Rumor: Apple looking to revamp Genius Bar process at retail locations

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Date: Wednesday, July 14th, 2010, 13:29
Category: retail, Rumor

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As useful as the Apple Store retail locations tend to be, there’s always a bit of a wait.

This may change as Apple is said to be prepping major changes to the Genius Bar at its brick-and-mortar retail stores, in hopes of offering customers shorter wait times and quick overnight repairs according to a story on MacRumors.

The site has stated that it has received word that Apple plans to overhaul its Genius Bars in an effort to increase customer satisfaction. The details come a day after sources close to the story reported that Apple is now drumming up excitement with its retail employees, promising something that will make a “big” impact.

Specifically, author Eric Slivka cited three new changes that will allegedly be implemented:

Active queue management: Apple’s goal is for walk-in customers headed to the Genius Bar to be served within 30 minutes. To meet this goal, the stores will reassign some employees from other areas of the store when needed.

Overnight repairs: Retail stores will reportedly place a greater focus on overnight repairs, with the goal of a faster turnaround for customers who need their Apple products fixed. however, this will come at somewhat of an expense to “While You Wait” repairs.

Multitasking: Genius Bar employees will be asked to serve multiple customers at once, rather than just focusing on one person. Employees will help another customer during downtime (such as during a computer reboot), and support staff will attempt to pair customers who have reservations for similar or identical issues.

“While Apple is pitching the changes as a significant enhancement to support services in its retail stores, others are not so sure,” the report said. “One Apple retail store employee familiar with the changes noted that the company is trying to ‘do more with less,’ pulling in less-qualified Creatives and offering less personal attention through multitasking in order to deal with customer demand rather than hiring new staff.

“The employee also expressed concern about low stocks of parts available at retail stores and how without a change in how parts are allocated and delivered many repairs will not be able to be completed overnight as planned.”

If this can happen, great. If not, well, they’ll still hand you a free bottle of water while you explain that you didn’t mean to stick your iPhone in the toaster that morning…

Analyst: Full iPhone 4 recall could cost Apple $1.5 billion, affect operating income by 1%

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Date: Wednesday, July 14th, 2010, 04:08
Category: iPhone, News

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Following up on the iPhone 4 antenna issue, one research investment firm has studied the numbers and determined that a recall of the iPhone 4 could cost Apple as much as US$1.5 billion.

Toni Sacconaghi, an analyst for Bernstein Research, said in a note to clients on Tuesday that while a full product recall is “highly unlikely,” it could theoretically cost the company up to US$250 per phone. Sacconaghi estimates 6 million units sold or in transit, resulting in a recall price tag as high as US$1.5 billion according to CNET.

Another option is for Apple to offer an in-store hardware fix, which could cost US$75 per phone. Giving away a free bumper case, which currently retails for US$29, would be a much cheaper alternative for the Cupertino, Calif., company. Sacconaghi estimates this approach would cost just US$1 per unit.

The report arrives just a day after Consumer Reports warned that it could no longer recommend the iPhone 4. After conducting its own tests inside a radio frequency isolation chamber, the organization issued a statement on its blog reversing its previous recommendation of the phone.

For its part, Apple earlier this month released an open letter stating that the iPhone 4′s reception issues were largely due to an inaccurate formula for calculating signal strength. The company assured that a free software fix would be available in the coming weeks. Consumer Reports’ findings are in opposition to Apple’s statement.

Another Wall Street analyst, Gene Munster with Piper Jaffray, estimated Tuesday that a fix from Apple could impact its operating income by 1%. Like Sacconaghi, Munster also suggested the possibility of issuing free bumper cases. Additionally, the analyst said that since only 25 of users are affected by the issue, the company could “weather the storm” by doing nothing.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Consumer Reports study recommends duct tape fix for iPhone 4 antenna issue

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Date: Wednesday, July 14th, 2010, 04:29
Category: iPhone, News

It ain’t pretty but it’s recommended by Consumer Reports and it might just be effective.

Per CNN, a sliver of duct tape may be all that’s needed to fix the iPhone 4′s dropped calls issue which has stemmed from the handset’s new antenna design. The report follows a Consumer Reports study which highlights the issue and offers test data to back its claim.

Other sources have stated that purchasing Apple’s bumper protector also helps alleviate the problem, the bumper itself retailing for about US$30.

Take a gander at the video and if you’ve seen this issue on your end or discovered your own fix, let us know.