Genius Bar Might Be Staffed By Douchebags, But Apple Executive Customer Service Works

Matt’s tale of Apple repair moves from tragedy to triumph, and Wagner is already hard at work on its stage adaptation.

What we learn from it:

• Genius bar can be staffed by douchebags.
• If you have a valid complaint, emailing Steve Jobs WILL work.
• Under the federal Magnuson-Moss warranty act, you have the right to choose refund or replacement without charge after the manufacturer attempts a reasonable number of repairs.
• Obtaining executive customer service is possible for mere mortals, and it can override snotty level 1 reps like the floodwaters of Jesus juice.

Matt’s letter inside….

[Photo: Thomas Hawk]

Matt writes:

    “My experience with the original MacBook Pro 17″ was perhaps the most painful computing experience I ever had–3 repairs and difficulty with Apple getting them done–but Apple eventually made it right by giving me a great Core 2 Duo MacBook Pro 17”.

    After 3 17″ MacBook Pro repairs in 3 months, my MacBook Pro failed for a fourth time: it refused to go to sleep.

    The three repairs I had were painful: the local Genius Bar was less-than-friendly, not exactly competent, and unwilling to deal with my problems quickly. With any other company, I’d not be surprised, but this is Apple, and I bought a $3000 laptop so I expect excellent service.

    Early in the MacBook’s life, I noticed that the hard drive was likely to fail as it was making very unusual sounds and I was experiencing disk errors. (I have many years of experience with IT and programming, so I am appropriately knowledgeable to make this assessment.) However, the Genius refused to replace the drive. Of course, it eventually failed–though because I saw it coming, I made daily backups. Still, I lost about a day of work, and I was pissed about that.

    The three repairs were for screen problems (3 times), a dead battery, sleep problems (it woke while closed in my laptop bag) and a dead hard drive.

    This is a story with a happy ending though. After problems at the Genius Bar, I gave up on using them for the 4th repair and called AppleCare. They ended up making me very happy. I told them that I wanted the new Core 2 Duo MacBook Pro. After some haggling with tech support. I pointed out to Tech Support that at this point I wanted the new model because after three repairs, it was clear that mine was a lemon. I also told tech support that Apple failing to repair the hard drive when I told them it was going to fail was unacceptable, and that I expected some material show of good faith beyond just verbally apologizing to me. After all, when a company with billions of dollars in the bank wants to apologize the right way, they do it by providing something of value–anything else is just empty, insincere words. (of note: I cited my legal right under the Magnuson-Moss warranty act to get my choice of a refund or replacement, but I was told that mentioning anything legal would cause me to be handled by the legal team, so I backed away from that. Whether that means it’s good to obliquely reference it as a threat or it was a bad idea, I’m not sure–exercise left for the reader).

    I was transferred customer relations–who offered me the new Core 2 Duo MacBook Pro. I’m typing on the new model now–and it’s great. I’ve had it for a couple weeks, and I’m experiencing absolutely no problems with it at all.

    Apple continued to make things right. The day before I called tech support for the fourth failure, I sent an email to Steve Jobs to get ‘executive’ customer support. This caused the manager of the local Apple Store to call me and apologize, as well as a member of the ‘executive’ customer support team. Had customer relations not already offered me the new MBP 17″, both the Apple Store and ‘executive’ customer support would have.

    Punchline: If you had problems with the original MBP, the new one seem to be much, much better. And if Apple hasn’t yet made things right for you, push them a bit and they probably will.”


Photo by Thomas Hawk