On a recent evening after work I paid a visit to the fifth avenue apple store because the $$$ Airpods I’d bought three months ago weren’t working as intended.
For readers unfamiliar with the repairs appointment process at the apple store: first I initiated an online chat with a representative who tried to diagnose the issue and resolve it. After twenty minutes of back and forth rapid-fire Q & A and eventual helplessness he said I’d have to go to a store and get a genius consultation and found a same day slot for me.
I reached the makeshift apple store (the flagship one is under renovation) at the designated time..Thanks..MTA?? The registrar scrolled through her company issue iPad, found my deets, ‘arrived me’ and pointed towards an empty chair saying my genius would be with me soon.
I said hellos to other patients gathered at the table waiting for their respective geniuses. They had issues with iphones, macbooks, iclouds, batteries.
My genial genius arrived and post weather pleasantries went over the case notes as transcribed by the chat apple representative…asked me extensive history about my Airpods usage while parallelly taking furious notes into his ipad…satisfied he asked to handle the Airpods for examination…simulated my problem and found my complaint legit and said,”I have to update your phone to the latest IOS and see if that fixes the issue.” He took my informed consent to start the upgrade and walked away to service other clients with a promise to return once the requisite event was done.
While waiting for the update to go through I did not have access to ibooks on the iphone and barren of any reading material I resorted to every new yorker’s ideal passtime – people watching.
The lady to my right was having charging problems and her genius suggested swapping out the battery. The gent on my left had dropped his macbook and cracked the screen but luckily had applecare so was confident he would walk out with free replacement. The couple sitting diagonally from me were having problems restoring their backups from icloud.
The software update on my phone completed successfully and the genius came back as well. On trying to see if the issue with my Airpods had resolved : Fail.
So he resumed typing into his ipad and after a while said he’d be replacing my Airpods for free as it was still within the 1 year warranty period. Armed with shiny new Airpods we tried to see if all was well, so I could be discharged. But the FAIL State continued.
The genius now said, “maybe it is your phone that’s at fault and not the Airpods.”
So he began to run extensive diagnostics on my phone. I said it is not possible that my phone is faulty because I am a stickler for proper phone upkeep – I follow all the good practices and for an almost FIVE years old phone it still works flawlessly. The genius brushed away my comments and continued to run the ‘root canal’ like diagnostics and was surprised by the results..he said, “your phone is in amazing condition for an almost 5 years old model..looks like you really take excellent care of your gadgets.”
He called over an another genius to show him the fabulous diagnostic report and said to him,” I don’t know man..I don’t know what’s wrong because the Airpods are compatible with his iphone model. I have replaced the Airpods, updated the phone, still no sauce. At this moment I’m at my wit’s end.”
To which the other genius replied, “Let me try connecting these Airpods to my latest iphone Xs (or whatever it is called..I can’t tell anymore)” and presto! they worked as intended.
But the moment I tried connecting them to my phone the problem was back. Three of us were now frustrated. With his mandated break coming up my genius handed over the case to the next genius. She did the same battery of tests and arrived at the same conclusion ‘problem cause unknown.‘
She went and spoke to a Mr. Manager who said, “We cannot fix this issue because we don’t know what it is…maybe it is a manufacturing/engineering defect/limitation on the older iphones which is not widely know..if he wants he can spend a few hundred dollars and get a new iphone because the problem doesn’t seem to be occurring on the newer devices. We can give him a discount of $100 if he turns in his current old phone.”
I was pissed.
I told my genius, ” I have no intention of spending any money today let alone for a new phone. Apple failed to solve my problem and wants me to spend more money lol.”
I replied ‘no deal’ and began packing my bag,”…I am switching to a samsung probably…airpods work with android devices right?”
The genius said, “sounds like the right thing to do…they should work..If you don’t mind I will list your issue as an educational/learning opportunity in our system so that it will get added to our knowledge-base.”
I was like whatever and thanked her for her time and left. Back on the train to home I had a startling realization. The whole experience was exactly like the one I had in a hospital a few weeks ago…
After the registrar ‘arrived me’ and the patient navigator gave me consents, the NP took vitals and while I was waiting to be seen, I spoke to the other waiting patients about tax returns and on finally seeing the doctor for my chief complaint of randomly flaring up pain in the left flexor digitorum longuscase.
My doctor wouldn’t stop typing into the EMR while simultaneously trying to maintain eye contact and evincing all possible medical history. (I’m sure he coded a level 3 E/M of – 99203)
Unable to isolate the cause he said, “We can do more tests, refer you to specialists etc. but that won’t really help…just live with it and hope it goes away. Discharge Diagnosis problem cause unknown.“
apple store waiting area
Clinic waiting area
found someone discussing the same problem as mine in this reddit thread :