Early last week (June, 6th) I was trying to make a Genius Bar appointment at the 5th Ave. Apple Store. Normally I cannot make one any sooner then a day away, but this time I couldn’t make an appointment at all, for any day. Instead I was prompted to check availability at other Apple Stores. The only available slot was at West 14th St. for some time Friday night, which I was not ready to sacrifice. This implied virtually no availability at any of the Manhattan Apple Stores for the next three days, aside from that one inconvenient slot. Only a few weeks prior I was able to make an appointment with selection of times to choose from, without even having to consider other stores.
While I found this odd, I assumed it must be related to the 4th of July weekend that had just passed. I tried again on Tuesday morning and didn’t find any open slots. It prompted me to check stores outside of the city. A second attempt was made that evening with the similar results. Not until Wednesday was I able to make an appointment in one of only two available times-slots, across all 3 Manhattan stores.
When I went in for my appointment I offhandedly asked if this was an issue of staff on vacation. I was instead told this was the result of a significant reduction in the number of Geniuses. This came as a surprise given the recent release of the iPhone 3G S and the large queue of people downstairs waiting to buy one. I speculate that this is recent and the stores have done their best to keep things quiet, though this could be a continuation or result of announced layoffs a few months back.
While I don’t suspect this will impact the overall quality of service, it does make it more difficult to get it in a timely manner and throws out any possibility of walk-ins. The whole concept of the Apple Genius as a manner for accepting repairs and troubleshooting is nothing short of a luxury when compared to the mail-in alternative. Hopefully this is just a short term cost saving tactic for the summer and not a sign for things to come.