First, let me just say that I guess I understand the reasons why Apple does things at their retail stores the way they do – it just doesn’t make them any less annoying. I am a long-time user of Macintosh computers, and a general fan of Apple products. However, I also understand why many people over the years have branded the company as arrogant. I present the following:

Monday, 12:10pm – My iPod Nano has sustained water damage and is not working properly, so I figure I’ll head over to the Apple store, which is a 10 minute drive from my office, and see if somebody can take a quick look at it. I walk into the store, which doesn’t seem very busy, and make my way over to the Genius Bar. I’m told by a young lady standing in front of the Bar wearing headgear and a walkie-talkie  that I will need to make an appointment. I look around at the 2 people being helped and the three extra “Geniuses” standing there doing nothing, and figure I may have to wait 10 minutes or so. “Sure,” I say, “how long of a wait is there?”

“The earliest appointment today is at 3:40 – can you come back then?”

“No, I’ll have to come back tomorrow.” and I made an appointment for the same time the following day.

Tuesday, 12:10 pm – I head over to my appointment on my lunch hour. I check in, and am told they are about 10 minutes behind schedule. So I wait – what else am I going to do? After a while, my Genius comes over and introduces himself.

“Hi, what seems to be troubling your ipod?” (like it’s a living thing)

I play dumb. “I’m not sure. It just quit on me.”

The Genius takes out a scope that looks like the one used during ear exams (you know, the one with the light on the end). He looks closely at the connector and headphone jacks on the bottom of the ‘pod.

“It looks like it’s sustained some water damage. See, there is a little piece of reactive paper built way up in the headphone jack. This paper will turn red when it’s made contact with water, and it’s red. Any idea how that happened?”

I proceed to throw my daughter under the bus: “I don’t know, but I do have a 5-year old at home, so anything’s possible, I guess.” (I wasn’t about to tell him how I accidentally left the thing in my shorts pocket when I dove into the lake over the weekend. The damn thing is so slim, you don’t even know it’s there half the time anyway! – sorry Sweet Pea, but Daddy was cornered.)

The Genius hooks it up, and is able to get it working. I figure I’m home free. But the Genius then tells me that it’s 50/50 for the thing being cured. Water will cause corrosion, and can kill the battery. A battery which cannot be replaced because of the way the new Nanos are built, all in one piece. “Crap,” I say out loud, “so, do I have to buy another one? That’s $150.”

“The ipod is still under warranty. Even though water damage is not covered, we can sell you a brand new one for $79 if it dies on you. Go home and put it in a bag of dry rice. Sometimes that works to draw the moisture out. If the battery is fried, then bring it in and you can swap it for another one.” I swear those are the EXACT words he used. EXACT.

Wednesday, 12:15ish pm – I tried the Rice-a-Roni trick the previous night, and tried charging the ‘pod, which by now I’ve named Balky, all morning at the office, but no dice. Her battery has given up the ghost. I’m not delighted about having to replace it, but it was my own fault to begin with. I go back to the Store, figuring I can do the swap. But nothing is easy.

“Hi, I had an appointment with a Genius yesterday, and was told I can bring this in to swap for another, since it has water damage.”

“Ok, you’ll need to make another appointment for the Genius Bar.”

“But I already had the problem diagnosed, and was told I can just come back and swap it.”

“Yes, but that is a service exchange, and anything to do with service for a device has to go through the Genius Bar.”

“I don’t understand. All the info should be in the computer. Can’t somebody just grab one and I can pay for the exchange?”

“I’m sorry, but we can’t do that. The closest appointment is at 3:20. Can you come back then?”

“No, I can’t come back then! I work for a living – who the hell can be at the mall at 3:20 in the afternoon unless they work nights! This is f%@king insane! Any other retail store has a service desk you just walk up to – why should I have to make an appointment to do a friggin’ exchange! I have better shit to do than to spend all my lunch breaks at the Apple Store! This is the THIRD time I’ve been here this week!” (actual quotes)

“I’m sorry, but that’s the best I can do.”

“Fine. Give me an appointment for noon tomorrow.”

Thursday, 12:00 pm – I go to the Apple Store – AGAIN – hoping I’ll have better luck.

“Hello, sir. My name is Brian. How can I help you?”

I explain the situation, and hand over the iPod.

“Ok, let me look to see if I have another blue 8GB model in stock……Looks like we’re all out. Sorry.”

“No problem. I’ll take another color.”

“Yeah, sorry. On a service exchange, since you’re getting a new one for the lower cost, they only allow you to get an exact replacement.”

Of course that’s what they do – why would I expect a happy ending to this story?

“It seems like we’re all out of the 8BG models entirely, so even if I wanted to get you a different color I couldn’t. I’ll have to order one for you.”

“Ok – I guess that’s my only option. How long will that take?”

“3 or 4 days.”

“Awesome!”

The new iPod came 3 days later. I suppose since it was my own fault, I shouldn’t be complaining. But making an appointment to exchange a product – that shit has got to go. Apple, are you listening?