Monday, February 25, 2008

Down with Apple stores!

I'm a huge Apple fan. I love nearly everything they do. I even really like Apple stores as long as I'm not trying to buy something. They're beautiful showcases and demo areas; but, it ends there.

I've stopped going to my local Apple store to buy things, and instead buy them at Apple's online store. There are two major problems with the stores from where I sit: one, there is no dedicated checkout area. In order to buy something, you have to track down one of the employees with the right checkout device (a wireless card reader). Because a large number of people in the store are there to buy something, they're hunting these employees down to. The result is a train of people following these designated employees around while said employee fields "I have a quick question" questions from others in the store. NOT FUN! 99% of the time I know exactly what I want before I walk in the store, I'm just using the store as a warehouse to get at the material I want to own. Walking in, grabbing my item, walking to a checkout area, paying, and walking out seems like a promising, age-old, model to sell things. For some reason Apple doesn't agree. As a result, I don't patronize my Apple store anymore.

Two, the support/maintenance aspect of the store is a mess. The "Genius Bar" requires a scheduled appointment for even the most mundane things. I'm technical, I know the difference between a failing USB port, and a bad hard-drive, yet I have to schedule a diagnostic session w/ the "Genius Bar", physically show up for the appointment with device in tow, sit through someone else asking the usual questions, and coming to the same conclusion. I'd prefer to just ship my device somewhere, or at least be able to leave my device at the Apple store and skip the appointment, but Apple won't let me do that.

The Apple stores have been wildly successful for Apple, and that's great. I would appreciate two things being added to the stores to make them useful to my more narrow demographic however: one, dedicated checkout area, with dedicated staff (no working other sections when things are "slow"). two, the ability to drop my hardware off to be "diagnosed" without me being there. I'm happy to write a note describing the situation, and to be available via phone, but sucking up my valuable time for a problem with your hardware is not cool.

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