My Broken iPhone Experience at the Apple Store

Apple iPhone from VerizonLast week, I reviewed the new Apple iPhone 4S. As luck would have it, I ended up having some issues with my new device.

I'll start off by saying this: I now understand why Apple's customer service is marked with very high customer satisfaction. I now understand why Verizon's is too.

Between the two companies, I'm left with no frustration, at all - with regards to getting my broken iPhone 4S fixed. Aside from the initial pissyness of having a broken iPhone 4S after 48 hours, to get it fixed couldn't have been easier or more pleasurable for the situation. Both Apple's customer support via phone and their "Genius Bar" people in person, had my answer and solution literally within minutes. It went something like this...

Arriving at my 'appointment' set up by Apple's customer service promptly at 11am at the Montgomery Mall (Bethesda MD), I was greeted by an Apple Retail Store with standing room only space. I haven't see an Apple Store this busy since Christmas last year. It was very tight, but without the normal accompanying 'BO' odor most tightly-fitted Apple Stores carry. It was tolerable. That is to say, since I would not be attacked by my nostrils of that many people's BO, I could tolerate the sardine can. Moving on...

One thing Apple got right is it's Genius Bar setup. Though it feel awkward to not have a designated area for 'returns' and whatnot - pending you remind yourself you can go to any 'blue' shirted employee and get serviced is cool. There is no waiting, (for the most part). I made eye contact with some dude that was walking away from a customer, explained why I was there, and he walked me over to another dude, and I "checked in". Being ushered again to an area of the store that wasn't as busy as the floor, I waited briefly for a dude to help me.

He asked me if I was Mr. Hahn, I said "Yep". He asked what the problem was, and I pulled my phone out of my pocket and gave it to him and asked him to try and turn the volume up. Two seconds later his reply was, "I can give you a new phone if you want". I said "Thank you".

And here's where things went from tolerable to practicing patience. We went to a corner of the store, actually behind their genius counter, (since literally every place is full with a sardine), and he started to do the setup and re-activation of the new phone, (transferring my account, etc.). The Verizon side of the house was slow and did not work as it should have. He engaged Verizon support, and was on the phone with them, before having to leave me with another Apple associate, who wasn't the brightest bulb in the set. Basically after he was on the phone with Verizon and they started asking questions about me, he handed me the phone and I was in charge for the rest of my stint. 60+ minutes later of doing the same exact thing over and over again, and eventually being handed over to another V support person, things magically started to work.

Here's why I didn't lose my patience and go all crazy on anyone... they were super nice. Everyone. Every Apple associate that passed, and all three of the Verizon people. We never got disconnected once, (using an iPhone on Verizon mind you), and I was behind the Genius counter away from the dead canned-fish. It wasn't 'bad', or enough to invoke the green beast that lies in my blood stream. The Apple Store along with Verizon really operated like a well oiled machine, IMO. They literally seemed like they were in it for me, in the same trench as me. This is not any return experience from a Best Buy, etc. By taking me behind the Genius counter, removing me from the sardines, (which I was the only one they did that too in the hour and a half I was there), I dunno, it made me feel taken care of. I mean, within seconds of looking at my phone he asked if I wanted another 400 dollar phone. That was cool.

Now here's the bad, that I didn't like...

My "400 dollar phone" shouldn't have broken after 48 hours. Piss #1. Despite being pleased overall with everything, I didn't like the 2nd dude that was helping me out from the Apple Store. He was very grabby and couldn't stand still for long. He had to touch my new phone, my old phone, and or the Mac Book Air we were using to activate the new phone. I wanted to call his meth dealer and complain.

Piss #2, I didn't like all the old people at the genius counter - they simply got on my nerves. I was pleasantly reminded of how lucky I am to work for my current employer, doing what I do in IT. These old people, though nice and all, was stupid. It's an iPhone and you had people buy the iPhone and immediately ask for help on learning how to use it. We're not talking about great grandmas here, we're talking about people who's kids were either married, or new grandparents. I asked myself, REALLY? The iPhone/iOS is that hard to figure out? One endearing and annoying moment was one grandma that was shown how to change the ringer - she laughed hysterically at one sound in particular. You'd think that you'd be swelled with warm honey at such a moment, but I dunno, I found it... annoying.

The Verizon setup wasn't flawless... at all. Once I left the store I couldn't make or receive phone calls. This after 60+ minutes made me want to practice some Zen. Deep cleansing breaths later, I kept walking to my car, knowing that if I turned around and went back to the Apple Store, they wouldn't be able to help me. I figured I stood a better chance of going back home and dealing with it myself. So, I got back to my car, and used my iPad to see if I could receive calls, (thank you Skype!). I could, and curiously afterwards I was able to make calls. Fixed? I hope the hell so.

I hate Bethesda, Maryland and I wasn't even in Bethesda. I hate Bethesda people in general. They're mean. As I was waiting to be serviced early on, as I was standing in front of the software section. The dude acknowledged my existence, but that was it. It was just pure arrogance. Scene: "Oh I'm sorry, let me move out of the way". . Really? Hyper sensitive? Maybe, but it was just rude.

Anyway, here's some weird factoids...

Though you can't just walk into an Apple store and get an iPhone, they had stock on hand to help me. Apparently they have units on standby, NOT in the retail package, but just the phone itself, in a well protected black box. This is where my phone came from, I noticed a few others too. I just think it's funny that if you came in off the street, and or, attempted to reserve one at 9:01pm for pick-up the next day, you couldn't do it, due to limited stock. But they had, seemingly, a bunch of these 'oh crap' units on standby. I don't know if this is a good thing or not? The iPhone 4S isn't crap is it? Better frakkin' not be... or so help me...

By doing this, exchanging my phone, I voided my 30 days of canceling my Verizon contract. Unlike AT&T, I had 30 days to cancel my 2 year contract. Well, because of 'their' broken phone, 'I the consumer' forfeit my 30 day Verizon out-clause. I didn't like that, but it's not like I'm leaving them anytime soon. Still though, it's not Verizon's fault or mine - it was in 48 hours of the original activation, But because of Apple's phone... meh. I wonder if it's like that for all of Verizon phones? If was was skeptical of Verizon, I'd be pissed about this. Since I'm not, I don't care. Just thought I'd mention that.

In summary...

- It sucks my $400 phone broke in 48 hours.
- However, Apple and Verizon took great care of me.

It wasn't all perfect, but it was certainly not bad either.

~A

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