I’ve been trying to book some time at my local Apple Store to get my iPhone’s battery swapped, and it has not been easy — at least, not compared to the way it used to be. Previously, I’d open the Apple Store app on my phone, open up my store’s page, and tap the button to get support. I could easily make a Genius Bar appointment from there with just a few taps.
An update to the Store app earlier this year removed the ability to create a Genius Bar appointment from within the app. Instead, it sends you to Safari to complete the booking with a button confusingly labelled “Contact Apple Support”.
Once you’re directed to Apple’s support site, you’re in for another blow: it’s probably the least-stable online service Apple offers, in a really big way. It frequently doesn’t load at all; when it does, I often see some form of server-side failure midway through the booking process. This isn’t new — a friend of mine asked me several months ago to help him book an appointment because the website wasn’t loading for him, and I wasn’t able to make it work either.
Apple appears to be aware of this gap in support offerings because they began rolling out an app about a month ago that allows users to book Genius Bar appointments, see their Apple ID history, and chat with an agent. Unfortunately, this app is region-limited and doesn’t appear to be available in Canada or the United States.
It’s even difficult to get an appointment via a phone call. I’ve only phoned my Apple Store a few times over the past several years, but they have twice told me to complete the support request online.
This seems like a pretty significant gap. Of all the things that may have changed about Apple in the past fifteen years, the ability to walk into one with your gear and get personalized service hasn’t wavered. Whenever I ask someone why they stick with Apple over time, one of the reasons I almost always hear is the retail and support experience. I sincerely hope that this gets resolved soon.
Update: Apple appears to have brought the Support app to the U.S. Judging by the replies to that linked tweet, it appears that Support is now in a total of two countries: the U.S., and the Netherlands. No word on how soon Apple will be rolling Support out to any other country where they have a retail presence.