Today I had what amounts to the worst experience I’ve ever had in an Apple Store.
Before I start, let me just say that this is, in the grand scheme of things, a minor annoyance. Nobody at the Apple Store was less than courteous (although admittedly it is a bit crazy in there), and it wasn’t like the worst experience I’ve ever had in retail in general. But it was an extremely frustrating experience nonetheless, and one that has me scratching my head in amazement at why it needed to be so f$@#^ing difficult.
Anyway, my experience. After poking around a bit at various machines, I decided to purchase a particular iMac and a few accessories after deciding it wasn’t worth fixing my old Apple Cinema Display. After kinda standing around for 15 minutes, I approached somebody holding an iPad and asked if I could talk to somebody about buying an iMac.
About five minutes later, I get approached by a young man who happily talked to me a few minutes about the machines. I didn’t get my answers answered exactly to my satisfaction, but just getting it out allowed me to come to a decision about which machine I wanted and the options.
I then asked him to get me a total, as I needed to, in my exact words, “walk across the street to USBank and get a cashier’s check” for the total amount. He kindly created a subtotal from a spreadsheet and sent me on my way.
After navigating the bank, I went back to the rear of the store and went directly to the person who looked vaguely like a cashier. She then proceeded to inform met hat they could not take a cashier’s check. They would take Mastercard, VISA, and a personal check or travelers checks.
Wait a minute. You can take a personal check, which has absolutely no real guarantee of payment, but not take a cashier’s check written by a major national financial institution like USbank? Worse, I thought: I now have a $1666.00 check written to you that you won’t take.
I can’t wrap my head around this. Really, I can’t. How can you take a personal check.. even weirder, a travelers check (people still use those?) and not handle a cashier’s check?
What happened next gets even weirder. I talk to the “manager”, and she (more on this in a minute) tells me they have no ability to do this, to the point of encouraging me to take my business elsewhere if I don’t like it. It is only after I press the issue that she begrudgingly gives me a 408 number to “customer service” which I call as I’m leaving the store.
Of course the 408 number was wrong: it said something about “journalists”. I bounced though a few people and eventually had an enlightening conversation with somebody in the right department who couldn’t even really tell me what the reason for the policy was, or more frustratingly, seemed to just foist everything off onto the store manager.
As of this writing, I’m waiting to hear back from this person and what they can do.
I have some pretty strong personal feelings about Apple the company, and I guess a lot of those “warm fuzzy” feelings I have about the company died today. The entire process of dealing with a crowded store with employees who were overwhelmed, dealing with a “manager” with no actual decision-making abilities, and a customer service department that seemed powerless to actually explain policies or make exceptions has reminded me that Apple is now just another company with stockholders to keep happy, and all that “think different” marketing is just marketing.
I still want my new, shiny iMac. But I guess I also want my “inner child” enthusiasm for Apple as a company back, too. I still believe Apple makes some of the best stuff on Earth in their product categories (my personal opinions on iPhone not withstanding), and is a company that is driven by some very ingenious engineers. However, Apple’s image in my head was for a long time driven by my childhood experiences of the Apple Computer that managed to be both an engineering driven company that had a very “soft” human side.
I believe in the power of words. And I guess there are no more powerful words than the name of the company. It once was Apple Computer. Today, it is just Apple, Inc. And today, my inner child feels a little like he just had his piggy bank taken by the banker in Mary Poppins. I’m still going to get my money back, and the computer I want.. but Apple is no longer a friend, they are just another soulless corporation trying to take my money.