Tuesday, August 17, 2010

OMG, Apple Store. OMG.

So yesterday was an expensive trip to the beach! Long story short, I had my beloved iPhone 3GS clipped ever-so-securely to my bathing suit. Probably not a smart way to start out this adventure, huh? We got our u-haul of stuff to the beach and decided on a space to settle down. And I'm serious when I say u-haul:

Chase was already super-hot with bright pink cheeks, so while daddy set up the beach tent, I felt I needed to hurry up and get him in the water to cool off. So I did. And we sat. Together. In the water. With my iPhone on my hip. About 2-3 minutes later, we got up and went to our "area" to see if daddy needed some help. About another minute or two later, I realized it: the iPhone had been submerged in ocean water. I immediately grabbed it from my hip and checked. Sure enough, it wouldn't so much as power on (I later learned that it's not a good idea to try to turn on an iPhone that's been submerged in water--something about frying the logic board or something). I was devastated, but there was still so much to do to get the kids settled and comfy at the beach. I lovingly tossed my iPhone into our beach bag and did my best to forget about the pain. The deep, excruciating, stabbing pain.

When it was time to leave the beach, we wasted no time and stopped at a local grocery store for rice and some ziploc bags. Yes, I tried the rice trick. And crossed my fingers. And said several prayers.

Fast-forward to after we're home, the kids are both fed, bathed and in bed. I sit down at my MacBook and try to figure out my next steps. I'm going to spare you the details of all the options and attempts I made at salvaging my iPhone and instead tell you what I did this morning.

I went online to apple.com and accessed our local Apple Store's site. I then proceeded to make an appointment at the Genius Bar for 11:50 AM. I packed up the kids, made plans for hubs to leave work to meet me there (needed kid support AND thought we could grab lunch after) and headed out the door. We were running a tad late so I used my husband's phone (which he had left with me so I wouldn't be phoneless at home with 2 small children) and called the Apple Store to be considerate and inform them I was running about 5-8 minutes late for my 11:50 AM appointment. They said they'd let the Geniuses know I was on my way. I thanked the guy and continued on my way. We arrived at the mall, met hubs in the parking lot and headed in together.

Keep in mind, folks, this was my FIRST EVER Apple Store experience. Ya. First-timer here. Wait for it...

So we walk in the store, and NO ONE greets us. No one is standing post at the front door to welcome customers like I had heard about when listening to others talk about the awesomeness that IS the Apple Store. Whatevs. So I head to the Genius Bar in the back and wait. There are some guys helping customers at the bar, and other guys just looking busy at the bar. I stand there. I stare. I wonder what I'm supposed to do. About 2 minutes later, I noticed the screens behind the genius bar, which are flipping from this to that to whatever, posted a "waiting queue" of sorts for the iPhone. There I am, listed as #4.

Oh. Okay. So they're running behind. Great. At least I'm here on time and can be helped when it's my turn.

I keep waiting. Nothing. No one seems to be doing anything to move along this "queue" of theirs. Finally I stop one of the blue shirts and ask if I'm in the right place or what I need to do. He asks if I have an appointment. Duh! Of course I do! It was technically almost 10 minutes ago! So he pulls out his iPhone and responds that he'll do me the favor of checking me in.

Checking me in? Who says I'm supposed to check in??

That's just super. Thanks, guy. Thanks for checking me in. Now what??

Meanwhile, hubs is doing a great job of entertaining LO and Chase while I stand there, confused, with my arms folded across my chest, while my Apple Store dreams slowly deflate in front of me.

About 10 minutes later, Jake asks if I'm me. I say yes. He says he's there to help me. (Note I'm not using any real names. Just fake ones.)


I tell him of "the incident" and as expected, he pretty much told me I was screwed. In a polite way, of course. No, actually, when I think about it, it was pretty much in the way it sounded. He said he'd take it to the back and double-check some things, but most likely I was out of luck.

Another 5 or so minutes go by and he shows up with the news I expected: my iPhone is no more. I fight back the tears and restate what I believe to be my options:
A.) Walk away. Sadly. And phoneless. ((Of course I could get a cheap phone from Target and put my SIM card in it and still send/receive calls and texts, but oh so much less functionality than I'm used to.))
B.) Replace my broken iPhone 3GS with a brand new iPhone 3GS. This will ONLY be $199. Since I'm a special Apple Care customer and all. Note to self: iPhone water damage NOT covered.
C.) Pay $399 and leave with an iPhone 4. I figure $199 to replace it now, then $199 to upgrade to the iPhone 4 when I'm eligible for discounts next May... it'd be a wash, right?
Hubs and I discuss the options. We asked if we could grab lunch and come back, but Jake told us we'd have to wait on an unscheduled, walk-in appointment, and there's no telling how long that would take. He assured us if we chose to swap out the 3GS, it'd take 5 minutes. And if we chose to upgrade to the 4, it'd be 5 minutes. Rather than "lose our place in the super-special queue," we decide to suck it up and pay the $399 to upgrade to the iPhone 4 today.

Jake then informs us he himself is not able to do that for us. No, we need one of the sales folks to do it (they have a special name, but I forgot it). He's just a genius from the bar.


So we expect to be handed over to a sales guy. But no, instead, he introduces me to David, some guy that stands at the registers in the middle of the store and informs me that David is going to let me know when the next salesperson is available.

Super. MORE waiting.

And waiting.

And more waiting...

This is getting ridiculous.

After about 15 minutes, I approach David and ask, so seriously, are there still no sales folks available? Just need to buy an iPhone 4. Really I wanted to remind him to make sure he remembered I was still waiting, since I'm pretty sure I wasn't in any queues anymore. He says no. He's waiting on Ricardo (totally not his real name, but I can't remember) to finish up with a customer, and then help me next.

Oh. Okay. So there's only ONE salesperson in the entire store. Ricardo. And I have to wait for him to finish. Got it.

So we go back to waiting. Some more. For Ricardo. The lone Apple Store salesman.

During this time, several blue shirts walk by us. They can see we're obviously irritated. And unhappy. But they go about their business.

I, trying to keep both mine and hubs' blood pressure within a reasonable limit, jokingly tell hubs that IF I had a working iPhone, I'd tweet about my crappy Apple Store experience. Funny enough, there was another customer within earshot who laughed, and told me she was thinking the SAME THING.

So we're not the only people NOT having THE Apple Store experience these stores are supposedly known for. Good to know.

Another 5 or so minutes go by, and I finally stop one of the many blue shirts who passed us by and ask who is the store manager, or manager on duty, etc. He told me who it was and then left and went about his business.

Gee, thanks.

Hubs and I quickly realize that he won't be joining us for lunch. We'd been there for an HOUR and STILL hadn't resolved the issue that brought me into the store. He was going to need to get back to the office. This makes me all the more irritated at the experience we were having. So why did I make that APPOINTMENT at 11:50 AM again??

About yet another 5 or so minutes later, a random blue shirt, Hank, stopped to tell us he had noticed we'd been there for a while and was wondering if we needed any assistance.

FINALLY! Somebody with a brain!

I quickly explained to him the situation, and he was magically able to get a salesperson for us within a minute or two. I'll call him George, partly because I'm not using real names, but also because by this point I was not in any mood to remember names or be overly personable. I told George ALL I NEEDED was to purchase an iPhone 4. That's it! And I'll be on my way.

Then he tells me, with total nonchalance, as if I should've already known...

THEY DON'T HAVE ANY 16 GB iPHONE 4s IN STOCK!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Are you KIDDING ME?!

I'm in complete and total shock & awe. This was not The Apple I had heard so much about. This is McDonald's. This is waiting in a drive-thru for an order of greasy, fattening "nonfood substances" and only finding out when you get home that they got it totally wrong, then driving back up there to get it all straight. This is THAT kind of "service." That kind. Obviously they have some SLAs they need to hit and can't have customers sitting in a particular queue for any longer than necessary, or it makes them look bad to corporate. So they just push 'em from one queue or person to another, without bothering to worry about keeping the customer happy. That's right. Just pull forward so we can help the person in line behind you and keep our numbers up. You just wait right up there and we'll bring your food out when it's ready. And it'll take a lot longer than you think it will...

I was literally ready to grab my kids and R-U-N-N-O-F-T on out of that store! But by this time, hubs' blood pressure was THROUGH THE ROOF and he wanted this taken care of NOW! They tried to offer a 32 GB iPhone 4, which they did have in stock, but obviously NOT the price I was planning to pay. They couldn't even tell me IF/WHEN they'd get more 16 GB iPhone 4s in. Little George said they come in "pretty regularly." I'm sorry, does that mean daily? Weekly? Monthly?? He said usually twice per week.

Ah. Thanks.

By this time we were told we would have to go back into the Genius queue if we wanted to just go ahead and pay the $199 to swap out for another 3GS, which they did in fact have in stock. I was already livid. I just wanted out of the store. I was already contemplating early termination fees, switching back to Verizon, etc. There's just NO REASON this process should've gone down this way. No Reason At All!!!

So of course we left with nothing but a broken, water-damaged iPhone 3GS and a pretty irritable attitude. Almost an hour and a half in the Apple Store, and NOTHING resolved. NOBODY happy. NO working iPhone.

Normally, I would ask to speak with the manager and explain our situation and try to figure out a happy resolution (oh, okay, ma'am! we'll call you when the 16 GB iPhone 4 comes in, set one aside for you, schedule you an appointment to come in and we'll get ya all fixed up!), but I had TWO kids with me who were well past their lunch time, not to mention an unhappy momma who could use a bite to eat, and a husband who needed to get back to the office.

I'd so love to state for the record that I will NEVER set foot in that (or any other) Apple Store EVER again, but I know that isn't my reality. I'm gonna have to go Round 2 with these guys again. And soon. Because I have no phone. And worse yet, I have no iPhone.

To make matters so much more enjoyable (as if I hadn't had enough fun yet), I tried calling the local at&t store for a good 20 minutes after leaving the Apple Store. It was one of those things where you press 2 to speak to an associate (just wanted to ask if they had 16 GB iPhone 4s in stock), then wait, then it rings, FOREVER, then it comes back and says no one is available, go back to the main menu. Then press 2 again and start all over again. Eventually I gave up and decided to swing by the store on my way home. In the rain. With two small kids. Good times.

I get them out of the Sienna, put Chase in the stroller (again, in the rain, people), stroll up to the store and ask the guy at the lovely little concierge desk right inside the door my question. THE question. Got a quick and easy answer:


No iPhone 4s in stock. Haven't had ANY in stock since launch day. You know, way back in JUNE!

Oh, for the love, people!

I packed my kids back up and headed home. I knew I had a lengthy blog post to write and needed to get to it.

Not so good times.

Now I'm just waiting, assuming Apple is going to send me a "How was your appointment at the Genius Bar at your local Apple Store?" email survey. And I'll send them a link to this post. :)

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