My recent experiences with AppleCare/genius bar service have been lackluster. Curious to know other people’s experiences. It used to be that they would aim to surprise and delight and make you feel good about the experience. That’s why I would buy AppleCare. The always aimed to make you whole even if the situation didn’t quite fit the policy. Now any situation that comes up that is outside of the norm, they have no flexibility to help you and simply hide behind their policies. It now definitely feels like I’m dealing with a big corporation.
I’ve found that in the Apple Stores, half of the workers are just interested in attending to people who are buying or have bought high end Apple products. They tend to rush you out.
Their service on the phone with AppleCare, on the other hand, is outstanding. I call all the time. They assist you with the tiniest problem to the greatest and they do so graciously. Each genius is so patient and they rarely give up. They’ll go at a problem six different way! I rarely find a rep from another agency with comparable service. To be sure– I love calling AppleCare although I’m surely not looking for problems. They’re one facet of what I love about Apple!
I haven’t used Applecare as much as I did in the days before the web, but someone from Apple who dealt with my 74-year-old dad on the other end of phone support this past winter deserves some sort of award.
Story: I heard about this after the fact. My dad received a Fitbit Charge for Christmas. He has an iPhone that’s under Applecare so he called. The person who got his call for help putting the Fitbit app on his iPhone and syncing it with his new Fitbit walked him patiently through the whole process, which included helping him retrieve his email password and setting up his Fitbit account. When I asked him how look it took, he said, “about an hour.” He was very pleased to have done this without my brother or my help.
Having been tech support for my dad over the phone in the past, I suspect this was not easy and required some kindness and patience. My mom is the techy-er of the two of them. He still struggles with the cable dvr remote. I was especially impressed because of the Fitbit / Apple watch rivalry.
Between my wife and I, each of us with a Mac, iPhone, iPad, and Apple Watch, we usually have a reason to reach out to AppleCare every few months.
9 times out of 10 they come through for us rather well. Most recently my wife had some accidental water damage on her 2016 MacBook Pro. Obviously that was something she paid for, but when they returned it, a few of the keys on the keyboard were not behaviour properly. We made an appointment at the Genius Bar and a genius took it to the back to check it out. 10 minutes later she came back having replaced the problematic key-caps, cleaned the gunk out of it, and we were on our way, no charge.
Now, on the one hand, the initial repair person who replaced the logic board probably should have detected the iffy keys to begin with, though the issue was not super obvious and was slightly intermittent. On the other hand, the broken keys ere broken because of accidental damage, and the genius could easily have charged us for the labour and key caps, which she did not.
Late last year I was doing an express replacement for a minor Apple Watch issue (they send you a new watch and you return the old one in the box). Because of some winter weather and an AppleCare rep who got sick my shipment got mis-delivered and then delayed by several days. Not only did they get this corrected, but they told me to pick an accessory from the Apple Store which they would ship to me to make up for the error. Totally more than what a few days delay on a replacement called for, but I appreciated the care!
A couple years ago I had an issue with my MacBook Pro randomly shutting down. I worked with a senior advisor for 6 months, replacing this part, running these diagnostics, replacing that part, and eventually after three major repairs they gave me a new laptop (as per policy), which happened to be an updated version of the one I was having issues with. Working with a customer for SIX MONTHS and then giving them a new computer is a pretty high level of customer service.
On the other hand, there was the time where an express replacement watch was shipped to my wife (for a minor issue that could have been lived with if needed), but the watch itself was missing (The box clearly had been tampered with and likely had to have been someone either at FedEx or the Apple fulfilment centre). Over the course of two months we worked to convince Apple not to charge us for the missing watch (or have my wife send her watch in as collateral, leaving her with nothing), and that we had in fact received an empty box. It was a stressful and extremely disheartening experience that Apple was effectively going to take my wife watch (or money) rather than give us the benefit of the doubt. In the end, they let her keep her original watch and didn’t take the money, but it was really disenchanting.
The reality is that Apple Care is run and delivered by humans, and humans differ in their disposition and competence. Not everyone is going to be a saint, not everyone is going to go above and beyond, but many are and many will. Apple Care also serves MILLIONS of people every year. If even a. Small percentage of those people have negative experiences, it will be a lot of people in absolute terms.
Overall our experiences are generally positive. The negative ones are few and far between, and normally the negative experiences are easily reversed by dealing with someone else who is more competent or who isn’t having a bad day (unless our request or issue is itself unreasonable, but we’re exceptionally reasonable people ).
Applecare best experience: Walking into a store (Covent Garden, London) with a 2 month old smashed phone and getting an instant replacement. I urgently needed this as I was travelling on Holiday and wanted to take some photos. Absolutely amazing service.
Applecare worst experience: A long time ago visiting a store (Bluewater, Kent) and was unable to get my phone replaced which had a problem with Audio. I was running the latest Beta and the Apple person flat-out refused to replace the phone even although I insisted that this was a problem pre-beta and was clearly a hardware issue (it was obvious at the time).
Most experiences have been positive but it helps if you know what the fault is as it can lead to faster resolution.
I’ve had only positive experiences with AppleCare going back to my Apple //gs but you should be aware if you travel internationally that you may not be covered under AppleCare+ . In the ToC it says it’s only valid in the USA for US customers but in practice people seem to have had success in any Apple Store worldwide. Apple authorized retailers, which are the only option in much of the world, won’t honour it in my experience.
I had a pleasant experience with Apple Care considering that we don’t really have an official Apple Store in my country. But my rule is always to call Apple Care first before going to any Certified Apple Retailer. Once, an iPhone 6 Plus died on me without any hint of what went wrong. It had a small crack from falling a few weeks when we got it but the phone is almost a year old now. Went to the local store and they want to charge us a full amount to replace the phone since it has cracks in it (said if it doesn’t have any visible damage, they would swap it). We weren’t really asking for a replacement but since Apple’s policy is to swap phone rather than repair, the local store wants to charge us because the phone has a crack and some scratches from normal usage. So, I called Applecare while still inside the store, talk to a representative, sent some photos. After 20 minutes, the representative told me to give the local store the transaction number and they’ll proceed to replace my phone without charge. If I didn’t call Applecare, the local store would have me pay about $300 for a replacement.
Another incident, this time an iPad Pro 10.5 died just after two months. It won’t turn on. Called Applecare and was told that it will be replaced if they found hardware problems on it from diagnostics. So I brought it to my local store to have it checked and diagnostic did confirm that it’s for a replacement but they have to send the iPad unit first to Singapore for further checking and it will take 2-3 weeks to receive the replacement. Called Applecare again and asked if I visit an official Apple Store in HongKong for an upcoming trip in a week time, will they replace my iPad Pro immediately. I was told that I can have it replaced there that I should bring my diagnostic report along with me. Went to Apple Store HK, the staff weren’t that helpful and told me that I have to wait for another week because they still want to check the device again even though their own diagnostic test did say it’s up for replacement. Called Applecare again while in the store. The store supervisor after getting a report that I’m calling Applecare was forced to just replaced the iPad unit immediately.
Calling Applecare really does help a lot when you don’t have an official Apple Store in your country. They saved me a bunch in the past. The stories I recalled are just two of the best cases that happened to me. Calling Applecare is the first thing I always do when I have Apple problems and they are a delight to talk to.
This is so true.
We lived about 4hrs away from an Apple Store for a few years and only had one Authorized Apple Service provider in our town. They did a repair under warranty for us and in the process actually created another, more severe problem. They also kept an accessory that was related to the original issue because they “couldn’t find it” when we picked up the poorly-repaired machine.
When we called AppleCare to get them to fix the new problem, we told them about the poor service at the Authorized Service Centre and that they refused to return our accessory. The Apple Care agent put us on hold while they called the service provider right then and there and straightened them out. 15 minutes after we got off the phone with Apple, the Service Provider called us to sheepishly tell us they’re replacing the accessory of ours they lost with a new one and offer a weak excuse as to why it happened in the first place.
We did a mail-in repair with Apple to fix the new problem and got the laptop back in 2 business days as good as new.
It’s been about three years since I left my AppleCare job, so I can’t tell you for sure that it’s the same now as it was then. But I can tell you that when I had that job, “surprise and delight” and making the customer “whole” were literally the top priorities. They provided us with ample backup to do that as often as we could, and they encouraged us to be creative in our approach. It was pretty remarkable, given how huge the operation is. Even as a long-time Apple loyalist, I expected something a lot more regimented and buttoned-down when I went in.
I wasn’t a Genius, I was helping people over the phone. But here’s one of the most telling things I learned: My training class had about 20 or 25 people in it. At least half had come from similar customer service positions at other companies. (I had no previous customer service experience.) Those customer service veterans frequently commented on how different Apple’s approach was from their previous employers. Not just in the depth and quality of the training, but also in the amount of leeway we were being told we’d have in what we could do to make the customer happy. They mentioned this a lot.
During training, some of them were pretty skeptical about how much of what we were being told we could do would actually be allowed in practice. But it all was allowed, at least in my experience.
Nobody at Apple ever told me this, but from what I could glean, Apple’s approach is to treat customer service as a direct extension of its marketing – another opportunity to give the customer a reason to keep coming back. It’s not altruistic or charitable. It’s just good business.
You’re right: You are dealing with a big corporation. So, obviously, there are rules to help the staff make decisions. And, of course, your individual experience can only be as good as the particular person you end up dealing with. Out of the thousands of people who work for AppleCare, they can’t all be superstars.
I can’t share details with you. I’m sure I signed something to that effect when I took the job. It wasn’t paradise, and it wasn’t always perfect. There are always going to be occasional cases where you can’t make the customer as happy as the customer hopes, whether you work for Apple or anybody else. But as someone who has been on the other end of that phone call, I can guarantee you that I was trained to surprise and delight, and once I was on the phone and taking calls all day, my manager did whatever she could do to help me keep doing that.
Another thing I learned: Apple has a lot of awesome customers. I wish I had a recording of every time a customer said something like this to me near the end of the call: “This is why I love Apple!”
I had a battery issue with my old iPhone 5, it kept draining quickly even if I never touched it all day long. The first time they re-installed iOS. A week later I come back in for the same issue and they say there is nothing they can do because they don’t believe me and assumed I just use my phone more than I realize.
What sucked was that on my second time coming back in a lady walks in and admits she drove over her iPad mini and they gave her a new iPad mini without even checking anything.
Apparently I should have drove over my iPhone if I wanted it fixed.
If you had AppleCare+, then this would actually be true (after paying the $79 replacement fee).
I haven’t noticed a change in how dedicated the service people are, but I have noticed that overall the experience has degraded at my closest store because it is incredibly crowded. Also, the stores are supremely noisy and chaotic.
I do get the sense that they have become much stricter with hardware issues over the past 5 years — especially water damage or other hidden types of damage. It seems like they have much less leeway.
And of course, if you have AppleID problems, the techs in the store have very limited power to help you. For that, you need to call Apple. (Why they don’t emphasize this on the web site is beyond me, but I suspect it’s part of Apple’s marketing strategy. They really don’t like to emphasize in print that anyone would ever need help with their products.)
With five weeks left on Applecare+ on my wife’s series 1 watch with a failing touch screen, we just got it replaced with a brand new series 4. Took a couple weeks for them to realize they didn’t have series 1 stock around any more. But the outcome couldn’t be better.