Hack Your Apple Genius Bar Visits

6 01 2009


If you own Apple hardware, chances are you’ve paid a visit to an Apple Genius Bar at least once for service, repairs, or support. As slick and reliable as Apple gear is, they’re still complex electronic devices, bound to bug out, die, or fail on occasion. Credit Apple for developing a generally well-structured and friendly in-person support system in the form of the Genius Bar. They typically try to make your visits as painless as possible, and, when compared to the competition, are still the standard bearer in terms of convenience and quality of service (don’t worry, there’s a ‘but’ coming).


As Apple, Inc. continues to grow, gaining market share and converting new customers, Genius Bar visits have steadily grown to be—at times—complicated and troublesome affairs. Add to the fact that Mac Geniuses now deal with all manners of iGadgets in addition to servicing computers, and Apple’s got the ingredients for a potentially fine mess on their hands. It’s the nature of the beast: as your organization and portfolio expands, you’ve got more clients to manage and speed bumps to smooth over. I haven’t always been so so sanguine on the subject:

I don’t know if you’ve been to an Apple Store lately, but one of the drawbacks of the company’s newfound hipness is all the blazing idiots you have to deal with to get anything done in one.

A couple days before Christmas Eve—in a bizarre parallel to an episode almost two years prior—my MacBook Pro’s logic board failed. Luckily, my data was safe since I had JUST backed it up. Bases were also covered financially, as the MBP was still covered under AppleCare. The only real headache would involve competing with the rest of the crushing Holiday masses ON TOP OF the usual, perpetually-busy Apple Store traffic—all scrambling simultaneously for time and attention. My two less-than-ideal options were A) wait it out or B) face the crowds. Since the prospect of being unable to work on projects outweighed my white-hot distaste for being anywhere near malls and shopping centers on big Holidays, I decided to suck it up and go with option B.

Rather than bemoan Apple’s overtures to the mass market (growth is good, right?), I have—from time spent learning the hard way—worked out some tricks that help make my visits to the Genius Bar less ‘God-awful-shoot-me-now-who-the-hell-are-these-people-anyway’ nightmares to more ‘well-that-could-have-been-worse-who’s-up-for-Jamba-Juice?’ affairs.

Hints and hacks after the jump.

Hack #1: Book Your Appointment in Advance
How often have you attempted a walk-in at a Genius Bar on a busy shopping day only to be shooed away and told to make an appointment? Then, your sorry, rejected self would make the walk-of-shame to an unoccupied (if you’re lucky) in-store computer to schedule an appointment using Apple’s Concierge system:


Only after entering your information and specifying the type of service you came in for will you be greeted with the realization that the Genius Bar is booked for the day and you have wasted time, fuel, and life:


You go home cranky, dejected, and proceed to take it out on your kids. Not good. Little Timmy did nothing to deserve the beat-down you rained down upon him simply because you were pwn3d at an Apple Store. Plus, the neighbors called Child Services on you and now it doesn’t matter when your computer gets fixed, because iTunes isn’t allowed in prison. I see this scenario unfold all the time. Avoid it. Book your appointment in advance, away from any effing Apple Store.

Most Genius Bar newbies don’t realize that the Concierge booking system used at the Apple Store is actually available online at Apple’s Retail Site, where we will begin this hack.

  1. After navigating to Apple Retail, Go to ‘Find an Apple Store’ and pick the Apple Store you plan on visiting.
  2. 090106e_storelocator

  3. You’re brought to your designated Apple Store’s mini-site. Click the ‘Reserve’ link under the ‘Genius Bar’ icon.
  4. 090106f_reserve

  5. Boom, now you’ve got the store’s reservation system at your fingertips without making a trip. If the Apple Store you selected is one you visit regularly, bookmark the Concierge page so you have one-click access to that store’s reservation system in the future.

Now, this tip doesn’t help much if you’re jonesing for immediate, same-day service. See Hack #2.

Hack #2: Ignore Your Appointment and Go in Anyway
In the case of my Christmas Genius Bar adventure, setting up an appointment from home was useless since I wanted an appointment that same day and the system was booked solid for the next three.

When this happens, go ahead and book an appointment in the Concierge system for any available slot and visit the Genius Bar anyway. Why? Because of the standby list.

Every Genius Bar has a standby list. Even when it’s busy, a good deal of booked appointments end up as no-shows—leaving you free to slide in and poach the vacated slot. Despite the availability of standby, Genius Bar employees won’t extend the option to you voluntarily as you hover around clutching your Mac to your chest with a sorry look on your face. You’ve got to specifically ask for it since Genius Bar employees will take full advantage of no-shows to maintain the pretense of activity and buy themselves extra dick-around time.

I’ve seen many walk-ins discouraged by full appointment queues (thinking all of those appointments are actually honored) and hurriedly pacing Mac Geniuses (thinking they’re actually rushing to save something from imminent catastrophe). Don’t be fooled, it’s part of the con. I’m not saying you should be an obnoxious ass-hat about getting on the standby list—that’s a big no-no—but know that a great majority of the time, you can walk in and get assistance within fifteen minutes. Here’s how:

  1. Grab an open seat at the Genius Bar.
  2. Once a Mac Genius begins calling the next name in the queue, see if anyone comes forward. The Geniuses don’t tend to wait long for a response, and will begin going through two or three more names.
  3. In the event no one comes forward, go up to the Genius and tell them that A) You have an appointment but it’s for a different day; B) You wanted to try your luck as a walk-in in the event of no-shows; and C) You noticed a few no-shows just now and would like to be placed on standby.

And that’s it. Ten times out of ten Mac Geniuses will grab your information for the standby list, and nine times out of ten, the same Mac Genius who took your deets will assist you straight away.

I’ve had a front-row seat to the changes in Apple’s product and service offerings for about eight years now. There used to be a time when I could walk into an Apple Store on a weekend and not have to ninja my way around eighty or so slack-jawed dawdlers grazing around wide-eyed at the shiny, pretty toys. While those days are gone, Apple has managed to maintain a high level of in-person service, especially for those who know how to hack the system to their benefit.

So the next time you need to pop your head in an Apple Store for a Genius appointment, you’ve got some new tricks up your sleeve to get a leg up in being helped. Whatever, it’s summer.




7 responses

20 01 2009

Just curious but seeing as your logic board was bad, didn’t they have to send it off anyway? Last time this happened, they had to express ship mine to a place in TN. Just wondering?

20 01 2009

Yes it was sent off, but being able to get seen and get the process rolling the same day it died was still immensely helpful. Each day counts, and four days without a computer was better than a potential seven.

3 02 2009
pk de cville

Most powerful thing to do when getting anything taken care of by ANY business?

Remember you’re dealing with a person whose JOB is to SOLVE your problem.

This person wants to make you happy.

Be kind, friendly, relaxed and MAKE THEM HAPPY. Make them laugh.

They will exceed your expectations by a mile because they appreciate you being on their side.

NO WHINING OR COMPLAINTS; just share your predicament with a smile and good cheer and get out of their way. THEY WILL DELIVER IN VERY CREATIVE WAYS.

27 08 2009
spanky mcghee

What a joke….the greatest marketing scam of all time.
OH yeah, dude…just make the appointment with the “concierge”, while 3 techs are sitting around waiting for other people with appt’s who never show.
Hey…he’s just sitting there…can I see him?
sorry, he’s wating for the people scheduled for their appt’s.
15 min later….hey, 4 of the 12 scheduled didnt show..can I see him now?
NO…now he’s waiting for the next people with appts.
When can I see someone?
I don’t know….only if someone doesn’t show up!
Effing joke, with their smug “I work for Apple douchebag” attitudes.

18 06 2010
apple employee

This post makes an Apple employees life harder.

If you want to be seen make an appointment and show up for your scheduled appointment. You don’t go to a doctors office and ask if the doctor can see you because John Smith didn’t show for his routine checkup. Furthermore if someone shows up late God forbid, what position does that put the poor guy in. Doubling his workload so that you can “hack” your experience.
Anyone who asks to be put on standby will never receive any favors from me, especially if they sit at the bar and stare at me for 15-20 min ahead of time.

@ spanky. Its not smug apple douchebaggery its crowd control and no time to fuck around because 10 other people are waiting to be helped attitudes.

Just like you wouldn’t mess with the people who cook your food, don’t “hack” the people who fix your computers. For those underpaid overworked individuals may very well cost you thousands in repairs.

31 12 2010
 Apple Repair Store

This is more of a “hack”, per se…

Walk into the Apple store and sit down.
1/4 people don’t make their appointments, so when they’re calling out names and no one comes forth, that’s when you walk up and say “Yes, I am the Mighty Cornholio!”

22 10 2015
Canadian Friend

Yesterday we went to an Apple store, made an appointment in person; they estimated they could see us in 30 minutes.

an hour later they sent us a text to tell us someone would see us…but they don’t tell you whom or where to go,

while we waited for an hour a lot of customer had entered the store and were all “swarming” the Apple employees

we tried to talk to an Apple employee but to them we look like people trying to cut in front of the line; the Apple employeee pretended she could not see or hear us, so we tried with another one; same thing; they think we are just cheaters who jumped in front

it does not say on our forehead that we have just been texted by Apple and that is it OUR turn

long story short, it became a night mare and the only way for us to get service was for me to behave somewhat rudely, interrupt both a customer ( who had just walked in ) and interrupt the Apple employee and tell him – and talk over his voice – and tell him; YOU Apple have called us! we have waited one hour, it is OUR turn.

This is the short version, more problems occurred because of that stupid appointment system that does not work at all.

Frankly we were treated like sh*t because of that ridiculous customer service system that does not make any sense

Had we been given a little number on a piece of paper there would have never been a f*ck up.

Had there been a service counter insted of dozens of unidentified tables, there would never have been a f*ck up.

The way Apple does things in those genius stores is imbecilic. IMBECILIC.

My girlfriend owns Apple products, now that I know how Apple stores operate I will NEVER buy an Apple product.

I have never seen so much imbecility all packed in one place.

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