Genius Bar adventures: a follow-up

Some of you may have read (and, more than likely, commented on) a story I wrote a few days ago about my experiences with getting my MacBook Pro repaired. (The short version: MacBook Pro, less than three months old, hardware problems, multiple repair attempts, conflicting information, frustrated customer.)

It appears that at least one employee from the downtown San Francisco Apple Store was among the readership as well, based on a call I received Thursday afternoon from the manager at said Apple Store.

The manager told me that an employee brought my situation to his attention—although he didn’t specifically say so, it seemed clear that it was someone who reads Macworld.com and came across my article—and asked if I’d be interested in a replacement MacBook Pro. He told me that, considered the newness of the laptop and the difficultly they seemed to be having tracking down what was wrong, a replacement was a reasonable option (also, he told me that my MacBook Pro was still several days from being repaired). I told him that a replacement would be great, and he arranged to have a Customer Replacement Unit (or CRU) ready for me to pick up in an hour or so.

We talked a little more and he told me that he’d make the same offer to anyone in the same situation. For obvious reasons, there are very few people in an Apple Store who are authorized to hand out replacement Macs to customers, and he said that if he’d been made aware of my situation while I was in the store itself, he would have taken care of it.

I mentioned the last contact I’d had with the store (a phone call in which I asked about a replacement and was told flatly it was “not a possibility”) and suggested that a better response would have been, “I can’t help you with that, and you’ll have to speak to a manager—would you like me to transfer you?” He agreed and said he’d already spoken to the person.

So I stopped by the Apple Store, picked up the replacement computer, and was able to get it up and running from a Time Machine backup of my previous MacBook Pro in just about an hour once I powered it up at home—a very satisfying conclusion to my saga.

Now, a cynical view of the situation might be to say that I got special treatment because I’m an editor at Macworld and this is more about PR than customer service. But I do honestly believe that had I been a more irate in-store customer and demanded to speak to a manager, the situation would have been resolved in a similar fashion, and perhaps more quickly too.

The point is—and this is something the manager conceded—that a customer has to know that the Genius behind the counter doesn’t have the authority to fix some problems and in many cases it’s the customer who has to the be the one to escalate a situation because an employee either doesn’t or won’t. And you shouldn’t have to lose your temper to have your problems taken seriously. (And obviously, my comments could apply to almost any company—this structure isn’t in any way limited to Apple.)

In any case, I’m thankful that I once again have a healthy, happy MacBook Pro on which to edit, tweet, read, and watch. And I’m also very thankful that I keep good backups of my data.

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