Confessions of an Apple Store Mac Genius

“It’s not everyday an MG gets to talk about how they really feel to the public. I had an email conversation with one such Mac Genius about his job and his experiences. When I asked him about doing the interview, he thought is was a great idea, but the interview had to be anonymous to the point of not even his store or city could be revealed,” Chris Williams reports for PopSyndicate.

Williams reports, “From our conversation, I got the sense that there seems to be a kind of mythology surrounding MG’s. Customers needing help with their Apple products have the unreal expectation that MG’s can fix anything… for free. Customers seem to expect MG’s to be knowledgeable in everything. Mac Genius is more of a marketing term than actual Mensa status. Some former Mac Genii have websites dedicated to debunking unrealistic expectations and perceived attitudes surrounding this largely underpaid job.”

“The access to information afforded to MG’s can be tricky. Working within a layer of inside knowledge (at a company whose culture of secrecy is epic) can put an MG in an awkward position. On one hand, it’s the job of an MG to help the customer and make them happy, on the other, they still have to be the face of Apple which means sometimes pleading ignorance about a known issue to a customer. For instance, a while back Apple settled on a class-action lawsuit over some iPods of a specific model that used defective batteries. What are the odds that MG’s noticed a trend of poor battery performance? Chances are, they did but couldn’t say anything about it,” Williams reports.

Williams reports, “But the job isn’t entirely thankless. Quickly fixing a computer for a customer can make their day and that can be its own reward. Being appreciated goes a long way as it turns out.”

Williams’ interview with a Mac Genius here.

40 Comments

  1. Underpaid is probably true, but I get the feeling that most of the people that are employed in that position are there because they like to do that type of thing. I know that I always kind of enjoy troubleshooting Mac issues, finding the solution, fixing it, and explaining to the owner what the problem was. On the other hand, I absolutely HATE troubleshooting Windows and PC issues.

  2. Initial marketing plans from Apple proposed to have help staff wearing see-through tank tops with a hotline to specially trained female monastics under an exclusive contract. It was going to be called:

    “Sheer Genius Bar Nun”

  3. This is true. I used to work in an Apple store. The Customers think they can just drop off a computer and it will be fixed for free in a matter of minutes. It is very interesting to see the size of battles between customers and managers because of their expectations.

  4. This guy sounds like a total douche bag. Certainly customers can be pains in the ass, but this guy sounds like the arrogant one. He’s a classic example of why people rebel against the Cult of Mac and think Mac people are jerks.

    And he uses “literally” too much. He says “I’ve quite literally seen or heard everything.” Uh, no, he hasn’t.

  5. Jerkstore…

    I laughed at your name. Hilarious. Great Seinfeld episode…

    I think the article/advice is useful. But I also think it’s a journalistic work – this guy had all the answers succinctly put.

    Almost too polished journalism.

  6. This interview reads like a fake interview. And the MG in question is an schmuck. The characters of High Fidelity were funny in the movie but a retail asshole is a retail asshole is a retail asshole.

  7. Just had my 2ghz iMac G5 in for a Power supply replacement. Me and my 3 and 4 yo son and Daughter, we showed up 5 minutes before my appointment The MG looked at my iMac and verified my problem and in 15 minutes it was fixed and I was on my way. (Apple Store Rockaway Mall Rockaway NJ) Best experience. I also work in the IT Industry, I am the sole Mac Tech at a Lerge Ad Agency in North NJ. I support 200+ Macs alone. I know frustration. To all the Techs OUT THERE rule #1 is smile and don’t loose your temper. To all the customers BE NICE.

  8. It’s true–I have worked in Apple service, and people really do expect their computers to be magically repaired and ready to pick up in an hour. For free. That was the number one source of frustration. It was very eye opening. Also, Apple’s wages for front-line employees truly are sad. I agree that satisfaction is a wonderful thing to have on the job, but could you make it on $7-$9 hr. if you don’t still live with Mom? Would you, considering the qualifications they want their employees to have? There are no incentives, no bonuses, no commissions. You could literally make more money working at a coffee shop. It’s all hype, and it almost makes me wonder if it’s by design, to stay staffed by the young, hip, and still living with Mom.

    I love their products and have used the Mac for many years, but Apple is a corporation just like any other. If you aren’t working in Cupertino, then it isn’t a wonderful experience.

  9. Rats — somebody beat me to the “Jerkstore” reference!

    Mr. Personality’s frequent use of words like “prick” “shit,” “sarcasm” “fuck” and “condescending” when describing customers suggest a guy who may have tremendous technical knowledge, but was probably ill-suited to a customer service position in the first place.

    Yes, customers can be a-holes. But there’s an art to customer service, and this guy sounds like he “literally” doesn’t have a clue about it. If there are more like him in the system, Apple should have a People Skills section on their Genius exam.

    I will say I’ve apparently never had this guy wait on me at the Genius Bar — and judging by his “Nick Burns” attitude, I’m glad of it.

    In other words:

    All the Genuises I’ve dealt with: ProCare

    This Guy: DontCare (and I’d give him “Windows OneCare Live” if it was an option.)

    MW: Foot, as in what he’d have in his ass if he gave me this kinda static at the Genius Bar.

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