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Apple preps major update to Genius Bar reservation system

post #1 of 36
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Apple Computer next week will launch a major update to the Genius Bar reservation system used by customers wishing to schedule an appointment for technical support or service at its many retail stores, AppleInsider has learned.

The new system, expect to be called "Concierge," will aim to streamline the reservation and repair process at Apple's stores, reducing the time customers have to wait before they can speak face-to-face with an Apple Genius, sources with ties to the company's retail division have revealed.

While often praised and recognized for providing one-on-one consultations with customers, Apple's retail store Genius Bars can at times become a source of frustration for customers who find themselves waiting endlessly to speak to a Genius during busy hours.

Sometimes customers wait hours, become fed up, and ultimately leave the company's stores disgruntled and without having solved their problem, said an Apple retail employee who works at one of the company's more prominent retail locations.

Often the source of long Genius Bar delays is a barrage customers demanding assistance with either dysfunctional or damaged iPod digital music players, the employee added. Customers with Macintosh-related issues are currently clumped into this mix and find themselves waiting endlessly for much-need computer service. Wait times for a 15 minute appointment have been known to balloon to five hours at some stores.

Under the new Concierge system, which retail employees sometimes refer to as "Maestro 2," Apple will begin segmenting customer requests into categories: those relating to iPods and those relating to Macs or other products. Instead of one waiting line for the Genius Bar, the new system will reportedly service two lines simultaneously -- one for iPods and one for Mac-related issues.

Concierge will also sport a simplified interface reminiscent of the clearly-orchestrated Apple.com support website, sources said. The main page of the system will offer clear and concise instructions that will step customers through the reservation process and prompt them to input less information than in the past.

Customers looking for help with their iMac will simply need to select the iMac icon to begin their registration process, while those needing assistance with iPhoto, for instance, will click on the iLife icon and be transfered into the store's Creative Bar service. Sources say Apple retail stores that do not feature a Creative Bar (or Studio) will place Creative staff behind the Genius Bar to field Creative-related questions from customers.

Along with its transition to the new Concierge system, sources say Apple will also be working to increase the number of Geniuses and Creatives on hand at its stores.

Most of the changes being made to the Genius Bar reservation system have come as a result of customer surveys, which Apple sometimes conducts at its retail stores, offering willing participants cash incentives to accurately respond to questions about their Genius Bar experience.
post #2 of 36
I had to wait around an hour to see a genius about my Mac. Not too bad, but this new method sounds efficient and should ease the problem.
post #3 of 36
This should satisfy some of us who spend a boatload of money on our Apple purchases. I gave the "genius" at the Genius Bar an earful who made me wait for hours while he pissed around with iPod users who usually had damaged their own iPod, or had damaged mp3 files (causing a need for a reset) or had battery questions that could have been answered on the Apple web site.

I was so damn mad I let him have it and reminded him that 20 iPod customers would not equal my 1 PowerMac purchase and they needed to recognize that.

Also, a woman who had waited in the store for 2 hours ahead of me was cursing quit loudly that she thought Apple's service sucked and she would never buy another Apple product (this in a store full of kids and new Apple customers).

I was ashamed and angry to be an Apple stockholder on that day!

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post #4 of 36
People in the Apple Store in North Michigan Avenue here in Chicago wait up to 7 hours to get to speak to a Genius. That's poor customer service. I'm glad they're doing something about it.
'L'enfer, c'est les autres' - JPS
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post #5 of 36
Another French name. I'm not anti-Francophone. Just pointing out a trend (see: Rendezvous, Bonjour, Exposé, Entourage ... oops).

--B
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post #6 of 36
Quote:
Originally posted by SpamSandwich
I was so damn mad I let him have it and reminded him that 20 iPod customers would not equal my 1 PowerMac purchase and they needed to recognize that.

So you paid 6k for your powermac?

Obviously by this move Apple has recognized some issues and is revamping the system, yet you continue to whine.
post #7 of 36
I don't think that telling a personal anecdote about why these refinements are needed quite qualifies as whining.
post #8 of 36
I was just curious, how does one go about becoming and apple "genius" and do they pay very well. I'm about to finish my BS is CS and am taking a year off before grad school, plus I'll be in Chicago where it seems they have quite a few customers. Something like this might be interesting if it's at all possible for someone like me.
post #9 of 36
Quote:
Originally posted by Gene Clean
People in the Apple Store in North Michigan Avenue here in Chicago wait up to 7 hours to get to speak to a Genius. That's poor customer service. I'm glad they're doing something about it.

The most I've had to wait there was 30 minutes... lucky me

[edit] Oh, and something I noticed the two times I visited that store:

They often disregarded the set line and seemed to have geniuses following a protocol similar to the one outlined in the report above. For instance, I spoke to a person about replacing my iPod photo who had been dealing with only ipods for the past 30 minutes while there was another person who seemed to lean towards helping power users, and even another that was kind of in-between but with a slight focus on the consumer machines. I should note that while they disregarded the line a bit they also kept serving people in a timely and fair manner, so I was impressed (half an hour isn't so long when you can play around with so many pretty gadgets).

This was, of course, was not during peak hours.
post #10 of 36
Quote:
Originally posted by Lupa
The most I've had to wait there was 30 minutes... lucky me

It used to be a lot quieter before the entire iPod nano/Video thing. You could actually get to a Genius in 30 minutes or so.. now, ehem, it takes hours.

I generally go to the one in Old Orchard Mall. It's smaller, has less Geniuses, but is often less busy too. And the employees seem to be... more flexible, so to speak. If you're around, and you need to go to an Apple Store, you might wanna check it out.
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post #11 of 36
brclark82:

How do you get a job at an Apple store? Amazingly blind luck. Apple, like most companies, has decided that manners no longer matter. Having used Macs since 1984, I have applied for a job when an Apple store opened in my area. Calls to the mamanagers always promised "We will be taking action on that shortly."

As a consequence, I will never buy anything at an Apple store. I will use them for support. I will recommend them to Switchers, only because they will need the support. But for my purchases, I will buy somewhere else.
post #12 of 36
ah, good memories just 2 years ago when almost nobody went to the Genius Bar and you didn't have to make an appointment...

Now the apple store runneth over every day and especially weekends... it's shoulder-against-shoulder in that store during the day...
The bored one.
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post #13 of 36
Quote:
Originally posted by Ichiban_jay
ah, good memories just 2 years ago when almost nobody went to the Genius Bar and you didn't have to make an appointment...

Now the apple store runneth over every day and especially weekends... it's shoulder-against-shoulder in that store during the day...

It's also impossible to try out the new computers. I finally got myself onto a new iMac the other day and I was ushered off by an Apple store employee who wanted to show a customer something. This was particularly disheartening when I wanted to try out the iSight and other users were checking their e-mail!
post #14 of 36
The need to sign up was not obvious to me at the start.

One time I was given a pager so I could wander the mall while waiting for an appointment, which was nice.

Apple stores do need to be better about their help, they should have more people trained and ready to help with the Genius Bar. I think the paperwork and parts inventory system could be streamlined as well. They had to check in back to see if a replacement part was in stock, that should have been easy to check in the computer.

I like the service when I do get it, I hope this update improves how quickly customers can get help.
post #15 of 36
I think one of the problems is that someone working the GB cannot always resolve an issue within the scheduled time and they take care of customers even if it goes outside the "time limit".

There definitely needs to be a separation of hardware, with iPods getting their own lines. The potential of a store employee who is not with a customer taking care of minor issues should also be considered. There also needs to be a procedure when a replacement is necessary to turn the customer over to someone who can handle that quickly for the customer and open up the GB employee for the next customer.

It is always far cheaper to keep a customer than to get a new one and Apple is excellent in caring for their customers in most areas. Improving the work flow at the GB is one area where they need bring things up to speed.
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post #16 of 36
Quote:
Originally posted by kenaustus
There also needs to be a procedure when a replacement is necessary to turn the customer over to someone who can handle that quickly for the customer and open up the GB employee for the next customer.

I agree with most of what you're saying but handing customers over to other people can be frustrating for the customer as they have to explain again.
post #17 of 36
Quote:
Originally posted by SpamSandwich
This should satisfy some of us who spend a boatload of money on our Apple purchases. I gave the "genius" at the Genius Bar an earful who made me wait for hours while he pissed around with iPod users who usually had damaged their own iPod, or had damaged mp3 files (causing a need for a reset) or had battery questions that could have been answered on the Apple web site.

I was so damn mad I let him have it and reminded him that 20 iPod customers would not equal my 1 PowerMac purchase and they needed to recognize that.

Also, a woman who had waited in the store for 2 hours ahead of me was cursing quit loudly that she thought Apple's service sucked and she would never buy another Apple product (this in a store full of kids and new Apple customers).

I was ashamed and angry to be an Apple stockholder on that day!

Ok, so you've bought a boatload of apple equipemnt (and like was pointed out, apparently a really expensive powermac), but you're too cheap to spend the $100 on the 'pro' care stuff they offer, which gets you reservations and supposed priority?

And what's apple supposed to do if 20 people come into a store one morning, just go "Hey, we're taking people in order of amount spent!". Or maybe announce "Hey, we've got a lotta customers today. Anyone want to become a genius-for-a-day and help us slog through this mess?" And while you're pissed because they can't help you quick enough, what if you were the person being helped, and then basically shuffled off before you felt your problems/questions were answered. If you were the iPod owner whose iPod kept freezing. "Oh, sorry, I can't help you now. There's a customer here who's spent more money then you." (Yeah, people just love that happening to them).

How would you like that?

You: "Hey, I'm having this problem. My powermac is freezing regularly and gets the 5-language-reboot screen..."

Genuis: "Oh, you've got a corrupt kext file. Thanks and come again. Next!"

Yeah, I'm sure you would've loved that service.
post #18 of 36
Quote:
Originally posted by Louzer
Ok, so you've bought a boatload of apple equipemnt (and like was pointed out, apparently a really expensive powermac), but you're too cheap to spend the $100 on the 'pro' care stuff they offer, which gets you reservations and supposed priority?

And what's apple supposed to do if 20 people come into a store one morning, just go "Hey, we're taking people in order of amount spent!". Or maybe announce "Hey, we've got a lotta customers today. Anyone want to become a genius-for-a-day and help us slog through this mess?" And while you're pissed because they can't help you quick enough, what if you were the person being helped, and then basically shuffled off before you felt your problems/questions were answered. If you were the iPod owner whose iPod kept freezing. "Oh, sorry, I can't help you now. There's a customer here who's spent more money then you." (Yeah, people just love that happening to them).

How would you like that?

You: "Hey, I'm having this problem. My powermac is freezing regularly and gets the 5-language-reboot screen..."

Genuis: "Oh, you've got a corrupt kext file. Thanks and come again. Next!"

Yeah, I'm sure you would've loved that service.

wow, you've got a lot of anger!
post #19 of 36
Quote:
Originally posted by MacCrazy
wow, you've got a lot of anger!

Nah, just irritated by people who only see customer service as service for themselves, and not others. I mean, read the guy's post again. He basically wants the geniuses to tell those other people "Hey, don't bother me. You can find this information on-line." (assuming the person has access to the internet, not everyone does you know). Yet the same person would complain if he got the same treatment from a customer service rep.
post #20 of 36
Quote:
Originally posted by Louzer
Nah, just irritated by people who only see customer service as service for themselves, and not others. I mean, read the guy's post again. He basically wants the geniuses to tell those other people "Hey, don't bother me. You can find this information on-line." (assuming the person has access to the internet, not everyone does you know). Yet the same person would complain if he got the same treatment from a customer service rep.

You've got some fair points but he does as well. Mac users are feeling a little bit left out - I myself felt a little neglected at the Apple store. In the past I've been very positive about the freedom Apple employees give customers, they print maps and let users check e-mail etc. However, this is actually detrimental as customers can't get on a computer unless they speak to a employee first.
post #21 of 36
Well, I think the primary point here is that this is a good move on Apple's part.

Waiting for the Genius Bar under the current system can be frustrating, depending on the time of day, the store location, and other factors. At my local Apple store, I don't think I've ever been able to see a Genius in less than an hour, and usually it's taken much more than that. Frequently, the time I've been able to see a Genius isn't even within an hour of the scheduled time I'm told to come back. And this was before the Nanos.

I've never complained about it; I appreciate the time the Geniuses take with their customers and I know they're often overworked. I'm a very patient person, and I don't mind the wait. But I can vouch for the fact that in some parts of the country, this issue is something that needed to be addressed, and Apple deserves kudos for being proactive about solving it.

What this proves is that Apple isn't perfect; no company is. But Apple is still #1 in my book when it comes to working hard to keep their customers happy.
post #22 of 36
Quote:
Originally posted by Louzer
Nah, just irritated by people who only see customer service as service for themselves, and not others. I mean, read the guy's post again. He basically wants the geniuses to tell those other people "Hey, don't bother me. You can find this information on-line." (assuming the person has access to the internet, not everyone does you know). Yet the same person would complain if he got the same treatment from a customer service rep.

Because the directness of my post apparently made you uncomfortable, I'll explain. The fact is I have been a loyal Apple supporter for years, despite some (at times) shitty customer service. I've personally owned Apple products ever since the last year the Mac Quadra was available, up to the founding of our small business and purchase of dual G5 computers (we bought 2 fully loaded dual G5's and an additional $3,000 worth of software when they first came out).

I've owned: the Quadra, the G3, the G4 & now the G5's, plus all the little ticky-tacky extras and software to keep on top of the latest and greatest a designer/studio would want.

So, y'know what, I think I DO deserve a little more consideration than someone who is completely new to the brand (a potential repeat Apple customer), versus someone who has shelled out dollars somewhere in the neighborhood of a nice cars' worth of Apple equipment and support over the years.

Lucky me, I own a nice bunch of AAPLs, which has appreciated quite nicely at this time, so I've no complaints about Apple getting lots and lots of new customers.

Good customer service will help retain REPEAT customers, as well as new ones. I offered my experience as the point-of-view of a REPEAT customer, nothing more.

Cheers.

Proud AAPL stock owner.

 

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post #23 of 36
OK, let us keep this in perspective..... We are talking about FREE TECH SUPPORT.
You walk in off the street with a computer question, and someone helps you with it. If it is a problem you are having with a program they will explain how the program works and will take the time to instruct you. If your computer has a hardware problem they will diagnose it and let you know what it will take to fix it. This service is FREE, and people are complaining about having to make an appointment or wait in line? Try walking into a Dell or IBM store and asking for free tech support....oh, never mind....
Larry Valiska
post #24 of 36
Quote:
Originally posted by MacCrazy
It's also impossible to try out the new computers. I finally got myself onto a new iMac the other day and I was ushered off by an Apple store employee who wanted to show a customer something. This was particularly disheartening when I wanted to try out the iSight and other users were checking their e-mail!

Just another reason to go to your local CompUSA or Frys or even better, your local independant Mac sales/service center, assuming they havnt gone under yet
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post #25 of 36
Quote:
Originally posted by Lvaliska
OK, let us keep this in perspective..... We are talking about FREE TECH SUPPORT.
You walk in off the street with a computer question, and someone helps you with it. If it is a problem you are having with a program they will explain how the program works and will take the time to instruct you. If your computer has a hardware problem they will diagnose it and let you know what it will take to fix it. This service is FREE, and people are complaining about having to make an appointment or wait in line? Try walking into a Dell or IBM store and asking for free tech support....oh, never mind....
Larry Valiska

Bingo!!!

What did people do before the Apple Stores were around? I mean if somebody had a Quadra, they know they can call 1800-MY-APPLE and get their issue solved that way.

What is the Genius at the Bar supposed to do? Ask out loud, Hey is there anybody here that has had Macs for decades? Ok Sir, you can come to the front.

No, the Genius Bar is on a first come first serve basis, and if there are a lot of people with iPod s ahead of you, then you have to wait. Seems like that Concierge service is made to give people the right expectations and to route people the proper way. It is still FREE tech support for a lot of people and giving the tech sh!t about it is stupid. It is not his fault, and it distracts from the job he is doing. I always hated people giving the customer service people crap at stores, it is counter productive.
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post #26 of 36
Quote:
Originally posted by MacAficionado
Bingo!!!

What did people do before the Apple Stores were around? I mean if somebody had a Quadra, they know they can call 1800-MY-APPLE and get their issue solved that way.

<snip>

It is still FREE tech support for a lot of people and giving the tech sh!t about it is stupid. It is not his fault, and it distracts from the job he is doing. I always hated people giving the customer service people crap at stores, it is counter productive.


In my case, I had worked with a previous CS guy who had given us stellar service, and he know we were good customers. Problems arose when he was moved up to Cupertino to a senior manager position and turned our account over to a guy who seemed less invested in the "Apple way" of taking care of the customer.

When you have a complaint that is legit, you must demand good customer service. How could you think otherwise?

The customer is always right. That hasn't changed for businesses that want to stay in business. I apply that same philosophy to my business, and it's worked just fine. On rare occasions, one of my customer's might be a pain, but... you must understand that when a customer is a pain, it's after they've gone through a lot of pain dealing with your company. Pay attention to them.

Enough on this. Peace.

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post #27 of 36
You are changing your claim know, first you say they make you wait, then one of the geniuses gave you poor service.

You said they MADE you wait. Did they call your name, then proceed to help 20 iPod users, or was it just that 20 iPod users just happened to get there before you?

Why do you say the genius was less invested in the Apple way of doing business? What do you mean by account. I did not know they had service accounts at the bar.

We have to be realistic and conscious of the fact that Apple has a lot of clients now. Wether iPod or Macs, there are a lot of people that need help and we just should not go off on an employee of a store, just because you're impatient. I'm sure that any delay is beyond the capacity of the employee, know, if you told me they are making you wait while they are having beers back there, then that's another story.

Comprende? Peace
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post #28 of 36
Quote:
Originally posted by MacAficionado
You are changing your claim know, first you say they make you wait, then one of the geniuses gave you poor service.

You said they MADE you wait. Did they call your name, then proceed to help 20 iPod users, or was it just that 20 iPod users just happened to get there before you?

Why do you say the genius was less invested in the Apple way of doing business? What do you mean by account. I did not know they had service accounts at the bar.

We have to be realistic and conscious of the fact that Apple has a lot of clients now. Wether iPod or Macs, there are a lot of people that need help and we just should not go off on an employee of a store, just because you're impatient. I'm sure that any delay is beyond the capacity of the employee, know, if you told me they are making you wait while they are having beers back there, then that's another story.

Comprende? Peace

Are the two things mutually exclusive? I waited AND I got poor customer service. Especially compared with my previous customer service rep. I don't remember saying anything about 20 iPod users...

There are business account people at the Apple Stores, check out your local store, mine was replaced with someone less than competent. And I don't know about your Apple Store, but mine takes care of all requests at the Genius Bar, with and without reservations. It wasn't working well at the time. No mystery, here.

Excuse me, but are YOU the manager of an Apple Store? Do you really know what you're talking about? Just because you like Apple (I'm a cult member too, dude) doesn't mean they are above reproach. Really, now....

I expect good service. If you don't like it, tough. But Apple ain't Wal-Mart.

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post #29 of 36
Quote:
Originally posted by SpamSandwich
Are the two things mutually exclusive? I waited AND I got poor customer service. Especially compared with my previous customer service rep. I don't remember saying anything about 20 iPod users...

There are business account people at the Apple Stores, check out your local store, mine was replaced with someone less than competent. And I don't know about your Apple Store, but mine takes care of all requests at the Genius Bar, with and without reservations. It wasn't working well at the time. No mystery, here.

Excuse me, but are YOU the manager of an Apple Store? Do you really know what you're talking about? Just because you like Apple (I'm a cult member too, dude) doesn't mean they are above reproach. Really, now....

I expect good service. If you don't like it, tough. But Apple ain't Wal-Mart.

Quote:
I was so damn mad I let him have it and reminded him that 20 iPod customers would not equal my 1 PowerMac purchase and they needed to recognize that.

That was from your original post.

What I'm saying is that you should have reasonable expectations. If you got poor customer service, maybe the fact that you gave the genius an "earful" contributed to that, in that your experienced was already ruined and nothing the genius could do would have changed your perception.

It's all good, man, seems like they are working to resolve the issue of increased traffic. I hope Apple grows enough to where they have to hire 30 people for a shift. I did not have a problem with my visit to my Apple Store, that does not mean they are not busy. I just went at a time when I knew there were few people and I actually put myself on the waiting list before I left work to go there. All was fine.
I still would not give anybody an earful to anybody unless they are just slacking while I wait.
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post #30 of 36
fact is, there are too many Apple apologists on these boards. The Genius Bars have been a mess for a while now--I've had to listen too many first-time Mac owners with horror stories of waits over 2 hours, which is absolutely ridiculous; instead of making Apple look good for providing this service it makes everyone associate Apple with long, boring waits for short periods of time with overworked people.

I'm glad they are changing the system some, and I hope they spend some of their newfound cash on more Mac Geniuses, because I get tired of having to listen to stories of poor experiences in the stores.
post #31 of 36
Quote:
Originally posted by MacAficionado
That was from your original post.

What I'm saying is that you should have reasonable expectations. If you got poor customer service, maybe the fact that you gave the genius an "earful" contributed to that, in that your experienced was already ruined and nothing the genius could do would have changed your perception.

It's all good, man, seems like they are working to resolve the issue of increased traffic. I hope Apple grows enough to where they have to hire 30 people for a shift. I did not have a problem with my visit to my Apple Store, that does not mean they are not busy. I just went at a time when I knew there were few people and I actually put myself on the waiting list before I left work to go there. All was fine.
I still would not give anybody an earful to anybody unless they are just slacking while I wait.

I'm all for keeping the peace on these boards, but just a clarification... when I told the rep "20 iPod owners"--- that was in terms of dollars worth of Apple purchases (in other words, a computer costs more than an iPod). I don't know how much more clearly I can say this. Twenty was not the number of people ahead of me... I did not count everyone. It's when my scheduled time elapsed, and elapsed, and elapsed... you know the rest of the story...

It's been real, brother.

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post #32 of 36
Quote:
Originally posted by SpamSandwich
I'm all for keeping the peace on these boards, but just a clarification... when I told the rep "20 iPod owners"--- that was in terms of dollars worth of Apple purchases (in other words, a computer costs more than an iPod). I don't know how much more clearly I can say this. Twenty was not the number of people ahead of me... I did not count everyone. It's when my scheduled time elapsed, and elapsed, and elapsed... you know the rest of the story...

It's been real, brother.

Don't worry, people are being pedantic. I think Apple needs to sort this out, the whole point of a appointment time is that you can go and come back so this shouldn't be happening.

Incidentally according to the retail website, the Concierge system seems to go 'live' 14th November.
post #33 of 36
Quote:
Originally posted by Gene Clean
It used to be a lot quieter before the entire iPod nano/Video thing. You could actually get to a Genius in 30 minutes or so.. now, ehem, it takes hours.

I generally go to the one in Old Orchard Mall. It's smaller, has less Geniuses, but is often less busy too. And the employees seem to be... more flexible, so to speak. If you're around, and you need to go to an Apple Store, you might wanna check it out.

My friend is a Genius at North Michigan Avenue (a flagship store with more diagnostic equipment apparently) and so i haven't really had to wait, but you're right, that place is like hell on earth...except they sell Macs.
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post #34 of 36
Quote:
Originally posted by theapplegenius
My friend is a Genius at North Michigan Avenue (a flagship store with more diagnostic equipment apparently) and so i haven't really had to wait, but you're right, that place is like hell on earth...except they sell Macs.

I know the store, I work 2 blocks away from the store, and man oh man, that store gets some impressive traffic.
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post #35 of 36
heh, where do you work? mabye i'll stop in and say hi...or not
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post #36 of 36

It's happening, looks like tonight. Just tried to check the status on my iBook repair and got this message, "We are upgrading our store reservation system. Our new reservation system will be available in a few hours. Please visit us again." Here's the link: http://genius.apple.com/customer/?store=R054

EDIT: As of midnight the Concierge system is up and running
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