Short version of this story:
1. Apple Store has a Genius Bar. It’s anything but.
2. If you have an Iphone 4 that requires network unlocking, do not go to Apple. Go to the service provider. If it’s Telstra, it’s a free service and can be done over the phone in a couple of minutes.
Long version of this story:
Apple Store has a Genius Bar! These so called geniuses are certainly friendly and enthusiastic, but rather clueless. Last time I checked, friendliness & enthusiasm does not qualify someone to be called a genius. Not having any useful conclusive answers for a simple problem further disproves the genius tag. In fact, I would rather an unfriendly socially awkward nerd who DOES have useful & conclusive answers to my tech problems.
On Easter weekend I frequented the Apple Store twice. Not by choice.
I brought in Phe’s waterdamaged and un-revivable Iphone 4. It had truly died-ed. I booked an appointment with a genius and had said genius tell me that Apple can not in any way help me to recover the lost data on Phe’s phone. It’s too private and sensitive. And yet Apple is happy to store all my data on their glorious icloud? That doesn’t make sense does it?
A replacement phone was offered at the princely sum of AUD179. “I’ll take it!” says I with some optimism, knowing at least that my wife would be once again able to return to the smartphone age. Swipe credit card, done deal.
I could not activate the phone because it was network locked to Telstra and we are using 3/Vodafone. The Vodafone shop was not able to help unlock it and suggested bringing it back to Apple. Woop dee doo.
I made another appointment with a genius and went in rather hopeful. Genius #2 was very friendly and keen to help. He advised that Phe’s previous phone was locked to the Telstra network and therefore the replacement phone MUST be exactly the same. I argued that they are a retail store without any service provider affiliation, so why are they selling network locked phones? Ah, but this phone was not being sold through the retail section of the store. Silly me.
He was keen to help, so he tried reinstalling the firmware which I was pretty certain wouldn’t work. It didn’t, but I waited for 15 minutes whilst he tried. Thankfully I had friends with me to chat with.
Then he went in and out of the brushed aluminium door several times. I can only imagine what wonderment lies behind that giant aluminium door. In my wildest dreams it’s a technological theme park where Men in Black meets Willy Wonka, but in reality I’m guessing there are a few workstations, some cardboard boxes and employees standing in front of mirrors telling themselves to Think Different whilst perfecting their winning smiles and reloading their breath mints supplies.
Finally after trying valiantly for half an hour my genius admits defeat. He gives me a winning smile and says to try the Telstra shop.
I drag my feet to the Telstra shop, because I know that Telstra could in no way match the sheer mental might of the Apple geniuses. What? I don’t need an appointment? What? I don’t have to fight hordes of crowds and can be served immediately? I was uncomfortable and instinctively protected my wallet and groin.
Telstra employee (no clever titles, just an employee who didn’t raise my expectations of any display of super-intelligence) tells me that Telstra offers a free iphone 4 unlocking service. He gives me a number to call. He points at a Telstra phone I can use. Within 5 minutes of setting foot in the store, my wifey’s iphone is unlocked for free and I am rapt. I’m not even a Telstra customer. This is GENIUS!!
What enrages me is this. I am absolutely positive that I can’t be the first person to bring a Telstra locked phone to the Apple Store. Their geniuses only have to deal with a tiny product line, so they would all be very familiar with the iphone 4, a phone that was released over a year ago. They should be completely aware of how to unlock it and something like a firmware install makes no difference to the network lock. It should be a no-brainer.
For a company that puts the user experience as the highest priority, this was downright embarrassing. It did however, cause me to Think Different. From now on, I will only go to the Apple Store with its much vaunted Genius Bar if I have explored all other options first.