Earlier this week, while I was putting my feet up and trying to shake off a multi-day migraine, my Macbook Pro mysteriously refused to charge. I unplugged it and plugged it back in a couple of times, but …nothing. It ran out of juice and went to sleep.
I have no idea if the problem is my charger or the (skin-clawingly-irritating) magnetic port it plugs into.
So I thought – wait for it, this is a good one – that I’d go to the Apple store later in the week and – hahahahaha – they would help me.
The idea of making a Genius Bar appointment did occur to me. But last time I made a Genius Bar appointment, when I went to buy my laptop, I was treated really dismissively and had to wait around, standing up, for 15 minutes while other people who came in after me were served first. (I had to practically beg them to let me spend almost a thousand pounds in the end and found it a totally demoralising experience I vowed never to repeat.)
Plus, I read too many American blogs where people in New York sometimes do things like go to the Apple Store late at night when it’s empty and a nice Genius fixes their compy there and then.
I now realise how ridiculous this is, but I actually thought that if I went to the store where I bought my computer (nowhere near NYC) in the evening then it wouldn’t be too crowded and someone would help me.
As soon as I entered the shop last night, laptop bag weighing heavy on my arm, I knew I was going to be thwarted. There was a massive crowd of people sitting on stools at the G-bar and lined up in two queues on either side of it, most of them sighing, rolling their eyes, or studying their watches. I knew I had no chance of being served that day. I walked out of the shop and took a few deep breaths.
There were a lot of men in blue Apple t-shirts wandering the store with iPads, occasionally stopping to talk to shoppers then moving on. I walked back in, went up to one of them and explained that my Macbook wouldn’t charge and I wasn’t sure if if was the charger or the port that was at fault.
He listened and nodded, then told me he would help me in a few minutes and I should take a seat by the iMacs. A couple of minutes later, he came over and said he was sorry to mess me about but his colleague, S. would help me instead, if I could just walk over to the front of the store where he’d be waiting for me. (Of course I should walk to him. I am being paid to be there, after all. Oh, wait.)
So I went over to S, and he said “What’s the problem? Mac?” So I said yes. And he kind of grunted and pointed to his iPad and asked when I could make an appointment to see a Genuis about it. (Is this what you would assume someone meant by “S will help you?” ‘Cos I have to say, I found it a let down.)
I said, “When have you got free?”
And he said, “Nothing ’til Sunday afternoon.”
Let’s just pause in the narrative for a second here. It would take what, five minutes, max, for one of these blue-t-shirted men to try plugging in my computer, to see if it is the charger at fault. They could then sell me a replacement, and be rid of me, or arrange to make an appointment to get the port mended. But no.
They can’t even deign to talk to me about my problem for three days. In the meantime, staff are literally doing nothing but wandering around tapping on iPads, looking for new customers to talk to. That’s what the Apple store is really all about: delivering their scripted spiel to potential customers while ignoring anyone who’s already ponied up for a product.
I’m no expert, but doesn’t it make sense to at least try to make existing customers happy so you can retain their business? Isn’t that easier than finding new customers all the time?
Yes, Apple’s hardware is so much more impressive than every other company, but I still wanted to run screaming to PC World.
It doesn’t take a genius…
And no. Sunday afternoon doesn’t work for me. My mum is meeting her friend so I can’t get a lift. (And I don’t want to miss the Wimbledon men’s singles final for the first time in 20 years, OK?)
I have a medical appointment on Tuesday, which means I can’t go anywhere Monday or Wednesday, because going out two days in a row always knocks me out. And no, that’s not Apple’s fault. But the fact that they couldn’t make time for someone to speak to me – not to fix my laptop, just to listen to a word I’m saying about it – for three days is incredible.
I know. There are a lot of tragedies in the world and this doesn’t place anywhere in the top billion. But spending so much money on a computer is a big deal in this economy, and customers shouldn’t be treated like something Steve Jobs scraped off his shoe. If so many people need help that it takes three days to get a Genius Bar appointment, they you need more tech support staff. It doesn’t take a… er, genius, to see that.
I don’t really want to play the “disabling illness card” here, beacuse I think this would be awkward and inconvenient for anyone. And there are people who aren’t lucky enough to be able to borrow a computer when they need to check email or impugn Andy Murray’s skillset after another dispiriting defeat.
But it is that little bit harder when you can’t get out of the house easily, and your computer is an essential part of your day, the one thing that keeps you in touch with the outside world and with your Dad on the other side of the world. The place you get your news and entertainment, and the thing you need to do business on those days you’re up to doing business.
I felt too weak and wobbly to try to argue my case, and I already knew that saying all this to S. would be useless. That his implacable disinterested hipster facade would just nod and say “Hmm,” and about Monday instead of Sunday? So I made an appointment for the only day that seemed possible: next Thursday. A week away.
As I left the store, S. called out to me, “Have a great week!”
It took every bit of restraint I have not to shout back, “How can I, without my computer?”
Comments are closed because… they’re not working right now. Long story. (Short story: me + tech = sadness.)