'Secret' Apple retail policy reportedly rewarded polite customers with free fixes, replace...

Posted:
in General Discussion edited March 18
In a viral TikTok video, a former Apple Store employee revealed an alleged special program which retail employees could use to "surprise and delight" customers with additional perks.

Credit: Apple
Credit: Apple


TikTok user @Tanicornerstone explained the supposed program in a response to a video asking for the "secrets that only the employees know."

"I used to work for Apple. So the first thing; rude customers, like we got some psychos in that store, but if you're rude to the geniuses or the concierge people, you will get your problem fixed most likely - however you are going to pay for it," the former retail staffer explained.

However, she adds that each staff member apparently has a specific number of "surprise and delight" instances that they could use to go above and beyond normal service for "really amazing" customers.



"I used to see a lot, people would come in with like water damaged phones and you're not allowed to replace those without a fee. However, the geniuses used a 'surprise and delight' to be able to give somebody a free replacement," she said.

Commenters to the TikTok video corroborated the claim, including both customers who received exceptional service or other former Apple Retail staffers. Some, however, have refuted claims that Apple had any such policy, while others say the video mistakenly equates "surprise and delight" with programs that have since been discontinued.

Her clip now has more than 114,000 likes and generated 866 comments.

It isn't clear if the "surprise and delight" program is still in effect, or whether it was actually a retail policy at all. However, there does appear to be plenty of anecdotal evidence suggesting that customers who are nice to retail staff may be able to get better service.

"I was a BROKE college student with an older MacBook whose battery needed to be replaced. The genius didn't charge me," one commenter said.

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Comments

  • Reply 1 of 50
    bageljoeybageljoey Posts: 1,937member
    I totally believe this. Twice I got more than I thought I would (and more than Apple promises) from Geniuses.  I always thought they looked at my purchase history (a veritable museum exhibit stretching unbroken back to the Apple IIc) but I figured they wouldn’t even look if I was asking for too much or being a jerk.

    Last time I brought an Apple Watch in with the screen crack flaw. It was past the extended warrantee by a fair bit.  Didn’t get the replace.  Change in policy?  Or just too big an ask?  Who knows...
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 2 of 50
    The root of this idea—polite, even super-polite people get the most rewards from customer service—is not that unusual, I don't think. Several years back, my wife worked in customer service for a well-known clothing manufacturer with a strong direct-sales presence. It was absolutely a written policy that if someone called with an order, warranty, customer service, quality, or other problem, the moment that caller became a dick, the goal was still to drive to a solution, but no free stuff, period. No free shipping, no free replacements, no bonuses, etc. If you were really nice, there were all sorts of perks the CS agents were allowed to give. 

     I don't know if it was specifically because of this policy, but my wife had a cracked screen replaced on her 6 Plus (this was several years ago) at an Apple Store twice, for free, once out of warranty. No AppleCare or anything, nor did we ask for it. We were just patient and super polite: "boy, really busy today! Thank so much for helping us, here's the broken iPhone..." blah blah blah. They were just immediately, "this is on us, one sec" boom.
    edited March 17 Anilu_777Japheywatto_cobra
  • Reply 3 of 50
    You reap what you sow...
    (On a good day)
    maltzequality72521Scot1watto_cobra
  • Reply 4 of 50
    weev7weev7 Posts: 1member
    I worked for Apple retail for nearly 10 years, and this TikTok is an oversimplification of a policy that was tried YEARS ago, back in the iPhone 3GS-4S times. We were allowed to swap a liquid damage phone once for a customer, and it was up to the technician to make that determination. Back then when I did have the power to make that decision, of course I wasn’t going to make that exception for someone who was rude to me or my coworkers. But Apple recognized that not all customers were receiving the same level of service, so they ended the practice around 2010. Since then, there has been no official policy of “surprise and delight” for kind customers as opposed to rude customers. 

    These days, those exceptions are EXTREMELY rare if they are even made at all. A few years ago, I even begged my managers to make an exception for a teacher whose Mac was liquid damaged by an autistic student and I was told “No.” The term “surprise and delight” was only used for items like duckheads or EarPods that we could just give customers for free, but that went away as well before I left the company. 

    I feel this is an important distinction to make because readers might think an Apple Genius has the power to fix a liquid damaged device for free when that is absolutely not the case. I would not want readers to assume the Genius is saying no because the Genius just considers them to be rude when they just cannot make an exception at all. 
    Anilu_777sphericsully54mwhitemuthuk_vanalingamfastasleepCloudTalkinRayz2016roundaboutnowviclauyyc
  • Reply 5 of 50
    Back in 2015 I purchased a 15” MacBook Pro with Retina Display with AppleCare and paid a pretty penny for it.

    In less than 2 weeks, I had dropped it on the ground when removing it from my car and dented the entire right side of the chassis to the point that I couldn’t use any of the ports on that side as they were all misshapen.

    I brought it to the Genius Bar and I was completely honest with them about what happened and that I really needed the unit fixed. They told me it wouldn’t be cheap, but I insisted that it be fixed and I was willing to pay for the repair because I needed those ports to work.

    In the end, the manager became involved and ultimately took my laptop back and replaced it with another one, brand new and sealed in the box because he genuinely felt bad for me.

    I was completely amazed that they extended themselves for me like that as I was not expecting that to happen at all! The manager shared my excitement as he knew how upset I was about the damage and that I was grateful that he and his team helped me the best way they knew how.

    I can’t remember his name, or if he is still with Apple, but I do remember that this happened at the Apple Store Fairview Mall in Toronto. Other companies would never have been so accommodating, so I can say that I will be loyal to Apple not only because of the fantastic products they make, but because of the amazing customer service that they provide on top of that! 
    Anilu_777viclauyycjas99hammeroftruthScot1TRAGtokyojimu
  • Reply 6 of 50
    payecopayeco Posts: 449member
    I worked at an Apple retail store in ‘07 and ‘08 when I was in college and this definitely was not the policy then. 
    muthuk_vanalingam
  • Reply 7 of 50
    From reading the comments above I think the TikTok user is just saying what seems to be happening. I heard once that Apple reps have a code for dicks (don’t remember it) and a code for nice people (an acronym for Not an Asshole) that they would attach to your Apple ID. Urban legends abound around Apple. I have found personally (so just the anecdote level) that working retail meant I’m always super nice and patient with Apple reps. I’ve only had issues 3 times. I documented the issues with screen shots and screen recordings when I could. I was courteous and never demanding. I always had great service and my devices were replaced even though one (AirPods with crackling) didn’t have Apple Care. Was it a special program? I’ll never know. I just know that you get what you give. 
  • Reply 8 of 50
    chasmchasm Posts: 2,396member
    What’s this you say? Treating staff who did not cause your problem with patience and politeness instead of like an entitled ass gets you better service and the occasional freebie/extra?

    My god! Has anyone alerted the press??  :D
    muthuk_vanalingamRayz2016maltzJaiOh81macguimike1dkhaleyDAalsethdangermouse2GG1
  • Reply 9 of 50
    Not 100% true.

    The concept of surprise and delight in the Genius Bar is a little more calculated than "empathetic outreach."

    When a device had an issue that was not related to, say, the physical damage present, or if there existed a loophole we could jump through to go above and beyond, we would, yes, but generally with with our own judgement, and our job is to do our job: repair devices at the quoted cost. "Instances," against our performance was a measure of our quality of work, as in mistakes made, so we still operated in the framework of completing repairs that needed to be taken care of. I never had an "instance."

    The other component of "surprise and delight" is generally attributed to the Tech Expert or Genius, or contracted off-site repair (those devices being sent out go to Pegatron, not Apple) performing the physical repair and making a mistake while doing it. This could happen is they strip a screw, bend a ribbon cable, or damage the device themselves while in their possession. 

    All of these were presented as a surprise in exchange for delight, to generate customer loyalty. The Genius Bar has amazing days, and awful ones. The customers always dictate how that occurs. There is indeed a lot of psychological manipulation in order to perform well, and us employees had the job to outsmart, outthink, and maintain dominance in all interactions. Empathy is the strongest weapon Apple has in their arsenal. It WORKS.

    In multiple years, I've never seen a manager just "give out," a device. The only "major," delight I've seen was when I had a customer bring in a 2011 15" MBP with a video card issue under a repair program, but he had a very rare 1TB SSD for that model where internally the LB didn't exist anymore, so our only option was to replace the device with a "similarly equipped, in-stock device:" a new i9 32GB/1TB 15" MBP to match the drive size. There is, and always will be a reason, but the customer doesn't know about it, mainly because they never read the repair notes. All they know is how they feel, and that's how Apple snares loyalty.
    edited March 17 muthuk_vanalingamroundaboutnowdarkvaderFileMakerFeller
  • Reply 10 of 50
    sflocalsflocal Posts: 5,741member
    ItsDeCia said:
    Back in 2015 I purchased a 15” MacBook Pro with Retina Display with AppleCare and paid a pretty penny for it.

    In less than 2 weeks, I had dropped it on the ground when removing it from my car and dented the entire right side of the chassis to the point that I couldn’t use any of the ports on that side as they were all misshapen.

    I brought it to the Genius Bar and I was completely honest with them about what happened and that I really needed the unit fixed. They told me it wouldn’t be cheap, but I insisted that it be fixed and I was willing to pay for the repair because I needed those ports to work.

    In the end, the manager became involved and ultimately took my laptop back and replaced it with another one, brand new and sealed in the box because he genuinely felt bad for me.

    I was completely amazed that they extended themselves for me like that as I was not expecting that to happen at all! The manager shared my excitement as he knew how upset I was about the damage and that I was grateful that he and his team helped me the best way they knew how.

    I can’t remember his name, or if he is still with Apple, but I do remember that this happened at the Apple Store Fairview Mall in Toronto. Other companies would never have been so accommodating, so I can say that I will be loyal to Apple not only because of the fantastic products they make, but because of the amazing customer service that they provide on top of that! 
    I hope your replacement macbook is kept in a case/bag until it is needed on a desktop or your lap.
  • Reply 11 of 50
    lkrupplkrupp Posts: 9,477member
    Bottom line... don’t be a dick.
    Rayz2016mike1dangermouse2GG1baconstang
  • Reply 12 of 50
    The explains why they repaired my 7-year old Mac for free. The replaced the screen and the battery and I didn’t even mention it.
  • Reply 13 of 50
    anomeanome Posts: 1,463member
    I know that the local store goes out of its way to get you a replacement or repair at the lowest possible cost. At least sometimes.

    I mean, I've had a couple of phones replaced due to drop damage for no charge (one of them they attempted to repair, but stripped all the screws - of course they might have "accidentally" done it ) and when I upgraded my iPad, and wanted to hand the old one down to another family member, they found a whole bunch of stuff wrong with it, but declared that as it had a battery issue, they could replace it with a new unit for the basic out-of-warranty battery replacement fee.

    So they go out of their way to find ways to get it done, but that could be dependent on the specific store you deal with. And I never disrespect service staff. It's not their fault, and if you piss them off, they can mess up your day in truly horrific ways. Especially waitstaff. Never piss off anyone with access to your food.
    entropys
  • Reply 14 of 50
    No lol

    - Apple Employee
    sully54weev7darkvader
  • Reply 15 of 50
    sully54sully54 Posts: 102member
    weev7 said:
    I worked for Apple retail for nearly 10 years, and this TikTok is an oversimplification of a policy that was tried YEARS ago, back in the iPhone 3GS-4S times. We were allowed to swap a liquid damage phone once for a customer, and it was up to the technician to make that determination. Back then when I did have the power to make that decision, of course I wasn’t going to make that exception for someone who was rude to me or my coworkers. But Apple recognized that not all customers were receiving the same level of service, so they ended the practice around 2010. Since then, there has been no official policy of “surprise and delight” for kind customers as opposed to rude customers. 

    These days, those exceptions are EXTREMELY rare if they are even made at all. A few years ago, I even begged my managers to make an exception for a teacher whose Mac was liquid damaged by an autistic student and I was told “No.” The term “surprise and delight” was only used for items like duckheads or EarPods that we could just give customers for free, but that went away as well before I left the company. 

    I feel this is an important distinction to make because readers might think an Apple Genius has the power to fix a liquid damaged device for free when that is absolutely not the case. I would not want readers to assume the Genius is saying no because the Genius just considers them to be rude when they just cannot make an exception at all. 
    Exactly this. I have also worked at apple retail for over 10 years and there was never a blanket policy like this, certainly not because people are nice or rude. 

    Also, the concierge role at Apple Stores haven't been a thing for a long, long time.
    mark fearingmuthuk_vanalingamweev7roundaboutnowFileMakerFeller
  • Reply 16 of 50
    entropysentropys Posts: 3,120member
    I used to bring Mrs entropy in with me. She would just sit there and smile at them and in return get the Rolls Royce treatment.
     Putty in her hands. 
    edited March 17
  • Reply 17 of 50
    I call BS on this. I never heard such things. I think you could mark it up to 'being nice generally pays dividends and being as as**ole doesn't,'

  • Reply 18 of 50
    I wonder.
    AirPods Max, left side stopped working.
    AirPods, battery dead on one.
    Apple Watch Hermes, bubble under the screen (new).
    MacBook Pro first generation butterfly switch issues and popping sounds.
    MacBook Pro second generation butterfly keyboard issues (yes I'm a sucker for buying again)
    HomePod - making random loud noises.
    iPhone 11 dead on arrival. 
    BigSur bluetooth issues still ongoing with 11.2.3.

    I wonder how "kind" I come across as a customer. 
  • Reply 19 of 50
    genovellegenovelle Posts: 1,274member
    weev7 said:
    I worked for Apple retail for nearly 10 years, and this TikTok is an oversimplification of a policy that was tried YEARS ago, back in the iPhone 3GS-4S times. We were allowed to swap a liquid damage phone once for a customer, and it was up to the technician to make that determination. Back then when I did have the power to make that decision, of course I wasn’t going to make that exception for someone who was rude to me or my coworkers. But Apple recognized that not all customers were receiving the same level of service, so they ended the practice around 2010. Since then, there has been no official policy of “surprise and delight” for kind customers as opposed to rude customers. 

    These days, those exceptions are EXTREMELY rare if they are even made at all. A few years ago, I even begged my managers to make an exception for a teacher whose Mac was liquid damaged by an autistic student and I was told “No.” The term “surprise and delight” was only used for items like duckheads or EarPods that we could just give customers for free, but that went away as well before I left the company. 

    I feel this is an important distinction to make because readers might think an Apple Genius has the power to fix a liquid damaged device for free when that is absolutely not the case. I would not want readers to assume the Genius is saying no because the Genius just considers them to be rude when they just cannot make an exception at all. 
    I don’t know about water damage but I have had quite a few issues repaired on my computers years beyond the warranty, including a system board. 
    pulseimages
  • Reply 20 of 50
    sflocal said:
    ItsDeCia said:
    Back in 2015 I purchased a 15” MacBook Pro with Retina Display with AppleCare and paid a pretty penny for it.

    In less than 2 weeks, I had dropped it on the ground when removing it from my car and dented the entire right side of the chassis to the point that I couldn’t use any of the ports on that side as they were all misshapen.

    I brought it to the Genius Bar and I was completely honest with them about what happened and that I really needed the unit fixed. They told me it wouldn’t be cheap, but I insisted that it be fixed and I was willing to pay for the repair because I needed those ports to work.

    In the end, the manager became involved and ultimately took my laptop back and replaced it with another one, brand new and sealed in the box because he genuinely felt bad for me.

    I was completely amazed that they extended themselves for me like that as I was not expecting that to happen at all! The manager shared my excitement as he knew how upset I was about the damage and that I was grateful that he and his team helped me the best way they knew how.

    I can’t remember his name, or if he is still with Apple, but I do remember that this happened at the Apple Store Fairview Mall in Toronto. Other companies would never have been so accommodating, so I can say that I will be loyal to Apple not only because of the fantastic products they make, but because of the amazing customer service that they provide on top of that! 
    I hope your replacement macbook is kept in a case/bag until it is needed on a desktop or your lap.
    Yes I have it either in a sleeve or a bag depending on where I travel to. Although I’ve moved on from that laptop now, I try and take good care of the one I’m currently using.
    Scot1
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