This is the very first column for Cult of Mac written by an actual Apple retail store genius. Our genius must remain anonymous, but other than “Who are you, anyway?” ask anything you want about what goes on behind that slick store facade.
Answers will be published first in Cult of Mac’s Magazine on Newsstand. Send your questions to firstname.lastname@example.org with “genius” in the subject line.
To start this off, we asked the Genius, “What are the top 3 questions you get asked at work at the Apple Store?”
Here they are:
1. When is the new iPhone/iPad/Mac coming out?
We’re not allowed to divulge anything about upcoming products, or address rumors. If we even talk about rumors with customers we could lose our jobs. When a customer asks if I know when a new product is coming out, my response is simply, “We don’t know when it’s coming out. We find out when everyone else does, when it’s announced.”
But don’t you really know?
No. We all read the same rumors as you do, but Apple’s not going to tell employees at the Apple Store when stuff is coming out because how many of us would leak it? We would instantly tell our friends and ruin Apple’s marketing plans, so they won’t tell us until the day Apple announces it publicly.
2. Do I have to make an appointment? Can’t I just come in?
Company policy is that yes, we can accept walk-in appointments. But truly, can we? Not always. Some days we have a full day of open reservations for customers to fill in as scheduling allows. Other days you might have to come back a couple hours later for an open reservation.
The Genius Bar is a lot like a car dealership service center. You can’t just drive up to Toyota and ask for your Camry to be serviced without an appointment. Most of the time you need an appointment for those things because there’s a limited number of technicians.
Bottom line, the easiest way to get into the Apple Store Genius Bar is to make an appointment. Go onto the website or use the Apple Store app and you can get seen right away instead of waiting for hours if you just come by.
3. Am I really getting a NEW iPhone when I pay $49 for Apple to replace a broken iPhone covered by AppleCare+?
My line is that, yes, it is a new iPhone, but Apple terms and conditions state that “Apple may use parts or products that are new or equivalent to new in reliability and performance,” meaning the iPhone you’re getting is really “reconditioned,” not straight from the factory like it is when you buy a brand new iPhone.
We’re told to say that they aren’t “refurbished” because they’ve been totally gutted down to the frame. Apple’s stance is that they really are brand new devices, in the sense that they get a new enclosure, display, and innards, but there are a lot of parts that have been recycled from old iPhones, like the metal frame and some other parts.
We know they’re just rebuilding them. I’ve seen some that had a screw missing, others with a bad display, but it’s only been a small percentage. I’ve seen reconditioned iPhones that lasted twice as long as a new iPhone, so they’re not necessarily worse.