Apple store steering folks away from MBA.

Discussion in 'MacBook Air' started by smeade, Jun 13, 2011.

  1. smeade macrumors member

    Jun 13, 2011
    Three times this week I have been in my local Apple store and witnessed customers who intended to buy a MacBook air be aggressively steered by an Apple employee to the MacBook Pro 13" instead. The staffer compare the disk drive size, cpu speed, and ram of the two and point out the Pro is cheaper. The failed to consider the cost to upgrade MBP to solid state.

    Each was after the customer clearly stated: "I want to buy an MBA with [specific specs]". Each instance was more than a simple "have you considered this over hear as an option". It seems a deliberate, consistent opinion of the Apple store staff that one should not purchase MacBook Air at this time.

    Why is this? Do the store staff not want people unhappy when a refresh comes out later this month? Does the store have an interest in retaining their MBA inventory? Are they being encouraged to move the MBP 13"s? Or maybe they just honestly think that the MBP 13" is a better fit for most people. Maybe I'll ask next time I am in.

    I appreciate the expertise being shared and the assistance of the Apple Store staff. Yet in my opinion, this aggressive redirection makes a customer feel unsure about their purchase and encourages buyers' remorse upon returning home with something different than they were convinced they wanted when they walked in.

    Has anyone else witnessed this or similar? Thoughts?
  2. Peteman100 macrumors 6502

    Apr 28, 2011
    Berkeley, CA
    Maybe they feel that they can up-sell the customer into more expensive features with the MBP?
  3. 87am macrumors regular

    Feb 27, 2011
    The average person walking into an Apple store does not really know what an SSD is, never mind knowing how much space they use on their current hard drive. You get a lot more performance for your dollar with the 13' pro. An apple employee recommending a more suitable laptop is a win for both parties.
  4. Oppressed macrumors 65816


    Aug 15, 2010
    Well in most businesses, if you are not meeting a sales goal in one metric you shift your focus to said metric. Might be the store isn't selling as many MBP's as they would like/suppose to therefore the manager is directing them to drive customers towards them.
  5. KylePowers macrumors 68000


    Mar 5, 2011
    Maybe there's just more profit to be gained off of MBPs than from MBAs?
  6. bcaslis macrumors 68020

    Mar 11, 2008
    I saw this about a month ago. A new college student really wanted the MBA but the salesman was aggressively pushing the MBP on her parents. When they started looking around (like they were looking for other opinions), I gave the parents and the student my experiences. Based on what she wanted to do, the 11" MBA seemed like an excellent fit and she really wanted it over the MBP. Eventually they did purchased the MBA and some accessories but the salesman really wanted to sell the MBP. Even as they were paying for it he was almost telling them what a mistake they were making. Never seem anything like this before.
  7. islanders, Jun 13, 2011
    Last edited: Jun 13, 2011

    islanders macrumors 6502

    Jul 21, 2006
    Charleston, SC

    Had a similar experience today. I said it was between the Air and MBP. The rep said if I wanted the Air it would probably be updated soon so would probably be a good idea to wait. I asked about the heat or fan noise on the MBP and he said he had the 13 MBP with no problems at all with the screen resolution, heat or noise. Later he did mention that the Airs were not suitable for a lot of applications and more for business people that travel a lot. It wasn’t until after I left that I started leaning back towards the MBA for the screen quality. So, the last thing he said about the MBA did seem suspicious, maybe they didn’t have many in stock and they wanted enough for business people who walk in the door and only want the MBA, put down their credit card, and walk right back out with one under their arm?

    This is a college town so makes sense they would try and sell MBP to students. I just wonder how many MBA are available? I got the impression that they were trying to reserve those for business people.
  8. smeade thread starter macrumors member

    Jun 13, 2011
    Yeah, it just feels fishy when you witness it. Glad you stepped in and shared a consumer perspective. I understand getting the right product is important and that Apple store employees know their products better than anyone. But, I think that student will be a better Apple fan and future customer having gotten what they thought was right for them.

    When people feel they were sold a product, it's never a great feeling. A store employee can not know what someone desires. When people buy a product because they *love* it - that's how Apple, it's customers, and it's stock holders win.
  9. TheRealDamager macrumors 65816

    Jan 5, 2011
    My question is - How much time do you spend hanging out at the local Apple Store every week? :)

  10. Hankster macrumors 68020


    Jan 30, 2008
    Washington DC
    Interesting stories. I've never experienced this with the Apple stores in my area. Though, usually when I speak with a rep they realize I know more about the machines than they do :) I wouldn't be surprised reps were told to push one product over another. With the new MBA coming out it would be ideal for Apple to have potential new customers buy the newer version to better their sale numbers.
  11. smeade thread starter macrumors member

    Jun 13, 2011
    Too much :) I've been trying to decide between 11" or 13" MBA so spent some time in the store three times recently using each; typing, surfing, posting to MacRumors.
  12. defected07 macrumors member

    Jun 11, 2011
    And what are your reactions to each?

    I'd be nice if they were expandable to 8GB, but I kind of doubt even a refresh would have that capacity... (do they even have 8GB laptop sticks?)
  13. BENJMNS macrumors 6502


    Dec 28, 2005
    ez sales logic: get rid of old stock, obsolete design. mba will continue to sell as the hot new thing.
  14. GraceMolloy macrumors regular


    Oct 28, 2006
    This doesn't necessarily mean the MBA refresh is coming either. Apple could be running a SPIFF that makes it more lucrative for the salesman to push the mbp. Having been in commissioned sales (sales in general) before it happens a lot.

    Just my 2cc

    - via iPhone
  15. 2IS macrumors 68030

    Jan 9, 2011
    Do you? For the vast majority of customers, the MBA will perform faster then the MBP. Not knowing what an SSD is won't change that.

    You can't recommend a more suitable laptop without asking what the laptop is being used for.
  16. badtzwang macrumors regular

    Sep 1, 2009
    The Macbook Pro's are newer than the Macbook Air's ......
  17. ratzzo macrumors 6502a


    Apr 20, 2011
    Well, if I had no idea about refresh cycles or hardware power, I would love to be told to either wait because the refresh is imminent or to get a MBP which got refreshed not long ago and is running best of the market technology.

    I wish someone at the Apple Store had told me that when I bought a G5 iMac like one or two weeks before they upgraded to Intel. I had no idea then!
  18. gdeputy macrumors 6502a


    Jul 23, 2008
    New York
    Not like it matters anyways. In my experience apple store employees are usually pretty uneducated about their own products.

    It's basically like that at all retail locations.
  19. OptyCT macrumors 6502

    Nov 9, 2008
    I think this might be a simple case of making sure the customers' bases are covered. If I went in looking for a MBA and the Apple Store employee didn't show me a 13" MBP, then he's not doing his job. It's also Apple's way of phasing out the Core 2 Duo laptops, in favor of the updated Sandy Bridge ones. The advantages of both the MBA and MBP are obvious. If someone's looking for processing power, a larger HDD, and portability, you steer them toward the MBP. If someone's looking to do less demanding tasks, can live with a smaller HDD, and needs ultra-portability, you steer them towards the MBA. Of course, the MBA will provide for an overall more responsive experience due to the SSD.
  20. PatrickCocoa macrumors 6502a

    Dec 2, 2008

    Everything I've read about Apple Retail is that the reps don't know when updates are coming and are specifically trained to not speak about the update cycle.

    Also, if you buy something and it's upgraded within a short period of time after you purchase it (2 weeks?) Apple has usually allowed you to exchange it.
  21. NutsNGum macrumors 68030


    Jul 30, 2010
    Glasgow, Scotland
    I recently took part in an Apple hiring event thingy, we were very specifically told that up-selling is not something that comes into consideration working at an Apple store, in fact, the opposite is the case.

    Could be just the fact that Apple willingly employ people who know little-to-nothing about anything on the shop floor and they're unwittingly steering people in the 'wrong' direction.
  22. aristobrat macrumors G5

    Oct 14, 2005
    I somewhat agree. In the case of the Air, for the last three years, it's been a pretty blah machine that really wasn't a good fit for most folks. I think some of the Specialists missed the fact that the last hardware rev gave it a pretty serious performance boot, and still try to steer people away from it.

    My experience working there is that everything you've said above is true, but some employees read the Apple blogs/rumor sites, and will outright say stuff (or drop hints) to customers, even though they're not supposed to.
  23. ZipZap macrumors 603

    Dec 14, 2007
    If you go in'll get steered.
    If you go in and say, I'd like a MBA with 4 Gig'll get what you want.

    Most go in for an opinion and that's what they get.
  24. GekkePrutser macrumors 6502a


    Aug 18, 2005
    I don't buy that. A salesman knows just what the marketing department wants them to know. Bullet points on a box.

    I'll take the advice of a seasoned user any day. Better to get someone who actually spends hours a day using a product than someone who has viewed a few powerpoints (or keynotes :) ) and is instructed with the company's best interests in mind, not the consumer's.

    And then there's the ulterior motives of cleaning out old stock, selling stuff that has more margin, etc. I worked in a computer (non-apple) retail store myself, fortunately only for a short while. I was hired to fix and build PC's but was meant to sell during the quiet times, though I was quickly moved out to the tech room once they found out how honest I was to customers :)

    But I've never trusted a retail salesman since. I know this is the way things have to work, but I'll do my own research and order online rather than letting a salesman make my choices for me.
  25. miles01110 macrumors Core


    Jul 24, 2006
    The Ivory Tower (I'm not coming down)
    Salespeople do not know anything about update cycles, so that theory is out.

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