Monday, October 06, 2008

Not all heroes wear capes

Genius Bar

Last Friday I awoke to discover a small annoyance -- my beloved iPhone popped up its blue error message saying "cannot make or receive calls. Repair needed."

As long-time iPhone owners know, this is usually no big deal at all. Usually it just means you need to reseat your SIM card.

Thus without thinking twice, I reached for the all-purpose Apple repair tool a.k.a. the paper clip.

Apple devotees have been using the paper clip since time immemorial for various small tasks, such as getting your Mac to spit out a stuck floppy disc or CD. The paper clip is a hallowed Mac instrument, and I frankly carry one in my purse at all times for just these kinds of tiny issues.

However this time reseating the SIM didn't work. I tried again, and again. Uh-oh. My original 4GB iPhone wasn't co-operating that morning. So I tried hooking it up to iTunes, but iTunes couldn't see it.

Ok, there's a workaround for this too -- holding down the Home button and the camera button for 10 seconds while the iPhone's hooked to iTunes. iPhone's screen kept telling me to connect it to iTunes, but iTunes still wasn't seeing it.

Sigh. Time to go to work. Only one thing left to do: make an appointment at the Genius Bar at the Apple store.

This is of course completely simple to do online, but sadly the next appointment was for Sunday! Yesterday! 3 entire days without an iPhone.

I won't describe the torture. So that afternoon I rushed to the Apple store on 14th Street here in New York, took the 3 flights of frosted glass stairs up to the Bar in a single bound, and there he was. Edgar. Edgar, my Genius, calm and confident in the zen space of the Bar.

Edgar tried all the things I had tried, and even moved on to a few nifty Genius tricks I couldn't quite see. He did finally get iTunes to see my poor iPhone, but it wouldn't boot. He tried to Restore it. Alas, it wouldn't take the software.

Oh no. Edgar turned to me with a somber look. I feared this was the end, so I glued my eyes to his "Not all heroes wear capes" T-shirt and braced myself for the worst.

"Well Fortune," he said, "I'm just going to have to give you a new phone."

"A new iPhone?" I said. "Yes," he said,"I'm replacing your phone."

"Um, like for free?," I asked, "because I didn't think my AppleCare..."

"Yes," he said with deep seriousness, "I'm going to have to give you a new phone for free." And so he did. I signed the papers in a near daze.

Whenever I hear people complain about tech support, I think about the Genius Bar. Because every experience I have ever had with Apple iPhone support at the Bar has always shown Apple staff to exceed expectations. As Edgar did yesterday.

AT&T, however, that's a different story. As I sailed home to activate my phone, I had no idea the activation service would be down for most of the day. After waiting about 4 hours, the activation market finally came back up.

When my iPhone re-activated, I tried to Restore from backup. However, the new iPhone only had firmware 2.0.1. iTunes sweetly told me it couldn't Restore, that would have to Update and then Restore. Ok? Ok, I clicked.

And iTunes did. It Updated to 2.1, Restored all my data from backup, re-synched my tango music, and 10 painless minutes later, I was back in business as if I had never been away. Hooray! I wasn't missing a single email or calendar appointment.

Not all heroes may wear capes, but those great Apple employees at the Genius Bar certainly at least deserve propeller beanies.

What was I drinking during this non-traumatic experience? Oren's Panama Finca Hartmann, that's what. Yum.

posted by fortune | 3:14 PM | top | link to this | email this: | links to this post | | 4 comments

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