Fixing my iPhone at “Joe’s”

So I love and hate my iPhone. My iPhone 4 is the camera I always have with me, and it is a joy to schlep compared to my full and weighty rig of DSLR, lenses, and tripod. But sometimes it feels like my brains are in my iPhone, and my external brains are always trying to seduce me to be online—ignoring the beauty and serenity of the world in exchange for instant access to email no matter where I am.

Sunflower by Harold Davis
Sunflower © Harold Davis—iPhone HDR shot

Whatever my feelings for my iPhone—and it is certainly a nifty device—I am not overly fond of Apple. I like apples, but Apple the company really doesn’t do it for me anymore. If you have to call yourself a “genius” then you are not one, and this certainly applies to the so-called customer service “geniuses” at Apple.

The only thing they are geniuses at is making money for Apple.

But don’t get me started.

The other day the handset speaker on my iPhone stopped working. The phone worked okay with the ear buds, and when I pressed the Speaker button I could hear fine, but when I put the phone up to my ear and called, or someone phoned me, I couldn’t hear it through the phone.

I tried cleaning the phone, rebooting it, backing it up and restoring the operating system, and so on, but nothing worked. I figured it was a hardware problem.

So I made an appointment with the geniuses at the Apple store on 4th Street. Sure enough, my genius told me it was a hardware problem.

All of the “solutions” the genius proffered involved trashing my phone and getting a new one. The cheapest “solution” was $149 for a replacement of the same model as my current phone, but the genius whispered to me that I maybe should “make do” without the sound and wait for the iPhone 5 to come out—I could then sign a new contract and pay to upgrade.

To his credit, my “genius” did also suggest that I could probably get a repair shop to fix the problem for less than $149.

Every “solution” Apple offered meant abandoning my current phone. Now, I don’t know about you, or about the average corporate warrior, but for me $149 is a lot of money to drop. The whole thing stuck in my craw. I figure my iPhone was made by slave labor in China. This thing was paid for in the currency of people’s lives.

Also, if I paid Apple $149 for a new one they would probably refurbish and resell my old one, and further add to their multi-billion dollar hoard.

So I took a pass on the $149 deal. You can’t even get cell phone service in the Bristlecone Pines (where I am heading to teach a workshop this week).

Next stop: a repair shop. Yup, they said, we can fix this for you. Take about a week to get the part, though.

Then I noticed “Joe” on Yelp with about a hundred 5-star reviews. I put “Joe” in quotes (the way it is on his business card), because almost certainly this is not his real name.

Finding “Joe” was a little dodgy because his address seemed to be at Starbucks. When I called him, at first he was guarded until I described my problem with my iPhone. I asked where to find him, he kept repeating to me, as if I were slightly dense, “Come up the stairs inside Starbucks to the mezzanine, you’ll find me there.” Mobile office indeed!

And yes, inside Starbucks there was “Joe” at a corner table in the mezzanine with his cup of “Joe”, unmistakable with two black briefcases, a black backpack, and iPhone tools in several Altoid boxes. “Joe” was surrounded by seven iPhones in various states of repair, and an extensive inventory of iPhone parts in tiny well-organized boxes.

Repairing my iPhone at “Joes”

He took my phone apart in the blink of the eye, had the right part, tested it, and put my phone back together in about five minutes.  All for more than the cost of a cup of “Joe,” but far less than a new phone from Apple would have cost.

While I was there, customers came and called. He set up appointments, gave advice, and quoted prices. Busy guy. At one point “Joe” asked me to mind his shop while he delivered a repaired phone to a drive-by customer downstairs.

So I don’t need no stinkin’ “Genius,” I’ve got my “Joe”—at least until I (possibly) switch to Android. If you have an iPhone that needs repair and you don’t want an expensive replacement from Apple, here’s a link to “Joe’s” site on Yelp.

This Post Has One Comment

  1. Harold: Thank you for sharing this personal experience. I’m glad this approach worked for you. For my part I went cold turkey. After weeks of trying to get Apple to fix a problem with my iphone camera I did some deep soul searching and determined it was time for me to leave the cult and exorcise the half eaten apple daemons. I got tired of the so called “geniuses” telling me “we have not seen that problem before!” What rubbish – I advised them that if you Google the problem there are hundreds of identical reports and bunches of things to try – but nothing from apple and the only fix that worked required that I shake the phone when this happens. I also got the “trade this in thing”. So I went cold turkey. I left the apple temple and went to my trusty carrier and traded in my iphone for a Samsung Galaxy III Android model. It was an epiphany, I felt as is the weight of ages had been lifted off my shoulders, I felt freed, I was able to sever the stranglehold of icloud, my step is lighter, I don’t have any withdrawal symptoms and I don’t even need a support group. In the immortal words of Cosmo Kramer “hangin’ free and lovin’ every minute of it”.

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