Exclusive: A Day in the Life of an Apple Genius

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Exclusive: A Day in the Life of an Apple Genius

>> HELP!!!

 

EinsteinFor this article, we relied on conversations with two Geniuses: one current (and anonymous, "just to be on the safe side") and one former, Jeremy Derr, who's the cofounder of Heroic Efforts Data Recovery in Austin, Texas. In explaining his need to remain anonymous, the current Apple Genius told us that Apple's policy requires Geniuses (and most other Apple employees, for that matter) to refrain from discussing the company's hiring and training processes. With so much riding on keeping Apple's supersecret sauce, well, secret, this makes a ton of sense. It also made us a little more than curious about what goes into Geniusology. (Apple declined to comment for this article.)

 

Derr and our anonymous Genius were happy to give us the download on what kind of problems people bring to Apple Store support technicians, what it's like to work the Bar day to day, and how you go from garden-variety geek to Genius in the first place.

 

"Well, probably something like 70 percent of the stuff we see - laptops, desktops, iPods - are just things that are very simply physically damaged by the customer," the anonymous Genius says. (Take a minute, as we did, to inventory your recent history of bad-owner accidents. Ours included dropping laptops, spilling Gatorade into our keyboards, and yanking the headphone cord out of an iPod so carelessly that the plastic input ring chipped off.) "Do people realize that when you buy an electronic device, the warranties don't cover physical or ‘accidental' damage? You break your iPod and - I'd never say this to a customer - but the Genius Bar is not for you. Go to the store's front desk and give it to the iPod recycling program, or go to iPodResQ.com. That'd save a ton of time, because we just can't help you."

 

And with a special nod to lots of Mac|Life readers, not to mention staffers, he adds: "People should also stop using extensive 'mods' on their OS. It always causes problems. Oh yeah, and everyone should back up. That way when their system is corrupted by LimeWire and we reformat their hard drives, they won't complain."

 

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SOPHIE20BJ

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benet

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dima

Very nice/

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jcow

This was interesting, but I have had so much trouble at the genius bar. Not usually as a fault of the "geniuses" as much as Apple's often poor policies. I am not always a fan of the Apple support system. I read this today as well on the topic: http://www.starkmanassociates.com/blogs/eric/apple-vs-bmw/ and a few others complaining about tech support as well. I gotta say things pretty much only get worse though, but there are some areas that Apple could work on to treat the customer a little better.

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Minimal Techno

I envy, very envy, people working in Apple with Macs & with ipod's and iphone's!

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Trevor

Cool website! I like it! Good luck!

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James

Strongly agree that there needs to be a one-page or print option.

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Anonymous

I love Apple but Apple retail jumped the shark. It used to be different, the bar was a place to talk shop and get help. Now the stores are shortening the time to 15 minute appointments. This means there's very little to no time to do any trouble shooting at the bar, which means more computers have to be checked in, which means more customers without their computers. This also means more angry customers waiting at the bar because the Geniuses are getting backed up.

The more Apple retail grows the more they are hiring outside retail managers, who are managing to make Apple retail just like any other run of the mill retail shop.

I work at one of the stores and I'm getting sick of these GAP managers with their "This is how we used to do it" attitudes. For one, Apple says they don't want to become a used car dealer, that they want you to give the customer the best solution, but the mangers get a bonus for selling .Mac (which is a joke) Pro Care, One to One (which is now double the price now that it's split) and Apple care. So if you sell the customer the best solution and it doesn't have to do with .Mac or Pro Care, you get called into their office and have to explain why. At one of the meetings a manager actually told us to lie to the customer and tell them the guys in the back are getting their computer ready so you have more time to sell them .Mac...Sounds like a used car salesman to me.

I'm quitting Apple Retail, I still love Apple OS and their machines, but as for retail, it's just another corporation trying to take you for every dime you have, and they treat their employees like S^&*. If I sell a million dollars a year at any other place, I'd make a sweet living on my commission alone, which Apple Specialist don't get any of.

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Big "Apple" quiter

I hear you on that one. I quit the big "Apple" store about 2 months ago in July 07 (just after I got my free iPhone). Lots of customers pissed of about the procare split. They ask since it was split to separate the two services provided, then why isn't it now $50 each now? Most of our old fashion New Yorkers don't have time for nothing. The personal shopping thing is a joke. Most of em are seasoned mac users who know exactly what they want and just want to grab a mac and go. But we gotta schedule a personal shopping appointment and then try to slow them down and pitch apcare, .mac and 121 which they all ready know about and don't want to hear it. They shut us up when we try to bring up the extras but then a week and a half later they come back and gripe at your store manager that you didn't tell them about the free collage ipod or printer, when its their fault for cutting you off to just get the dang machine all ready. You just couldn't win. I'd hate to see what a mad house it must be now with everyone demanding their $100 back for the iphone redemption. My old store mostly frequented by short tempered Italians will probably see a riot.

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Anonymous

Apparently the same folks who "improved" MacAddict into unreadability had a hand in this... or maybe the irritating segmenting is designed to make the reader go out and actually BUY the magazine and read it. Hmmmm???

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tony in osaka

Strongly agree that there needs to be a one-page or print option. No one will go through all those pages, regardless of how compelling the story or prose. C'mon, Rik.

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Anonymous

Printing? If you want a printed version, you could pick up the magazine you know . . .

It is poor web design to have an article that scrolls down on one page for an eternity. The format used on this article is pretty standard.

I don't understand why anyone would print out an article when they can pick up the issue it's featured in. By the time you count ink and paper costs, you probably could have gotten the magazine. How lazy and cheap are we getting? This content is offered for free--I consider it to be a courtesy and am not going to nitpick stuff like that, but to each their own.

At any rate, a good read. Thanks.

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Anonymous

What the f** is wrong with you guys, whats with the stupid breaking of your one decent article into all these pieces? idiots.

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Ben

Nope, I shan't be reading six pages either, nor returning to the site.

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Anonymous

This was a good article, but why not give a single page view? Oh yeah, now I remember why.... because you are hoping there are people out there that use safari without pith helmet, or firefox without Adblock.

Kinda a crappy way to treat your audience, don't you think? Breaking up an article into six tiny fragments, just to drive your page view numbers up?

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Anonymous

That dig against business week is somewhat warrented, doubting the oracle is often credibility's demise.

Thanks for the insight, it now seems possible that any of us in the world of macademia could potentially be one day labeled a "genius."

"How do you get to Carnigie hall?" LOL. 'Practice"

http://ThunkDifferent.com

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Anonymous

Way too many fragments! I wanted to read this article but I stopped after the first page because I'm not going to click Next 6 times. Forcing 6 page views just to bump up your ad rates is not going to help your business...in the long run you'll just shoo away all your users who will go read websites that offer a printable single-page version.

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FLSwag

How do people use a computer if they are unable to click a mouse six times? Get a book.

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mace

i wanna work at apple. I could def use the discount and i no their shit so well,
To bad they dont take 13 year-olds.

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Anonymous

I actually read most of the article, but I hate your guts for breaking it up. Here's hoping for your failure.

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Tony

"I actually read most of the article, but I hate your guts for breaking it up. Here's hoping for your failure."

Theres some mental midget out there named "Anonymous" that appears to be in dire need of counselling.

Mr. A., please convey my sincere condolenses to those who must deal with you on a daily basis.

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Tornaydo

Remember how Best Buy was talking about adding Macs to 200 more stores? Well, my store, 600, is one of them. Even though I'm quitting (today's my last day!!!) I can tell you that Springfield, OR will be getting a Mac attack and that Geek Squad is getting some Mac training. Oh good.



It's true. There will even be a special Mac Geek Squad "agent" in each store that will somehow try to sell you anti-virus, anti-spyware and train you how to switch from PC to Mac. And, hot-damn, it's only $100 more to do it in your house! Score.



Just don't forget, I was told that I build the best relationships with customers, have the happiest return customers and that I'm the second most knowledgeable person in our department. I was then told that I didn't use any of that to sell Geek Squad service, so I'm not doing my job right. That's why I'm quitting.



Oh yeah, and number one most knowledgeable person in the store/department? "Fired" for similar reasons.

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Jimbo

Add me to the list: six pages? Come on! I've got better things to do with my time. (A pity - looked like an interesting article.)

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nathan

Let me add my name to the Chorus asking maclife to stop this ridiculous policy of splitting articles into small fragments. We hates it! Give us the article on a single page, and add an option for a printer friendly layout. Thanks.

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MacMN

It is very readable in the magazine - maybe purchase one and give it a look! ;)

I've done plenty of customer service work over the years in IT and non-IT jobs. It's all what you make it. Nothing better than to have someone come in screaming at you because their widget died - only to have them leave a bit later and wishing you a "great day".

Have also done computer work in a K-8 environment where the 20% of the PC's used up 80% of our time and resources. Be glad you don't work in a PC/Windows repair shop!!!

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turboderek

As a "mac genius" from 2004-2006 I can tell you the job is what you make it. The whole issue of "customer abuse" of products is true. BUT apple does not give guidelines on what damage will void the warranty.


My last 6 months of working as a "mac genius" I took a more positive attitude to "accidental damage" of products. Unless the product was dated out of warranty (by more then a month or two), fire damage or still wet from liquid damage I'd fix it under warranty. Guess what? I started enjoying work. I was able to help more customers because I was not wasting time arguing because they dropped their ipod.


More often then not they would end up buying a 3rd party products, APP or in some cases a computer. There were some customers who would still complain but they were the very few unreasonable ones. It's very easy to get a bad attitude as a "mac genius". 75% of the people you deal with are there because something has not meet their expectations. This starts you off on the wrong foot. By doing whatever you can to help them makes both the genius and the ungenius happy at the end of the day.

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Anonymous

As a person who just stopped being a genius, I totally agree with the above point. From day 1 I approached this job with the attitude "I will explore every angle to fix this under warranty until I am out of options" and this made the job EXTREMELY satisfying for me. Apple does give you an extraordinary about of latitude in making those decisions, so as long as you are "really doing it for the good of the customer", it's usually ok. The biggest issue for Genii (and the thing that causes many genii to lose their jobs and/or leave) is the administrative side (ie.... dealing with a system called GCRM ) and inventory issues (like accidentally replacing a 16 gb iphone with an 8gb ....don;t laugh it happens more often than you think, and its a BIG deal since our system is not designed correct inventory snafus easily). Their as also time issues, since Genius Bar appointments are only 20 minutes,so going over that (which happens quite frequently) is a big deal, and very job threatening.

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Anonymous

it is a real pity that there is no printable version. next time there better be one...

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Connor

Printing is so 90's. Use the Mac's built in PDF engine.

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Tony

Or what? You're going to cry? What a cmplainer. Did you like the article or not?

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Anonymous

not good. really.

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Anonymous

I also took one look at how fragmented across multiple pages this article is, and decided not to go any further.

No print view and 3 paragraphs per page. Are you trying to piss off your readers?

I'll remember to skip any links to maclife.com articles in the future.

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Brett Johnson

Didn't read TFA. Broken into too many small fragments only to force more page views. No option to see whole article at once (format for Print?). I have a 30 inch display, I don't need to read an article 3 paragraphs at a time.

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Charyl

I was a MG with Jeremy, and we did our training together. I loved my stay with Apple, and only left to raise my own little genii. Apple treats their people well, in order to make sure you treat the customers well. :) Good to see you J. Derr.

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jay

After working as a genius for over 4 years, I can tell you that the job is total crap. You spend 90% of your time dealing with broken iPods. The job is ridculously repetitive. Unless you enjoy giving the same out of warranty speeches to pissed off customers with broken iPods, do not apply for this job. You'll be replacing 7-10 iPods an hour if you work in a busy store. The pay and benefits are good, or they were when I got hired, but the job is mind-numbing.

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Daniel Finley

dude that's the life of a computer repair tech....get used to it

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Anonymous

A man named Derr is a Genius, really...

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NC Tech

On the careers comment: not so accurate. I work for a medium sized (26 location, 7500 computer) county school system and we are mainly *80% mac based. Five of the technicians know little to anything about PC troubleshooting, and all eight service Apple products from laptops to eMac/iMac to Xserves on a daily basis.

Don't forget K-12 education!

NC Tech

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Spinach

Good lord NC Tech, I hope you're not a teacher. Call me a nut, but I'm *pretty sure* that K-12 education was covered when he said "...except, perhaps, in academia."

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