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!)

Want more consumer news? Visit our parent organization, Consumer Reports, for the latest on scams, recalls, and other consumer issues.