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Apple Store Not Suited for Technical Consumers?

mgm4g5

macrumors newbie
Original poster
Oct 9, 2012
2
0
First off, this is not a flame post. I have an appreciation for many aspects of the Apple brand and the quality of its products. I have owned 2 MacBook Pros, 3 iPods, an iPad 3, a MacBook Air and probably some other products. My post is specifically geared toward my experiences with Apple retail stores.

First experience (about a year ago): I was attempting to sell my Macbook Pro on e-bay and wanted to completely restore it back to its factory state. I could not find my Operating System DVD, so I decided to stop by the Apple store and pick one up.

Long story short, I went through MULTIPLE customer reps, technical employees and a manager to answer the (seemingly) simple question of whether or not the OS DVD was only an upgrade or if it could be used for a fresh install. While they were not able to answer my question, I was constantly reminded by every single one of them that even if it was possible, I would no longer have the iLife suite. In fact, they seemed very perplexed that I would even consider a fresh install.

Most recent (and last) experience: A couple days ago, I decided to buy my wife a new laptop and decided we could receive the product right away (instead of waiting for shipping) by purchasing at the Apple store. We visited with the exact model we wanted in mind and the money to pay for it.

We enter the packed store of non-employees (I am reluctant to say customers because we seemed to be the only ones purchasing anything) playing with Apple products and employees scattered throughout.

We stood around at the front entrance for a couple minutes without being greeted or directed and decided to walk up to a couple of employees that were having a conversation with one another. We waited patiently for several minutes only a couple feet away from them while they continued their conversation without giving us as much as a glance of acknowledgement; in the meantime, another customer walks up and waits for them to finish talking. When their conversation ended, one employee walks away to do something else while the other walks right past us and over to the customer that had just walked up -- doing so without even making eye contact with us.

At this point, I was quite taken back by the blatant disregard of customer service and walked on past him while making a comment about how "at least an acknowledgement would have been nice." He turns around, looks at me, and snidely replies that, "SHE was here first, and that's the genius bar you're walking toward... THEY can't help you." I reply, "that's fine, we simply want to make a purchase." The employee then proceeds to walk me back toward the front of the store, while making a very patronizing comment to me about how "the store layout can be very confusing to some people." I bit my lip and continued on to the front.

Once at the front of the store, I explained that I would like to make a purchase and already knew the exact product I needed. I was then told that it'd be about a 20 minute wait for me to do this. Really? I would understand if there was a line of people checking out; however, we seemed to be the ONLY ones paying for anything. It was furthermore infuriating to see a plethora of employees standing around with their earbuds in doing nothing.

To be fair, the wait was only about 15 minutes. In the meantime, employees occasionally stopped by to assure us we'd be helped shortly and when we did finally receive assistance, the rep was very polite and friendly. We explained which product we wanted -- giving the model and exact specs -- and noticed the rep seemed as if it was a rarity for the customer to already know what they wanted. He explained to me that usually, he would ask us a series of questions gauging how we would use the product, and then recommend what would be best for us.

It was at this point that I understood the 20min wait -- Apple wants all customers to fit an 'Apple experience' which includes the whole package of being told what best fits them, purchasing the product, and then being told how to use it. Their customer service and sales model is not geared toward those who already know what they want and would like to "get in and get out."

For the others? Maybe its just expected that they purchase online. While the whole process seemed a bit condescending, I do understand that a many people (my family members included) would really enjoy being guided through the purchasing process and being taught how to use their product. However, it is for this reason (and a lack of alternative route for technical folks to quickly make a purchase in-store), that it seems that Apple retail stores just aren't meant for customers with greater technical knowledge.

What are your opinions on this? I would probably accept that perhaps this was simply a unique instance that I experienced, though a co-worker mentioned that he had the same exact experience.
 
Last edited:

drathbun

macrumors newbie
Oct 15, 2012
5
0
Ok here is my second attempt to post to this thread. It seems if you don't type fast enough, MacRumors logs you out and you lose everything you typed.

This time I'm writing in a wordprocessor and pasting in the resulting text.

To say I've had an unfulfilling "Apple Experience" is an understatement today.

Your post, mgm4g5, is most timely. I just returned from an Apple retail store "experience" this afternoon. I joined here as there is no place on the Apple site to post about Apple retail stores.

I am a recent convert to Apple products having been a PC user and relative computer expert (I'm the tech support for many around me) for many years (my first PC was in 1984). I've used Apple products previously having had an original Macintosh and a couple of PowerPC's in the '90's. I found them limited until my first iPhone (4). I now own iPhone4, iPad, iPad3 and a MacBook Pro 13". I love the iOS operating system as much as I despise iTunes.

I've been to Apple retail stores in the past. I find it perplexing how a company that prides itself on the creation of products which merge form and function in ways that border on the sublime in many cases, can create and maintain this kind of chaotic montrosity.

I had been looking at the new earpods that ship with the iPhone5. Since I'm a year away from an upgrade of my iPhone4, I thought I'd pick up a set of these earpods having read the mostly stellar reviews. I went to my local tech store where they were out of stock. I was only a short drive from my Apple retail store and sometimes they have some really cool accessories on the walls there. So I went over.

The store was teaming with "customers" and blue shirts. As you observed, there was little purchasing going on. I walked directly to where I knew the earpods would be, shuffled my way past a couple of blue shirts restocking the wall and got a pair of earpods. I then stood about looking for a blue shirt that might be willing to take my money. Since there is no place to line up and no checkout, there is no where to even look for someone that might be a "cashier". I know they carry around their point of sale hardware/software on iPhones so each blue shirt is a potential cashier.

After trying to catch the eye of a blue shirt for a few minutes, there seemed to be a small collection of like-minded customers all clutching their purchases and looking anxiously to give Apple some money. A blue shirt walked out the back and another "customer" made a B line for him and asked something. "Try to find someone who isn't busy over there" the guy pointed towards the rest of the store. "This is the genius bar over here." He then looked right through at least three potential customers and walked away. I tossed the earpods on the desk and walked out.

A short drive to one of my other tech stores and I found the eyepods, took them to the cashier, gave her my debit card and walked out. Elapsed time: 3 minutes.

I know that I won't go into one of those awful, humiliating, frustrating places again. I can only surmise that Apple is trying to force customers to their online store. Well I won't be doing that either.

If early reviews of the iPhone5 are true, I will be shifting to a Samsung Galaxy on my next upgrade.
 
Comment

Apple Corps

macrumors 68030
Apr 26, 2003
2,575
542
California
Wow - you guys appear to have a lot of free time on your hands to drone on about a retail experience.

I've had good experiences and some not so good at Apple retail.

Maybe you guys are not suited for Apple Retail Stores :D
 
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MacDawg

Contributor
Mar 20, 2004
19,824
4,508
"Between the Hedges"
I love my Apple Store (Lenox in ATL)
It is always busy, but that has never hindered me in the least

If I need to see a Genius, I make the appointment
If I want to buy something, I walk in and make my purchase effortlessly
And yes, I always go in knowing exactly what I want

But I also go there and browse from time to time too, just to kill some time

I find the Apple Store experience to be awesome

A far cry from the Microsoft Store, also at Lenox
 
Comment

thejadedmonkey

macrumors G3
May 28, 2005
8,307
1,364
Pennsylvania
It looks like the 2nd poster found the thread via searching (yay searching lol)

However, I can't really disagree.
If I need to see a Genius, I make the appointment
If I want to buy something, I walk in and make my purchase effortlessly
And yes, I always go in knowing exactly what I want

If I need to see a Genius, I get there on time, wait 5 minutes to be able to talk to someone, get told that I'm checking in 5 minutes late, and then have to wait 40 minutes for them to reschedule me.

If i want to buy something, they don't have it in stock. So I order it. They never tell me when it comes in, so I have to buy it elsewhere. Then they tell me it was in a week earlier, and I'm stuck with 2 macbook pro's.

And yes, I always go in knowing exactly what I want too.
 
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noteple

macrumors 65816
Aug 30, 2011
1,410
331
Any Apple blue shirt specialist would be able to help you.

During hectic launch days there is usually two Apple store concierge's.

One at the front door and one by the genius bar checking people in.

I have had similar issues waiting to pick up or pay for items preordered but they are getting better.

There are always issues with young employees being more attentive with each other and ignoring customers.
 
Comment

nuckinfutz

macrumors 603
Jul 3, 2002
5,502
314
Middle Earth
What are your opinions on this? I would probably accept that perhaps this was simply a unique instance that I experienced, though a co-worker mentioned that he had the same exact experience.

Next time do an on in-store pickup. That way you simply get your confirmation that the item ready and your receipt number and walk on in and have someone retrieve your hardware

If early reviews of the iPhone5 are true, I will be shifting to a Samsung Galaxy on my next upgrade.

Yes they are true. The iPhone 5 is a better phone. Enjoy your downgrade. You could have purchased those earpods using your iPhone and the Apple Store app. https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/apple-store/id375380948?mt=8

Easy peasy
 
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roadbloc

macrumors G3
Aug 24, 2009
8,784
213
UK
All the UK Apple Stores I have been to have sucked. They stink of B.O an the so-called 'geniuses' are clueless morons who are more willing to give away store credit rather than fix the problem.

I think Apple needs to tighten the reigns on its UK stores.
 
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spork183

macrumors 6502a
Jul 30, 2006
878
0
I find the apple store very relaxing. I get a cup of coffee, browse and configure until I'm satisfied, click on the pay button, and wait for it to arrive in the morning. Just like shopping at home. Oh wait, that is shopping from home. I've never had a self-absorbed tech moron ignore me, and on those odd times when I have to go in, I make an appointment.

One quick point: The OP snide comment doesn't sound very effective. Maybe pull on the big boy pants, find one of those blue-shirted employees and say "hey, been waiting for a while. Can I get someone to help me."

The drive-by comment off the cuff usually just leaves clueless people befuddled and the commentor further pissed off.
 
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tech4all

macrumors 68040
Jun 13, 2004
3,399
489
NorCal
We stood around at the front entrance for a couple minutes without being greeted or directed and decided to walk up to a couple of employees that were having a conversation with one another.

While it's nice to be greeted, why would you need to be 'directed' if you already knew what you wanted:

Once at the front of the store, I explained that I would like to make a purchase and already knew the exact product I needed.

We waited patiently for several minutes only a couple feet away from them while they continued their conversation without giving us as much as a glance of acknowledgement; in the meantime, another customer walks up and waits for them to finish talking. When their conversation ended, one employee walks away to do something else while the other walks right past us and over to the customer that had just walked up -- doing so without even making eye contact with us.

Then politely interrupt them.
 
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Renzatic

Suspended
Then politely interrupt them.

That's what I'm thinking. Sure, it's nice to be noticed and attended to without any prompting, but things don't always work out that way. The employees could've been dealing with 50 things at once in a way-too-busy store, which makes even the best of us scatterbrained. Sometimes you need to throw out an "excuse me" or a "hey, you busy" to get what you want.
 
Comment

drathbun

macrumors newbie
Oct 15, 2012
5
0
That's what I'm thinking. Sure, it's nice to be noticed and attended to without any prompting, but things don't always work out that way. The employees could've been dealing with 50 things at once in a way-too-busy store, which makes even the best of us scatterbrained. Sometimes you need to throw out an "excuse me" or a "hey, you busy" to get what you want.

Ummm I'm Canadian. We don't like to interrupt people. ;)
 
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drathbun

macrumors newbie
Oct 15, 2012
5
0
Wow - you guys appear to have a lot of free time on your hands to drone on about a retail experience.

I've had good experiences and some not so good at Apple retail.

Maybe you guys are not suited for Apple Retail Stores :D

I don't think our posts were in any way "droning" on. I thought they were both considered and well written.

My post was my first.

While yours was:

Apple Corps Total Posts: 1,881

Who has idle time on their hands?
 
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rhett7660

macrumors G5
Jan 9, 2008
12,585
2,552
Sunny, Southern California
It looks like the 2nd poster found the thread via searching (yay searching lol)

However, I can't really disagree.


If I need to see a Genius, I get there on time, wait 5 minutes to be able to talk to someone, get told that I'm checking in 5 minutes late, and then have to wait 40 minutes for them to reschedule me.

If i want to buy something, they don't have it in stock. So I order it. They never tell me when it comes in, so I have to buy it elsewhere. Then they tell me it was in a week earlier, and I'm stuck with 2 macbook pro's.

And yes, I always go in knowing exactly what I want too.

All the UK Apple Stores I have been to have sucked. They stink of B.O an the so-called 'geniuses' are clueless morons who are more willing to give away store credit rather than fix the problem.

I think Apple needs to tighten the reigns on its UK stores.

Having read both these posts I am wondering if this could be more prevalent across the pond than it is here in the states?

Just an observation. The first two posts did not mention where they were from nor is it listed under their usernames etc.
 
Comment

NewbieCanada

macrumors 68030
Oct 9, 2007
2,574
35
During hectic launch days there is usually two Apple store concierge's.

One at the front door and one by the genius bar checking people in.

Every day must be a hectic launch day at my local store. Never been there without a concierge at the locations you mention.
 
Comment

thejadedmonkey

macrumors G3
May 28, 2005
8,307
1,364
Pennsylvania
Having read both these posts I am wondering if this could be more prevalent across the pond than it is here in the states?

Just an observation. The first two posts did not mention where they were from nor is it listed under their usernames etc.

I'm talking about a Pittsburgh store, PA, USA.
 
Comment

roadbloc

macrumors G3
Aug 24, 2009
8,784
213
UK
Having read both these posts I am wondering if this could be more prevalent across the pond than it is here in the states?

I reckon so. My visit to the states showed me US Apple Stores (or at least the one I visited, I can't say for all of them) that were run much better with staff that were eager to help and accommodate my needs.
 
Comment

Apple Corps

macrumors 68030
Apr 26, 2003
2,575
542
California
I don't think our posts were in any way "droning" on. I thought they were both considered and well written.

My post was my first.

While yours was:

Apple Corps Total Posts: 1,881

Who has idle time on their hands?

Not droning on in such detail about a retail experience. IMO, you were droning on at great length.

Also, drawing your conclusion that Apple stores are not suited for technical customers based on your bad experience is laughable.
 
Comment

aristobrat

macrumors G5
Oct 14, 2005
12,270
1,371
However, it is for this reason (and a lack of alternative route for technical folks to quickly make a purchase in-store), that it seems that Apple retail stores just aren't meant for customers with greater technical knowledge.

What are your opinions on this? I would probably accept that perhaps this was simply a unique instance that I experienced, though a co-worker mentioned that he had the same exact experience.
Like nuckinfutz mentioned, Apple does offer in-store pickup. You place the order from your computer/phone, and then pick it up in the store.

They also have "Express Zones". These are tables/counters where you can just walk right up, say what you want, and pay for it right there. Most stores offer this during the busy holiday times, although some stores are starting to do it all year long.

I will say, from my experience working in an Apple Store part-time for a few years, is that when I worked the holiday Express Zone, you had more customers requesting for you to come out and answer 10 questions for them about a product (which you couldn't do, which would piss them off) than you had customers walking right in, knowing what they wanted, and paying/leaving.

Personally, I've seen the Apple Store model work extremely well, and I've seen it fail miserably. The difference between the two was usually if a manager was working on the sales floor and being a manager (err, "coach") or not.

I can tell you that on the busiest of shifts, as long as someone was there to roam the floor, queue the customers up in order, and explain how the system works, things went relatively well.

Without that, it was utter chaos. And some employees reacted to utter chaos being being complete condescending asses to customers.

Personally, I don't think the Apple Store model is flawed. I do, however, think that it's easy to fail under high volume, if left on "auto pilot". It really takes someone who cares about the customer experience to be on the floor and managing for it to work well.

And from what I've gathered from posts like this I've read over the years here, there are a lot of Apple Stores (esp in the UK, for some reason) where the stores sound poorly managed.
 
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garybUK

Guest
Jun 3, 2002
1,466
2
All the UK Apple Stores I have been to have sucked. They stink of B.O an the so-called 'geniuses' are clueless morons who are more willing to give away store credit rather than fix the problem.

I think Apple needs to tighten the reigns on its UK stores.

Agreed i've got 3 iPhone 4S USB cables and all of them are fraying, the 'Genius' said "I've never had this problem, your doing something wrong, and i've had them since the very first iPod", I was going to point out that, Indeed the 1st Gen iPod used Firewire and not a dock connector... but it wasn't worth it...

Also it took an argument to get them to fix my Nvidia issue... they were dead set on charging me for a new Logic Board.

Apart from that, in Manchester, the staff are great and a very easy purchasing experience.
 
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MonkeySee....

macrumors 68040
Sep 24, 2010
3,858
435
UK
All the UK Apple Stores I have been to have sucked. They stink of B.O an the so-called 'geniuses' are clueless morons who are more willing to give away store credit rather than fix the problem.

I think Apple needs to tighten the reigns on its UK stores.

Brighton and Bluewater have been very good for me.

Bluewater, where I got my iMac, I was treated like I was the only person in the store (an it was packed). They held my iMac and even took it to my car for me. Was amazing.

Brighton, where I got my iPad, was pretty empty as I went the day after launch day and early in the morning. They guy was very helpful and asked about my day and what I had planned etc and even walked me out the store and shook my hand.

To the guys having issues just write to Apple or give them a call. If some staff need a bit of training then they will do it. No point ranting on a forum where nobody can help you.
 
Comment

OJ Simpson

macrumors newbie
Oct 1, 2012
16
0
Ya Apple stores suck you're better off going to Microcenter or BB. Somebody needs to explain to Apple store employees that working at an Apple store isn't the equivelent of being a DR or lawyer. For having such a crappy low paying job these people are quite arrogant. I'm sure that's one of the ways Apple gets these people to work for such a small salary is by inflating their ego and making the job seem much better than it really is.
 
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