INSANELY GREAT customer service.

Ordinarily I’d resist the temptation to borrow a corporate slogan without intending to parody it. But in this case the slogan and the actual corporate experience coincided perfectly: I recently had an insanely great customer service experience at the Apple Store in Seattle (University Village).

One morning a couple of weeks ago my iMac G5 wouldn’t start up. It was disappointing, as it’s been not only very useful but aesthetically pleasing on my desk for the past three years. But, I told myself, after three years components can break, they outdid themselves jamming all of that stuff into that little shell, I maybe dripped water into a port or covered the air vents or something hastening it along. But mostly I thought: Well, Apple isn’t what it used to be, they’re all grown up now, I guess I have to start lowering my expectations.

But because I knew that Apple Stores have customer service available, I Googled-up the local store and called to find out what my options would be. They scheduled an appointment for me, later the same day. I carried the thing in, waited a few minutes, and made my case to the “Genius” at the “Genius Bar”: See, the screen gets all pixelated and I get a kernel panic on startup.

The first nice touch: I forgot to bring in my power cord, they had one.

Second nice touch: I only had a wireless keyboard, they had a wired one, and by using both we determined that the thing crashed only when bluetooth was in use.

Now “the closer.” He asked me: Is it under warranty? I replied: No, I don’t think so, it’s almost three years old. Should I try using it with a wired keyboard for a while before deciding whether it’s worth fixing? He said: You could do that, but I think it might be under warranty still — let me check. He looked it up — it was. He checked the inventory system — they had the parts. He went to the back room and physically got the parts so that no one else could get them first. He told me he’d call when the repair was done. The call came later the same day, I picked it up that night.

Wow. What a shift from my initial expectations, “I wish I didn’t have to get a new computer today,” to “I just got a free upgrade, completed same day” (assuming the components they installed were at least as good as what I started with).

So, while I understand why even crazed Mac fanatics may be angered by Apple’s blatant running-up-the-tab-on iPhone early adopters (Nitrozac and Snaggy may be expressing just a tad of hostility with this Joy of Tech installment), at least for the moment it looks like Apple still “gets” the insanely great experience.


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