He unplugged my iPhone then quickly plugged it back in. It made the loud charging noise and the screen lit up. He then quickly unplugged it and plugged the iPhone in again. No noise. No glowing screen. He continued to repeated this process of unplugging and plugging in the device. With each interval of connection to the Lightning cable, the device switched from charging to not charging and vice versa.
The Apple employee boasted a smug, cocky smile as he said with clear enjoyment, "Do you see what's going on?" No, I did not see what was going on. All I saw was that the charging was unreliable, so I was not sure at all why the Genius looked so happy.
He then explained to me that part of the Lightning port in my iPhone had been damaged, so it would only charge with the inserted Lightning cable orientated in a certain way. So, although the rice was out of my iPhone, I had a new problem on my hands thanks to Apple. What great customer service.
With my newfound disparity over my irreparable iPhone Lightning port overwhelming me, the jolly Apple Store employee decided that he should tell me about AppleCare, Apple's expensive warranty service. Obviously I could not purchase this warranty on my damaged iPhone since it was too old, but he still tried to get me hooked on it for my next iPhone (because, of course, they assume you'll buy another iPhone despite the horrible customer service).
This employee even used a line which I still cannot forget to this day to attempt to get me to purchase AppleCare in the future. He said "we'll show you some love" (or something of that nature) when referring to AppleCare, which was not only an interesting comment (especially taken out of context), but it was very ironic since Apple's customer service had not shown me any love in my watery fiasco. No love whatsoever.
Buying a Device
Buying a new device at the Apple Store is typically very simple, but sometimes it gets out of hand. This happened to me once, when purchasing an iPhone. The employee assisting me was obviously new; he had very little clue what he was doing. He made so many mistakes during the process of my purchase that I received a $25 iTunes Gift card from the Apple Store for free. Now remember, this is Apple, where nothing is free. This guy really screwed up.
The story began when I went to an Apple Store to buy an iPhone 6. I knew exactly what model I needed. I had no questions. I just wanted to buy the phone since my two-year contract was finally over.
So I approached one of the employees lurking at the main entrance of the store, waiting for brain-washed Apple fans enter the store. Little did I know how little this employee knew.
I proceeded to tell him how I wanted to buy a 64 GB iPhone 6, and we began the process of purchasing the new device.
The young employee's first mistake was with the pricing of the phone: he told me that a 64 GB iPhone 6 would only cost me $450. I knew this couldn't be possible, but I let myself believe him because it sounded like an amazing deal. In reality, the 64 GB iPhone 6 costed $650 at the time.
At that point, I realized that he had no clue what he was doing. He had arrived at the $450 price for the iPhone by accidentally inputting a 16 GB iPhone 5S into his digital cart, which was the phone I was trading-in.
Soon enough, the employee made yet another error inputting data into his phone during the checkout process. This one was worse. On my plan, there are multiple lines. I was at the Apple Store upgrading a secondary line, not the main one. The employee, even after I asked him to check for this mistake multiple times throughout the checkout process, still did not realize that he was setting up the new iPhone 6's SIM card with the main number on my plan.
This caused many, many problems. First, the SIM card in the new iPhone became incompatible with it. Second, the main phone on my plan's SIM card was rendered utterly useless. The phone then lost its cellular data connection and its ability to place calls.
With the sudden abundance of issues surrounding my purchase, it was time for Apple to send in its problems solvers, its go to people: the Geniuses. Not one or two Geniuses though. This problem was too large, too difficult to solve, especially since the main phone on my plan was not in my possession. So, a team of Geniuses came to my beckoning call, and so did the rarely seen store manager.
I don't want to get into too many details of the experience. Let's just say that fixing the Apple-caused problem involved, a Genius calling Verizon, swapping of SIM cards, moments of utter fear, the aforementioned free $25 iTunes gift card, and me receiving the Apple Store manager's personal phone number.
Although the experience was frustrating and caused by the uninformed new Apple Store employee, the whole scenario was most certainly not his fault. It was the entire structure of Apple's employee training process. They should not allow an employee to sell iPhones who knows nothing about them. Employee education is key for Apple.
An episode of Apple Wedge Weekly, Warenotice's weekly analytical Apple news show with a zesty hint of comedy