rotten apple

The American mathematician John Nash received the following recommendation from one of his university professors:

This man is a genius.

Few would argue with the usage of “genius” in his case. Perhaps a few more would with Apple’s appellation Genius Bar for their in-store tech support station.

Yesterday afternoon, I noticed the wi-fi playing up on my MacBook Air (2013, Mavericks 10.9.4 - the connection kept dropping). Googling, I came across a thread in the Apple Support Communites forum (553,251 views, 2,132 replies, most recent post 30 August 2014 at the time of writing). I decided to go to the Apple Store in Stratford. I found an available genius, and explained the issue. I added I had tried some fixes found online but to no avail, and that it seemed quite a common problem.

Oh, you’ve been duped by Google into thinking it’s a common problem, when, in fact, it’s rare. It’s like people with rare diseases. If you have a rare disease and look it up online then you are only going to come across other people with the same disease, thus coming away with the impression that the disease is a common one when, in fact, it is rare.


I just said it seemed like a common problem. Obviously, I don’t have all the information to hand to make a super-informed judgement. Never mind when googling a disease, the Wiki entry will usually be near the top and give an idea of incidence / prevalence rates; you could have at least used a better example. I said something to that effect and, rather than getting a diplomatic response / having the conversation moved on, he repeated his original argument only in a more zealous fashion.

I decided I wasn’t going to get much here and to try and book an appointment online using my sketchy wi-fi. Before leaving, I said another reason why the issue seemed common to me was because of what I had read on the Apple website in the support section.

Yeah, I know it’s on there. I know about this problem.

Right. So you just didn’t mention it. I don’t think a conversation along the lines of

“Hi, I have a problem with my wi-fi.”

“Yes, I know about this problem, I’m sorry it’s happening to you as well. An engineer will take a look. Let me book an appointment for you.”

would have been too difficult.

And there you go, job done. Nothing more needed than plain, old-fashioned customer service. And certainly no need for a genius.