Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Now Serving #27...

As I alluded to a few posts ago, my pretty much new iBook G4 decided to freak out on me when I was in Chicago to talk to some ACRL folks about podcasting. It was sounding pretty rough when I was working on my presentation stuff, but I figured it would be OK for the trip. Wrong! When I tried to boot in Chicago it started making these frightening grinding and thumping sounds. I literally rebooted 1,000 times over the next day but the best I got was a flashing folder icon instead of OS X. It finally did work long enough to pull a couple of things (I did have most of my presentation on flash drive, but the clips I was going to use were in my iTunes) and I was good to go.

So I took my freaked out iBook to the Apple Store when I got back to Atlanta. When I got to the Genius Bar there was nobody around. But the guy working told me I had to make an appointment on one of the computers in the store and it would be at least 2 hours before they could help me. And made me feel like the idiot I was for not knowing I had to make an appointment. Now there was literally nobody at the genius bar except the guy who made me feel stupid and another guy who was calling out names of people who weren't there from a computer. But they insisted it would be at least 2 hours before they could even talk to me. Not being inclined to hang out in a mall for 2 hours for anything, I decided to come back after the holidays.

When I got home after Christmas I made an appointment like a good boy and took sick iBook back to Apple Store. It was super crowded! But I got summoned to a genius about 3 minutes after my appointment time, described problem, genius diagnosed a bad hard drive and took iBook away. This took literally 10 minutes max. Including paperwork. They had a new hard drive in my laptop by the end of the day the same day. Everybody was very nice and helpful. Excellent service even faced with a bunch of people who had problems with their new iPods.

I'm really not trying to bash Apple here (although I still think John Hodgman is cooler than the Mac guy in the ads), but why did I get such better service when I had an appointment? Is it a snob appeal thing? The guys the first time just didn't care that day? But think about it: what if someone walked up to the reference desk right now and I refused to help them because they didn't know how to ask for it the way I wanted? And I was snooty and made them feel dumb for not knowing how to ask to boot. It's 9:44pm and I'm not doing anything other than typing this. But I'd like to get it done before I leave for the night. Come back tomorrow.

Something that I'm sure was meant to make service more efficient in my Apple Store experience (the appointment system) ended up being inflexible and kind of asinine. Do we have rules like that in our libraries that keep people from getting the help they need? Are we as flexible as we could be (and within reason) with the rules and procedures we do have? Do we treat the person who has never been in the library before and doesn't know what to do the same as the expert who just needs a little guidance?


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