Apple Store Manager Calls Autistic Guy A "Freak"

Joshua’s MacBook was splitting along one side—you could push it back together, but after a few minutes it would start to separate again. When Joshua, who has Asperger syndrome, tried to get it repaired at his local Apple Store, he ran into all sorts of problems. First there was a two-hour wait to see an expert, then an assistant manager walked up and said, “I’ve seen you in here a lot with that laptop, what’s wrong?” Joshua explained, and pointed out that he had a meeting to attend that evening and needed his laptop to take notes, so he was hoping to have it looked at in person.

“I’m sorry if I seem on edge or anything, I just…. I’m born with this”… The assistant manager then says “It’s okay. It’s the Monday before a full moon. There will be plenty more freaks like you before close“. And tells me to calm down.

Here’s the full letter, or skip to the summary below if you’re impatient:

Mr. Jobs,

I’m writing this to you understanding that this will probably never see your desk.

I’ve called to file a complaint, but was told “don’t worry, it’s a misunderstanding”. Let me tell you my story, Mr. Jobs. Maybe you’ll be able to help me.

Since the IIe I’ve loved your computers, as a person with autism they never failed me. I’ve been able to lean on them and they’ve come through. Applecare has always made it so I had my equipment when and where I needed it. So I had no hesitance buying a macbook 6 months ago. I love Tiger, and now leopard. However 2 months ago, my “top case” cracked. Where your palms rest for your mouse and such. I was told “I hold my computer wrong”, but they’d replace it for free. I felt insulted that holding my computer wrong was even ABLE to be told to me, though I do hold it in a briefcase. I figured little of it, and moved on. Maybe I caught someone on a bad day. Plus a small smudge on the glimmering history of my customer service, its eventually to be expected.

Tonight, Sir, I was affronted and insulted. The left side of the seam of my laptop came apart. I tried pushing it back together myself. Hoping I could “resnap” the topcase. It sticks for a few minutes then comes back apart. (recent airport card problems have accompanied it and has connection issues but I let them slide.) This is the 3rd time it’s been looked at for this swelling/crack. After a while, it’s a concern. I figured the extreme heat may have caused the battery to swell. No big deal, Apple has an immaculate replacement record, and something has to be able to be negotiated. I unplugged it to let it cool. I immediately went to my nearest apple store. Easton Town Center, Columbus Ohio.

Upon getting there, I walk in and find the walk in wait will be 2 hours. I’m an attendant of a local Aspergers Syndrome club,(My autism), so I told them I could wait if it meant I still got there on time. They assured me they would. And just that time the assistant manager walks by, and says “i’ve seen you in here a lot with that laptop, whats wrong”. I explain to him that I’m upset that my laptop keeps having this problem, last time it took 2 weeks to fix, and all i’m doing is trying to get seen if I have to wait another 2 weeks to get my computer seen. I go on to explain, I take notes at our Asperger Syndrome (AS/HFA) meetings, and that, I email those out. As one could understand, people with OCD would be unhappy. I say.. “I’m sorry if I seem on edge or anything, I just…. i’m born with this”… The assistant manager then says “It’s okay. It’s the monday before a full moon. There will be plenty more freaks like you before close”. And tells me to calm down. He then presses my case, bends it and hands it to the Tech guy. The Apple Genius at the bar, then takes me off the list… and starts serving other people… 30 minutes later, he asks if I’ve been helped. In which case.. I let him know that he’s taken me off the standby and reservation lists. He says he’ll “see me because he’s nice”… proceeds to see the gap in my case and says.. “its just within spec… I can’t help you. Sorry”. After EVERYTHING I’d just been through… He wouldn’t help me, and even SAW the gap in my case and the manager press it, and watched it slowly seperate.

Needless to say, I brought my laptop home. I called Apple Help and filed a complaint. I was told.. “What the manager said is a misunderstanding”. Which, excuse me sir, I’ve been labeled and called names my whole life. There are mistakes, and there is that. Thats the same level of Rush Limbaugh commenting on Donovan McNabb being a Black QB. It’s the same as Roger Imus and the rutgers female basketball team. I was insulted when I’d explained my disablity Mr. Jobs. I love your computers, but I will never attend that store again. Never sir, as I could never look someone so intolerant in the face, ever again.

As for my computer? I can “Ship it off” and see it researched, as I still havent gotten it looked at. I end up losing my computer for weeks, after the 2nd time the case has cracked due to “swelling”. Please Help, as I simply can’t just lose my laptop. I can’t… deal with every month and a half having my top case separate. You’re the only company in the world, I depend on for quality. It means a lot to my syndrome, and to my daily life to have a computer I can count on. If it means I need a MacBook Pro, then so be it. I’ll upgrade to titanium if I can ever afford it.

Summary: This laptop has had manufacturing problems before. At one point the area around the trackpad cracked, and although it was repaired the Mac people told him that he was holding his laptop wrong. This time around, after another 30 minute delay, the Apple genius tells him the laptop is “just within spec” and that he can’t do anything about it. Joshua’s been an Apple customer since the IIe and contacted Apple to complain, where he was told what the manager said was simply a “misunderstanding.”

Luckily this ends on a better note. Joshua emailed “sjobs” and heard back:

Within 12 hours I got a call, an apology, and due to my disability they are letting me into the Easton store before it opens, so I can swap my computer out for an upgrade due to the hardship I’ve endured. I will say one thing for Apple, their corporate is every bit the nice and understanding company they claim to be.

(Thanks to Joshua!)


Edit Your Comment

  1. UpsetPanda says:

    It’s nice what they did, but it really shouldn’t have happened in the first place. Playing devil’s advocate, according to his account, he never actually said that he had Asperger’s, he said he was “born with this.” Did the tech guy mistake what he said and what he meant?

  2. HykCraft says:

    Why does it always seem that anyone that holds a management position is completely ignorant and power hungry.

    It’s great he got a new laptop though. Apple finally pulled through.

  3. Might the manager have said “folks” like you?

  4. Transuranic says:

    Without a recording, it’s impossible to tell whether the comment was delivered with a wink and smile, and in the stressful context of tech repair, then interpreted as an insult. (If he’s got Asperger’s, how would he be sure about its intent? Just asking.)

    Also worth noting: When you hire low-level CS people and call them geniuses, and when your branding markets you as hipster Japanese-speaking Alpha Geekier Than Thous, you expect… what? Employees with interpersonal skills? An iota of humility? This is exactly why I’m (implausibly) proud to be a Windows user (um… linux dual install, okay). And I’m certainly not a genius.

  5. godawgs7 says:

    @UpsetPanda: he said: “I go on to explain, I take notes at our Asperger Syndrome (AS/HFA) meetings.”

    Either way, you shouldn’t have to explain anything to them.

    Bravo apple corporate for fixing this promptly. I hope they have a little re-education for their retail employees.

  6. Roadkill says:

    This doesn’t sound so much of a problem with Apple. It’s a problem of one intolerant person. I believe there’s a lot of them out there, too.

  7. semanticantics says:

    Sorry, I don’t think the manager was paying attention to what was said, Aspergers and Full Moons are not related. I think it was a misunderstanding, an unfortunate one that seems to have been handled properly since the complaint. The manager should be more careful with their words.

  8. UpsetPanda says:

    @godawgs7: Whoops, totally didn’t see that part.

    I’m not sure you can trust the general population to be aware of conditions such as Aspergers. I’m not defending the ‘geniuses’ or anything, I’m just looking for ways that something might’ve been misconstrued, though the crack about the full moon sure does reduce the tech’s credibility.

  9. Caprica Six says:

    the power hungry peeps are usually the store management though. So sad, but glad the Macbook got repaired!

  10. ronfreeman42 says:

    I bought my imac at that exact same store in Columbus, I liked their service. All it takes is one or two jerks though.

  11. RottNDude says:

    Glad you got your machine fixed, but the comparison to Rush Limbaugh / Don Imus was a bit over the top…

    Also, if Macs are so easy to use, why do you need a “Genius” to help you with it?

  12. statnut says:

    @UpsetPanda: I dont know what Apergers is, but if you dont have something nice to say, dont say anything, especially if you are in CS.

  13. girly says:


    I go on to explain, I take notes at our Asperger Syndrome (AS/HFA) meetings, and that, I email those out. As one could understand, people with OCD would be unhappy. I say.. “I’m sorry if I seem on edge or anything, I just…. i’m born with this”… The assistant manager then says “It’s okay. It’s the monday before a full moon. There will be plenty more freaks like you before close”.

    Sounds like it wasn’t a misunderstanding…

  14. wealthkick says:

    I think the title Mac ‘genius’ has gone to some of their heads.

  15. girly says:

    Maybe the manager had Asperger’s with an extra s up front…

  16. CountryBoy says:

    In this United States of the Offended we often overreact to unintended ‘insensitive’ comments. We often overcompensate for perceived wrongs. In this instance the consumer was completely right. There is NO way the comments could be construed in any fashion other than to be ‘derogatory’ to the customer, not necessarily to his condition but to the perceived fellatios nature of his repair request. Damn it the consumer is entitled to be served even if it is Friday and you have had a long day.

  17. girly says:

    …before the p, of course

  18. ExtraCelestial says:

    Umm it doesn’t matter how the Apple manager may or may not have interpreted what he said or how they delivered it, you don’t refer to your customer as a freak under ANY circumstances.

    Bravo to the almighty sjobs for taking care of the issue so promptly.

  19. Imaginary_Friend says:

    It really doesn’t matter if the manager knew what Aspergers is or not – what does matter is that he apparently lacks the brain cells and communications skills to be dealing with the public. He must be ten shades of stupid to say something like that to *any* customer.

  20. nequam says:

    @Transuranic: I think you’ve nailed it. Given the full moon reference, it seems the manager was just trying to add some levity. He had a customer who had just apologized for seeming on edge. The comment does not seem to have been directed at the customer’s condition at all. It may have been a bonehead thing to say to any customer, but I don’t think Joshua was being singled out because of his Asperger’s. And the point is valid that an Asperger’s sufferer might not have intepreted the statement correctly.

    That said, commenters are jumping all over the manager, but not one peep about the Consumerist picture, which I thought was a little offensive before I even read the post. Making fun of the name of a disabling condition?

  21. Trai_Dep says:

    My bet? Since “Aspergers” has more than two syllables, the profoundly insensitive manager didn’t recognize it was a medical condition. Tried to make a “joke” out of ignorance. Dude needs to be spanked hard. Or given drugs that mimic a similar mental condition and sent out for a week to see how the other shoe fits.
    Nice that it all came out in the end. Shame it had to happen, though.

  22. dwarf74 says:

    Aspergers is a low-level autism… It’s characterized by a high degree of social awkwardness – like interpreting someone changing their mind as lying. It’s also characterized by not knowing how to joke around. I’m positive the manager was just making a joke about full moons and weirdness. Heck, even if the guy had said Aspergers beforehand, I don’t think the tech could be expected to know what that is.

  23. RandoX says:

    Maybe he was calling him a phreak. Did he have a Captain Crunch whistle around his neck?

  24. youbastid says:

    Seems cut and dry to me that the manager was just joking with him and had no idea that the guy had Asperger’s. I’m guessing the manager feels like a total dick because of his faux pas…I feel bad for him.

  25. m4ximusprim3 says:

    Agreed. Even if the customer is perfectly healthy, happy, and well adjusted, referring to them as a freak is not recommended behavior.

    Plus, if they happen to be disabled or sensitive, you end up looking like an even bigger tool.

    Lose/lose situation – be nice, be professional, everyone is happy. Talk shit to your friends, not your clients.

  26. Imaginary_Friend says:

    And on a side note, the slide in quality control at Apple over the last few years is really disheartening. Last year, I returned two brand new iMacs that I bought for family members because the displays were faulty (a common issue, google it) and an iPod classic. I also have friends who are suffering through a myriad of problems on their MacBooks. Apple’s reputation for reliability is questionable these days.

  27. disavow says:

    @CountryBoy: Not to be a grammar nazi, but I think the word you were looking for was “fallacious”…unless you meant to say his problem sucks p33n.

  28. Imaginary_Friend says:

    @m4ximusprim3: You’re absolutely right.

  29. Rectilinear Propagation says:

    Seems cut and dry to me that the manager was just joking with him and had no idea that the guy had Asperger’s.


    I go on to explain, I take notes at our Asperger Syndrome (AS/HFA) meetings, and that, I email those out. As one could understand, people with OCD would be unhappy. I say.. “I’m sorry if I seem on edge or anything, I just…. i’m born with this”

    Unless the OP is lying/exaggerating there’s no way he didn’t know he had Asperger Syndrome.

  30. cobaltthorium says:

    @RandoX: muhaha – that was awesome. He did say that he had an Apple IIe …

  31. Trae says:

    I spent quite some time in electronics retail, and this manager is an idiot.

    A smart salesperson or manager never shows discomfort with a customer, and they especially never make a joke about a disability – even if it’s intended to be light hearted — you never know how a total stranger is going to take it. You treat everyone with respect, and you never let your personal discomfort with someone’s disability show. Ever. Period.

    I am happy that Apple corporate took care of this guy though. Now to find a way to smack the guy in the retail store.

  32. bgoldberg says:

    Great to hear this was taken care of. My MacBook case has been cracking in exactly the same way for about a month. I’m self employed and haven’t been able to part with it long enough to have it replaced. If a Mac employee told me it was cracking because I hold my laptop incorrectly I’d go berserker on them. I take ridiculously good care of my stuff and this problem is absolutely due to a design flaw.

  33. DeeJayQueue says:

    @youbastid: Really? According to the letter:
    “I’m an attendant of a local Aspergers Syndrome club,(My autism), so I told them I could wait if it meant I still got there on time.”


    “I go on to explain, I take notes at our Asperger Syndrome (AS/HFA) meetings, and that, I email those out. As one could understand, people with OCD would be unhappy. I say.. “I’m sorry if I seem on edge or anything, I just…. i’m born with this””

    You’re right, I’d never have guessed that he had Aspergers, after he told me TWICE.

  34. hubris says:

    @girly: I dunno, I chuckled at “Sasperger’s”.

  35. howie_in_az says:

    @girly: Not that it excuses what was said, but the Apple guy probably wanted to try being chummy with a customer. It happened to me when I was returning a DOA MacPro: one of the reps said something to me as I was hauling the beast in and I snapped back at him. He realized I wasn’t in a joking mood and did that “let me go out of my way to help you now that I know I messed up” thing. They ended up replacing the MacPro without an issue and gave me a $100 gift certificate.

  36. weakdome says:

    My first reaction, the first time I heard the word “Aspergers” was to think “Gross, who would want Ass Burgers?”
    A common homophone mistake. (They have their own phones? Who knew!?)

  37. Rectilinear Propagation says:

    @Rectilinear Propagation: Or what semanticantics said and the dude was barely listening to what he was saying.

    But then he’s ignoring the customer, which is still wrong.

  38. Chris Walters says:

    @nequam: Hopefully it’s not as offensive after you read the post, and note the “Apple” logo on the crystal ball (that’s one expensive crystal ball), and realize that it’s making fun of a longstanding human impulse to assign supernatural causes to natural phenomena. Wolf, full moon, lycanthropy = Asperger syndrome.

  39. topgun says:

    Does it matter if the manager was joking or not?
    It’s just not very professional to say what he said.

  40. backbroken says:

    I think the manager was just referring to Apple Fanbois as freaks. I know I often do.

  41. DeeJayQueue says:

    @weakdome: Yes, we have our own phones, and we use them to call each other and make fun of ignorant people.

  42. semanticantics says:

    Aspergers is a low-level autism… It’s characterized by a high degree of social awkwardness

    The same could be said of those in the computer tech field.

  43. LatherRinseRepeat says:

    I think it was misunderstanding and a poor choice of words. I hope the manager doesn’t get fired over this.

  44. Xerloq says:

    No, no, no… The way to deal with this problem is to join forces with Apple, take their ideas, leave and then start a multi-billion empire using their own ideas against them! Worked for the last guy with (allegedly) Asperger’s in the early 80’s.

    @weakdome: Me, too!

    I’m glad Apple took care of him. Crummy manager, though.

  45. weakdome says:

    @DeeJayQueue: haha :) I was hoping someone would get that!

  46. nequam says:

    @cwalters: Aw! Now, I see.

  47. trulymadlyme says:

    Clearly this manager doesn’t watch America’s Next Top Model. Tyra Banks taught the rest of the world what Asperger’s syndrome was a year ago. Screw the boneheaded comments, he should be fired for being decidedly uncool.

  48. ELC says:

    The Rush comment was not relevant as Rush never said that because he was black he couldn’t be a quarterback. He just commented on the fact that the attention garnered on him was because he was black, the reality being that all of the great quarterbacks have been white so far and the media seemed to want to “will” McNabb into being great – whether he is or not.

  49. SkyeBlue says:

    My 8 year old son also has Asperger’s. Any change in routine or frustrating situation can sometimes cause people who have it to become very upset. Sometimes way our of proportion to the situation. Since I wasn’t there I don’t know but the guy may have been more upset than he thought and that is why he was told to “calm down”. That doesn’t explain away the rest of how he was treated though.

    Alot of Asperger’s suffers have very awkward social skills but are very high in intelligence.

  50. girly says:

    @omerhi: heh..I only thought of that after I typed the first one (hence the clarification)

  51. balthisar says:

    @nequam: Not having an audio recording to judge my, my instinct is to believe this is the right interpretation. People are overly sensitive these days.

  52. Razzler says:

    The manager’s joke was undoubtedly tacky, but this dude’s “I am a persecuted minority” act is fucking obnoxious. As someone who struggled with real autism as a child and knows many other people who weren’t as lucky as I, the way this guy appears to have built his entire identity around this (extremely low-level) condition is really annoying and not a little insulting.

    It doesn’t help matters that Asperger’s is one of those conditions that awkward internet people love to self-diagnose in order to justify their awkwardness: “It’s not my fault I’m antisocial and weird, it’s MY AUTISM.” Who knows if this guy even has it?

  53. LVP says:

    Way to go!

    P.S.: Who is Rodger Imus? Maybe I should ask Don.

  54. matt1978 says:

    Everybody’s sensitive. Geez.

  55. algormortis says:

    @Transuranic: Dude, i’m autistic (“low functioning!” yeaah! as in i spent my childhood in special ed!) and i would know well the difference between “freaks” when delivered lovingly and “freaks” when meant cruelly.

    Many Apple Store employees seem to think the popularity of their place gives them license to be jerks to certain people. It’s not just true of Apple, of course, but they’re one of the more pervasive examples. Many Apple Store employees are awesome hoopy froods who can work with the crazy masses with ease. Some can’t and probably shouldn’t be in customer-facing positions.

  56. meeroom says:

    Oh, get over yourself.

  57. brent_w says:

    Wow, thats the Apple I bought my Ipod at.

  58. The Great Aussie Evil says:

    As a person with AS I deamnd this jerk be fired.

  59. nlatimer says:

    >Thats the same level of Rush Limbaugh commenting on >Donovan McNabb being a Black QB. It’s the same as Roger Imus and the rutgers female basketball team.

    Oh so its really not a big deal then?

  60. polyeaster says:

    Yeah regardless of whetehr or not the manager understood what his disability was, any intelligent manager would hear the words, “I was born with this,” and know that some type of disability is being referenced. And who in customer service, in their right mind, would call a customer a freak to their face?!? There are customers who would really go all freakzoid at that type of comment.

  61. polyeaster says:

    Not to mention, that IMO, it’s not that hard to spot when someone has Aspergers…the characteristics are there, and even without this gentleman saying anything, it wouldn’t have been hard to pick up.

  62. youbastid says:

    @Rectilinear Propagation: So because I take notes at Asperger’s meetings, that means I have Asperger’s?

    Also, I’m born with something that makes me impatient as well. That shouldn’t make you think I have Asperger’s.

    If the guy had been waiting there for a long time, that probably means the store was busy. If the store was busy, that probably means the manager was all over the place. Meaning he’s not going to hang on every word this guy says…I don’t know about you, but when I’ve had stuff to deal with, I’m only paying attention to what’s relevant to the task at hand. He uses it to take notes. Got it. What meetings he’s going to and what he’s using it to take notes for? Not listening. Not relevant. In this case, those details were only MADE relevant after the manager (probably) misspoke.

  63. youbastid says:

    @polyeaster: Actually, Asperger’s is pretty hard to spot, as there aren’t many uniform characteristics (it’s not like Down’s, folks!) and many people live their lives without even being diagnosed.

  64. OhioGator says:

    I am disgusted by this manager’s comments. I just bought an iPod at this same store yesterday and am tempted to return it. Unbelieveable.

    Props to Apple for stepping in and making it right.

  65. UpsetPanda says:

    @youbastid: Actually, that’s pretty on the ball, I think. I also wondered whether one had to have Asperger’s to be in a group. I might be wrong, but I don’t think h specifically mentioned that he had Aspergers.

    I knew a girl in college who I suspected might have had Aspergers, but I was incredibly surprised to see her Facebook profile and see the list of TV shows she liked…she never discussed them to me or anyone we knew, and she was very socially awkward. But the girl was also sheltered, so that might’ve been a reason too. I suspect that if you just give the girl a decent haircut and show kindless, a lot of people outgrow their awkwardness. With Aspergeers, it is a form of autism but it can be handled once properly diagnosed. Social awkwardness doesn’t mean you’ve got Asperger’s Syndrome though.

  66. Bobg says:

    At first I thought that this manager should be fired but that is too good for this asshole. The guy is so typical of people in the retail industry; customers are the enemy and the store would be better off if the customers didn’t bug the elite people that have to come into the stores and work. Better screening of job applicants and a greater (and on-going) investment in training would result in huge payoffs for the company. There are several businesses that I won’t patronize because of the attitude of the salespeople. Apple is lucky that Joshua didn’t have a video of this encounter; the only thing the jury would have to debate is the size of the payout to the plaintiff.

  67. Rectilinear Propagation says:

    So because I take notes at Asperger’s meetings, that means I have Asperger’s?

    @youbastid: Then what was he referring to when he said “I was born with this?”

  68. LawyerontheDL says:

    Not to defend an idiotic statement, but, as someone who consistently puts her foot in her mouth, I can see how the manager may not have been as much of a total boob as he comes across. Many people are not familiar with Asperger’s syndrome and would certainly not recognize the physical characteristics of it. Even if someone mentioned that they were at an “Asperger’s meeting,” an uninformed person may not put that together with a disability. The manager may have said the freaks comment as a joke, thinking that this fellow was completely normal, just particular, and poking fun at him in a friendly way. Of course, alot of it is delivery.

  69. mammalpants says:

    i think youre reading to much into how he meant “freaks.” he most likely meant “mac freak”. lighten up.

  70. dantsea says:

    See, now this is horrid customer service from an Apple Store that needs to be addressed by corporate — and they did right by the customer in this case.

    Unlike that little girl from a few months back who lied about cracking the screen on her MacBook and threw a tantrum when she was called on it.

  71. youbastid says:

    @Rectilinear Propagation: Did you read the second sentence that I wrote, or only the first?

  72. christoj879 says:

    “As one could understand, people with OCD would be unhappy.”

    WTF does that mean? Someone with OCD would make sure they hold their laptop perfectly or wolves will eat their family (before you get mad, I have OCD, and it’s a joke).

    I think the manager was making a joke and this guy got a little upset, but if it gets him a free laptop, awesome.

  73. xgenius says:

    In terms of the actual defect, this has been an issue since the Macbook debuted. They usually develop crack at the edge of the palm rest. If the top case is replaced and not put back on properly by the Mac Genius, you usually end up with a visible seam. We replaced a ton of these when I was a Mac Genius. I can’t believe Apple has yet to correct the issue. Quality control really is heading down the toilet.

  74. Rask says:

    @mammalpants: I’m pretty sure that Apple Corporate wouldn’t be happy if one of their Managers called Mac Users “Mac Freaks” or “Freaks” in general.

  75. MFfan310 says:

    Kudos to Apple for their corporate response. I actually am a Mac user with Asperger’s, and I try to self-advocate… if Apple didn’t do the right thing, I might have switched to a PC once my Macs pooped out.

    Tunrs out I had a similar experience with Macy’s… but it wasn’t as good.

    At their Fort Wayne store, I applied for a position at their fragrance counter, as I have a deep knowledge of fragrances (probably more than some of their other employees). They never contacted me back for an interview, despite their promise, so I mailed a letter to the Macy’s Midwest division. They did investigate, and found problems, but they didn’t re-offer me an interview, as “hiring season was over”.

    Not surprisingly, I’m not spending a single cent at that particular Macy’s again. I’m already prepared… I switched my clothing dollars to JCPenney long ago, before this incident. The fragrance counter at Macy’s was the only saving grace, and once Sephora opens up here (which is rumored to happen sometime this year), I won’t have to visit their lousy store again.

  76. Rectilinear Propagation says:

    @youbastid: I misunderstood you. I thought you were trying to say he didn’t imply that anything was wrong with him at all. What you meant was that he only implied he had the OCD.

    I’m not sure how this makes calling him a freak any better though.

  77. bohemian says:

    What a maroon. You don’t call customers freaks in any context or alternative meaning. Even if you didn’t mean it in a derogatory way it is too easily mis-construed.

  78. youbastid says:

    @Rectilinear Propagation: OCD? What? I don’t think he necessarily implied either.

  79. shadow735 says:

    there are alays a few bad apples (no pun intended) in the barrel, but when they are “Managers” it makes things worse, great to hear that Apple the company came tru for you though.

  80. witeowl says:

    Honestly, I think that most computer store employees would be used to working with many, many people who have behaviors similar to symptoms of Asperger’s Syndrome. The manager, not paying close attention, may have thought that Joshua was just making a vague joke at his own expense, so the manager joined in. Possibly.
    That said, even when I joke around about my own neuroses, I don’t expect anyone to agree with me and join in. They can laugh, but don’t pile on. Duh.

  81. hexychick says:

    @Jordan Golson: even if he said you folks instead of you freaks, it’s still bad form. The guy just said he had a condition and then the Apple guy turns and says that? Unacceptable.

    @mammalpants: then why would the full moon have anything to do with it?

  82. ihateauditions says:

    Cheers on the smart reaction from Apple Corporate.

    I can easily see where this was meant as some harmless play by the manager, but either way, Corporate did the right thing here.

    Kudos to Apple for apologizing (whether or not it was really required) and for making sure he had a comfortable way to fix the problem.

  83. Serapis says:

    Flat out, the manager was out of line with his comment. Professionalism was lacking throughout the store. Joshua was fishing for sympathy and extra consideration when he broached the subject of his Asperger’s. He could have just said he had an important meeting to get to and left it at that. If he hadn’t brought up the subject of a syndrome, the manager probably wouldn’t have thought to utter the word ‘freak’.

    @MAMMALPANTS – Unless you were present or you are the manager, your comment is irrelevant. Based on Joshua’s account, the manager called him a freak, not a “Mac freak”, but a freak. While the term can be taken in many positive ways, it would be illogical to take the jibe as anything other than an insult – especially with the topic of disability lacing the interaction. [If we knew what was said prior and after the quote, we might have a basis for saying the manager was kidding around.]

  84. speedwell (propagandist and secular snarkist) says:

    As a full-time third-level IT support analyst, I know that the “computer business” seems to attract individuals with Asperger’s. Wouldn’t it be funny if the manager was obnoxious because he himself had undiagnosed Asperger’s?

  85. cashmerewhore says:


    Thank you for pointing out that awesome typo.

  86. Craig says:

    @TinkishDelight: Right to the core of the matter, nice!

  87. RvLeshrac says:

    One thing: Can we stop calling them “Mac Geniuses,” please? Even if that IS the title?

    Nothing irritates me more than people using the word “Genius” to describe someone who has some tiny bit of knowledge that is unknown to them.

    You don’t call the guy who works on your car a “Ford Genius,” do you? Is the guy who fixes your sink a “Draino Genius”?

    It really denigrates the true ‘geniuses’ of history when you call someone who happened to read a book and buy some tools a ‘genius.’

  88. Tejas says:

    as an aspie i find this is reprehensible. even if it was made in jest this manager needs to learn that it’s only funny if the person you say it to agrees.. if i say a racist joke (say a joke about african americans, to an african american) and say it’s a joke, but they don’t read it such, can i claim i’m not a racist?
    it’s the same here – the OP took it as an insult so as far as i am concerned it is

  89. Thorny says:

    I think this is similar to the whole, “We can say the ‘N’ word because we’re black, but you can’t because you’re white.” Hear me out for a minute. I use a wheelchair and within my circle of wheelchair friends we refer to each other as ‘gimps’ or ‘quads’ or even ‘freaks’ and it’s okay. But outside that circle some people take offense to those same words regardless of the intent.

    I personally don’t care because I understand (hopefully) the intent behind what someone is saying. Many people do not, however, which is why I think it’s important to know who you are talking to before you walk the fine line between being cordially humorous and potentially offensive.

  90. Thorny says:

    @Tejas: Tejas, I am just curious that if someone without Aspergers called you ‘Aspie’ would you be offended?

    I ask because you referred to yourself using that word in a casual way like it would be okay if we all called you an ‘Aspie.’

    See my immediate previous post for my thoughts about the whole label issue.

  91. chrisdag says:

    This has more to do with getting good Apple laptop support — the best thing I ever did was discover a non-Apple store in the Boston area that is certified to repair Apple systems under warantee or via AppleCare agreements.

    Why does this matter? If you take your laptop to an Apple store and it needs “real” work then they have to ship your laptop off to some remote service depot. Even for the smallest possible repair work you are still going to be without your laptop for several consecutive days and possibly a week or more.

    The non-Apple store takes the opposite approach — your laptop stays at the store and the *replacement parts* are Fedex-ed in.

    The end result is that your system is often fixed and ready to be picked up the same day that the part was shipped in.

    When my laptop screen was damaged I took it to the non-Apple store at around 2pm. They diagnosed the break; ordered the part for early-AM next day delivery and my laptop was repaired and ready for pickup at 4pm the next day.

    – local Apple service: 24 hour turnaround; laptop never left Boston
    – Apple store service: 5-10 day turnaround; laptop goes on a round-trip shipping journey

    I don’t want to be a shill but maybe I should name the company. The one I use is TechSuperPowers on Newbury Street in Boston. Shops like this do the same officially sanctioned repairs as the Apple stores but with an order of magnitude faster turnaround time. I bet there are similar stores that can do official AppleCare service elsewhere.

    My $.02 as always…

  92. f0nd004u says:

    @youbastid: Yeah. Asberger’s syndrome can just come off as someone who’s really awkward. The syndrome effects their ability to pick up on social nuances and things.

    I’m pretty sure that the manager was just joking around, but it was still a dumb comment. Because of their condition, many aspergers’s sufferers have to deal with people calling them freaks all the time. And the syndrome makes it hard to pick up on nuanced, sarcastic humor like that.

    The manager was in the wrong, but I think was a simple case of saying the wrong thing to the wrong person.

  93. socritic says:

    Apples response is nice, but I’m extremely disappointed that one of two things didn’t happen, one being a PERSONAL APOLOGY from the store manager, either that or a corporate reprimand, and depending on the managers response i would go so far as to say his firing. This ABSOLUTELY UNACCEPTABLE! not from Apple or from Anyone. Shame on Apple for not being more consumer conscience and holding the manager accountable for his miserable comment.

  94. maztec says:

    Problem is most people with Aspergers and other autism spectrum disorders do not necessarily get jokes that are generalized and attempting to add levity. It is actually one of the possible symptom sets.

    So, while the normal person would have laughed saying, “hah! Yah, I’ll bet.” A person with autism will take it personally and assume that the comment was directed at them in a hurtful and sadistic manner.

    Joshua – It is good to be open about your condition, but it is also possible to be too open. Despite the media, most people have not heard of Aspergers. On the other hand, many have heard of Autism, but most [including many people with Aspergers or Autism] do not understand it.

    The hardest thing to learn is to think, “Gosh, did he mean that as an attack on me? Maybe, but if I laugh at it, it becomes a joke,” and to follow it with a laugh or wry statement. If you really feel like he was attacking you personally, speak up and ask him, “Er.. you mean freaks as generalized joke bout full moons or are you calling me a freak…?” And ask it calmly. Most people will latch onto the easy out of a joke – and you should too. It makes everyones lives easier, including your own.


  95. RvLeshrac says:


    As a rule, any store that sells Apple products (of which there are few) AND has a service center (fewer) will be an Apple ASP.

  96. Photogdc says:

    @chrisdag: Local Apple VAR’s and service centers can be great. Just be careful about parts availability. I have had an issue with a great shop had to keep one of my Macs for a long time because they could not get the part from Apple. I wonder if i would have taken it directly to Apple things would have moved faster.

  97. jwissick says:

    @Transuranic:Even if it was with a wink… it is unlikely that the author would have seen it as aspies do not like to look people in the eyes… it’s most uncomfortable for us.

  98. Imaginary_Friend says:

    @maztec: As m4ximusprim3 and Hexychick already pointed out IT DOES NOT MATTER HOW HE MEANT IT NOR WHETHER HE WAS JOKING. Referring to any of your customers as “freaks” is unprofessional. End of story.

    If the manager is too young or immature to understand the difference between casual banter with a friend and appropriate workplace humor, than he would do well to keep his big yap shut.

  99. Jordan Lund says:

    Autistic guy is being an ass…

    His words to the manager were “I’m sorry if I seem on edge or anything, I just…. I’m born with this”

    There’s nothing in that statement that immediately says “I’m sorry, I have autism and am bad ad dealing with people and stressful situations, please don’t make fun of me!”

    The manager was clearly joking and Autistic guy took it more personally than it was meant.

  100. PølάrβǽЯ says:

    @statnut: And NEVER call a customer a freak, no matter what condition they do or don’t have. Even if the guy didn’t have ANY handicaps, no employee should ever call a customer a freak. That asshole should be fired on the spot.

  101. whatdoyoucare says:

    My husband always says, “you hire your own problems”. The assistant manager was definitely unprofessional. He probably thought the joke would be over Joshua’s head. Kudo’s to Joshua for following through and getting the last laugh. Hopefully the assistant manager is put through some sensivity training if he is allowed to keep his job.

  102. youbastid says:

    @Imaginary_Friend: Get over yourself. It’s an Apple Store, not Barney’s. The whole concept behind these stores is a laid back, casual environment. The Genius Bar is designed to be staffed by people who know what they’re talking about and are friendly and helpful. They wear t-shirts and jeans. Professionalism isn’t part of the equation, really.

  103. CumaeanSibyl says:

    Hmph. I don’t have Asperger’s and I don’t want a retail clerk calling me a freak. Does this mean I’m overly sensitive too?

  104. Serapis says:

    Neither the assistant manager, techs, nor corporation were very professional. If there is a consistent error in Apple’s product line there should have been a recall or they should instruct techs to replace all PCs that are brought in of the defective line. No charge, no stalling and don’t blame the customer for “holding it wrong”. The results from Joshua’s letter just looks like the company didn’t want bad press (especially from someone with a disability).

  105. dragon:ONE says:

    Meh, I have AS too – and I’m harassed on a near-daily basis, but not about my AS, other little things that have pissed me off since 3rd grade the school doesn’t want to deal with.

    And with that said:

    Way to go, Ogdensburg Free Academy. Way to go, Mrs. Cindy Centofanti. Way to go, Mr. Hal Barry. Way to go, Ogdensburg City School District. You assholes have fucked up my life and don’t seem to care about it.


  106. pureobscure says:

    Ha ha, what a overly sensitive freak. Waaah, Asperger’s; another pseudo malady for people who can’t deal with the scary stuff in life and need an excuse for staying in mom’s basement with the XBox.

  107. gingerCE says:

    From his letter, I actually thought the apple guy was trying to make a joke. I know someone with Asperger’s and that particular syndrome has a difficult time dealing with people–and they really don’t know how to read people. I’ve seen people be sarcastic/rude to my friend with Asperger’s and he thinks they are being complimentary and with others who aren’t being rude, he thinks they might be.

    That being said, regardless of how the comment was intended, this guy took offense and I was glad to see Apple deal with his service problem.

  108. Magicube says:

    All of you who are looking into whether or not the employees should have understood whether the guy was autistic or not are missing the point. He was taken off the waiting list.
    Imagine you’re in a restaurant and you’ve put your name and party size in and the host/hostess puts your name down. Then for whatever reason they seat other parties of the same size ahead of you. That’s what he’s described here. Fuck your “get over yourself” bullshit and learn to read, you illiterate fucks.

  109. squish123 says:

    Doesn’t matter if the guy told him he had aspergers or autism or athlete’s foot for chrissakes… If someone tells you they’re born with an ailment, you don’t make fun of it because it’s obviously not something you can control. When reading it quickly in text it sounds like it could’ve easily been a misunderstanding, however, try to picture the situation in your head. If the customer felt that he had to warn the person of a preexisting condition, then obviously felt he had outward signs of it that he needed to explain to the manager. Bottom line, that manager is a dick and at the very least needs to learn how to appreciate and sympathize with other human life.

  110. says:

    @Jordan Lund: well that coincides with the social awkwardness. I hope you never work in customer service.

  111. lockdog says:

    So, is it possible that the reason the manager made an unfunny (over intellectualized) joke in a socially awkward situation be because he because he has undiagnosed Aspergers? I mean, he probably works there because he is a geek right? Maybe someone who is better with technology than with people?
    So, if you’re the boss of the bad manager who let’s say it turns out does have aspergers, can you fire him? Or would that be discrimination because of his mental handicap? This could be an absurdist drama :)

  112. gfinakoma says:

    regardless if it was a joke or not, it was unprofessional and immature. mac “fanbois” or any other customer in that store pretty much write their paychecks.

    i hope the manager was sent to some horrible corporate training seminar where he was subjected to countless “videos” about how to treat people. now that would be torture.

  113. gfinakoma says:

    @youbastid: wow, that ranks high among the stupidest comments I have seen on here.

    I wear jeans to work and I’m quite sure every customer spending their hard earned money expects me to maintain professionalism.

  114. justdan says:

    I am an aspie too and had a similar experience in Appleton, WI. The one Apple store had a person so vile that I just could not remove that feeling from my perception of Apple. The problem was with the little fans on the power supply. I had to bribe a local company to fix it because it was driving me nuts (we are very sensitive to sound). I bought a MacBook from them. It DID fix the problem, replacing the power supply. I bought a Mac Mini after that was well from Apple directly, which was a much more pleasurable experience. However, the stink of working with these so called elitist “geniuses” has left me migrating Photoshop and Flash to Windows and using my mini only for testing in Safari. Apple lost thousands on me… I was ready to commit. I now am back in the warm, safe arms of Microsoft, that doesn’t give a crap about me, but at least lets me replace FANS at the local computer store without bullsh*t.

  115. ZitosGhost says:

    I can’t believe you actually have a meeting for something called the Aspergers Syndrome Club. I mean some folks who have been diagnosed with Aspergers (like myself) recognize that its a dysfunction to tell perfect strangers details of your life for example like how you have Autism in the first place (they could care less!!). Now Steve Jobs knows. Congrats. Why not right a long rambling letter to the UN too? Walk it off Freak.

  116. ZitosGhost says:

    @CumaeanSibyl: Only if you write a letter to Steve Jobs and the whole world about how you were so offended. That would make you a freak if you were not already.

  117. Valhawk says:

    Apple corprate is not giving you a new laptop because they are nice they are giving you a new laptop to placate you so you won’t file a descrimination suit and generate massive bad PR.

  118. icruise says:

    I think I can state with a fair degree of confidence that the employee in question was just making a joke and had no idea that the customer would take it personally. He probably thought that the customer was joking himself when he said he had Asperger’s, or what he said didn’t register. Do you honestly think that someone in his position would call a disabled person a freak in earnest?

  119. Jesse in Japan says:

    I think he really did get bad customer service overall and probably did deserve to have his defective laptop replaced.

    But I agree with a lot of the commentators that the “freak” comment was all just a big misunderstanding. I can’t imagine how the employee could have interpreted “I’m born with this” as “I have Asperger’s Syndrome.” In that situation, “I’m born with this,” sounds like a joke that would be made in idle chatter. The employee’s comment was still somewhat inappropriate but I think Joshua misunderstood the intent.

  120. Imaginary_Friend says:

    @youbastid: Please tell me you’re still in high school — I find it depressing beyond words to think that you’re actually out in the workforce.

  121. mynamehere says:

    I don’t think referring to anyone as a “freak” is in good taste and worthy of the label “joke”. It is a company and should practice a certain level of professionalism. My daughter has Aspergers and if I caught someone calling her a freak, I’d probably knock them out.

  122. apotheosis says:

    All I know is, the first BB manager that makes fun of my completely legitimate and not at all self-diagnosed Restless Leg Syndrome is getting a goal kick in the junkberries.

  123. lihtox says:

    @pureobscure: You don’t think being “unable to deal with the scary stuff in life” isn’t a handicap? Sounds like the definition of a handicap to me.

  124. rolla says:

    that manager is a prick. The hell with apple employees…they prob think theyre hot shi*t cause everyone loves their products and are in high demand. The have to remember…they are lowly SALESPEOPLE! 90% of the customers make more then they do! they need to lighten up on the rude behavior and take a class in manners.

  125. RvLeshrac says:


    Funny, I’ve never seen a decent PC repair shop with any level of “professionalism,” as the term is most frequently used.

    That said, there’s “unprofessional” and then there’s “being an ass.” You don’t have to be “professional” to not be an ass, and you don’t have to be “unprofessional” to be an ass.

    In the end, would you rather have an “unprofessional” shop that gets the job done every time, with employees who joke with you at the risk of being offensive, or would you rather have a “professional” shop like Best Buy that can’t see out its own ass to fix anything properly, ever?

    I’ve personally had plenty of potential clients who went with other, more “professional” outfits to do things like small business networking because they didn’t like my T-shirt or my lack of a haircut… I wind up going in more often than not and fixing whatever the “professional” monkey-suited company managed to break, at half the cost.

  126. glynnjamin says:

    Oh boo hoo. You are a freak. You buy Apples and you “can’t live without it” It doesn’t have anything to do with your damn “syndrome”. Get over yourself. He was OBVIOUSLY referring to you crazy people who spend all your damn time in the Apple store yet insist that they make good products. I’ve never once sent in any of my Sony computers…and if one went down, I could live. I could write email with my Centro or a work computer or a different computer or a library computer or a freaking pen and paper!

    Get over yourself – freak.

  127. CumaeanSibyl says:

    @polyex: I don’t know, if some Apple worker called me a freak for no obvious reason, I’d find it offensive enough to complain about it. Why is some guy I don’t even know calling me a freak anyway? I don’t care if it’s a “casual” environment, nobody ought to be calling me a freak unless I’m a bearded lady or something.

  128. antisocial says:

    Joshua’s MacBook was splitting along one side you could push it back together, but after a few minutes it would start to separate again.

    as a person with autism they never failed me. I’ve been able to lean on them and they’ve come through.

    Just curious, is leaning on your computer covered in the warranty???