Apple Store blues: Where have all the geniuses gone?

Everybody has a story to tell.

From friend-of-the-blog Frederic Golden (with link to the LA Times):

Most recent experience at Apple Store wasn’t glowing. Trying to replace a lost footpad for my MacBook Pro, I was told I needed whole new backplate (cost: $100). Local MacMechanic did it for $5.

From Bloomberg (via the LA Times) How the Apple store has fallen from grace

Employees also said the deterioration in the quality of store staff didn’t start under Ahrendts but worsened during her tenure. “Employees used to be very skilled,” one said. “When you came to Apple, you could walk in and talk to someone who happens to be a musician or videographer on the side, really knowledgeable. They hire really nice people now, but they are much less technical.” During the Johnson era, sales associates got three weeks to a month of training; now they get about a week if they’re joining an existing store. Geniuses, who according to Glassdoor earn $22 an hour on average, were trained at Apple’s Cupertino, Calif., headquarters. Now they’re mostly trained in stores.

My take: Servicing 1.3 billion devices can’t be easy. I remember reading, I can’t remember where, that Google’s co-founders considered providing customer support, took a hard look at the problem, and concluded early on that it didn’t scale.

5 Comments

  1. Jerry W Doyle said:

    The nearest Apple store to my residence is 100 miles. The other Apple stores I frequent periodically are out-of-state in Dallas where I often do business.

    Last Thanksgiving I went to the Dallas North-park Mall to order a new Series 4 stainless steel Apple Watch. The store had none in stock. The sales representative checked the stock in the other three Metroplex (Dallas/Fort Worth) stores and found none of those stores had the stainless steel version in stock.

    Frustrated, I left and walked out to my car to leave the mall. While sitting in my car I decided to order “online” from Apple the Series 4 Watch and have it shipped to my home. I was not able to complete successfully, ordering the Watch online through the Apple store app on my phone. Because I was out-of-state in Dallas the on-line ordering would not allow me to use my home address where the Watch was to be shipped.

    After a period of frustration in unsuccessfully trying to order the Watch online, I called Apple directly while still sitting in my car on the mall’s parking lot to consummate the purchased. I had to wait a period to get a sales representative on the phone to consummate the order.

    You may be wondering why I didn’t walk back inside the Apple store to have one of the store sales representatives complete the order and have the Watch shipped to my home. I chose to do the ordering myself on the phone as it was mostly chaos in the store. Also, from my perspective of the sales representative with whom I attempted initially to negotiate the purchase and was told no Series 4 stainless steel Watches were in stock, I didn’t feel comfortable with him handling the ordering process. The sales representative didn’t instill the needed confidence in me that the ordering process would be completed successfully and my Watch shipped directly to my home in another state.

    As you may surmise from above, I was not a happy camper and I am a loyal Apple consumer and investor. So yes, there are problems needing to be addressed in the Apple stores.

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    May 9, 2019
    • Jerry W Doyle said:

      Please excuse the imposition. The line in my second paragraph above should read: Last Thanksgiving I went to the Dallas North-park Mall to “purchase” a new Series 4 stainless steel Apple Watch.

      Jerry D

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      May 9, 2019
  2. Fred Stein said:

    Disclaimer, just my experience. Quality of genius bar has gone down from early days. BUT. the quality of on-line support has improved over the last few years.

    There are several challenges to Apple scaling in-store genius bars. 1) People keep their Apple device longer which adds to the absolute number and the diversity of devices. 2) All labor is in demand, and more so for skilled labor. It would not surprise me that Genius Bar employees get attractive offers from Apple’s new channel partners, IBM, SAP, Cisco, etc.

    Apple should invest more in training and benefits for Genius Bar employees.For investors, its better than dividends, buybacks, or acquisitions.

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    May 9, 2019
  3. John Konopka said:

    I somewhat agree that the Apple stores have lost some there peak expertise. But my experiences have been very good. I had an iPhone replaced under warranty last year and that went well. A couple of weeks ago I ordered a new iMac at the Apple store and that went well. I had some questions about how the credit card was charged and such and the employee was very knowledgeable about the details.

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    May 9, 2019
  4. Jerry W Doyle said:

    I’m concern that my above comment not be taken in isolation as my “whole” experience with Apple stores and with Apple’s online service and tech support. I agree with Fred S on the quality of on-line support by Apple service techs and I also agree with John K’s comments. As I denoted, there is no Apple store within 100 miles of me. Consequently, 100 percent of my purchases from Apple all are done through the Apple on-line store. I use Apple store visits to browse product lines.

    I wanted to trade my first generation stainless steel Watch on either a new Series 4 Steel stainless or on the Gold stainless. I needed, though, to view in person the two Watches side-by-side to decide which one I preferred. So, I decided while in Dallas to visit the Apple North-park store and view both stainless versions and buy one to wear for some business and social occasions while in the Metroplex. It stunned me that none of the Metroplex stores had these versions in stock, but customers in the North-park store were buying plenty of the aluminum versions.

    I always have gotten superb tech support from Apple whenever I call them. My reason for switching from Windows to the MacOS and to the iOS was Microsoft’s failure to have tech support representatives with good communications skills. With Window products, one frequently is seeking tech support. After switching to Apple I found an infrequent need to seek tech support, but whenever I did I found excellent responses from Apple tech support staffs who had good tech knowledge and excellent communication skills making my experience a much more favorable one than with Microsoft. I have three iPhones. When I replaced batteries in two of them I found Apple’s response superb. Apple sent me the box overnight with UPS labels to take to the UPS store. Got the phones with their respective new battery back in five business days, fast and easy. Recently I used $200 of Apple Gift Cards collected through Barclay Visa to cover partial expense of an on-line Apple purchase. Later, I noticed that Apple failed to give me the full $200 credit for the Apple Gift Cards. I contacted an Apple representative who moved quickly to correct the problem.

    In summary, my overall relationship with Apple Stores and my Apple’s on-line experience has been extremely good. It saddened me to hear of Angela Ahrendts’ leaving Apple because I thought Angela did some extremely great things during her tenure. So, while Apple stores’ have some problems that need addressing, my overall experience with Apple’s on-line store service and with Apple’s tech support staffs is excellent.

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    May 9, 2019

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