So, if you're following my twitter, you know that my iMac's hard-drive is dead, and it's actually an opportunity to experience of going to the Genius bar at a local Apple store. Couple points that I would like to make:
1. Make a reservation online. Don't think that you can just walk into an Apple store and get help right away, especially for tech support. While I was waiting for my turn, I saw a couple of people being told to make a reservation for another day.
2. Do your homework. Just like any tech support situation, things can go faster/smoother if you do your homework. In my case, I already did my own diagnostics to confirm that the hard-drive in my iMac is truly dead. At the genius bar, the genius tried to do his own diagnostic by booting from his external hard-drive, which didn't work anyway. If I didn't tell him what I did, we would probably have spent more time trying to diagnose the problem. Also, write down your Mac's serial number and/or Apple care number. It would help the genius since Apple put the serial number of the iMac on the bottom of the stand(!).
3. Speaking of time, just because you have a reservation, don't expect that you'll be helped right at the appointed time. It seems that there are only a few geniuses in the store, and depending on how long they are working on each customer's case, things could be pretty backed up. I had to wait for a bit over my appointed time because the genius wasn't done with the customer in front of me.
4. Waiting can be awkward in an Apple store (I assume it depends on the store). The one I went into doesn't really have a set "counter/line" like a traditional B&M store (except for the line for the iPhone 3GS). When I arrived, naturally I went to the genius bar. Then one of the guys said to check in on the counter, which is just a small table in the middle with 2 iMacs and a girl with orange T-shirt. Good thing one of the guys obviously saw I was confused, asked my for my name, and quickly went to one the iMacs on that table and "checked" me in. Then It's a waiting time. There was not a set "waiting" area. I was standing like a doofus, then I just sit down on an empty chair near the "bar." I'm guessing Apple wants to make the experience more casual, but at the same time it could be confusing without proper signs/directions.
5. Somebody need to clarify/make a guide for the color-coded T-shirts of the Apple store employees. There are employees in cyan, orange, and dark-blue T-shirts. At first I thought the cyan are the geniuses, but I think they're sales. Orange is probably concierge? The gal that is checking people in wears orange T-shirt. The geniuses are in dark-blue.
One big point that I want to make, is how GLAD I am that I bought Apple care (Apple's extended warranty) for my iMac. I bought my iMac in May 2008. Guess what, the hard-drive failed on June 2009, 1 month after the default warranty would've ended. Without Apple care, it would'be been $100 just for the diagnostic. Now, if this is a regular tower PC, I wouldn't worry about extended warranties. In fact, I replace broken hard-drives pretty often on my other PCs. They're regular PCs so it's easy to just buy a hard-drive, open up the case, and replace it. However on the iMac, it's a different story. I looked at tech websites, and to get to the hard-drive in an iMac, you would have to dismantle the whole thing, remove the glass display AND the LCD. That's too hardcore for me.
Another great thing about Apple is the presence of the Apple stores. If it's an HP/Dell PC, and it needs something fixed that I couldn't do myself, I would've to call a tech support in India, setup a shipment, ship the computer, wait for days/weeks (excluding ship time), etc etc. Or, HP/Dell would send a spare part and I would've to do the repairing myself. Or go to Bestbuy's Geek squad and spent a fortune. Compare that to setting up an appointment with the Genius online, coming in on a weekend to a local store, and being told that things will be fixed in a couple days. It's definitely a much better experience. The only downside is if there are no Apple stores around your area.
So, there you go, my first experience with Apple's Genius bar. We'll see how long it would take for Apple to fix my iMac. The genius said it's a day or two. Hopefully my iMac is well taken care of.
Note to self: consider SSD when buying a new computer.