While I still use a Windows PC in my office, I am decidedly an Apple guy both at home and on the road. My experience with my first iPhone led me to my first iPad, which eventually led me to a MacBook Pro, which eventually became a Macbook Air. I’ve had multiple iPhones as they have rolled out new models over time. All the phones on our corporate cell plan are iPhones. Over the years, between original equipment and upgrades, for both business and personal use, I’ve purchased several Mac computers, about 5 iPads and well more than a dozen iPhones.
This has given me opportunity, on rare occasions, to interact with the Apple Store support personnel, known as Apple Geniuses. I’ve long suspected it, but a recent row over the replacement of an iPhone battery has largely confirmed something in my mind. I’m no rocket scientist, but I am beginning to think these people aren’t actually geniuses. I suspect it may all be just a marketing ploy.
And not a clever ploy, either. A clever ploy would conceal the fact that they do not possess extraordinary intelligence. It doesn’t take a genius to figure that out.
In fact, if these guys are geniuses, we in the workers’ comp realm are absolute Savants.
My recent experience at the “Genius Bar” did nothing to assuage this growing suspicion that we are being had. My current phone, an iPhone 6S (I refused to upgrade to the 7 in protest over the loss of an audio jack. The 8, in addition to the lost jack, looks too much like the 6, and the X – pronounced “10” – well, is just too expensive for my taste. My Scottish roots will not allow me to spend $1,000 for a flippin’ phone; especially one that doesn’t flip anymore. But I digress. Where was I?).
Oh yes, my current phone, an iPhone 6S, started suffering from a failing battery. Fully charged in the morning, even after minimal use, it would be licking the bottom of the electrical barrel by early afternoon. Adding to the problem, it crashed several times when it was at low power, and refused to reboot until it had been plugged into a wall outlet allowing it to suckle at the glorious teat of mother electricity.
Boy, there is some fancy artistic license lingo right there, I’ll tell ya….
So anywhoo, a few weeks ago I read about the lawsuit against and subsequent apology from Apple, Inc. for allegedly slowing older iPhones in the name of battery preservation. As part of their strategy to counter this PR debacle, they announced they were lowering the price of battery replacement on these older phones from $79 to $29. My Scottish roots liked that move; liked it a great deal indeed. While I was looking into that, I discovered that a “very few” iPhone 6’s, manufactured in September or October of 2015, qualified for a free battery replacement, as they “may unexpectedly shut down.” I ran my phones serial number, and my Scottish roots were even more excited to find my phone qualified for this free replacement. I immediately scheduled an appointment with an Apple Genius for Friday evening, January 5, 2018. I noted on the reservation that I needed a new battery, and that my phone was listed as one eligible for the free replacement.
I spent the morning of the 5th getting a haircut and a mani-pedi. The rest of the day I listened to Mozart while reading the works of Chaucer. I wanted to look my best and did not want to risk sounding like an idiot in front of a genuine genius.
That evening, when arriving at the Apple Store in Sarasota, I was directed to the Genius Bar at the back of the large retail area. After a few minutes I was fully engaged with an actual genius, who figured out all on his own that 1) my phone did indeed get a free battery, and 2) they had no batteries. He complemented the entire genius presence by noting, “We’ve been going through a lot of batteries lately. We can’t keep ‘em in stock.”
He assured me that they would have it within 5 days, and they would call me. It would be a simple matter of showing up and they would swap it out while I wait. Easy peasy.
15 days later I had not heard a word and went online to see if I could get some information. In this age of high tech tracking, real time inventory and Amazon same day delivery, completing this process was far more difficult than I expected. It took an extended chat session and a subsequent follow up phone call the next day (that I will describe momentarily), all to simply find out where my battery was (and they still really could not tell me).
I spent almost 28 minutes engaged in a live chat that appears to have involved multiple geniuses working on the issue. Following is the actual transcript of the chat:
So, I had chatted with two people, and then patiently awaited the “call” from another Genius on Sunday around 1:00.
The call came in exactly at 1:00. It was an automated voice thanking me for scheduling a support call, and then it immediately put me on hold to wait for “the next available advisor.” I had an uneasy feeling build during the 5 minutes I waited for a human. Those feelings were confirmed when the genius came on the line. He thanked me for scheduling the call, and asked, “So, what can I do for you today?”
At this point I was incredulous. He had no information, no repair ID, no background notes – we were starting anew. He wasn’t even a “Senior Advisor,” just a regular old “Advisor.” This moron wasn’t even a GENIUS. I was driving and did not have the specific info available, and without that info he could not help me. It was a colossal waste of time.
I ended up just driving to the stupid store, which gave me the opportunity to say, “Hey Genius, where is my G&*$!@#@d Battery?” Turns out it was in fact there, and lo and behold, they were “just going to call” me that day. Imagine that. It took an hour and twenty minutes, they confused me with another Robert Wilson and I was asked 3 times (by the same Genius) if I was dropping my phone off when I was trying to pick it up, but damned if those whizbang Einstein’s didn’t get my new battery installed. Plus, while there I got to watch the spectacle of two other angry customers who were having problems eerily similar to my own, and the Geniuses were struggling to grasp their issues. Icing on the cake.
I wrote recently that the lack of clear communication is a major problem in workers’ comp. Turns out we are not alone. I would hope we all endeavor to not take our injured workers through a useless maze of misinformation, and when we see that happening, take steps to correct it. Injured workers’ after all, are dealing with far worse issues than a failing phone.
And at the end of the day, they don’t have a chance of uttering the wholly satisfying phrase, “Hey Genius, Fix My &%*$@#! Phone.”