"Apple Gave Me Back The Wrong Laptop!"

Jeff says an Apple Genius gave his girlfriend back the wrong computer!

When my girlfriend encountered problems turning on her laptop, she was frustrated with yet another problem. 6 months ago, her hard drive crashed and she had to have it turned over a couple days of repair at the Genius Bar at the King of Prussia, PA.

She also at that time bought the extended warranty for the computer.
So when we went to the Genius Bar on yesterday for service, we were surprised/confused that the invoice they had produced with the serial number of the computer was completely inaccurate. It contained an address and phone number of a person completely different than her computer.
On top of that, the warranty that she registered for her computer with Apple was not showing!
To me, it’s clear that they mixed up the computers. I don’t think my girlfriend should be responsible for the other persons wear-and-tear.
Also, I have no qualms about this becoming a story on the Consumerist. The Apple at King of Prussia needs to be called out for its horrible service and inadequate retail space.
footnote: I’m handling this for my girlfriend b/c she is super busy with work/school and is having a hard enough time adjusting to life without a working computer.

First of all, we think it’s hilarious to slight an Apple store for not having adequate retail space, since every Apple store we’ve been in has been about 80% bare wooden tabletop, 5% mechandise, and 15% zombified shoppers ogling the industrial design porn. But that’s beside the point, so here’s our advice:
Try to contact the person listed on the invoice. Explain the situation to him, and try to compare serial numbers. If he’s (rightfully) suspicious of giving you any information over the phone, you could simply ask him to call the Apple store to give them his serial number, or look online, to see whether or not the laptop he’s in possession of matches his warranty info. Chances are if you can reach this person, he’ll also have a vested interest in sorting out the mix-up.
If you don’t have the customer’s contact info and the Genius bar won’t give it to you, ask them to call on your behalf.
Readers, any other suggestions?
(Photo: Apple)


Edit Your Comment

  1. I’m confused… so she had this “wrong” computer for 6 months and didn’t notice? And there’s another moron out there using the wrong laptop for 6 months?

    I know Apples are pretty homogeneous, but really…

  2. 11hawkinst says:

    I myself live 5 minutes away from the King of Prussia Mall with the Apple Store. They have the worst customer support I have ever seen. It is also one of the smallest Apple Stores I have ever been in.

    I’m not surprised that they messed this one up.

  3. Chris Walters says:

    @ceejeemcbeegee: First repair (when the alleged switch happened) was a hard drive failure. Likely result: new hard drive, newly installed OS, and no prior files on it. Unless there were cosmetic ID marks, it’s possible she wouldn’t know.

  4. Uriel says:

    I may have missed it, but what was Apple’s response to this? Didn’t they contact them?

  5. civicmon says:

    KOP? Lol… gotta love that philly charm.

  6. Falconfire says:

    Cant beat getting back a repair with a European keyboard ;-).

    (this JUST happened to one of ours Friday. They shipped the box for me to ship out the machine again, but still it means another 4 days for the repair.)

  7. @Chris Walters: Gotcha! I prefer my crow grilled with vegetables, if you please…

  8. macfoo says:

    Hmm…. Apple Menu -> About this Mac -> More Info
    That little serial number is your link to Apple Care. It will only change when major hardware repair is done (read system board).

    My guess is no one (not even the Apple Genius) thought of verifying that the the proper Apple went home with its rightful owner, which is pretty sad considering the amount of hardware that hits the Genius bar.

  9. StevieD says:

    Reading the story’s title I figured you found a different selection of p_rn on the computer but alas I was wrong.

    I am actually surprised this type of mixup does not occur more often.

  10. kyle4 says:

    Maybe the “Genius” was distracted because he was so focussed on the guy’s girlfriend (pictured left in my mind).

    They should just do as you suggested Chris. You asked for our opinion and mine is yours. Call the info can see what’s going on.

    (Great screencap btw, the boop boop was funny.)

  11. kcloutie says:

    King of Prussia is terrible, it took them 2 whole weeks to replace the logic board on my late model fully waranty covered Mac. Know what they said when I asked why it took so long, “if you had pro care…” What? Are you serious? I already bought the extended support now I have to pay more to get the service done in a timely fashion? I used to be a huge fanbou, now I think Apple Corporate is just as bad if not worse than Microsoft or Comcast, but hey, they do make a great computer…

  12. snazz says:

    oh ellen… i love you

  13. snazz says:


  14. themovielinks says:

    I have a suggestion. Go to the Ardmore store instead. The King of Prussia store lacks passion… but thats OK, they’ll make up for it when they attach 2 .macs and a one-to-one to an imac being purchased by an old lady who lives in Harrisburg and has no internet.

  15. FHJay says:

    I agree with NeroDiavolo. Did the person not contact Apple at all and instead run to Consumerist and complain and say they hope it becomes a story? If Apple refused to acknowledge the problem, then we’d have a story, but if, rather than even trying to resolve things through the company, someone just shot off e-mails about terrible service, that seems a bit ridiculous.

    Companies making mistakes isn’t a story, companies refusing to rectify mistakes is.

  16. FHJay says:

    Did this person not even try to contact Apple? Rather than complaining because Apple made a mistake, try working things out before writing e-mails and stating you “have no qualms about this becoming a story on the Consumerist.” Especially when his girlfriend didn’t take the responsibility to make sure she got what she was supposed to.

    Companies making mistakes is not a story; companies not rectifying mistakes is.

  17. well considering she uses an apple laptop it’s no wonder she didn’t notice she had the wrong “laptop”.

  18. Trai_Dep says:

    That’s it. I’m loading my computer with giraffe porn and making it into a desktop collage. Won’t ever mistake my Mac for anyone elses.

  19. ninjatales says:

    This is normal for businesses but I honestly hope they either return her laptop or give her a brand new laptop or even an upgrade.

  20. MeOhMy says:

    Let’s face it. You can slap as many “genius” labels as you want on them…it doesn’t make it true.

  21. ars_workerbee2 says:

    (a) KoP is a very old store as they go, and is notorious for poor or extremely busy service (it serves one of the largest areas of any single Apple Store)

    (b) Mixups happen, but rarely. I’m confused as to where the incorrect invoice and the computer actually matched up, though. Many times when I was behind the bar, I’d grab the wrong paperwork out of the printer, since several of us were printing at once, and occasionally not realize it until it was in front of the customer.

    (c) None of the typical, reasonable escalation path was followed, or at least mentioned. “Oh, they messed up and gave me the wrong computer/paperwork.” Do you then keep it and complain, or, say, ask for a manager (likely first to get the Lead Genius if they’re working, or an ASM), and continue up the chain? Nah, let’s just complain to Consumerist!

    Don’t get me wrong, its bad when things get screwed up. But there are better ways to handle it than to play helpless victim and leave out important details.

  22. ars_workerbee2 says:

    Argh, I had a long, thoughtful, well laid out comment, and the submission form ate it. I’ll recap:

    (a) where does it say that you actually have the wrong computer, and not just the wrong paperwork?
    (b) did you think to maybe ask for a manager and see if the issue could be resolved in store? If so, that’s a non-trivial detail
    (c) Shit happens. It sucks, but it does. And complaining about it instead of taking proactive steps to resolve the issue helps nobody.

  23. ars_workerbee2 says:

    @ars_workerbee2: well damn, the first one did post. *headdesk* i’m going to bed

  24. Concerned_Citizen says:

    All macs look the same on the outside and the hard drive was replaced so it was a fresh install. Unless you personally checked the serial, there would be no way to know it wasn’t your laptop. In this case I am surprised they didn’t offer her a new laptop on the spot. This seems like a huge mistake on Apple’s part. Maybe we should stop calling them the “Genius Bar” because clearly that name couldn’t be further from the truth.

  25. kyle4 says:

    @snazz: Thank you snazz, it also appears that she’s in a movie or something: [gizmodo.com] Guess I’ll have to watch it. All this from a pic on the Consumerist, wow.

    On topic, do they ever switch your computer to a new one? With iPods you seem to always get a refurb with a different serial number, so why wouldn’t they do that with Macs?

  26. deserthiker says:

    I have an idea: READ YOUR WARRANTY.

    It very plainly states: If a hardware defect arises….Apple will (1) repair….(2) EXCHANGE the product with a product that is new OR which has been manufactured from new or serviceable used parts and is at least functionally equivalent to the original product. (Sections of warranty removed for brevity).

    I have no idea of knowing what happened but Apple may have replaced her laptop with a different one and someone forgot to update the records. I had a warranty problem with my iMac and it somehow was registered to some dude in Texas (they fixed it nonetheless–two years past warranty–for free).

    If she didn’t notice that it was different for six months there is not a problem with Apple other than the current service you are getting. There is no wear and tear issue (except six months of your GF’s use) so don’t expect a new computer.

  27. mariospants says:

    A little confusing… the way I read it is they mixed up serial numbers, not laptops. Unless she had her original serial number on hand (unlikely if she’s like 90% of the folks visiting these jokeshops with sticker-coated laptop under arm) there’s no way that the statement “On top of that, the warranty that she registered for her computer with Apple was not showing” makes any sense.

    1) If she registered her laptop in her name, it would be tied to her serial #. Getting the extended warranty with the original machine on file would mean that the warranty would show under her name.

    2) If she received the wrong laptop the first time and then purchased a warranty, they would either have used the correct serial number on file or they would have noticed that the serial number of the unit brought up a different owner in their CRM. Even if apple fucked up and didn’t notice (because, you know, geniuses are too busy with mundanity) then when she brought back the laptop the second time, the warranty would be tied to the serial number of the laptop she was carrying.

    Either apple negligently did a serious mega-screwup on many levels or I smell a stolen laptop in this pile of consumer ramblings. Still doesn’t forgive apple’s heinously ignorant CRM…

  28. civicmon says:

    @ars_workerbee2: KOP in general is a zoo. I work less than 10 minutes from there and been there no more than five times in 18 months.

  29. blackmage439 says:

    I’ve already had something similar happen to me with an Alienware notebook I sent in for repairs. They sent back the wrong computer, and then demanded it back. Being the upstanding citizen I am, I returned it, and got my lower-spec machine back. I can understand how it happened, because it was the same exact color and in the same condition.

    BTW: Don’t buy Alienware. They’re overpriced, overhyped pieces of trash. You can build a superior, lower-cost system from scratch. Why Dell doesn’t just drop the name is unknown to me. Quite frankly, why they keep competition to their XPS line alive is even stranger…

  30. parabola101 says:

    FIRST: The Apple Store in King of Prussia really really sucks!! I have had so so many issues with this store I’ve lost count. I stopped going there as the Manager that runs the store is a real JERK! The vast majority of the staff follows the lead of the store manager. Granted its a busy store but that’s still no excuse for treating their customers like SHIT. Going to this store for help will *NOT* help. I would advice calling the Apple hotline and log a complaint there first. If you can, record all phone conversations. You may also try getting some advice from the Suburban Square (NICE & BIG) Apple store. They treat their customers really well and go out of their way to help you + their staff IS actually well trained. They have helped fix what the King of Prussia store SCREWS UP. That store is just out of control and ANY contact with them will quickly turn into a RETAIL NIGHTMARE. Also if you registered your Apple PC with .MAC they should have a record so that you can compare. GOOD LUCK!

  31. cerbie says:

    @Chris Walters: IoW, “I hate to RTFA.”

  32. @ars_workerbee2:
    “I was submitting a comment on the consumerist, and then it was all like boop boop boop boop boop boop”

    that made me giggle, thanks

  33. SomeoneGNU says:

    I’m going to agree with @ars_workerbee2 here. Why is this here? Have you tried to put any effort into this outside of stomping your feet and running to the media?

    I have the strange feeling that there’s a sense of entitlement here for a mistake that could easily be sorted out. Does it deserve something? Maybe, I’ve only see one side of the story. Does it deserve trying to wrangle up the angry-mobs of the interweb? No, not yet.

    Now, the KoP Apple store is, as others have said, a zoo but slightly less organized but I am sure they have managers, people in authority, etc. When everyone starts making Consumerist their first stop for customer service, the effectiveness of coming here will dwindle.

  34. humphrmi says:

    @Trai_Dep: LOL “giraffe porn”. I wonder if the folks at Apple Care would get turned on.

  35. Munsoned says:

    On top of the other ideas posted, I wonder if getting the credit card company involved assuming anything was paid for by CC. It may be late for a chargeback, but then again, they may be able to argue that they didn’t know that Apple didn’t credit the warranty to the correct account until now, so there was no way to know they were beyond the time period (if the CC company has one for chargebacks). I’d dispute the charge for the warranty as not being charged but not provided by Apple. I’d also dispute the charge (if any) for the laptop repair as they did not repair the GF’s laptop. If nothing else, this may get Apple’s attention so that the OP can get to the bottom of this mystery.

  36. khiltd says:

    I have no trouble believing that the Genius screwed something up, but if your girlfriend were any smarter than he was she wouldn’t be letting you “handle” this for her. Did you even attempt to call Apple Care?

  37. xgenius says:

    KoP was once great, but now that place is a joke. The employees that once made that place great all got smart and left retail.

  38. xgenius says:

    I wonder if her original work authorization paperwork is different from the final repair paperwork her boyfriend got when picking up the repair. Often computers are accidentally registered to the wrong person, usually because someone typed the serial number wrong. It’s possible she never noticed when she first checked in the computer, but that would still be the fault of the genius for not verifying the info.

  39. Larry David: Nice shoes.
    Man in bowling alley: Thanks.
    Larry: I think they’re mine.
    Man: You’re kidding.
    Larry: Kidding? No, they’re my shoes.
    Man: They’re your shoes?
    Larry: Yeah.
    Man: How could they be your shoes?
    Larry: How could they be? Because that guy gave them to you by mistake the other day.
    Man: Well that’s weird.
    Larry: What? What’s weird?
    Man: That he would give me those shoes.
    Larry: No, that’s not weird. What’s weird is that you would put them on, that’s what’s weird.

  40. coolkiwilivin says:

    this is why I love Dell Corporate care. I don’t know what the other major players corporate care is like but I do know Apple has NONE. My son threw up into my dell laptop (he was less than 1 at the time and I was trying to get him close to the webcam so my mom could see). I called up the premier support and they sent out a new keyboard, power button and a technician the next day to swap it all out. This turning in your laptop to the “genius bar” is such a load of hooey. Apple needs to learn how to get out of their stores and out to where their customers are at.

  41. deserthiker says:


    If I had a Dell laptop I would probably throw up in it, too.

  42. dmuth says:

    If you’re looking to switch Apple Stores, I would highly recommend the one down the road in Ardmore, PA. I’ve had good experiences with their Genius Bar there.