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How the Apple Store Lost Its Luster (bloomberg.com)
189 points by tysone on May 7, 2019 | hide | past | favorite | 277 comments

I went in a few months to get a hardware thing fixed with an appointment set and nobody helped me. I waited for like 10 minutes past by appointment time and everyone was booked up. I tried pestering people but everyone was helping someone else and asked me to wait for another associate.

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.

It seems like the standard inevitability for every service related thing that it degrades noticeably with time.

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.

> It seems like the standard inevitability for every service related thing that it degrades noticeably with time.

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.

It will be interesting to see how long it takes hold inside service related business units.

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.

> 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.

I setup an appointment at an Apple Store and walked in about an hour earlier then the appointment. The person at the front created me a walk-in appointment and told me to wait.

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.

> I waited for like 10 minutes past by appointment time and everyone was booked up

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.

This is hilarious, if you actually do this you should make videos where you tell jokes or just film yourself silently drinking for an hour while waiting. Instant viral success.

I walked in a few months to ask about a phone glitch. The rep was happily asking me detailed questions and for a moment I thought they were going to actually help me. Only then did I realize he was just making an appointment for me weeks in the future.

I made an appointment last year for an iPhone SE battery replacement several weeks in advance. Showed up on time at my appointment. Waited 15 minutes just to hear someone tell me that they don't have the SE battery in stock. When I made the original appointment, I had to specify that it was for a SE battery replacement.

I have also had a bad experience with repairs. Took my laptop in for the first time for keyboard repair, when I got it back they had damaged the screen and some brown hues where randomly popping up on it (its apparently caused by leaving dust inside when assembling the laptop). I took it in the second time and they replaced the screen but didn't tighten the screws inside properly and now my screen wobbles a bit

This was how my keyboard looked after my last repair from Apple. They were so busy that day they shuffled me out without getting to inspect it in store:


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).

> I sold the old half broken macbook and switched to a thinkpad

Di you switch to thinkpad just because of this service support issue? Because I don’t think thinkpad is better in service dept

Thiknpads are easily serviceable and Lenovo often just sends you a replacement component if one on your laptop fails and you know how to replace it on your own.

Apple instead is trying very hard to make everything not easily replaceable, even the failing keyboard is hard to remove for a common user

+1, I've benefited from Lenovo sending out parts before. If you want to swap the part, they will happily mail you the part and send a link to their step by step guide on how to swap said part.

You can't dump a glass of water on a MacBook and expect it to still work. You can on a ThinkPad. Lenovo has a partner network and Lenovo authorized service centers worldwide that can fix your Thinkpad when it eventually does break.

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.

You can service pretty much everything yourself with thinkpads (except some recent models). No need to ask anyone to open up your machine as long as you have a screwdriver.

That's another good point. All you need are fine phillips (P1/P0) head screwdrivers. No oddball Pentalobe or Torx screws.

Torx screws are not odd and quite superior to philips. Since the patent ran out I expect them to slowly take over.

I think it's safe to say that someone who switches from a Mac to a Windows/Linux machine just because of a bad experience at the Apple Store is probably not quite telling the whole story. I assume they had other experiences that were already pushing them to make that decision, but which are not shared in this post.

Well I’m one of those people and it’s the only factor. They wasted so many hours of my time and money because of their poor service, I just feel bad buying anything from them.

To each their own, but you're setting yourself up for a lot of unhappiness if you think there isn't a corporation out there that won't disappoint you at least once. Switching your entire ecosystem out for one bad experience seems like asking for an unnecessary headache.

Agreed, with two caveats. You have the option to switch hardware vendors with Linux and Microsoft, without having to sacrifice your entire ecosystem. There is also a world of difference between being disappointed by a single experience with the corporation addressing it in a meaningful way, and having that disappointment cascade into a series of disappointments because the corporation is not addressing the problem.

It’s not that I expect fewer issues. The reason I started using Apple over Linux was because I thought I could avoid some of those headaches and I do think years ago they cared about quality of experience. But if I’m going to have just as much trouble I might as well keep my freedom.

Ah, so indeed it was not the only factor. ;-)

It is though - the lack of a good experience means lack of a reason to use Apple.

I can understand being anti-Google, but why anti-Google and pro-Apple?

I think their view is that Apple tries to keep your data to themselves vs. sharing it with third-party ad providers

Apple (legal) really doesn't want your data if they can help it.

Last I heard, Google also tends to keep data to themselves. The difference in business model is that Google internally uses user data to effectively place and sell advertising, not that advertisers have direct access to that data. Apple isn't an advertising company the way Google is.

But perhaps things have changed.

One company makes its money selling you goods, one company makes its money selling your goods.

A subtle, but important distinction.

Their genius bar is just slowing down since they want you to buy new instead of repair what you have. Not always the case but I get that feeling. That and “IT at home” requests seem to flood the bar now.

Yea they persuade you to buy more from them with bad service. Flawless logic right there.

No, he means that they value replace over repair.

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?"

Yup, noticed the same in the UK. I can't help but feel like the prices are intentionally kept high to pressure people to replace rather than repair.

The absolute worst thing about going to the Apple store is figuring out how to flag someone down if they're busy. For that reason alone, I've stopped recommending Apple products to my older relatives. Once upon a time, the dominant factor was that the walled garden allowed them to feel less intimidated by their technology, which left them feeling like their devices were vastly more capable, even when they technically had fewer features. Now, the dominant factor is that, when they need help, they need the ability to talk to a human, and Apple is no longer supplying easy access to humans, they've put all the certified resellers who did offer that service out of business, and I personally do not scale. Best Buy and Microcenter, on the other hand, still have a place right at the front of the store, next to the entrance, where you can go get help from a human without having to make an appointment on a cleanly-designed-to-the-point-of-being-confusing-for-many-people website first.

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.

Obviously it sounds like y'alls experience has been different, but at the store I frequent in Chicago they have 1-2 people on staff doing this triage with everyone who walks in (though they just stand around the entrance, not at a desk). I definitely have had issues with wait time (I've mostly chalked that up to it being a very busy flagship location, but sounds like it's a larger issue), but they always check me in right away when I arrive, so I assume they are at least aware of the wait time issue.

The "Lincoln Park" store (sorry, but North and Clybourne was never Lincoln Park) is excellent for service. Michigan Avenue is an absolute disaster. A bit part of it is the relative traffic levels. LP has a fraction of the customer load that MA has and that makes all the difference.

May also be “type of traffic”. The Michigan Ave store sits on one the biggest tourist shopping areas in the country. You likely have more people just looking around or simply purchasing hardware. The LP location is a more residential area so maybe you have more owners coming in specifically to fix issues?

Agreed. The Portland store is very busy and I've had wait times that I think are excessive, but I do credit them with having a couple employees standing by the door to do triage. They zero in very quickly on grandma and she will get handed to the right person, but her feet will probably get tired from waiting.

The Portland store is like one of the main stores in the country for overseas buyers of apple products. That thing with Oregon having no sales tax...so it can get really busy.

I believe it. A significant number of the developers on my team that visit from Hyderabad take at least one new iPhone home with them. Lack of sales tax combined with the prices Apple charges in India (IIRC they don't sell directly, which may be part of the problem) make it attractive to buy them in Portland.

India has highish tariffs and VAT; China is the same way. If you take those out, additional retail markup is probably not that significant (at least in China that has actual Apple stores, not sure if India third-party resellers get iphones for something like wholesale).

IMO, it really needs to be a visible place with an associated piece of furniture. Otherwise, the process just isn't discoverable: If the store is busy and both people are already talking to customers and then a third one walks in, that person is going to walk straight past them, possibly bounce off the genius bar at the back, and, if they don't have an assertive personality, spend a few minutes just sort of standing there looking helpless before quietly leaving.

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.

Not only that, but you have to get someone assigned to you just to buy something. It's an annoying slow process. Why can't I just go to the counter, tell them what I want, pay for it, and go?

If you use the Apple Store app, you can buy any floor goods with your phone and walk out - without interacting with a person at all.

Really? How do you pickup the thing you bought?

The stores I've been to all have concierge staff at the front (often with phones or tablets pretty much glued to their hands, sometimes wearing a different shirt). You can tell them what you are looking to do (check out watch bands, genius appointment) and they'll ask you to stay in a certain general area until the next apple person is available, who is sent over based on what I assume are notes on your appearance.

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).

>> figuring out how to flag someone down if they're busy. For that reason alone, I've stopped recommending Apple products to my older relatives.

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.

> The more you look like the people in the apple commercials the faster they will get to you.

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.

> 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.

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.

I have lived in both rural and urban areas. I still fail to see how dress affects level of customer service I receive.

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?

>> 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.

> Nobody is talking about denied anything. This is about speed and priority.

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.

> I have just been denied customer service in favor of the other customer, no?

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.

I totally believe that someone in uniform might get extra nice treatment, but aside from that, I'm surprised you could type something like that without it feeling like waving a big red flag at yourself. If I find myself thinking stuff like that (and I do, all the time, because I'm old and unattractive and can have quite the RBF if I'm not paying attention), it's almost always because my expectations are way off and I'm feeling insecure and paranoid, or I'm feeling insecure and impatient and grumpy and am projecting, or (most likely) I'm the problem. I always remember the old saying about how if some days it seems like every single person I bump into is an asshole, I'm the asshole, and I usually am.

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.

Or like many other corners of America, aircraft boarding, etc, military personnel are given some extra perks for the risks for which they volunteered.

Who said anything about america? I'm in Canada. We don't get military discounts everywhere. When we wear our uniforms in public we generally get looks of surprise and confusion. We don't get priority boarding. In fact Canadian soldier almost never wear uniforms while traveling, certainly not while on civilian aircraft. America's soldier cult is a very unique thing.

Sorry for assuming the context, but I do still find it very unlikely that an Apple store rushed someone service wise to minimize military apparel away from public appearance.

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

Funny that they should ignore the old fogies without influence, as they are the ones that can most afford the Apple junk.

I’m pushing 50, and I don’t need a fucking loan to buy an iPhone.

You won't be spending as much in their apps store. That's where the real profit margins are.

Yeah, no interest payments from you. Less profitable.

When you lease to own to your phone through Apple with CitizenOne, there’s no interest

For 24 months, which means that there is a non-zero risk of interest. It also appears to require insurance, precludes you from other offers, etc.

I suspect that these finance deals are still more expensive for the consumer than paying in cash. After all, you’re receiving convince.


It’s a lease to own, so after the 24 months, it’s yours and you don’t pay anymore.

I have not thought about it like this before but I think you truly might be onto something.

Tons of other places provide support for Apple devices too. I'm sure if I went to Best Buy or Microcenter, someone would be just as likely to help me with an iPhone as a Galaxy/Pixel/Whatever.

My biggest complaint about the Apple Store is the long wait times when your computer breaks. You often have to wait for a few days to even get an appointment.

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 know it's just my experience, but it looks like this thread (as the article) is all about personal experiences.

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.

HW design, that fails 3 times in a row in the same place (and ultimately even destroys the logic board - probably because of the short on the exposed cable wiring), and the service that fails to prevent that, I'd hardly call a "true heaven". It's terrible.

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.

Do you know how many Dells, Acers, and Asus laptops have known problems that affect the vast majority of units but will still take shipping your computer on your dime and being without for weeks at a 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.

Then don’t do that (tm). I wouldn’t go near any Windows manufacturers consumer line of computers. They are full of crap ware and have horrible support.

I have had no problem with Dell’s business laptops. Barring buying from the business line, I buy computers from the Microsoft Store.

Business laptops aren't immune from known issues.

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.

Are you seriously comparing MBP to a $200-300 laptops?

Expensive laptops have the same exact known issues.

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.

Every time only the flat cable was faulty (in fact I could always boot the HDD from usb with an adapter). They replaced the other components because they were thinking that those were damaging the cable.

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 [0]

[0] https://i.ytimg.com/vi/Uhe4i2yLFTY/maxresdefault.jpg

I had great experiences with their device support. Replacements, repairs, their folks seem to err on the side of cover the claim rather than deny the claim when the cause of the problem seems ambiguous. I don't have a complaint about support yet, but I can tell my keyboard on my current-gen macbook pro is going to start failing soon (the semicolon key no longer clicks when pressed, the tab key is inconsistent) and from what I've heard from others is that it will require turning my laptop in and waiting days or weeks until it gets fixed. This is a company machine and I can't simply "not work" for 3+ days because I'm waiting on Apple HQ to blow dust out of my keyboard.

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.

Your company doesn't have a backup machine you can work on for a few days? Even if you are a one person shop, you should have some sort of plan for hardware failure.

The majority of our company, especially on the engineering side, is remote employees. Honestly not a bad idea to ensure there is an employee hardware failure plan in place.

Hard drive cables are a known issue in 2010/2011 MBPs. They were once acknowledged by Apple and replaced for free, but not anymore...

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.

Nah, it wasn't you. Those cables are a very common failure. We keep them in stock at our (not apple) computer store.

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).

> You often have to wait for a few days to even get an appointment.

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 live in a smaller country, there are frequently no appointments in the whole country for the entire booking window.

The trick is to book it right after the new day opens up. Truly a terrible design. Even by calling support they won’t be able to make an exception.

The stores are more sterile and the employees and service is more "clinical" and less "hands on."

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?


Beside entering your iCloud user/password, is there anything else you need to do to transfer data to a new iPhone?

no. And they probably won't do it for that very reason, as they don't want to know your iCloud password.

Without it what service can they provide?

You can’t be serious? You think it would be reasonable from a security perspective if Apple was capable of transferring your data?

They used to do that a long time ago. You would sit there with them as they transferred it off your old machine.

> They used to do that a long time ago.

Pretty happy they don't do that anymore, then. It sounds terrible for security.

All they did was hook your old mac up to your new one with a cable and run the standard software. You sat with them and watched.

There's no reason they couldn't do something similar/more modern with an iPhone and not have a security risk.

> 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.

The modern day equivalent would be walking you through backing up to iCloud and restoring from iCloud. It’s not a security risk unless iCloud is one already.

What you describe sounds like a huge waste of everybody's time. Furthermore data migration on mobile devices mostly happens via iCloud these days - there's really no need to do that in store. It's part of the onboarding process whenever you boot up a new iOS device.

A waste if you know what your doing.

For my Grandpa who’d never figure it out on his own it was a real benefit.

> transfer the iphone5 data+ apps to my new phone

Just ... sign in to iCloud? To "do this for you", you'd be giving them your credentials no? Seems like an unfair complaint.

When I bought an iPhone 7 earlier this year, they walked me through the transfer of the data from my iPhone 5. It was more like me doing it with a trained assistant at hand. They were confused at first because iPhone 5's don't have all the options for transfer that newer phones have.

Why would you want your data on their computers instead of either doing through iCloud or iTunes?

>The award for the most asinine thing about the Apple Store is their insistence on not having a proper area to pay for things.

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.


I have the app. It works really well if you are an Apple nerd like me. But not everyone does. Judging by the number of people that wander around, this is clearly a solution that sounded good at Apple's Silicon Valley offices but breaks down doesn't work in the real world. This is not an area that needed innovation for innovation sake. Just have a sign and employee assigned so you can go to them and pay for stuff.

You can literally talk to any employee if you want to buy something, and they'll whip out their Square-equipped iPhone/iPad.

There doesn't need to be a dedicated employee for sales. Just ask one of the employees roaming around the stores.

If you can find one who isn't busy.

Well, yeah, thank you+) very much, I guess.

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.

edit: reformat

Huh? Self checkouts are great! Rather than having 1 or 2 tills you can have many times that manned by the same number of people. If you don't have any alcohol you can use it without interacting with anyone at all and its much faster.

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.

>If you don't have any alcohol you can use it without interacting with anyone at all and its much faster.

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.

To me, the main advantage is that (at my local store) they implement a "wait for the next available machine" protocol rather than "pick a cashier to queue up behind."

That's kind of the key, right? If you're buying one or two items, the self-checkout is great! If you're buying a week or two worth of supplies, it's terrible.

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.

It depends on the store design, Waitrose in the UK doesn't bother with the weighing thing, and you can scan as you go around the shop and just pay at the end. It is way more convenient.

One supermarket I went to tried that... but the user experience is so awful that no one wants to do it, so the scanners just sit at the entrance, lonely and unused.

Let's just say that - and that goes especially for the UK [I'm looking at you: Boots!] - self checkout tills and me seem to be in a perpetual war.

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.

My second-favorite self-checkout peeve is when I go to Target (+grocery) and want to buy two or three things for lunch, one of which is an apple--a Fuji apple, which I have memorized as produce #4131. The apple has to be weighed, so it goes on the scale. But the scanning lasers also go across the scale plate.

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.

"same as with self scanning tills at supermarkets"

Worse! You have to first buy the device and use their own payment apps. That's an expensive way to just feel cool/modern!

I mean, it's objectively more convenient and faster. No waiting in line.

>>For small ticket items, you can scan, pay and leave

This would make me very uncomfortable - without the ceremony of payment it would appear to others that I'm stealing.

The fact that there's a "how to" article for buying things at a store is a sign that the UX is a complete and miserable failure.

I'm a developer who switched to Macbooks in 2006 and I go into the Apple Store at least a couple times per year (the last time was weeks ago), and I have never noticed that was possible. Seems like a failure to market this option. I know it might hurt the aesthetic they're going for, but if they're overwhelmed even with legions of store employees, they might as well have signs trumpeting this to move people along more quickly.

Apple Pay still isn't supported in most of the world, sadly.

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.)

I was able to get an appointment next day at an apple store to fix my keyboard . After I arrived I got it done within 15 min

Just for curiosity's sake what was the issue with the keyboard?

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.

There was dust underneath a key and they used a can of air to remove it .

Me too. Same day, even. This is in NYC and I live within five minutes’ walk from the nearest store. Compared to phone support from PC makers (even including the glorious no-questions-asked IBM hardware days), it’s a vast improvement for me.

Yea just to clarify, I'm not trying to compare it to owning a PC. It's still leaps and bounds better. But still the quality in my experience has gone down.

My two local stores are in Bethesda, MD.

I think it depends on the area. I live near an Apple store, but it is the only one for a very large area that includes a college. It's literally packed from open to close. I haven't had bad experiences, but definitely not as smooth as yours.

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.

> 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

Interesting, that's my favourite things about Apple Stores! I wish more stores adopted this model.

You call it wasting time, Apple calls it "increased product exposure". It's the same reason Target staggers their registers and makes their checkout process slow as hell; they found that the more time you spend waiting in line, the more likely you are to remember something you wanted to buy and return to the store to get it. They don't care how quickly you leave the store, they only care about how much you leave with.

I’ve also noticed the “it’s impossible to actually buy anything” problem with Apple Stores, especially in stores that get any appreciable amount of foot traffic. (Where I live there is at least one Apple Store in a mall that hardly anyone visits, and that one is just fine for service.)

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)!

Went to go buy an apple watch and wanted to try the different sizes and feel the weights of the different models on my wrist. I signed in and was told that someone would come find me- that I just need to wait by the table. So I sit by the table for 25 minutes. I inquire around the table as to who's been helped/ try to gauge how many people are in front in "line". I wait for 20 minutes without any Apple employee coming to the table to help anyone. I see about 5 employees standing around- not sure what their purposes are. I find someone in a blue shirt and khakis and tell them that I want to give them money but there has been zero progress in the watch selling, but there are other people in line in front of who also are interested in giving them money but likewise not being helped. The person issues me the standard retail apology without any additional information. 5 minutes go by without any other communication and I leave the store without a watch.

It was off-putting to say the least.

store pickup is very convenient, although Best Buy and Home Depot have an even better service as you don't have to install an app or use Apple Pay

Actually, the thing that really makes them superior is that they have a dedicated pick-up area in the store. You know exactly where to go and you can get out of there quickly.

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.

Yes. Picking up items at an Apple store still subjects you to mall parking hell, walking through the mall, finding Waldo to fetch your item and paying. I'de say pickup at Bestbuy or Home Depot is infinitely better... pickup desk generally at front of store.. ample parking steps away... in and out.

I really hate their store pick up because you have to find the same random employee to go fetch the item for you. What should be a 69 second in-and-our is at least ten minutes at the store near me.

Confused… https://store.apple.com lets you buy anything, pay any way you want, and pick it up at a store, no?

Right; the only unique thing about using the Apple Store app is that it lets you scan UPC codes for small-purchase items when you’re already in the store, allowing you to just pick something up and walk out with it. For large-purchase items, it’s the same whether you use the app or the website. (Although I think that when you show up to a store where you have an item waiting for you, and you have the app running, it does some kind of automatic prompting or notification to staff or something.)

So are you saying that I could write a fake app that made it look like I was buying stuff and win every time?

It's the same problem that they have with most of their products. All design considerations are controlled by people driven exclusively by thin, light, minimal. It's getting tired and cliche.

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.

The sound thing is a real issue. The Apple store by my parents moved into a larger and renovated space recently with double the height ceilings. It got way louder, to the point where you can barely hear what the reps say to you. I'd have a migraine every day if I had to work a whole shift in there.

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.

Yes! The Genius Bar experience has been terrible (especially as a somewhat socially anxious person) the past few times I've been there. A lot of sitting while constantly busy employees buzzed around, unsure if I was waiting in the right place, hoping someone would come by and ask what I there for.

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.

Yes on the line - Apple has seemingly wanted to eliminate lines from their stores, only to the detriment of their customers. Lines are useful for knowing how long a wait time is...instead you get put into invisible queues around the store and only they know your spot in line and how long it’ll be before some random employee gets assigned to you.

Honestly I have felt many times that the Apple Store could use a vending machine for iPhones. Anything that somebody might want to just grab and go no matter how expensive.

1000% agree. I don't always want someone to walk me through setting up my iPhone. I've used them since the very first one, I don't need any help. Take my money already and let me get out. Even just picking up a set of airpods for my wife took far longer than it should have. A vending machine would be all kinds of awesome, maybe like the ones Best Buy has at the airport (which sells some Apple products like airpods, coincidentally...)

I had the opposite experience once at the Ala Moana store. Needing the 1/4 in. headphone adapter (separate rant) I waited patiently, got someone’s attention, and made my purchase. They kindly informed me that next time I should self-service with the Apple app. Meaning I should have walked in, pulled item from shelf, checked myself out, and walked out.

Question: Why don't you just order online and have it shipped to your office/home?

> Take my money already and let me get out

This is what online ordering was made for.

A pizza place I went to had a system where your order was in a warming oven with individual doors. Punch in your order num, pull out your pizza box and go.

Little Caesar's Pizza Portals are exactly this, there's probably 5 of them within 15 miles of your location.

Some universities have those- they're honestly pretty neat.

Airports even have them too, branded as “Best Buy”...

For me the apple store has basically come to mean:

- 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.

I agree with your observations about the Apple store, but I wouldn't say the MS stores are run better.

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.

Yah I can agree with that completely.

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..

"Lost Its Luster" suggests we can point to a decline from peak. The basis for the article? According to the subhead, "In interviews, current and former employees..." Oh boy.

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?

The By Line is from one of their main Apple analysts paired with a guy that covers retail exclusively. Likely the story they're trying to play out is this general downward trend in retail, but there's very little steak here. It reads like a hit piece for someone with interest in the stock trading lower, rather than the meaningful reporting of legitimate news here.

I'm disappointed with the lack of autonomy that the staff has in the Apple Store. In any interaction with the genius staff, they go off the official playbook to the point where it doesn't even make sense sometimes.

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").

Amazing. Somebody should write a “1984” centered around the sinister stew of the marriage of corporate/government bureaucratic rot and authoritarianism we’ve wound up in.

>[Angela Ahrendts'] overhaul of the Genius Bar has been especially controversial. Customers looking for technical advice or repairs must now check in with an employee, who types their request into an iPad. Then when a Genius is free, he or she must find the customer wherever they happen to be in the store. Ahrendts was determined to get rid of lineups, but now the stores are often crowded with people waiting for their iPhones to be fixed or batteries swapped out. [...] Some employees speculate she’ll [Deirdre O’Brien] bring back the original Genius Bar.

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.

One way is to make the check-in person more than a dumb data enterer. My iPhone suddenly stopped getting any carrier signal one day. I took it to the Apple store that evening because I needed to go out of town the next day, and I had to have a working phone. I checked in at the front of the store and waited 2.5 hours for my turn with a Genius. The fix was to press the very specific "reset network settings button" (which isn't under Cellular settings, it's under General->Reset). I was relieved it was such a simple fix, but it was ridiculous to wait over 2 hours to press the right button. The check-in person should ask what you've tried and do the most basic triage to avoid this kind of problem congesting the store.

I can see how this division of work makes sense. Genius training is expensive, and it's important to quickly check in customers. That said, I like your idea of equipping these employees with a basic remedy or two. After inputting the issue, the iPad could display a prompt with common self-solve solutions. The trick is how the employee frames it. You don't want customers thinking it is the solution, as no diagnostics have been performed, nor do you want them thinking less of Genius Bar if it does not work.

> 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?

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.

The problem is that a line delivers crucial information: you can estimate roughly how much time it'll take before you're up next, you can see the constant progression, and you know you're not being forgotten or skipped over.

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 problem is that a line delivers crucial information: you can estimate roughly how much time it'll take before you're up next,

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.

> 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.

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.

In Apple worldview, 50 people milling about the store bored and confused looks nicer than 50 people standing in line (and doesn't scare off shopper as much as seeing all these people waiting for repairs), and therefore is preferred.

> 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.

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.

>, I know what a service counter looks like, but I can't recognize a tech support employee roaming around.

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".

> 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.

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.

> The problem is that the old way tied tech support to a spatial location in the store.

Apple has been at war against its former genius for decades:


I went to buy a brand new laptop at the Apple Store, and despite knowing exactly what I wanted I had to wait for at least 20 minutes - when I walked in, I was told to wait until an associate was free (whereas in most stores I could just grab a product off the shelf and go check out), then I was ping-ponged around at least 2 other people (both of whom I had to wait for - 'just hang around this area and we'll send someone over' - they each spoke to me for less than a minute once they knew I just wanted to buy a thing.

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.

They don’t know (and/or trust you if you assert) that you know exactly what you want; so they’ve got to assume that whoever’s helping you is going to need a large enough time-slot available to help you select SKUs, too.

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.)

What B&M store lets you freely grab a $2000+ laptop and bring it to checkout on your own?

I can contrast with my recent experience at Best Buy. Last weekend, they had $50 off the new Series 4 Apple Watches. I dreaded going in-store because of my problems with Apple Stores.

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.

Late 2017ish, I bought a new MBP from Best Buy. As I was completing the purchase, the store manager came out to thank me personally for my business. I've seen zero evidence that anyone working in an Apple store cares that much about the customers.

In the UK, John Lewis, Curry's, PC world. At the least you can ask someone to get one from the stock room for you and you can have it and be on your way within 10 minutes. I bought my last laptop from John Lewis in about 5 mins of entering the store.

This comparison is almost not fair. I've recently moved back to the UK and experienced John Lewis for the first time. Now I almost try to avoid buying from Amazon if I can help it, I can't believe how good the shopping experience is there. Also, they price match most online retailers if I remember/understood correctly which is insane.

Yeah and they do a great extended warranty as standard, the others I mention will increase check out time to hassle you to buy their warranty. John Lewis has it as standard and their returns is very customer focused

In my experience John Lewis and Currys/PC World are at opposite ends of the customer support continuum.

You can do all of this in best buy with just pointing with your index finger at a rep, then the laptop, not needing to utter a word during the entire transaction, and be back in time before OPs reps find him again in the apple store. Only at Apple and a car dealership does it not take five minutes to buy a product off a shelf.

For a while I was buying a laptop every 2 weeks from the Apple store for my business. I would walk in, say I need 1x of Model XXX macbook YYY, guy would go get it - I swipe card on phone, and back out the door in 5 minutes. Was pretty painless. Maybe it's how direct you go in? Or maybe they just had me memorized...

Good point - it's been a while since I've bought something like that in-store. I did buy a console, though, and that's a pretty smooth experience for a similar item (some stores even just have them out, otherwise you just find someone to grab it and then go to the cashier).

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.

Where was this?

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.

it’s a single store serving a city of 900,000 people

There are three Apple stores in SF proper and a couple just across the bay.

I knew there’s some across the bay, but they sure hide the other two stores in SF. Never seen them even show up on their genius bar search.

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.

They are real Apple stores. Short of dedicating a downtown city block to an Apple store, there probably isn't any way to fix the capacity problems at the OG SF store so, as you've found out, it's best avoided.

This was in Bellevue, WA. I did get the sense I'd have had a much better time just buying online.

Gawd, that store is such a disaster. Imagine you've never stepped foot in an Apple store, and you would like to buy an Apple product. I imagine it is much like the person I directed the last time I was in there, who "just want(ed) to buy this cable". Yeah, good fsckin' luck, buddy, because there's no signage and no one to tell you where to stand. I told him where to stand only because I "know" Apple stores (and even then, I wasn't 100% confident that the random cluster of people was the correct cluster). All the while, it took twenty minutes to get the Space Gray 256GB iPhone XS (no Apple Care, thanks) I originally came in for.

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.

> whereas in most stores I could just grab a product off the shelf and go check out

Well, and then wait in line at a cashier to be fair. Probably less than 20 minutes though.

I live near an Apple store and frequent it every few months when I need to fix a phone or laptop, or buy a dongle, etc.

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 [0].

[0] 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.

Lenovo's onsite service is inexpensive and, in my experience, excellent. I've used it a few times over the years and it's involved minimal interaction with helpful, focused staff and techs.

In my city, for onsite service, I have two options within 30 miles: one is an office depot, and the other is a computer repair store. Both seem to contract with Lenovo. I'm sure that there are some repair centers that provide excellent service and some less so.

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.

Onsite is your site. It is at times a confusing term, but if you get an onsite warrant you needn't go anywhere, you wait at your place of business or your home and the tech comes in and fixes it. Lenovo actually does pretty well at this.

I spent four weeks trying to order a genuine replacement keyboard for for my X1 after Lenovo Service tried to charge me $400 for a user-replaceable part. The parts order line was only open a few hours a day and hold times tended to go past their closing time. I'll never Lenovo again.

Yes, but what I'm suggesting is you pay the pretty low cost multi year on-site (they come to your place) comprehensive service plan.

Citi Double Cash extends warranty by 2 years. Plus 2% cash back on everything. I haven't used it yet so I'm not sure how good service is.

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 "add a year to the warranty" feature is pretty common among credit cards. Last I checked, all my credit cards offered that. It pays to read the fine print!

Every Apple Store with a Genius Bar has a receptionist (a guy holding an iPad with the Genius Bar appointment schedule on it, running interference at the entrance to the store), and usually they try to get your attention if you look like you’re coming in for an appointment and/or a pickup rather than to browse; but I guess they can miss you if they’re busy.

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.

It sounds like this situation can be remedied in multiple ways:

* 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.

Or, have the Genius bar receptionist near the Genius Bar. Only in furniture stores am I expecting an employee to grab me as soon as I walk in the door.

Like I said, anything can happen. As far as I'm concerned, it is the customer's responsibility to show up for the appt. It is then the associate's responsibility to initiate the required services - whoever that associate may be.

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.

> at the entrance to the store

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 almost impossible to pay in person but the Apple Store app offers ability to scan the barcode on almost any accessory and pay on the spot for it without ever seeing staff. I do not have many issues with this model, in fact it makes visits to the Apple Store for the odd cable quite easy. However, I did find that sometimes specific accessories are simply not presented and one must flag down staff to have one pulled out from storage.

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?

> It is almost impossible to pay in person but the Apple Store app offers ability to scan the barcode on almost any accessory and pay on the spot for it without ever seeing staff.

After you pay what is the next step?

You walk out with the product. Though you can ask someone if you want a bag.

> Anybody remember the good old days when you could have AppleCare send you a box and a return label?

They still do this. Just a standard advance replacement.

The in store experience has changed with the staff. Two examples that come to mind. I remember going in to buy an iPhone 8 after new prices announced. I spoke to a rep for 2 minutes for him to then to say: “let me get someone for you.” Then the actual transaction of buying occurred. Are there so many window shoppers that they have staff just to talk to non-buyers? The second was the genius bar. A speaker blew-out on my MBP, I made an appointment and I am trying to get someone AT THE BAR to tell me how long the repair is going to take before I send it in for service. Meanwhile the person to my left is there because they ran out of hard drive space and cant check their emails. And the person to my right has been there for 4 hours about a phone repair only to trade it in instead. I couldn’t believe the genius bar was inundated with those requests. I know I don’t need special treatment but I literally need actual hardware help. /rant

The issue with the person with a full disk I recognise. A lot of people are so untechnical/uninterested that they have no idea how to maintain their computers/phones.

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.

Appointments at the Apple store are a joke. The last 3 times I went in for one, I was acknowledged by a team member and it still took over an hour for them to see me. If I wasn't aggressive about it, it would have been much longer like it was for the half dozen elderly people sitting confused with me.

Strange. The article doesn't reflect my experience of Apple stores at all. The only problem I have with them is trying actually to get in past the hordes of kids playing with the latest tech.

I walked into an Apple Store twice in the last month:

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.

I went in for a battery replacement back in November (Granted this was in the UK not the US).

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.

Meh, if anything the Apple Store is a victim of its own success. For all the complaints in this thread about slow Genius bar experiences, it's important to remember it was originally designed and conceived as a way to teach people HOW to use their new Mac's and iPhones. In the early 2000s Mac's were still considered toys and Apple was trying to get around that by allowing people to learn as much as they can about their new hardware.

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?

This article misses a very obvious point. The reason it takes so long to get help in an Apple store is because those stores are so popular. This isn't Apple Stores losing their lustre. This is Apple Stores being a victim of their own success.

Before iPhone, Apple had ~160 Stores, and were expanding as quickly as they could, by 2007 they had nearly 200 Stores. And that was only serving ~30M [1] Mac users and less than 100M iPod users.

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.

[1]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.

I was at the Valley Fair Apple Store in Santa Clara to pick up an order recently. It was very busy; a bit uncomfortably so, but to my surprise I was helped quickly and went in and out.

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.

I understand what this article's view, and I share the same frustrations, but every time I go there, it's packed regardless.

The apple store where i live is packed too. I think many of those people are in for repairs on their stuff.

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.


I love the store itself. The problem is, the ones closest to me are almost 2 hours away, and in HUGE shopping malls that are a pain to get in and out of.

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.

It seems that it's not scaling out well at all as Apple products become more popular. It is definitely annoying how all of the appointment slots are constantly filled, which indicates that demand exceeds supply. However, at my local Apple store they check you in and then text you when they are ready so you don't have to wait in the store.

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.

When I want to buy something from Apple I can buy it from apple.com and have it shipped to me, but the last time I did this their "two day shipping" took a full week. Never again. Or I can buy it from Amazon, but last time I bought an Apple product from Amazon, I didn't notice it was counterfeit until well after the return window. Never again. Or I can buy it from their physical store. Last time I bought AirPods I drove 45 minutes to the Apple Store and had to wait for 10 minutes for the employee who was going to check me out to answer questions for the customer ahead of me, even though all he needed to do was swipe my credit card (there's a category of products that you can't self-checkout and it includes AirPods).

I went to the Apple store in Singapore a couple of months ago, they were fairly busy but I got helped pretty quickly, got a new device and someone took me upstairs to get it charged and setup. So just want to add that I had a good experience at my last trip to an Apple store.

I have one experience with the Apple store, when I went there to try to get my wife's phone fixed.

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.

You could have booked an appointment sitting at home in your underwear.

I had no idea that "an appointment" was even a thing.

Finn here. We don't have an Apple store, but I've been to a few in NYC. Just wondering around and looking all the staff run around and people waiting gives me anxiety.

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.

> “It’s become harder to buy something, even when the place isn’t busy. Buying a product there used to be a revered thing, now you don’t want to bother with the inconvenience.”

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).

Unlike many of the comments here my experience at Apple stores has gotten a lot better recently. I’ve been in twice in the past month for some hardware fixes, and both experiences were great. I got an appoinemt the same day, service was fast and professional and I found there to be an excess of people wanting to help me. This was in San Francisco by the way so I can’t speak for other areas. Prior to this I found that appointments were booked more than a week out and there were long wait times even for when I showed up for said appointment. I love the Apple store and find it to be the best retail experience in the biz right now.

Why is Apple Store service a thing at all? Service and repairs should happen at a service and repair centre, not at a retail centre.

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.

I've only been in an Apple Store a few times, and have always thought it a cool store, but just not very practical. At best, I buy a new computer every few years. I kept my first iPad for about five years before getting a new one. I buy a new phone maybe every couple of years.

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...

In addition to all these other things, Apple within the past year or so changed the bathrooms in (from what I’ve heard) all the stores from public to “staff only”. What kind of “Town Square” doesn’t have a toilet?

> There was the time he visited the Easton Town Center location to buy a laptop for his 11-year-old daughter and spent almost 20 minutes getting an employee to accept his credit card. In January, Smith was buying a monitor and kept asking store workers to check him out, but they couldn’t because they were Apple “Geniuses” handling tech support and not sales.

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.

Nothing but stellar experiences for me so far in Holland. Everything fixed in a day, just got a new screen for free on my MacBook Pro 2011 in Haarlem.

But super hard to get appointments sometimes.

Every time I go past/in one, it just looks like it's people wasting time at the mall waiting on someone that's shopping elsewhere, or people there for repairs. 50% of the people there are all Apple employees, and most of them don't seem to do anything but chit-chat.

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.

I had a bad experience at the store in SF. The staff all have this very pompous “can’t be bothered” attitude and they make you wait a long time in their creepy indoor seating tree park with other hostages that showed up for their appointment. Then you finally get to speak with someone, who can’t really do anything other than replace your device. Why couldn’t one of the sales people just give me a new device?

What’s the point?

At Christmas time I had to make an appointment to buy a watch. I waited 15 minutes for my scheduled time slot and then learned they were out of stock.

USA: Went to apple store to replace my iPhone 6 battery, after waiting for two hours, an assistant told me to hand of phone and asked me to come back after 3 days (&probably wait 2-3 hours before i get my phone). didn't replace the battery

UK: Went to buy iPhone, had to wait few mins in "line" , bought and came back within 1 hour on opening day ..

Apple got too popular and needs 5x the amount of store they have near me in Durham, NC. I can still get service, but it is a chore. Show up before they open, or book an appointment 2 weeks in advance. The only good part is that I used to need to talk to a repair person ~2x a year and now I've gone in like once every 2 years... (still too busy though)

The wait times are ridiculous. It took half an hour the last time I was there just to talk to someone.

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.

Two things that were features aren't anymore now that I moved to Miami.

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.

For others who see this and are willing to adjust the settings to use FaceID with sunglasses - just turn off Require Attention for FaceID [0].

Personally, I prefer FaceID (which surprised me!) to TouchID except in bed, when I desperately miss TouchID.

[0] https://www.imore.com/how-make-iphone-x-face-id-work-sunglas...

It's especially annoying if I want to install an app while I'm in bed, and the code won't work, and I have to enter a full password. If I switch to a password that's easier to type, that should be better.

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.

FaceID works fine for me with my sunglasses and "require attention".

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.

Yes, it works with some sunglasses. My sunglasses are Ray-Bans that aren't very dark. They're a pretty ordinary pair of sunglasses, but they don't work with the default FaceID setting. I think it's a bit random whether you get ones that work or ones that don't, if you're looking for a practical pair of sunglasses and not paying attention to whether it works with FaceID.

It's mainly that I used to be able to unlock with my head on my pillow, and now I can't, since it obscures half my face.

I lived in Cancun for a couple of years and even indoors with AC my 2015 MBP ran too hot. Very often it was unusable on my lap, and even a simple Skype call turned on the fans at max speed.

I find the apple store uninviting and uncomfortable. They're generally packed with people standing around... you have no idea where to go or who is available... more obscurely controlled chaos than clear and apparent order. I feel visiting the store is generally going to be bad experience for most people.

At my local Apple Store there is now a flipchart at the shop front which features the new Apple products: iPhone, MacBook, iPad.

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.

And the App Store too.

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!

It feels like a way for Apple to claw back even more than their 30% cut. Even if you have a successful app, now you have to take some of your money and buy the search ads for it, otherwise somebody else is going to be the first result when potential customers come to the store looking specifically for your app.

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.

While I agree that ad sales are disheartening, App Store search has never been that great.

It's not perfect, but if I search for "GoodNotes" exactly by name it should give me GoodNotes.

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.

What’s going to happen when Apple rolls out the game subscription? Will they favor those games over publishers that decide not to be part of 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.

And let's not forget that it's the same with Apple Music search

Edit: meant that search is bad enough on Apple Music too (not that it has ads)

I don’t see ads when I search iTunes on the phone for music.

I really hate ads on phones. There is relatively little space on phones and for any of that space to have ads is really distracting.

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.

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