The Apple Retail buying experience is broken

Discussion in 'iPad' started by SiMBa37, Jul 1, 2011.

  1. SiMBa37 macrumors regular

    Joined:
    Jul 5, 2010
    Location:
    New York
    #1
    There is something seriously wrong with the buying experience from Apple retail stores.

    I waited on line launch day for the iPad 2, no luck, and it was complete chaos. I tried to wait 3 more times on line at my local store in the early morning the week after launch...still no luck.

    Finally I bought it from J&R music world, bought, shipped, and delivered in 4 days. Since, I've bought my wife and my sister an iPad 2, both from Best Buy. My wife's 1st gen iPad was bought from BB last year as well (just sold it). In all 3 cases, used BB's online inventory tracker, found the store, called them, had them hold it for me, walked in and bought it with no line and little effort. Why can't Apple have a store service like this? They are the richest tech company in the world. Apple could easily implement an online inventory check and in-store reservation system. They just choose not to.

    I recently bough my parents a 2011 sandybridge iMac. On a sunday afternoon, I waited in my local store for 25 minutes for the sales associate to come to my station, finally I just left fed up. I did go to another store on a weekday morning and was able to pick one up after waiting 10 minutes.

    I love Apple stores as a showroom to try out products without store workers harassing me to buy something. But unless I'm buying more than a keyboard or trackpad, I'd rather buy online.

    This is all foreshadowing for the iPhone 5 launch. Stay away from the Apple store, buy it online and use that time to spend with your family and friends instead.
     
  2. MassacrMan macrumors member

    Joined:
    Mar 11, 2011
    #2
    Um, they don't talk to you unless you need something. You should have walked up to a employee and said "I am here to pick up an iMac." They would have been happy to help you, waiting around and then getting all puffy because someone didn't come talk to you is very immature sounding.
     
  3. Danoc macrumors 6502

    Danoc

    Joined:
    Mar 28, 2011
    #3

    That's how I bought the iPad 2, five days after the release ... from an Apple Retail Store in Toronto. 2 min online, didn't have to call, got an email confirmation, then waited 5 minutes in the store.

    They may have discontinued the service.
     
  4. Cosmo Kramer macrumors member

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    Jul 1, 2011
    Location:
    US
    #4
    Apple cant control the crazy demand for a product
     
  5. patrickdunn macrumors 6502a

    patrickdunn

    Joined:
    Apr 16, 2009
    Location:
    St. Louis, MO
    #5
    My experience has been to say something to the person with the iPad at the front who checks Genius bar people in. Tell them what I am looking for (she actually checked the stock via her iPad) They walkie-talkie back that you wanna buy something. After a few minutes of browsing, someone always finds me and says "so you're looking to buy a 16gb WiFi iPad 2?".

    That's how it went down 3 weeks ago in St. Louis when I bought one.
     
  6. SiMBa37, Jul 1, 2011
    Last edited by a moderator: Jul 2, 2011

    SiMBa37 thread starter macrumors regular

    Joined:
    Jul 5, 2010
    Location:
    New York
    #6
    Very immature indeed. Forgive me for not spelling out every detail of my experience in the store. I indeed walked right up to an associate when I entered the store, gave my name and information, and was instructed to wait by the iMac's, stating that there were 2 people ahead of me. I did that patiently, but after 25 minutes, and my son getting antsy in the car with my wife, I walked right out. I could have pranced right into a Best Buy and bought it in 10 minutes. As I was leaving, I made sure to let the associate know (kindly) that I was leaving and take my name off the list so the next person in que could be helped. Sounds like a pretty immature thing to do, right?

    But I suppose I should have waited about 60 minutes, and then only my "puffiness" would have been justified, eh?

    It has very little to do with demand. It has to do with the shopping experience. I remember many a time calling a target or best buy to see if they had iPad's in stock, and they manager was kind enough to make the first line of the phone message when you call: "we are sorry, we have no iPad's in stock". I appreciate that they don't want to burden customers or associates by having them hold on the phone for 20 minutes.

    Apple never does that, and in the USA, does not provide any online inventory system, or in store reservation/pick up. Because of the smooth and visually lackluster response to Verizon iPhone launch, Apple wants/wanted the press to see huge long lines as a proof of demand.

    Why else do everything for the inconvenience of the customer? More examples: no pre orders prior to launch, launch on Friday at 5 PM, forbid Apple store managers from opening crates to know inventory before hand, no automated phone message about live inventory status in the weeks post launch, etc.
     
  7. radiogoober, Jul 1, 2011
    Last edited: Jul 1, 2011

    radiogoober macrumors 6502a

    Joined:
    Jun 7, 2011
    #7
    Honestly, it sounds narcissistic. Between your experience at the store, you deciding to blog about it, and then coming to post a thread on a Mac forum driving hits to your blog site (yes, I saw your original thread that got locked), it seems extraordinarily narcissistic.

    The Apples store was very busy, and people were ahead of you in line. Do you just expect them to ignore everyone else who was there before you and pay attention to you? Honestly, it seems strange that you complain about waiting 25 minutes in a store, but you have all day to write a blog post about it and make a post here and all that.

    If you've found a way to buy Apple products that works better for you than shopping at the Apple store then by all means explore those options. Not everyone feels the same way about things as you.
     
  8. aristobrat macrumors G4

    Joined:
    Oct 14, 2005
    #8
    They have an iOS app called "Apple Store" that lets you do in-store reservations (for pickup on the day you're looking at it, or up to three days later). Would have helped you with your parent's iMac, but not the iPad.

    After working a few years p/t at an Apple Store, my impression is that Apple Retail thinks that other Apple resellers (online, Best Buy, Fry's, etc) offer good 'transactional' experiences. Walk into a Best Buy, find one of the two or three folks working in the laptop section, tell them what you want, wait for them to pull it/walk you to the register, and you're out of there.

    IMO, Apple Retail saw a void when it comes to major Apple resellers that offer 'transformational' (their word) experiences. Those resellers aren't setup for 5 customers walking in around the same time that each have 45-minutes worth of first-time-Mac-buyer questions.

    I definitely agree with you that if you're looking for a fast transactional experience, Apple Retail is *not* a sure bet, especially during a busy time (like a weekend, holiday, or around a product launch). IMO, if they were focusing on just transactions, they wouldn't offer to do free personal setups during iPhone/iPad launches, when the line is already out the door (and usually around the block).

    I wouldn't necessarily say that their system is broken, though. It was just never designed to be a transactional place to shop for any thing other than accessories. However, when it comes to offering transformational types of experience, customers consistently rate Apple Retail up there with the other big names like Nordstroms, etc. That says something, IMO.
     

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  9. blarivee macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    Jun 29, 2009
    Location:
    US
    #9
    I go to the Apple retail store to test and try out the products. Then I go home and order the items I want online from the Apple store. Since it's usually going to be more than $50, shipping is free.
     
  10. GaresTaylan macrumors 6502a

    Joined:
    Nov 11, 2009
    #10
    I can't say I have ever experienced this at either of the two closest Apple stores to me. It is always chaotic in there. But I do understand the concept of first come first serve. If I walk in there and put my name on the list, have people ahead of me and expect Apple to provide them with poorer customer service because they need to provide me with better service, then there's something wrong with me.

    Sometimes it just happens. When you have something like a 4:1 customer to employee ratio upon walking into a store you have to expect things like this. If you reserve the product you also can't expect someone to sit around waiting for the possibility that you might show up in 10 minutes or 10 hours to get the item.
     
  11. gdeputy macrumors 6502a

    gdeputy

    Joined:
    Jul 23, 2008
    Location:
    New York
    #11
    Everytime I've gone in I just tell them to go get what I want, they do, and I leave. Not too difficult. Sorry you had a bad experience :(.
     
  12. bpaluzzi macrumors 6502a

    bpaluzzi

    Joined:
    Sep 2, 2010
    Location:
    London
    #12
    You went to an Apple store 4 times the week after a new product launch?

    And you were SURPRISED it was busy?

    Is this 2005?
     
  13. Vudoo macrumors 6502a

    Vudoo

    Joined:
    Sep 30, 2008
    Location:
    Dallas Metroplex
    #13
    I just bought my wife an iPad2 from Best Buy. I went to one store and they were sold out so I asked them to check their database for another store and I just went to that one and got it.

    Apple stores are too hectic with people who just want to "play".
     
  14. Apple OC macrumors 68040

    Apple OC

    Joined:
    Oct 14, 2010
    Location:
    Hogtown
    #14
    you should have spoken to someone and asked for help ... maybe they thought you were just waiting for a free machine to check your facebook page.
     
  15. uiop. macrumors 68020

    uiop.

    Joined:
    Jul 22, 2008
    Location:
    Grand Rapids, MI
    #15
    Not reading through all the replies here, Apple stores do indeed SUCK. The Apple diehards will disagree and say that its a very modern and unique environment. They're a cluttered mess with no real order to them at all. Every time I go to the one closest to my house (Keystone- Indianapolis, IN), I just get upset and stressed out. Again, at my local store at least. Their employees, however, generally are great to deal with. Its just the overall experience that is piss-poor. If you try to go on a weekend, forget it. Apple needs more stores, and bigger ones.
     
  16. aristobrat macrumors G4

    Joined:
    Oct 14, 2005
    #16
    FWIW, a little over 50% of people buying Macs at Apple Retail Stores are buying their first Mac, so I'm not sure you can qualify them as diehards. What I saw from working there is this group rates the experience even higher than the diehards. Actually, if anything, the diehards are the most critical customers to please and the first to give an overall bad ranking (which results in a manager having to call them back and figure out what happened).
     
  17. uiop. macrumors 68020

    uiop.

    Joined:
    Jul 22, 2008
    Location:
    Grand Rapids, MI
    #17
    Diehards may have been the wrong word. I couldn't think of a noun to describe someone who sees Apple as a deity. Regardless...its not the employees, its the physical stores that tend to cause headaches.
     
  18. Carouser macrumors 65816

    Joined:
    Feb 1, 2010
    #18
    "strawman" is a pretty good one
     
  19. SiMBa37 thread starter macrumors regular

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    Jul 5, 2010
    Location:
    New York
    #19
    You got some great insight. I'd like to hear more of your experiences.
     
  20. smithrh macrumors 68020

    smithrh

    Joined:
    Feb 28, 2009
    #20
    Best Buy = McDonald's drive-through
    Apple Store = nice sit-down restaurant

    Now, the problem comes in when you want something quick. You know what you want, you're ready to pay...

    Then the McDonald's drive-through is a great model - and the sit-down restaurant is not.

    So, yes, for you (and for me), the Apple store "experience" isn't all that great. But to say it's "broken" is borderline silly - the stores are packed with people and they're selling a huge amount of gear at the stores.

    I've actually been called by a store manager after I was surveyed. We had a nice long talk about how it was great for people who didn't know what they wanted or needed, but frankly bad for those of us who just needed one thing. One time I actually started waving my credit card in the air and started saying "I want to spend money, please help me!" And don't get me going on the different colored shirts, hell if I knew which color did what, and why I should care.

    He didn't disagree, but it was clear he couldn't change the situation either. All of the store direction comes from corporate and there's no local discretion involve.

    I've made my peace with it; I've been using Apple computers since 1977ish, so I'm just damn happy to see people jamming the stores and buying high-quality stuff vs. the MS/Dell/Gateway dreck...
     
  21. swingerofbirch macrumors 68030

    Joined:
    Oct 24, 2003
    Location:
    The Amalgamated States of Central North America
    #21
    I completely agree. My family and I will not go to Apple Stores anymore. Those stores are hazards. It's like a drunken Mardis Gras inside. There are always people there just standing around like they're trying to pick people up. I went once because my computer was making a strange sound (the hard drive), and when I got there, the ambient sound of the store was so loud that the genius couldn't hear it and said it would have to be shipped off. I asked if we could step into the back room because I was starting to have a panic attack and also because I thought he might have been able to hear the sound but there was some rule that I couldn't.

    I think having the genius bar in the store and having the 20 minute appointment slots where they end up seeming to bench most products or send them off anyway adds to the chaos. I saw people in there trying to take a class, but I have no idea how they could have concentrated.

    I should say that the three stores near me I have been to are shoebox stores, which I have heard Apple is moving away from. They feel like going into concrete caves where everyone is losing their minds, well maybe it was just me losing my mind. Maybe everyone else was having a good time. The noise level and number of people almost made it seem like a discotheque, except for the bright fluorescent lights.

    Definitely has never been a good experience for me.
     
  22. bowlerman625 macrumors 68020

    bowlerman625

    Joined:
    Jun 17, 2009
    Location:
    Chicago, IL area
    #22
    sorry to hear your bad experiences

    mine have always been great buying from an Apple store
     
  23. Alaerian Guest

    Alaerian

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    Jan 6, 2005
    Location:
    A barstool, Innis & Gunn in hand
    #23
    Your experience != all experiences.

    The Apple stores I frequent in the St Louis area have all given me postive experiences. Helpful and friendly staff, even on an extremely busy Saturday afternoon.
     
  24. Mr.C macrumors 601

    Joined:
    Apr 3, 2011
    Location:
    London, UK.
    #24
    I have to agree with what you say and that has certainly been my experience shopping at the Apple stores compared to other retailers.

    The shopping experience at Apple stores is certainly geared more towards the first time Apple customer and the casual non-techie customer. Those who know what they want and just want to take care of business and leave end up finding it difficult getting assistance. I am in the latter group and have got frustrated and lost my patience but I can understand why Apple provides the kind of service they do. I'm sorry for anyone Herr who has had bad experiences but I don't think it's intentional on Apple's or their sales people's part.

    One thing that really does annoy me regards Apple sales employees is how they tow the company line which I appreciate is what Apple has told them to do. In other words they refuse to discuss any rumour or speculation regards Apple and it's products. They will only comment or give answers to information Apple has already officially announced.
     
  25. Vudoo macrumors 6502a

    Vudoo

    Joined:
    Sep 30, 2008
    Location:
    Dallas Metroplex
    #25
    It's funny that people think that all Apple store employees are knowledgeable about the products they sell. I have on more than one occasion ask a basic question and they wouldn't know the answer as they were working at a big box store. Of course they will go try to find someone else who knows the answer, but that takes time.

    I have found that the majority of the staff in the store are there to ring up your purchase. Cashiers without cash registers. There are a handful that do know the products, but you can't easily differentiate them.
     

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