Quick Points on my Experience Receiving a Free 2017 MacBook Pro from Genius Bar yesterday
So at the Apple Store yesterday I was given a brand new free 2017 MacBook Pro to replace my “MacBook Pro Retina 15inch late 2013” that had an expired AppleCare warranty since March, 2017. Which was amazing to a crazy level, but it honestly capped off a 3 year long saga of consistently pretty much the worst customer service I’ve ever received by any company, ever.
From the forums and threads I’ve read, it seems many with similar laptop models have many of the same problems mine had, so I thought I’d share some quick highlights and details from my 3 and a half year long saga so anyone else hoping for (an eventual) happy result might find something from my experience helpful.
**Repairs on laptop for the same recurring display issue:** 5 screen replacements, 1 logic board replacement.
**Repairs on laptop for unrelated issues:** Bottom part of case replaced because of broken rubber foot, battery replaced
**Unresolved issues, never addressed:** 3-5 instances of ‘Kernel Panic’ every week starting 1 month into ownership and lasting entire life of unit.
All repaired without paying anything out of pocket (despite being quoted a fee a few times).
So I learned a few things during my 3 years of never-ending trips to the Genius Bar, that may have made my experience less terrible if I had known them earlier:
* 1. YES, IT REALLY DOES MATTER WHICH APPLE STORE YOU GO TO. YES, IT MATTERS A LOT. IT’S THE SINGULARLY MOST IMPORTANT ISSUE.
No, its not just a matter of ‘varies from employee to employee,’ or, from what I can tell, even from manager to manager. It doesn’t matter. It is very much the individual store!!! Idk know why this is, it could be anything from concrete things like metrics incentivizing cost saving on repairs, or just terrible store culture, idk, I’m just guessing. But, as far as I’m concerned, this is empirically demonstrated fact.
**THE. STORE. MATTERS. I cannot emphasize that point enough.**
For instance, once while still under warranty at the 5th Avenue NYC store I was quoted $350 to replace one of the rubber feet on the bottom of my laptop. On a hunch, I took it to the Greenwich, CT store a week later and they replaced it without ever mentioning a charge whatsoever. (That’s not an isolated experience either, the flagship 5th Ave. store in NYC consistently quoted me higher prices for the exact same repair a different Apple Store did for free without ever quoting me a price…). I genuinely don’t know why, but I do know this was proven to me time and again (they’re such an enticing store to go to though…open 24/7, it’s awesome…).
* 2. CHECK YELP AND/OR DILIGENTLY AVOID ANY A STORE AFTER A BAD EXPERIENCE
Yes, this is mostly a repeat of my first point, but I can’t make it enough. I would have saved myself so much frustration had I done that.
In NYC the 5th Ave. and Grand Central terminal locations are to be avoided at all costs, I could have known that had I just bothered to check yelp. Or stopped going to whichever location was simply most convenient for my commute. Instead, these locations not only never really addressed whatever underlying problem was affecting my computer, they also did a bunch of stuff that later on actually made it more difficult for me to get the problem addressed when I went to a different store or called in (see next point for example)
* 3. ALWAYS ASK FOR DOCUMENTATION AND SAVE IT! (YES, IT CAN MATTER)
And FYI, despite probable assurances, no, you will not always receive an email with the work authorization/receipt/any email at all before during or after a repair is done. Don’t trust that you will, and weirdly, yes it actually can matter later on if you don’t have it.
As far as I can tell, Genius Bar associates and managers only ever look at one thing and that’s the quick one or two sentence ‘notes’ on the machine’s repair history, documenting repair done, if covered by warranty, and if there’s any accidental damage. They either have no access to any other supplementary information about your computer’s repair history, or they choose to never reference it. (Also, sidenote, if you’re curious, you can actually read all those notes when they give you their iPad to sign a work authorization. Just hit back and scroll through.)
Does saving that work authorization ever actually matter? Well, it did for me. After undergoing my 3rd or 4th screen repair for the exact same issue, that would recur every 3-6 months, I started to wonder why they didn’t just replace the entire unit rather than just constantly replacing the screen and not addressing any underlying issue.
I learned that something was working against in me in that for my 2nd screen repair, the Grand Central Genius Bar Associate never entered any history of my screen replacement, or deleted it after he did.
This was pretty understandable in that there were weird circumstances around that repair.
(In that instance they replaced both the screen and the logic board, however, after replacing the screen I was told they didn’t have the logic board at that location so they were going to have it mailed from the 5th Ave location or something. It ended up being faster for me to just bring the computer directly to the 5th Ave. store for logic board replacement, but they had already replaced the screen. Somehow, all Grand Central history was deleted or never entered into the all-important notes. So, I was later told, they wanted 4 total screen repairs to replace the unit, but only had 3 on file, until my final out-of-warranty repair request put it to 4. Which, to hear in February, when your warranty expires in March, is…aggravating…)
So yes, documentation is essential. Those notes are their bible. Trust, even a voicemail from an Apple employee at Grand Central, basically laying out the exact situation they couldn’t find in the Notes, does not help.
* 4. Their phone specialists won’t really do much, but they can write notes, which can help in the future.
If there’s a second lesson I learned my experience, it’s that Apple employees will literally do whatever is in the notes section for your computer. So, given that in my experience no matter how much you ask them to escalate you to whomever over the phone, they won’t do much to actually help, but when they write notes it can actually be helpful. So it’s worth doing that.