Open letter to Apple: ‘Genius’ and appointment not required to swap out iPod! Thanks for wasting my time.

Dear Apple executives:

It really shouldn’t take three trips to the Apple store to replace an iPod that is still under warranty. I shouldn’t need to make an appointment to hand you a broken iPod and you hand me a new iPod and someone ring up $100 on the cash register. None of these actions require a technician or a “genius” to complete.

Originally I called the help line and they told me the iPod could be replaced for $100 by just going to the store. I stopped by the store on a Saturday. It was completely packed and they said the next appointment would be two hours away. I said I would return on a weekday, thinking this would mean I could get in and out without an appointment for such a simple transaction.

I returned a few weeks later at 7:30 on a Monday night, and I was told you were completely full and no one could help me despite the fact that at least 10 of your “geniuses” were standing around chatting. I was glad your “geniuses” could take time away from their chatting to make me an appointment for the next day for a transaction that should have taken no more than five minutes but now involves me bringing three children and driving an extra 30 miles to accomplish. Will you reimburse my gas money? (Please be aware I plan to let my three children play with every piece of equipment in the store even after the “genius” finishes my five-minute transaction.)

Three trips to the mall to swap out one iPod does not make me want to purchase any more of your products. And I’m glad I bought a Samsung Galaxy instead of an iPhone.

You need to rethink your customer service to actually serve your customers. Simple transactions should NOT require appointments or geniuses to complete. They also shouldn’t take three trips to a mall.


Theresa Walsh Giarrusso

(Mother of three children who would love Apple products but won’t be getting anymore after these time-wasting experiences.)

Update to this story: When I showed up for my 2:30 appointment, I was told to check in and there would be a short wait. So we waited and the kids played on the iPhone 5 and the iPads. When the guy came over I told him that we had a broken iPod to replace and that this was my third visit in and that was I bit irritated. This guy was very nice and understanding. He started tapping away on his iPad and said well actually they have messed up and they didn’t make the appointment with the right department so … He trailed off. I could tell wehre this was going and this was about to mean making another appointment. I told him we needed to take care of this today. That I was in the night before and had told the girl exactly what was needed and she made the appointment. He said he would make it happen. To his credit, he took care of it. About 45 minutes later we paid our $100 and left with the new iPod.

Have you experienced similar frustrations with service at the Apple store? Are you buying Apple products for your kids? Have they dropped an iPod and cracked the screen? What do you do — replace it or tough stuff? (Rose is paying half the replacement cost.)

55 comments Add your comment


October 10th, 2012
5:58 am

Funny… …I was just wondering who gives stuff like this to kids over the weekend…


October 10th, 2012
6:15 am

If you were under warranty, why did you have to pay $100 to get a new iPod? And while my child does have an iPod, it’s his dad’s old one. I’m an Apple junkie myself. When I had a problem with my old iPhone 3G, it only took 1 “Genius” appointment and 15 minutes to fix it. Looks like you got stuck in customer service hell, TWG. Sorry that happened to you.


October 10th, 2012
6:26 am

With the Apple store you somewhat did it wrong the first two times. Here’s a couple of things to remember when going for support. Remember them, and you will likely have a good experience (I always have).

1) Apple stores are ALWAYS busy no matter what day or time it is. I have never been to one without seeing it full of customers. It isn’t really possible to just walk in and see a Genius.
2) ALWAYS make an appointment for a tech support need. You can usually get one for the same day, but do it at least a day ahead to be safe. You can do this online at Apple’s website.

Remember those two things, and you are much more likely to have a good experience when you have a problem. Apple is consistently rated high on customer service. Where will you take your Samsung if it breaks? There are no Samsung stores with their tech guys to help you.


October 10th, 2012
7:02 am

Use squaretrade instead. Much simpler.


October 10th, 2012
7:58 am

How Apple continues to get away with stuff like this is beyond me. It should not be that complicated. Wasted trips prior aside, it should NOT take you making an appointment, plus a 45 minute wait on top of that to swap out a piece of faulty equipment. Period. Any other company who had a setup like this would be out of business within a year. I guess Apple should be happy that they’ve got so many “disciples” out there who are willing to put up with this because they’ve pledged to the altar of the Church of Steve Jobs.

I’ve bought my last Apple product. No thank you.

Techno Shmeckmo

October 10th, 2012
8:05 am

I’ve not owned any Apple products, but that is clearly a case(s) of poor customer service. And I’m sure they’ll lose you as a future customer whenever the product fails or it is time to buy a replacement.

Even Walmart can change out a defective product in one simple visit. And I don’t believe anyone would say their customer service is the pinnacle of anything. What’s with the $100 thing? Some sort of deductible for an extended service plan or do they charge money to swap out their own defective product? That would be the pinnacle of something else (BS :))

mystery poster

October 10th, 2012
8:06 am

I’ve heard that if you’re handy, then you can replace broken screens yourself. Never tried it, and I don’t own any apple products. I had a student who said he was constantly breaking screens and replacing them himself (I think his was an iPhone). You can order them from Amazon.


October 10th, 2012
8:07 am

As an addendum to @Greg’s post — I have actually made a same-day appointment while standing in the line to make an appointment – seriously. Seems, in my experiences at least, that making the appointment yourself online bypasses a portion of the queue for appointments being made by Apple personnel.


October 10th, 2012
8:10 am

I had an issue with my iPhone (microphone shorted out). Went to Apple at MOG, as soon as they opened one Saturday morning. I was told I had to make an appointment. I was the only one there. I told them I had a bunch of errands to run, and was it possible to be seen right then and there. One “genuis” said No, I needed to make an appointment, which I did for 11:00 a.m. (2 hours later). 5 minutes later, another “Genius” approached me, I told him I had an appointment at 11, but I was here now, and there was no one else in the store. He said, sure, come on in and let’s take a look. I was out of there, with a brand new iPhone (no cost to me), within 10 minutes.

I’ve never had a bad experience with Apple. I’ve had my iPhone for 2 years now, no cracks, no breakage, etc. Perfectly perfect.

And I refuse to buy an iPad for the kids. If my kids want that kind of stuff, they have to pay for it themselves. They will appreciate it more if they work for it, and pay for it with their own money.


October 10th, 2012
8:12 am

And iPods are about what $150? Why did you pay another $100 for a WARRANTY replacement? Now you have a $250 iPod…..

I guess they saw you coming….Sucker.


October 10th, 2012
8:13 am

This is the very reason I will never own an iphone. My husband loves his, but I love my HTC. Next summer I plan on getting a Galaxy. Friends have told me that they ditched the iphone and love the galaxy. I’ve had to wait with my husband to get his iphone serviced. No matter when you go, it’s crazy.


October 10th, 2012
8:37 am


October 10th, 2012
8:38 am

oh….i guess i should clarify…between my phone and nexus 7 we have no need for an iPod.


October 10th, 2012
8:48 am

We’ve had 5 iPhones between the 3 of us but I am not an Apple Who&e (as I call my brother in law). Never had a reason to visit an Apple store but I have heard about the appointments. If they’re always soooo busy, why don’t they have more stores?

I’m guessing TWG had to pay $100 b/c Rose cracked the screen- not b/c it was actually defective. I did drop my phone and crack the screen a few months ago. Since my iPhone is 3 years old but I’m not ready to fork over the bucks for an upgrade, I went to a local repair guy and paid $55 for a new screen. Done in about 12 minutes.


October 10th, 2012
8:55 am

There’s a store at Discover Mills, next to Bass Pro, that will replace a cracked/broken screen on the iPhone for $45.


October 10th, 2012
9:00 am

I’ve purchased many Apple products for myself and family members (a laptop, 5 ipods and 4 iphones) and have had to make several visits to the Apple store most recently to replace a new iPhone 5 that had some issues. I have always made an appoinment and have always been seen at or very close to my appointment time. Apple has GREAT customer service and that is one of the reason I will continue to purchase their products.


October 10th, 2012
9:12 am

Not sure how old DD will be before we buy her expensive electronics, but if she had one and cracked the screen, I think I would tell her she could wait for Christmas or a birthday to replace or pay the replacement fee herself (some of her money upfront and work the rest of it off perhaps).

We aren’t Apple people. Frankly, I don’t get the fascination with owning the latest and greatest. Oooh, look – I waited in line for 4 hours and the screen on my iCrack is .5mm bigger! Of course, we do get Samsung products mostly for free, so I don’t think my opinion counts :o)

@TWG – Thanks for the chuckle as I envisioned you siccing the kids on the test gadgets while glaring at the ‘Geniuses.’


October 10th, 2012
9:36 am

An appointment to swap out a defective product? Are you kidding me? What kind of hallucinogenics are you Apple fanatics on?

On a recent business trip, two co-workers passionately defended their Iphones versus my Samsung Droid Charge, despite the major advantages of the Droid. (4G connectivity, full turn by turn, accurate directions, a higher resolution/higher optics camera, a larger screen, full Flash connectivity…I could go on, but I won’t).

There is almost a cult-like fanaticism with Apple that defies logic. It’s a bit worrisome too. These are ordinarily bright people who quite frankly, have been brainwashed.

Me personally, if I had a defective product and saw 10 ‘geniuses’ standing around chatting, I would have raised holy hell until they replaced my product right then and there.

But then again, when I do have issues with my electronics (including an Asus EEE pad that is SUPERIOR to any IPad ever made) I just go to the Verizon store where I bought it, take a number, and have my problems resolved on the spot…

Wait, that’s not true. That’s what I would IF I had problems with my phone/EEEPad. I haven’t had any…


October 10th, 2012
10:04 am

I replaced the screen on my son’s phone a couple of years ago — we just needed to keep it going for a few more months until our contract renewed. It was $10 for the screen, and $7.50 for a couple of special tools (bought them on-line.) A couple of YouTube video demonstrations, and bang, new screen! It was already out of warranty, so if I had screwed it up, no biggie. But I was rather pleased with myself. :-)

My daughter is an Apple fan, and for her, the platform makes sense due to her major. The rest of us are PC folks, and I absolutely ADORE my Samsung Galaxy tablet. Not a single complaint, it’s wonderful! Our phone contract expires this month, and I will be replacing my beloved Blackberry with an Android-based phone. Hate to do it, but anyone can see the writing on the wall at RIM. :-(

Devil's Advocate

October 10th, 2012
10:12 am

“Where will you take your Samsung if it breaks?”

My son dropped his Galaxy S3 last week and the screen no longer responded to touch. There was the loss of green color and a small crack near the top. I assumed that a connection was damaged inside. We have Best Buy’s $9.99/mo no deductible (only a refundable $50 deposit on a loaner phone *if* you choose to use one) warranty. They took the phone, sent it off for repair, determined that it could not be repaired, and replaced it with a new phone. This took about 3 days including the weekend and I didn’t have to fork out an extra $100 despite getting a new replacement phone.

Outside of the logistics of physically getting a replacement phone I required no “tech support” as all I had to do was insert his microSD card, configure the phone with his Gmail account, and all was well as his contacts/settings returned and he set off to download all of the apps associated with his account.

Apple is great when their products are working, not so great when you have to fix something. They have been the opposite of what was considered the PC/Microsoft experience (which is now the everyone but Apple experience). Apple products provide the security of knowing that you don’t really have to do anything special to get up and running with interoperable products, but that’s where the ease of use experience ends.

Integrating new technology, especially 3rd party technology is always either difficult or nonexistent until Apple themselves offer it (usually in a new version of the product you must pay full price to obtain). This is where “everyone else” benefits.

The decision to purchase Apple or something else has nothing to do with quality or even ability as most devices are capable of doing the same things (Android usually does more sooner contrary to Apple’s marketing spin). The purchasing decision really comes down to the security of knowing that Apple products work well together versus the freedom of adopting new technology faster without having to wait for Apple to play catchup with the new iPhone/iPad or go see a “genius” to make it happen.

Most power users of technology I know buy what they like and make it work together regardless of who made it. That is, they may own one or two Apple products and a lot of other products then bridge the gap by using Gmail/Amazon/Hotmail for syncing data.

The only problem I have with Apple is that they want to own the market via litigation and not compete in the free market. I want to choose which products I buy; I don’t want Apple to be my only option. My family’s last 5 cell phone purchases have included 3 Samsungs, 1 HTC, and 1 Motorola. The Galaxy S3 purchase was going to be an iPhone 4S purchase last Christmas until Apple stepped up their litigation against Samsung and that’s when I went from considering Apple products to going out of my way to not support a company threatening industry innovation by abusing a broken patent system.

And please don’t play the “support an American company card” with Apple. Google and Motorola are American companies too even before the acquisition. Google is just willing to let any hardware vendor license Android and it just so happens that Samsung (a key supplier for Apple’s iProducts) is the biggest adopter. Lots of twisted logic from the Apple camp left a sour taste in my mouth.


October 10th, 2012
10:14 am

OK, you blog family techno-phobes...

October 10th, 2012
10:15 am

…Please, seriously, explain the difference between the iPhone5 and the Galaxy S III phone (other than more apps with the iPhone) – Many thanks…

I believe "biggest adopter"...

October 10th, 2012
10:17 am

…should be “adapter”?

Devil's Advocate

October 10th, 2012
10:39 am

Samsung is an adopter of Android.

In this context, an adopter is an entity that accepts, takes on, or otherwise subscribes to a product.
An adapter would be a software or hardware interface that provides interoperability between two distinct systems.

So I mentioned Samsung as the biggest adopter of the Android OS as far as smartphones and tablets go.

Van Jones

October 10th, 2012
11:10 am

DA, doesn’t $9.99/mo add up to $100 in less than a year?


October 10th, 2012
11:26 am

I had an Iphone 4 for two years. I just got a Samsung Galaxy S3 last week. I’m still learning about this new phone, but it’s been great so far. It’s lighter, the screen is bigger and more crisp, faster, and we switched to Sprint (from AT&T) for unlimited data (unlimited everything really). I had a limited data plan with AT&T and had to pay extra if I went over. With our work discount it’s about the same price per month. I’m sure there are a lot more differences, but these are the main ones I’ve seen so far. My husband was obsessed with the Iphone for many years, but now he loves his Galaxy.

Devil's Advocate

October 10th, 2012
11:28 am

Van Jones,

The difference is that my phone covered under this plan can be repaired or replaced multiple times for that same cost. If I break the phone 2+ times in a year my cost does not increase like the $100 per incident replacement mentioned in the blog.

So for just under $120/year the phone can be serviced many times at no additional cost. Break the iPhone each month, $1200!


October 10th, 2012
11:30 am

If you break your Iphone each month, you should probably just go back to an old flip phone because you have butter fingers!!!


October 10th, 2012
11:31 am

You lost me when you said that you let your 3 kids play with everything in the store. Here you are complaining about bad service (I agree with that and have a similar story about my Ipad), but then you demonstrate that you are a bad parent by letting your kids do what they wanted in the store. So inappropriate.


October 10th, 2012
11:40 am

Remember, you paid to be treated like this.


October 10th, 2012
12:38 pm

I still marvel at the term “Genius.” Did they actually give IQ tests to all of their employees?

The customer service failure above doesn’t prove anything one way or another – a lof of geniuses I know don’t have the sense to come in out of the rain.


October 10th, 2012
12:41 pm

I guess the lesson here is never anger the owner of a blog.


October 10th, 2012
1:09 pm

I have had an iPhone for 1-1/2 years now, and I just love it. Have learned 2 things about Apple service. 1) make sure you go to Apple-owned store, not an “approved retailer”. The difference in service is night-and-day. 2) get the AppleCare service plan. I had my first problem with the phone handled over the phone within half an hour. Had to send the phone to CA for repair, on their dime, but will have it back in 3 days.

On the negative side, I needed to change out my SIM card due to an AT&T screwup on my account, and found there was no documentation that came with my phone about how to do this!!! Googled several solutions, finally got the SIM card changed, and realized that all I really needed was a paperclip to handle the issue!!!! NOT happy about the lack of technical info that came with the phone.


October 10th, 2012
1:29 pm

Apple has this set up so that you get the elitist feel. The whole need an appointment etc helps them meet customer service goals set by their company, and keep that “special” quality. Now pass the Grey Poupon.


October 10th, 2012
1:29 pm

Van Jones

October 10th, 2012
1:29 pm

DA, $120/yr for that? I hope you’re getting kissed because you are sure getting something else…

who knows what evil lurks in the hearts of men

October 10th, 2012
1:56 pm

rose is paying half the replacement costs….where does she work?


October 10th, 2012
2:07 pm

No problems at apple store, but did have same issue where my wife was told she needed an appointment to replace a defective product under warranty. There are other authorized apple service retail stores…we have used Peach Mac in Marietta. Good service, good product selection and more convenient locations for us…they honor all warranties.


October 10th, 2012
2:44 pm

Haven’t ahd any issues with my Apple products yet. If I broke the screen, I would just buy the replacement online and fix it myself. What I don’t get about this blog is that you admit you did not follow the procedure twice by not making an appointment and just showing up….how is that Apple’s fault?


October 10th, 2012
2:50 pm


October 10th, 2012
3:30 pm

Why would you go to the Apple store? We use PeachMac – a local chain of stores – and always get great service. I have also purchased Apple products from Best Buy and and had no complaints.


October 10th, 2012
4:08 pm

Typical response these days…

It’s not my fault…(even though Apple is not to blame)…please comp my mistake or the fee anyway..because I am hunting for an excuse to be the victim. Whaaaaahhh….I want my it all to flow my way. We only hear the story from one side.


October 10th, 2012
4:44 pm

Don’t be mad at the store because you didn’t understand and then chose not to utilize the process. I have never had an issue with customer service at Apple.

In response to this sentence: “Please be aware I plan to let my three children play with every piece of equipment in the store even after the “genius” finishes my five-minute transaction.”

First — tacky, tacky, tacky.
Second — Apple doesn’t care. They have parents dropping their kids off for hours in the store to play with the gadgets. Kids go in on a regular basis and do their homework. Adults stop in the store regularly to check their email, etc. A busy looking store is a good thing!

I use the kids playing in the store when buying cars...

October 10th, 2012
4:52 pm

…the key to car salesmen is wearing the customer down, time wise. I just let my two young boys loose in the “big boy toy store” and I had the deal I wanted in less than 30 minutes…and car alarms were going off everywhere…


October 10th, 2012
7:40 pm

My Husbands I Pad wouldn’t power on and I called the Apple store and the technician told me I had to buy software protection support for 99.00 and the I pad was under full warranty. Then all they did was charge 99.00 to my card and then the support technician said to power it on by holding power button and select button for 3 seconds and then it worked. What a piece of con artists. That service tech that worked for apple should have told me on phone without charge. We live50 miles from nearest Apple store.

A tired Genius

October 10th, 2012
10:06 pm

Before you lay on the sarcasm and air quotes why don’t you try and imagine for a minute what it feels like to be a “technician” or “genius” working in a store where it is so busy that appointments are not available for hours or days and having to deal with self-entitled people that know just the right way to run a service business that sees millions of appointments per quarter. But I am sure you know just the way it should work. And you should definitely ridicule and talk down to these people that really are just trying to help you and several houndreds of people like you every single day


October 10th, 2012
10:22 pm

Really…on your first visit when the store w as packed you should have made an appt. You took a chance and came back and that was a bad idea. now the person making your appt seemed to have messed up big time and he did the right thing to take care of you

the truth

October 10th, 2012
11:36 pm

WAAAAAAAAAAAAA..WAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA You experienced a little discomfort and had to let everyone know about it, probably hoping that some Apple rep will read your column in the big bad newspaper or on the internet and send you a brand new one. It is unfortunate that no one is able to write about your kids running around the story without your supervision, interrupting customers who were in the store to conduct business. I would hate to see the fit you throw when the cork does not come out of the wine bottle or McDonalds forgets your McNuggets. The agony of having to get out of your car and complain to the manager that your fried chicken pieces are not in the bag. If the worst thing that happens to you is waiting for your ipod to be replaced you have lived a fortunate life.


October 11th, 2012
3:49 am

My goodness, you people there are things out there that VOID warranties, obviously she had a damaged iPod otherwise they would have replaced it for free. And now you feel entitled because you didn’t follow rules, sure they will pay your gas for your stupidity…people amaze me sometimes


October 11th, 2012
6:25 am

Sorry, I’ll be the first to say this.

Good luck getting our Samsung replaced at all.