Monday, July 21, 2014

Pathetic Apple store experience at Willow Grove Mall

THE WORST Apple Store I've been to. Period!

The Apple store at the Willow Grove mall takes the title. I never thought I'd say this for Apple, but their support is going down. BIG TIME. At least here.

I've been to this specific apple store a few times now. The experiences are as follows:

- Bought an iPhone for a cousin
- My wife came here to get her iPhone checked and got horrible service. So much so that she cried on the phone with me when she was explaining the way she was treated at the store.
- I came here on July 2nd to get a MacBook Pro checked. By far, drumroll ... bad experience again

Let me explain what happened in detail. You can decide yourself if this is a waste of your reading time or something that Apple really needs to look into and work on improving the experience it's future customers will have at the store {at this point I will make it a point to tell everyone that I know to NEVER go to that store}

I go into the store with my wife. Being a person who goes by the rules, I setup an online appointment with the Genius Bar. Once I enter the store, I was greeted by an Apple genius, as always, everything is good at this point. I'm in a happy mood, expecting Apple to help me out and I'll be out of here in no time

That specific point in time was the last time I had a happy thought at the Apple store. I get invited by another Apple genius. I will refrain from using any names as I don't want to say anything bad about anyone specifically. I'm sure Apple can do a better job and will see the bad service right away when someone visits the store as a secret customer.

Now, I get invited to a table before I get service. There are about 4 other people sitting there. 2 friends who had come to the Apple store, to basically get a new charger for their iPhone. I kid you not, those girls sat there for literally 30 minutes {I am sitting at the table patiently all this while} to get a new charger {I apologize if I'm off on times, but I think giving a new charger would not take anymore than 7-10 minutes tops}. Needless to say, the girls were totally frustrated with their experience

Next up, is another family, the girl reporting that her phone doesn't charge anymore. Eventually she was told that all the store can do is replace her phone. She was fine with that, but wanted to bring up a tiny concern. This was the 6th time her phone was being replaced. If you don't realize this by now. A product that's built with good quality CANNOT go with multiple cycles of replacements for the end customer. That is never a good experience. I don't care how easy it is to get it replaced, I don't care how my data is always secure, etc. etc. Figure out WHY you need to keep changing the phone over and over again. These are not my words, the girl who was given the replacement phone said that before she left

Now, it's my turn. I had the issue where the MacBook would run perfectly fine as long as it's plugged in to a power source. As soon as the power plug is disconnected, the machine worked ridiculously S...L...O...W. I could type up a whole sentence, get a coffee, come back, and the MacBook is still typing the sentence

Troubleshooting step 1: The Apple Genius uses his radio to ASK what he needs to do in this scenario. I let that slide, as I think they should be able to figure out the issue pretty soon

10 minutes later, what happens, the diagnostics test is over. The guy who was running the test stops. After a couple minutes of doing absolutely nothing, I had to ask what are we waiting for. Here comes the radio again. He asks on the Radio this exact question, "I've run the diags on this MacBook as requested, can someone tell me what's next"

At this point, I'm a little pissed. I come from a background of troubleshooting myself. I troubleshot a lot of DELL computers for approximately 2 1/2 years and then also supported DELL and Apple computers in a big University environment. So, I kind of have an idea of what the problem could be, but since I was pretty sure Apple Geniuses would be able to figure this out in no time, I keep my ideas to myself for now

Enter Apple Genius# 2 to help me out. He asks me, "Did the first guy go over the test results and what it means?". I say, "No, he didn't". He goes, "Ok, let me run the tests again, and I'll explain what we see", with hope, I think I found the guy who will indeed help me out, I say ok, sure

Then I explained to him what the situation was with the MacBook [works fine when plugged in to the power source, slow as soon as the power cable is unplugged from the MacBook]

We, then wait for a few minutes, since the disgnostics were still running [I've worked in troubleshooting before, So, I understand it takes time]

In the meantime, as I look around the store, I see the door behind the Apple Genius wall, that the reps use to go in and out from their workstations inside, someone leaves the door open, and I see Janitor staff walking around with dirty cleaning supplies, all this while, the door is still open. I saw about 5-6 Apple Genius staff walk in and out of that door, and no one thought of closing he door behind them. Finally, I see someone closing the door. I know this might be me being rather attacking towards Apple, but trust me, this isn't that at all. I just expect Apple to be a company that sets it's standards way up there. This just didn't give me that feeling and I wanted to express my feelings.

So, back to the troubleshooting, the disgnostics were run, I saw what it showed {Pbus error} and I kind of knew what it means, but waited to see what the Apple Genius had to tell me. Instead, the Apple Genius was conversing with another colleague of his, and on the side, {This is something I've NEVER seen anyone at the Apple store do in FRONT OF ME} he googles the exact words I said, "pbus error macbook pro"

He is now going through blogs to find what the error means and what to do next. Now, of course I would have been ok with it IF I had no seen this happening in front of me, I still give him a chance, thinking, maybe he will understand that he shouldn't be doing this in front of me, and will stop. But no, he surfed away, and some more.

Finally, I gave up. I had to tell him, that I had been sitting there for more than an hour with no real movement, and that I think I know what the problem is here. He then asks me what I think it is, I told him, since this is happening when the power is plugged in, it's definitely not the battery. So, the basic knowledge of a laptop is that when it's plugged in, it gets power from that point. When it's not plugged in, the battery talks to another power source and provides power to components [Hello PBus, Logic Board]

So, he's done looking at all blogs, and says, I didn't find anything on this issue, so I think this is what we can do for you. We have a flat rate $280 fee, plus taxes where we will take your MacBook Pro and fix whatever is wrong with the MacBook, and will be back with you as if it's new.

By this time, I have no patience left to even talk to the guy anymore, I still keep my calm, and ask, is there anything in particular that you see as a problem, or how much time it would take to fix it, understanding these are questions with no specific answers. I, then, get a better response from him, saying, it could take about 3-5 business days if the laptop has to go out, and that they don't know what exactly is wrong, he thinks it could be the PBus, but they will make sure it's fixed. He then asks me if I have everything backed up on the machine

I just say, ok. I'll figure out how to back-up everything and then come back and bring back the MacBook for fixing. I get a thanks, sorry couldn't figure this out sooner for you, and I'm out the door.
Now, I do know what I need to do with my MacBook Pro, and I'm thankful to the Apple Geniuses that took time to help me out. But, this is their business, this is their job, and as a customer, and one that respects Apple, I expect a great level of service from their employees, just like their products.

If this would have happened to me once, and never again, I would have totally ignored the whole situation, but, if the same thing happens over and over again, something has to be wrong. I hope this gets to someone at Apple, and get the required attention, and that something is done to fix this mess. Otherwise, I guarantee, there will be frustrated customers at least at the Willow Grove Mall store. Worst, Apple will LOSE customers. Loyal customers that too.

Thank you