Eventually I gave up and left the store. I'm sure their analytics never even noticed me, their data says I just never showed up for the appointment. It's a bad outcome, I sold the old half broken macbook and switched to a thinkpad.
I still think their phones are better than android, but mainly that's just because I don't want anything that Google touches anywhere near me.
Start out and offer a thing and tout the level of service, then shave off bits of service to save money until it is bad... probabbly still touting service.
That's one of the reasons I left a career of 20 years supporting high end networking equipment. Company after company would talk big but the gradual (sometimes sudden) dialing back on training, tools, and staff (sometimes outsourcing that cost even more than locals in the end) seemed inevitable and tiresome. But the pressure on individuals to maintain the service level was always increasing. Eventually it was a grind that I just didn't want to do anymore despite the pay being good. You can only take so much talk talk talk from the company but decreasing investment and conflicting action before you lose heart. I decided to start over with something else.
I don't think that's an inevitability, just the effect of a particular type of corner-cutting business culture that's very prevalent nowadays.
Today's business conventional wisdom isn't very wise, and I do hope that it's eventually replaced by something better.
I saw a strong trend where good leadership in those business units simply leave that area and move into other business areas (engineering, sales etc) when it became clear that any initiatives they started that didn't involve cost cutting were not going to happen in any support related department.
There was a serious brain drain as far as leadership with vision, a backbone, knowledge as far as support organizations went. I had conversations with several who recognized that there was simply no future / chance of them being able to do much of anything in those roles so they simply moved on.
Meanwhile what was left were largely yes men who embraced the endless (often counter productive) cost cutting, and in doing so didn't really need / care to understand how things worked if all you had to do was slice out X% and hit some arbitrary metrics.
I fear that fundamentally support related business units are just not likely to have anyone who knows how to do it right (even if suddenly given resources), let alone care.
Yeah, the rot starts from the top and needs to be fixed from the top, and least in today's corporate structures. I think it's the conventional wisdom of C-suite people that needs to change.
An hour goes by without anyone so I ask the person at the front (new person) and neither my scheduled appointment nor my WALK-IN appointment were checked into... How the hell do you check-in to a walk-in appointment?
Definitely not a great experience. He checked me into both and 10-20 minutes later I get two people asking me what I need help with.
Ha. Here in New York, I’ve never had an Apple Store appointment honored inside an hour. Usually an hour and a half. My strategy is now to get a cocktail at the Cipriani Dolce, walk it across to the Apple Store, ignore the “you can’t bring that in here” protests and wait out the hour with a drink.
I mean, it was an easy enough fix that I ended up fixing it myself on this model rather than take it back. But for a company that used to pride itself on "painting both sides of the fence", now they're not even painting the front of the fence.
I've moved on to a Lenovo ThinkPad X1 now - I don't "love" it, but so far it's required no repairs and been reliable, while that MacBook Pro has had 6 repairs during its 3 year lifetime (all internal SATA cable replacements).
Di you switch to thinkpad just because of this service support issue? Because I don’t think thinkpad is better in service dept
Apple instead is trying very hard to make everything not easily replaceable, even the failing keyboard is hard to remove for a common user
Admittedly I'm biased as I work for Lenovo ASP and reseller and daily with a ThinkPad X1 Carbon. My MacBook Air stays at home.
But perhaps things have changed.
A subtle, but important distinction.
Like when I brought a MBP in with a charging circuit issue - just wouldn't charge, OS said battery was healthy, but at 0% capacity. Would run on AC.
I thought $200... no... $600.
Not "Would you like to schedule that service?" (I didn't - for its use case it could stay on AC the rest of its life)... but the first comment after the price?
"That's quite a bit, huh? Maybe we should talk about getting you into a new Mac instead?"
I'm sure Apple believes they've streamlined things immensely by getting rid of the whole "here's a place you can wait in line to do X" thing, but, like you said, at least some of the benefit they're seeing is probably illusory, because it leaves them with no great way to measure how long people have to wait to talk to someone in the first place, or how many people are giving up without ever successfully talking to someone. What they really need to do is put a triage desk right by the entrance of every Apple store.
Stick a small table or lectern with an "Information" (or whatever) sign above it in a clearly visible place, though, and then they'll just go wait in line there.
But if you manage to walk past them to the back of the store, you're out of the system and likely to fall through the cracks (unless the other staff aren't busy).
Be cute. Wear cool clothes. Don't be old. Look like an "influencer" with a million followers. The more you look like the people in the apple commercials the faster they will get to you. Above all things, apple stores are image-conscious. They are welcoming to people who fit the image they wish to portray and shun those who do not.
Or, if you really want fast service, do the opposite. I wore my military uniform to an apple store once (picking up a xmas present on my way home from work). Despite the crowds I had a manager helping me within seconds. She was very eager to get me helped and back out the door. Camo does clash with iPhone white.
I'd say this is a bold claim w/o non-anecdotal evidence. Customer service should be non-discriminatory, no matter what product/service you're selling. If I, as a customer, cannot rely on an associate to address my problem simply because I do not dress like their image, then this is not a business worth walking into in the first place.
I can walk into a grocery store with either a million-dollar suite, or a tshirt/shorts, and I still expect the same customer service.
A simple anecdotal counter: I do not own any apple products, but I have walked into Apple Stores with friends who own Apple products. None of us dress 'the part' like your 'typical Apple user' does, but I have seen prompt customer service nonetheless.
Oh. Is that borne from past experience? Because my experience living in a very accepting, liberal city, tells me the opposite. Unless your tshirt and shorts are from j crew.
Yes, you may live in a more wealthy area, which may attract those with more expensive looking dress. But are telling me that you've personally witnessed a person denied customer service simply due to the fact that they do not dress in expensive clothing?
Nobody is talking about denied anything. This is about speed and priority. It is no surprise that well-dressed attractive people get better customer service. This is just a little more true at apple than at other electronics stores.
Take this example:
I show up in a store at 1200, and am told the waiting time is approx 30 minutes. I wait in the queue.
Another customer shows up in the store at 1220. This customer is more well-dressed than I am. This customer also waits in the queue.
At 1230, the more well-dressed customer is chosen to be serviced before I am, a customer who has been waiting for 30 min vs the other customer's 10 min. I have just been denied customer service in favor of the other customer, no?
I don't mean to make this a long, drawn-out conversation. I'm just looking for clarification.
Maybe. Perhaps they booked an appointment in advance instead of doing a walk-in and it had nothing to do with their clothing, or there are multiple queues for different types of service.
Everybody who works retail wants nothing more than to get customers in/happy/out ASAP, nobody in a busy electronics store cares about only helping attractive people. They want to help those people get out of the store ASAP too. For example, even if there's some questionably hygienic, angry looking morbidly obese fiftysomething guy in a MAGA hat and Crocs standing in the corner glaring at everyone, they're still going to want that person happy and out of the store ASAP, just like everyone else. Maybe even more happy and more out of the store than most if he's creeping out other people. Not helping people who need help just gives them a bad experience and keeps them lurking around the store getting progressively angrier. Nobody wants that.
That said the Apple store is losing luster because it's organized around a human touch feel, but seems to want to not supply enough humans to actually handle capacity. This after making sure placement of the stores are optimized for high-traffic locations
I’m pushing 50, and I don’t need a fucking loan to buy an iPhone.
I suspect that these finance deals are still more expensive for the consumer than paying in cash. After all, you’re receiving convince.
But the award for the most asinine thing about the Apple Store is their insistence on not having a proper area to pay for things. So people just wander around wanting to buy something and not knowing where to pay for it. And they end up wasting a lot more time that way.
I had four time the same issue with a MBP 2011, the HDD cable was failing again ad again. First time they replaced it, next time they replaced the cable plus the HDD, third time they replaced cable plus logicboard, fourth I got a new MBP 2013. All for free, without Apple Care. Every time I got my laptop back in less than 4 business days (also the replacement unit, I received it at home even before they had picked the old one).
This is true heaven if compared to my nightmarish experiences with DELL, ASUS or ACER (as a private customer, not business).
About the repeated MBP issue, I blamed my way of carrying it around (with a passport bag) and the fact that the cable was directly in close contact with the unibody shell.
Say, they failed to make the cable protected enough in the initial design. During the first service, they should just not replace the cable, they should also add the protection, so that the issue doesn't happen again for that customer.
If you google around, you'll see that this is a known problem and some people were even modding their MBPs proactively, to avoid this specific cable issue, caused by wrong design, to happen at inappropriate time.
My mother can afford a Macbook, I've told her this, but she insists on buying cheap Dells on sale.
In 3 years she's gone through 3 200-300$ Dells. Every time they break Dell comes back with some untenable repair arrangement and off she goes.
She could have bought a used Macbook Pro 3 years ago, and today it'd be worth more than all of those Dells put together, and odds are it'd be in working condition unlike the 3rd one which she's telling me is picking up a flickering screen issue.
If something broke she could go to the Apple store and get it fixed within a couple of days. Even out of warranty she'd be better off than Dell out of warranty, which is like Apple's out of warranty support... except more expensive and slower.
I have had no problem with Dell’s business laptops. Barring buying from the business line, I buy computers from the Microsoft Store.
Off the top of my head over the years I remember common LCD issues and GPU failures.
Every manufacturer has these problems, the difference is Dell releases something like 10 new Latitudes all with different model numbers and designations every year, so to find the common issues you search Dell latitude + your specific model.
With Apple there's 2 lines, with similar names. When there's an issue, everyone knows about it, it's easily searched and more importantly, easier to cover in a story. "The Macbook has tons of issues" gets reads. "The Dell Latitude 7490 has tons of LCD issues" gets... people who own Dell Latitude 7490, maybe. The former reads like a major story, the latter reads like a warranty announcement or something.
My last windows laptop, the HP Spectre x360, was about as much as a MBP had a track record of failing motherboards.
My old Zenbook, also in MBP pricing range was known to have the hinge fail.
You're making the same mistake that my mother makes, assuming a "dollar's worth" of laptop is fungible.
If you spend 400$ on a laptop, it's not enough that it only be at least 1/3rd as reliable as a 1200$ Macbook Pro. Every time a laptop fails there's a cost outside of just getting a new laptop, like transferring all your stuff, not having a laptop, etc.
Design flaw happens and Apple relatively quickly sorted it out. On the other hand, I will never forget Acer's screen hinges and how we were supposed to fix them 
Instead of taking it in, I'm looking at usb-c adapters so that I can plug in my external kb and use that instead. The _vast_ majority of engineers at my company uses some kind of external keyboard on these machines.
Luckily they cost $10 on Amazon and can be replaced in 10 minutes with a small phillips screwdriver. I managed my school's computer repair room for IT and replaced at least a hundred of these cables while I was in school.
Normally it's just the cable. Sometimes it's the cable and the OS needs a reload (because whatever goes wrong with the cable causes the drive itself to get corrupted, but not actually physically fail).
Here's the thing that got me - last year the laptop broke on my MacBook Pro. Very common and typical problem.
Whenever I tried to book an appointment there was literally no appointments in the entirety of London. It was actually impossible to book an appointment. I ended up just walking into a store on my Tuesday lunch break and they told me all their walk ins for the day have been taken up, and I should line up in the morning and wait for the store to open.
I miss the original stores' refurbished/discount tables/bin they used to have. You could find great deals on those tables..
Oh.. one other thing that annoys the hell out of me about the stores an service. I bought a new iphone8, I asked if they could transfer the iphone5 data+ apps to my new phone. They said no, do it yourself.. I was pissed. A damn tech company, that sells a portable cpu for $700+ dollars and they won't perform a data transfer?
Without it what service can they provide?
Pretty happy they don't do that anymore, then. It sounds terrible for security.
There's no reason they couldn't do something similar/more modern with an iPhone and not have a security risk.
Of course there's a security risk. The security model of both the Macs and the iPhones have significantly improved. The hardware security models make this a difficult engineering task - and a dangerous one.
For my Grandpa who’d never figure it out on his own it was a real benefit.
Just ... sign in to iCloud? To "do this for you", you'd be giving them your credentials no? Seems like an unfair complaint.
For small ticket items, you can scan, pay and leave without needing to interact with the staff.
>Thanks to the Apple Store app, you can use your iPhone to scan the barcode of an accessory off the shelf and use Apple Pay to pay for it. From there, you can just walk out of the store with your new Apple accessory in hand.
There doesn't need to be a dedicated employee for sales. Just ask one of the employees roaming around the stores.
So same as with self scanning tills at supermarkets I'm now expected to do the work for one of the most profitable companies in the world, since they can't be bothered to have a proper checkout or hire enough people.
+) Not you, personally, obviously.
That coupled with contactless payments make it super quick to buy just a few items.
A "proper" checkout is still king for large shops but for people I know (late 20s), that is becoming less common for more frequent, smaller shopping trips.
Edit: I should say this is for someone based in London.
I agree that you can do it without interacting with anyone at all. But I question whether it's faster.
For a class assignment on usability a while back, I observed self-checkout users and manned ("proper") checkout at a local grocery store and found that the absolute fastest of the self-checkout users were only just as fast (per item) as the average manned checkout user (among 24 users).
A few factors increase the speed of manned transactions. First, cashiers are familiar with common
produce numbers, avoiding the need to search for stickers or slowly look up the number of a particular
item. Second, a cashier can begin bagging items as the user pays by credit card or pulls out cash, so
some of the work is done in parallel. Third, sometimes manned checkouts have a person dedicated to
bagging, which reduces the time even further (though all times recorded for this project are single
cashiers without baggers).
Self-checkouts definitely feel nicer for me (except when the anti-theft "place item in bagging area" nagging starts). But now, when I'm in a hurry, I'll make a beeline for a register with a cashier instead of the self-checkout.
Here in the US, at least at the stores I shop at, each item requires that you scan it, wait for the machine to tell you to place the item in the bagging area, wait for it to register the weight, then you're allowed to move to the next item. If you accidentally wait too long, and the attendant just clears the wait state (which they do all to frequently just to get things to move along), then it won't let you put the item in the area, and instead you have to call the attendant over to clear the "unexpected item" state, which just makes things take so much longer.
Then there's the times where some older person tries it out, gets really confused, and the attendant is spending all of their time with them, and everyone else gets held up by the quirks of the system.
Herearound at least you scan your crap and pay. In the UK there's some shitty weight system, which I don't get and the system accuses me after every third item of being a thief and instructs me to call assistance (which cannot be found since, well, self checkout tills).
Look, if you want me to do your work then, at the very minimum, trust me not to cheat or kindly fuck off!
The worst experience I've ever had was in a Tesco in London were the completely rude security dude claimed that there's only self checkout.
My friend wanted a pack of cigarettes. Good luck getting that from a self checkout till.
If the scanning laser manages to read the little bar code on the produce sticker before I manually type in the number on it, the whole self-checkout station immediately panics and calls for a store employee to unlock it. Every. Time.
This problem has existed for years. I now trigger it on purpose whenever I'm not in a rush. There's no excuse whatsoever for a self-checkout system to grind to a halt when reading a bar code that legitimately appears somewhere in the store.
Worse! You have to first buy the device and use their own payment apps. That's an expensive way to just feel cool/modern!
This would make me very uncomfortable - without the ceremony of payment it would appear to others that I'm stealing.
I'd kill to be able to just use it for all my payments but so far most of Eastern Europe is of no interest to Apple, it seems. (Despite the really big following they have around here.)
Because I work at a repair shop. Not an apple one (we're way too small for that, they want something ridiculous like $100,000 a year in used apple sales before they even consider letting you apply to be a reseller/repair store). People bring apple stuff here because there's nowhere else to take them except a three hour drive to the nearest big city.
The only issues I've seen on MacBook keyboards in my 8 years working here, required a full keyboard replacement. And I just did one a couple weeks ago. That's a good hour or two's work, just getting the thing disassembled far enough to get to the keyboard in the first place, then pulling all of the hundred or so screws for the keyboard, replacing it, and rebuilding everything.
My two local stores are in Bethesda, MD.
People have been saying that Apple has not grown its store count along with the numbers of device users they have added. I think it shows in areas like mine.
Interesting, that's my favourite things about Apple Stores! I wish more stores adopted this model.
However—and I’m not saying this as a defense, just as an interesting fact—at one point when I was waiting around trying to get the attention of someone to buy a stupid dongle, a staff member helpfully pointed out to me that I could just buy the thing myself with the Apple Store app on my phone (i.e. point my phone at the barcode on it, pay with card), and then walk out out of the store with the item, having never interacted with a single store worker (except perhaps implicitly with a plainclothes security guard who observed me doing this self-checkout flow and so didn’t tackle me on the way out. I don’t think your purchase is somehow remotely deactivating a magnetic anti-theft tag in the product or anything, so they’ve got to be doing loss-prevention for this flow the old-fashioned way.)
And while you can’t complete the entire purchase yourself for big-ticket items (the kind they keep back in the warehouse section and would have to retrieve for you), you can still do the “paying” part in advance of showing up at the store, through the app—or while you’re in the store, through the app—which turns the process of “finding an employee who has time to both guide you through SKU selection and ring you up” into “getting the front-door attendant to notify anyone with a spare moment that one of the devices already in the ‘waiting for pickup’ pile in the back can be grabbed and brought out.”
Honestly, this seems like it has somehow secretly become the primary flow that Apple Stores want to do [non-business-customer] purchases through, and yet they don’t mention it anywhere. They should have big signs in the stores telling you to buy things using your phone (and/or by using the store website on any of the demo computers)!
It was off-putting to say the least.
With the Apple Store I'm just walking into a big room full of busy people. I have zero idea of who the hell I'm actually supposed to talk to or where to go get the thing I paid for.
I don't live in a place big enough for an Apple forest grove or whatever. It's an undersized store in a mall that was remodeled two years ago. The people who designed it never were in such a store before. It's crowded, too loud, and stripped of basic functions. The old version of the Apple store felt busy and energized, the new ones are disorienting.
The old Apple store in the same retail space was much more functional. It had a nice little kids corner with a lower table and fancy toadstool chairs. It was a great way for kids to explore iMacs and iPads. Now purged as a lower table isn't symmetrical enough. The training area is just a table in the middle, and it's just not as pleasant -- people can't hear and leave.
Apple has a great thing going with people there though -- it's a real asset. The staff are incredibly friendly, patient and helpful.
It's the same problem in restaurants and bars that have this style of concrete floors, hard walls, and exposed duct work ceilings: there is nothing to absorb the sound. When people stripped drapes from windows, carpet from floors, and coverings from ceilings, no one stopped to think why these sound absorbing materials were used in the first place. You can fix this by spraying sound insulating foam all over your beautiful exposed ceiling that no one looks at because it's dusty and painted black and 20 feet in the air, but that's clearly a cost that's already been calculated and cut.
As a result, you can't hear anyone at breakfast, brunch, lunch, dinner, the bar, the gym, or even the Apple store.
It's like they're emulating the real bar experience, with a bunch of overworked and inattentive bartenders. Just give me a dedicated line to pick my stuff up.
This is what online ordering was made for.
- Very long lines/overcrowded store
- It's all full of Apple Watches and stuff like that and trivial luxury accessories
- Not enough Macs anymore
- None of the really cool displays they used to have like a Mac Pro set up for music studio or video work complete with a camera or midi controller or other instrument plugged in.
- For some reason they always smell like BO. Either it's the employees or customers they attract, there is something odd about the design of the store that screws with HVAC, or they're not cleaning well. Very weird thing.
So yah, not much luster. Even when they introduce new products these days I don't really want to go into the store and try them cause the experience is bad enough it outweighs the interest to check out the new product.
It is weird cause they are such copycats but I think the MS stores are better run now.
At the MS store you can get fast service, but thats mostly because it's empty. The floor staff descends upon you like hungry vultures when you enter, and you can't get rid of them. Thats what I've experienced at the Austin one anyway.
Mostly my observation is the way they run events and stuff seems very cool.
E.x. letting the kids come in and play Fortnite or do coding classes. Seems to always be free.
Then they've got VR demos or XBoxes setup with car cockpits..
The article lays out the high: "As recently as 2017, the retail arm was generating an estimated $5,500 in sales per square foot, easily outpacing rivals. But that’s getting harder to pull off." And the low? Not specified. That number could be higher or lower in 2019, we are not told.
It turns out that a company employing hundreds of thousands of people has some disgruntled ex-employees who prefer the way things used to be. The writer suggests that this is the fault of the woman who ran the retail division until recently, not, say, monumental growth or a human propensity for empty nostalgia.
I don't see any factual basis for the headlines anywhere in the article. Am I missing it?
I have a macbook pro where I've replaced the disk drive with an SSD and boot off of that. One day it stopped booting from that drive, so I brought it into the genius bar to see if the drive was dead or if a ribbon cable failed.
After talking about the problem for a while, they finally took it to the back and opened it up, and just as quickly returned it to me with a grave face. They saw that the optical drive had been removed and the RAM upgraded to 16gb, and because of their corporate policies, all they could do to a machine that's been upgraded is button it back up and return it to the user. Never mind that the problem with my macbook wasn't the drive or the cable, the drive had wiggled out of its mount and was just loose in the case.
You could shake the laptop and hear it slapping around, and the geniuses definitely would have noticed the loose drive as soon as they opened it like I did when I returned home, but their policy was such that they couldn't even tell me what they saw in there. Imagine if your local mechanic operated so rigidly. Looking back at it, it was like a scene out of 1984 and I wouldn't have been surprised if one of the geniuses slipped me a scrap of paper with the words on it that they clearly weren't permitted to utter with an apple lanyard around their neck ("reattach ssd to optibay").
I don't see how the old dedicated space for a Genius Bar would work better. The problem is that the old way tied tech support to a spatial location in the store. The new way assigned tech support to a person instead of a location. This allows any and every table in the store to become a temporary "genius bar" for that customer session.
In theory, if you had a dedicated area for the Genius Bar, you'd hope it would be free of crowds and be very inviting. An example photo showing open seats ready for instant service for the next customer: https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/6/6a/Apple_Ge...
But reality turns out differently. In the following photo, notice the long lines crowding the back of the store at the Genius Bar: https://tr4.cbsistatic.com/hub/i/2006/10/03/fce299cc-c3bf-11...
If an Apple exec wants to bring back the dedicated area for the Genius Bar, how does one avoid the logistical nightmare of those lines? You still have to work within the same finite retail floor space.
I don't like the new Apple Stores but I do know I'd rather sit down at one of the retail tables instead of stand in line at the old store layout.
Maybe I misunderstand the issue but the problem is not lack of table space but the lack of free personnel. in that case increasing the surface only make for longer logistic times and the risk of being missed if you are outside their field of attention.
If you want people to sit around all over the store in a haphazard fashion, you need to somehow provide these things. Without them, you will massively increase customer anxiety and therefore impatience.
The Apple employee checking in customers usually tells you what the estimated wait time is. Last year when I went in for the free iPhone 6 replacement battery, she said the wait was about 2 hours. Sure enough, the wait turned out to be 2 hours.
>, you can see the constant progression,
I agree you can't see this. Maybe Apple can mount a LCD display that constantly updates the customer wait times. Something like the LCDs at airport gates showing standby passengers their status. Or they can simply text you a status every 10 minutes on your iPhone. That may be preferable as customers can leave the Apple Store and do something else to kill time and return later.
The 'logistical nightmare of those lines' is just how every other store that has a similar problem operates. It maybe wasn't great, but the alternative of having people randomly milling round the stores (and usually getting in the way of people who want to browse) is much worse and a terrible customer experience. 'Every table is a potential Genius bar' is a great line to sell the idea internally, but it's a disaster in real life.
It's better UX. As a customer, I know what a service counter looks like, but I can't recognize a tech support employee roaming around.
> If an Apple exec wants to bring back the dedicated area for the Genius Bar, how does one avoid the logistical nightmare of those lines? You still have to work within the same finite retail floor space.
Their current process is a logistical nightmare. Basically they take a description of what you're wearing, then tell you to hang around in a crowd by the "Genius Bar" next to the iPhone cases. Eventually some employee is supposed to pick you out of that crowd based on the description they entered earlier.
Lines are a well understood, tried-and-true technology for managing crowds. What they're doing is different but not better.
But you don't have to recognize them. The idea is that the Apple employee greeting you at the door brings the tech support person to you.
>Lines are a well understood, tried-and-true technology for managing crowds. What they're doing is different but not better.
I guess I'm underestimating typical customers. Would most people really rather stand in line for 45 minutes to 2 hours instead of just sitting down somewhere? That seems very uncomfortable.
A lot of times, I see customers sitting on the cube chairs and waiting there. Example photo of those chairs: https://9to5mac.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/6/2018/06/img_0...
Standing in line seems way more uncomfortable and therefore worse UX.
As comparison, Apple's "check out" process to buy something isn't tied to a specific location of a bank of cash registers. Instead, each employee uses their iPad/iPhone as a "roaming register" to process credit-cards and send receipts. In effect, the whole store's floor space acts as a checkout register. I just don't see customers complaining about that and wishing that Apple would just consolidate all checkout processes to a specific location because they prefer to stand in line. Customers seem to comprehend the "no line" checkout process without trouble. Apple does more sales than Tiffany's jewelry store that has traditional fixed cash registers. It seems like Apple extended the concept for "roaming checkout registers" to "roaming genius bars".
N = 3, but that's never happened to me. They're always busy with someone. Customers actually have to wait in line to greet the greeter (3-5 deep last time I was there, when I had a Genius bar appointment that I was on time for but they weren't).
> A lot of times, I see customers sitting on the cube chairs and waiting there.
The store I go to is pretty busy and they haven't dedicated space for seating like that, so you get to join the crowd waiting next to the phone cases.
> Instead, each employee uses their iPad/iPhone as a "roaming register" to process credit-cards and send receipts.
That's one retail innovation they've done that actually makes some sense. Given that almost every large retail store has roaming employees, if you can flag one down you might as well finish your transaction with them.
Apple has been at war against its former genius for decades:
What a hassle. The only reason I went brick and mortar at all was because of a promotion where you get a free headphone set, and I wanted to be sure to receive it.
If you pre-purchase online for in-store pickup (which you can do while you’re standing around in the store), that’s essentially a guarantee on them that you won’t need “SKU selection” service, so once you’ve done that, you can go up to the receptionist staffer at the front and get someone to bring out your purchase pretty much immediately. (Because they do have staff free all the time, but they’re only free for a minute or two at a time between scheduled time-slots. “A minute or two” is enough time to service a pick-up, but not a complete in-store purchase flow.)
But I went in, asked the Samsung guy where the Apple Watches were, and he pointed me to a counter in the middle of the store with 2 registers. I had a brief conversation with a sales guy there, confirmed the $50 off, size, and color I wanted.
I waited about 5 minutes and a different guy brought one from the back, complete with a silly dramatic bow where he handed it to the first guy (made me laugh.) I declined the warranty, swiped my credit card, signed, and was on my way.
The entire process took about 10 minutes, whereas buying at the Apple Store can definitely result in the "ping-pong" effect and can take upwards of an hour. And they were not pushy about the warranty.
I would buy from Best Buy again given this experience.
The rest of my experience was still abhorrent. The store was practically empty (though that might be an illusion since the store was huge and not visibly mobbed), some employees were just standing around just to tell people to wait in a corner. There was no real system to ensure your 'connection' would actually find you, since you were just told to loiter around the store.
I’ve noticed most apple stores are super friendly and fast all over the world.
But their San Francisco flagship store is utter shit. Understaffed, too small, absolutely mobbed by people. And it makes sense, it’s a single store serving a city of 900,000 people with millions driving in every morning for work. They desperately need more locations.
The Palo Alto store, for example, is pure delight. I’ve had nothing but great experiences the few times I visited their NYC stores as well.
If you know exactly what you want I think they’d prefer you buy it online tho.
There are three Apple stores in SF proper and a couple just across the bay.
Are they official Apple stores or are they apple-branded franchise stores? Reason I ask is because that’s the model I’ve seen a lot in Europe. A store that has a license to be an apple store but isn’t actually owned and run by Apple.
Yeah, yeah, buy it online for in-store pickup, use the Apple Store app to self-checkout, yada, yada, tribal knowledge. Including the tribal knowledge that the Apple B&M retail experience doesn't have queues, signs, or anyone to direct you.
Not that Bellevue is alone. When I last visited my Mom, I thought we'd swing by the Brandon, FL store, get her an Apple Watch. Man, I've never tried so hard to give someone $600 in my life.
Well, and then wait in line at a cashier to be fair. Probably less than 20 minutes though.
The store near me gets lots of foot traffic, but the experience is just fine. There are usually at least 2-3 employees who will come up and ask me how I'm doing and what they can help with. Given the size of the store, the number of employees is surprising actually. And it's as easy as ever to book appointments, in my experience anyway.
I think what's changed is that the novelty has worn off. When Apple Stores first became a thing, it was new and sexy. Now, they're everywhere and don't have that wow factor, because it's become a feature of our lives that you go there every so often if you want to try out, fix or buy an apple product in person. And with the novelty factor gone, people find things to complain about if their experience isn't perfect, even though Apple's customer service is still light years ahead of most anyone else .
 I say this as an Android and Lenovo X1 user. I personally prefer non-mac products, but my wife has a Macbook Pro and an iPhone and I'm always jealous that when things break, she can get them fixed right away, while I worry that a fix will entail multiple unpleasant interactions with phone agents, followed by a multi-week repair process.
EDIT: I want to add two ideas here in the hope that someone here finds them helpful. When I make laptop purchases (for non-apple products), the first place I look is Costco. They offered the Carbon X1 laptop with pretty good specs (16gb RAM, i7 processor, 512GB SSD. Similar specs on the Dell XPS 13 that they sell) at a great price, with a 90 day, no questions asked return policy and an extra year of warranty included in the already great price. Even if you aren't a costco member, it's probably worth joining for this deal if you are looking to get a Dell or Lenovo laptop. And in my experience, Costco is very easy to deal with when problems arise.
A second idea is to buy using a Chase Sapphire Reserve credit card, which also add a year on to the manufacturer's warranty. Usually, they require you to get a quote from a repair shop and they will reimburse you. In some cases, they will just replace the product straight up. And they are fairly easy to work with. This is the only card I use to make purchases that I know have a chance of breaking.
Meanwhile, Apple has five stores within a 30 minute drive. And in my experience, every single Apple store I've been to gives me a more-or-less consistently good experience. Is it perfect? Far from it. But they can fix most issues I've had onsite, and the turnaround time is predictable when they ship out for repairs.
Meanwhile, with other companies, it's a crapshoot. I had a phone from LG that broke. I mailed it in and after 5 weeks and many follow up phone calls, I still didn't have it back. They claimed that they were out of the part that they needed to repair the phone and were waiting for it to come in. They initially told me that the repair would take 2 weeks. In my mind, a company with decent customer service would see that the part is out of stock and just give me a replacement phone if they can't turn around the repair in a reasonable time frame.
With Apple, you know what you are getting into. And if they say 1 week, they usually mean 1 week.
Amex does 2 years too. Their customer service is unmatched when it comes to warranty claims. I've had them credit my account same day.
I think the Genius Bar “workflow” might depend on speaking to said receptionist (either directly, or having someone redirect you back to them.) Without them, nobody knows you’ve arrived, so you don’t end up in the service queue.
* Email a customer a reminder email with explicit instructions on who to talk to in-store
* Train the Genius Bar techs to point a customer to the receptionist when looking for an appt
* Put up a sign in-store that points customers to the receptionist
* Have the receptionist wear a differently-styled uniform than the techs (nametag, color, etc)
This does not sound like a difficult problem to solve. Then again, it could have been the perfect storm of events for OP. Maybe the receptionist had to step out and take an emergency phone call. You never know what could happen. At the very least, the techs and associates working the floor should at least be able to point the customer to the correct place/associate. A 'schedule appt' service queue should not be mixed with the 'walk-in' and 'browsing' service queue.
On a personal note: As a customer, I take the concept of a schedule appt much more seriously than simply browsing.
With browsing: I am a tentative customer of a product. I am new business. Whether you want new business is up to you. If I have a bad experience, I'll go somewhere else.
With a schedule appt: I am a current customer. I have already bought into your product, and now I have an issue with it. If I have a bad experience, I am now under the impression that I have wasted money and time with consulting your associates.
Ya, this is the problem. I don't think they're supposed to, but these guys seem to start helping people with actual problems (or sales) and then you can't find them or know who you're supposed to talk to.
What they really need is a self serve app for check-in, and in-store kiosk running that app, so people can check themselves in instead of waiting in line to check in. I realize this presents some other challenges, but self serve kiosks are an important part of retail these days and apple has adopted it in other ways (ex. in-store checkout).
Other than the mess around making and checking in, the servi ce is fairly good once the rep actually starts your appointment.
It is the repair/service story that has really deteriorated over time and Apple would bode well to remember that although PC vendors need to play catch-up they will eventually become good enough.
I did find Joint Venture invaluable. Essentially it is a Pay-to-Play scheme which allows you to book same-day appointments and access the Business Team (which gives a slight discount).
Anybody remember the good old days when you could have AppleCare send you a box and a return label?
After you pay what is the next step?
They still do this. Just a standard advance replacement.
I have a friend who is an electrical engineer(!) no less, who bought a new Windows machine when the old one was so infected by malware (kids used it) that it became unusable. Most of my relatives have dedicated siblings or kids providing tech support. Some people don’t have this support and end up at the Genious bar.
The number of people I come across who admit to having no backup systems is mind boggling. People who depend on their computers for work.
1. I walk up to an employee and said, "Want to make an easy sale? I want an iPad Pro 11" with the keyboard and Apple Care." As we were talking with in about 30 seconds after he pulled out his device someone came walking out with the items. I pulled out my phone and payed via Apple Pay. Done.
2. The next time I walked in, an employee asked me what I was looking for. I said, "I would like to buy a HomePod." He said and showed me exactly who to speak with. I walked over, I told him I wanted a HomePod and he asked which color. I said what do you recommend, as I liked the white, but was afraid it would show signs of getting dirty. He said black (Space Gray). He grabbed a Space Gray HomePod. I paid with Apple Pay and was on my way.
Apple Store @ Mall of America both times.
Booked the appointment online, Went in at the correct time, one of the staff in the store told me "Spoke the people in the back of the store with iPads, they handle genius bar appointments, Spoke to them (took my name), quickly found me in the system and told me they were very busy atm I could wait or rebook (It was lunch time in a city centre), Said I'll wait, Told me to take a seat over there --->, said "tell them to give me a shout as I'm hard of hearing" (Am a little but not too bad, I just wanted to waste my time playing on a mac instead of just sitting at a full table twiddling my thumbs (dead battery on my phone, didn't think about bring my charger with me), told the person "telling the system I'm here" this they laughed and said OK.
10-20ish mins later (Lost track of time, was dicking about on the net), someone shouts my name, got his attention and we went to a quieter table (guess the hard of hearing thing worked :-P). Docked my phone and started running some tests, while running the tests we talked about Work, games (A nice discussion on which was our fav build of Counter Strike).
Yup I needed a new battery, Would take 60-90 mins to replace. Agreed to the repair terms (Yes I took a back up, no I will not sue if you have to wipe my phone, Yes you may claim my first born, etc etc etc). Told them I had ID (They wanted a method to make sure that I was me when picking up my phone, asked "what if I didn't have my ID on me as I don't normally carry it?", said they have other methods they can use like showing the same Credit/Debit Card I used to to book in the job.
Went and got some food, went to visit one of my fav bars in the city centre, went back about 90 mins later and spoke to the same people at the back of the store who had the iPads. They said "all done, someone will be with you soon" 5 mins later I had my phone back with a new battery (showed my id to say I am me).
Apart from the genius bar being busy (Would be nice if I didn't have to wait, but a) I knew I booked a lunch time slot b) I made "plans" not to do anything that afternoon. So not the end of the world for me. But I could see it being a pain in the ass if someone was trying to drop their device off during their lunch break and had to wait around.) I can't say that I had a bad time there.
Store in question if it makes a difference to anyone: New St Apple Store, Birmingham, UK.
Apple consistently gets top ratings for customer service across the industry, and not saying there isn't room for improvement, obviously there is, but point me to another electronics company of Apple's size that is doing it better?
So how many stores did Apple add while having an extra 900M iPhone, 300M iPad, 70M Mac active users? 300. As of today Apple had roughly 500 Stores world wide.
Even if they had 1000 Stores worldwide serving their 1B+ Customers, the store to customer count is still insanely high.
Apple was actually expanding Apple Store as quickly as they could all the way to 2015. Given the quality and demand Apple requires it was still opening nearly 1 store per week. Then from 2015 onward there were only 60 Stores opened, most ( if not all ) of them were planned before 2015.
I still think giving Apple the brand image make over in Apple Retail were good, but it doesn't have to a trade off to Genius Bar and Stores Count.
Speaking of Mac users, I have yet to see anyone to point out the number of Mac unit and Churn rate. Tim Cook said half of the Mac were sold to new comers, and they are mostly from China. That is roughly 10M. We would then expect Mac user base to grow at ~10M per year, assuming no one is leaving the ecosystem at a noticeable rate. Except it hasn't. Apple had ~55M Mac users in 2011, they said they were close to 100M users in early 2017. And only manage to hit the 100M in late 2018.
Or May be my analysis is wrong.
Afterwards, there was a survey, which is not surprising. Knowing Apple, they probably do pay attention to the survey results. If some Apple Stores are having issues, I’m guessing they should know...
My only real complaint is just how packed they get. I was sure I’d be waiting forever to reach an employee.
Meanwhile, the Microsoft store diagonally located across the mall is usually empty. But some kids are there to play the games on the Xbox side.
They are packed, but if you make an appointment they usually get to you on time or even early.
Each mall also has a Microsoft store which is a sad abyss of emptiness.
Bizarrely they didn't do this when I bought a phone, and instead made a bunch of us wait outside in the sun for 90 minutes or so. With Apple-logo umbrellas and water. This was the preorder group with assigned time slots, mind you (there was another line for walk-ins.) I would have preferred to check in and have them text me when my phone was ready, as they normally do with service appointments.
I had no idea that's a stupid thing to do, that you can't just go there and ask for help. Actually, I had to go there and try to flag someone down. He told me that I had to make an appointment to get help.
But he couldn't just make the appointment for me. There was a line for that. I was told they'd probably be able to get to me in a half hour or so, so I should come back then.
At that point I was able to make an appointment to come back a week hence, when I could get them to actually look at the phone.
They did eventually fix the problem very satisfactorily, but the process to get to that point was nothing less than infuriating.
If I buy an Apple product, I either order it with express delivery from the Apple website (not very often) or go buy it from whatever electronics store has it in stock for the cheapest price. I have no idea why I'd want to purchase it from an actual Apple store.
When the keyboard on my MBP broke a few years ago, I just took it to whatever authorized repair shop and gave it to the guy after being second in line. First he did some temp fix, but when I told him I wanted it properly fixed under AppleCare, it was done in a few days.
Hmm, yes. After work I thought I'd 'just' pass at an Apple store and either buy a new battery or let it quickly replace. No chance: first came the appointment, then I learned that no batteries would be sold and an exchange needed about a week. What now? Ended with buying an Anyoneer at Amazon for a third of the price and not feeling too happy with Apple. (But it started before, there is a reason I needed a new battery for my old (2013 highly 'loved') MBA and bought a new Thinkpad).
Service Just Doesn't Work if you try to combine the two. You get huge delays, bureaucratic errors, people waiting and taking up space, and a general air of stress, confusion, and chaos, with everyone running around trying to handle at least two unrelated visitor streams.
It feels to me as if the original intent of retail has been overwhelmed by reality, and the whole could do with a rethink.
The customer experience is usually pretty terrible now, whether it's service or sales. It's certainly not effortlessly positive in any way.
Despite recent design decisions that I find questionable, thus far Apple products remain the best choice for the work I do, so I don't really want or need to go to the store in person to be impressed. I just order online whatever best meets my requirements.
The last time I bought a computer in person was about 14 years ago. I did buy an iPad case at an Apple store recently...
This is nothing new. It was very difficult to just buy a laptop from my local store in 2014. Apple stores have never worked like any other store. The purpose is for passers-by to see lots of people inside as social proof.
But super hard to get appointments sometimes.
Every time I walk past a Microsoft store there aren't too many customers, but usually they are hosting a gaming tournament or a code academy with tons of teens/kids.
It's an interesting dynamic.
What’s the point?
UK: Went to buy iPhone, had to wait few mins in "line" , bought and came back within 1 hour on opening day ..
I was there to spend upwards of $5000 on new hardware and I knew exactly what I wanted - I just needed to pay for it and have someone hand it to me. Total transaction time was over an hour and I would have left if I didn’t need it that day.
I'm tired of Face ID. Give me back Touch ID please. My sunglasses prevent Face ID from working when I have them on, and that's quite often here, and I don't want to switch to a light form of Face ID that doesn't check that I'm actually looking at my phone. Sometimes I temporarily take my sunglasses off to use Face ID.
The cooling design makes my MacBook Pro very quiet, but it doesn't always keep up with the heat indoors here. I've got to the point where I have to suspend my Vagrant box before I close the lid, or there's a good chance it won't wake up when I open my MacBook Pro and I'll have to restart it. I wish it used fans more to keep it cool.
I need to take it into an Apple Store because I think it might be a real hardware problem and not just a limitation or a software problem that causes it not to wake, but I'm not sure. Fortunately we have lots of Apple Stores and the availability is not too bad. There's only one appointment available today and that's 40 miles away in Boca Raton, but there are appointments at about 5 different Apple Stores in the area with appointments available tomorrow.
Personally, I prefer FaceID (which surprised me!) to TouchID except in bed, when I desperately miss TouchID.
Another thing - some sunglasses work with Face ID when its attention detector is enabled, because Face ID can see eyes through them. I'm going to see about it when I get a new pair of sunglasses, which I need anyway because having only one pair of sunglasses in Miami is kind of like having only one pair of shoes. The sunglasses that work with Face ID might become the ones I wear the most often.
I did also have trouble unlocking while laying in bed though. For awhile I thought it wasn't recognizing me without any glasses on, but then I realized that when I don't have any glasses on, I hold the phone much closer to my face, and it doesn't recognize me that way. It unlocks fine without glasses as long as I hold it at the same distance. Still kind of an awkward process.
This is so sad, and reminds me of cheap and greasy sales people but not of Apple.
It looks more like a shop that went bankrupt and needs to sell its inventory ASAP. This impression is really sad.
Advertising on the App Store really broke my heart, I thought Apple just made money from us all by selling expensive, high quality devices and apps. These ads are a desperate attempt to now make something over and above by selling my attention, what a shame!
You can try and drive traffic straight to your store page from outside sources to bypass that search, but that sort of marketing costs money too. And word of mouth searches are going to be through the App Store search regardless.
It was nice when Apple's search felt like it was just trying to help you find what you were looking for. But it's 2019 and we need to put ads in everything now.
The fact that the search results dedicate most of my screen to Notability (one of their main competitors) is some bullshit on Apple's part.
It would be one thing if I searched for "notebook" or "handwriting" or "notes," but I searched for a specific app by name and they're sending traffic to a competitor because GoodNotes "only" pays 30% of their revenue to Apple, and Apple wants even more on top of that or else a competitor gets their traffic.
Sometimes search is bad because search is a hard problem and it's difficult to know what a user is looking for.
Apple knows exactly what I was looking for. They're just being dicks about it.
I think (and hope) that I read that it will be a separate tab. My heart goes out to the few non scammy, paid up front/pay one time to get rid of ads publishers that might be affected, but honestly if all apps that are dependent on ads, in app purchases of coins, power ups and loot boxes disappeared from the store, nothing of value would be lost.
Edit: meant that search is bad enough on Apple Music too (not that it has ads)
I’m really disappointed that Apple is going anywhere near ad-tech. I stay in the Apple ecosystem because they have my preferred value system - I give them money and they give me stuff.