I wrote up a post a few weeks ago about my visit to the Apple Store and submitted it to my editors. Thank goodness for editors, too — they’re not just for fixing our spelling and grammar errors and keeping us on topic. My editors had the good sense to ask me to take a step back, calm down, and revisit my original post that was more rant than anything else. You see, I wrote it up not an hour after an Apple Store visit that didn’t go so well.
Fortunately, with almost two full weeks gone by and a relaxing vacation last week at the beach, I think I’m able to now tell my tale with a little less venom.
Before I begin, however, I need to explain a bit about my technology usage first. My HP laptop runs Windows Vista, my Gateway home PC runs Windows 7, my hand-built file server runs Ubuntu Linux 9.something, my Samsung phone is Android, and my Apple iPad is running iOS 4.2 or 4.3 (can’t remember). I think it’s safe to say that I pledge allegiance to no vendor. I simply want my tech to work regardless of whether it’s got an aluminum skeleton or black plastic frame, and I certainly don’t care about weight differences when they’re less than 8 or 9 ounces.
Bottom line — when I need a piece of technology, I do some basic due diligence, a little reading, some price checking… and I make my purchase. Again, I typically don’t focus on brand name unless there’s an obvious pattern of dissatisfaction easily detected with some basic Internet searches.
I write tech books and a certain topic/subject dropped in my lap that required me to purchase an Apple computer. This is likely no big deal to many of my fellow GeekDads who already own one or two or ten. But this will be was my first Apple computer purchase. Ever.
My friends and family have had been hearing me talk about it for weeks — I need to buy a Mac.
I received tons of advice, questions to help narrow down my choices, and a lot of taunts… a lot. I tried to justify not spending the money, but the project is a good one and an Apple is my only choice if I want to participate. So, after a few weeks of back and forth debates with myself, I put myself in the truck during my lunch break, drove to the Apple Store (Perimeter Mall, Atlanta, GA), and walked in, head held high, ready to buy a Mac Air.
I checked in at the door and told the greeter I was there to buy a laptop — the young lady tapped a few buttons on a table-mounted iPad to register my visit and the screen displayed “You are 2nd in Line.” She told me it would be a minute or so and someone would be over to help me.I’ve been in this Apple Store before, and today was very tame — maybe 30 or 40 customers and most of them were all over the iPad 2 tables. Myself and one other gentleman were standing at the Mac Air table. The blue shirts (salespeople) were probably numbering about 20. Possibly more.
About 5 minutes go by…
Just ten feet from me a customer was showing off some sort of funny video to a group of 6 blue shirts. The gentleman waiting across from me gave me the same look I gave him… irritation.
One of the blue shirts looked at me and I said (maybe a little snarkiness in my voice)… Are any of you working today?
He nodded and replied We’re watching a video.
I looked over at the other gentleman who shook his head in disbelief, so I know it wasn’t just me.
I walked back to the greeter and said I’m here to buy a laptop. Now. And you’ve got six blueshirts watching a video. I pointed over at the little gathering.
She held up the Just-a-Moment finger right in my face and started talking into her headset. I was already irritated, so this gesture didn’t help things.
You know what? I’m outta here, I said.
Bye bye, she replied. And trust me, you know this voice – it wasn’t the sincere voice, it was the Buh bye, then with the double blink and attitude.
I nodded to the other customer and walked out.
Okay, I’m honest enough to admit that I was copping an attitude myself to the greeter when I pointed out the six blueshirts doing some top-notch salesmanship. But you know what? I’m the customer. The customer who was ready to drop $1000+ on a piece of your hardware if someone would have just done me the courtesy of sending over someone who might answer the one question I had. One question.
I did end up buying the Mac Air from Best Buy… and I paid $65 less than the same item at the Apple Store. But the entire experience really burned me. I’ve heard nothing but good reports about Apple Store experiences — one from a GeekDad.com editor and a few from friends with whom I shared my story. All have been surprised at what occurred, but none more than me.
I’m absolutely certain that this experience is likely the exception, not the rule — one GeekDad’s bad apple doesn’t mean the entire tree is full of them (pardon the pun). I have a friend in Texas who swears he’ll never buy an HP laptop… another in Florida who won’t buy Dell. I’m not saying I’ll never buy another Apple, but even two weeks later I’m still quite dissatisfied with the way I was treated. Walking out of that particular location, I could not help but feel that I, the customer, had basically been told We’ll get to you when we’re good and ready and We don’t really need your business.
Look… I’m not writing this up to fan the flames of The Holy War. I’m not asking you to share your horror stories about Brand X or Company Z and why you’ll never buy their product again. I’m writing this because I want companies (not just Apple) to realize that when geek dads decide to make a significant purchase, they’ve likely got the cash and done their homework. GeekDads are likely some of the best customers you’ll ever have — we tend to be vocal in our praise, loyal in our patronage, and generous with our sharing of our experiences with family, friends, and co-workers. But the flip side to that is this: When we’re not treated properly, we’re going to be vocal with our disappointment, likely to look for competitors who want our business, and we’ll tell everyone we know (via email, Facebook, face-to-face, and yes, even blogs) about it.
I’m loving the Mac Air, by the way. It’s taken some getting used to, especially the lack of mousepad buttons. Hopefully I’ll never have to take it in for repairs. But rest assured Apple Store, if I do… I expect better.