iphoneI just participated in a customer satisfaction survey that Apple sent out. It was prompted by my purchase of a new 3GS for my wifey. They sure did open a can of worms.

The Apple Store continues to be the worst retail experience I go through. I dread going there. I have a MacBook Pro 17″ fully loaded, a Mac Pro before that. I’ve had every iPhone. The products are the best. I positively DREAD going to the Apple Store to buy them.

There is no one place to get help. You have to track down someone. The store is too crowded and busy so there is never anyone available. You walk around trying to catch an associate only to find that they are helping someone else. It is especially annoying when you know exactly what you want. No questions. Just want to get in and out. It shouldn’t take 45 minutes to do this. Sure, it’s great for Apple that they are popular. It sucks for the customers. Would be a good “Get a PC” campaign. 😉

The problem is not the people. When I finally talked to the associate about picking up the iphone, he was very courteous and very quick. I certainly am not complaining about the people. Just getting ahold of someone to make a purchase is a pain. No lines and no signs worked great in the beginning. But the system simply doesn’t scale.

There was another occasion that completely encases everything that is wrong with the Apple Store.

I bought an Apple Keyboard in February of 2009. In August of 2009, it stopped working. I took it back to the Sommerset store where I purchased it at 11 AM. After standing in line at the counter at the back for 15 minutes, I was told I needed to talk to one of the people walking the floors. After waiting (again) for one of them to be free, I explained that I need to replace my keyboard. They said I needed to setup an appointment. It is cordially explained to me that they need to test the keyboard and also make sure no fluids were spilled on it. I totally understand and have no problem with that. No fluids were spilled, it just didn’t work anymore. We walk over to the iMac to set one up. It turns out, there are no available “appointments” for the rest of the day. The earliest they can get me in is TOMORROW. I’m sorry, but has anyone ever been to a Best Buy? You do NOT need to setup an appointment and you CERTAINLY don’t need to wait until the next day to replace a defective product. I make the appointment for 10:00 AM the next day. Tomorrow roles around and I have a meeting at 9 AM that runs long. I get to the store at 10:13 AM. Keyboard in hand, I’m told appointments are canceled after 10 minutes. The associate says we can schedule another appointment, today isn’t as busy as yesterday.

At this point, anyone with blood coursing through their veins knows what happened next. I asked what it would take to walk out of the store, right now, with a working keyboard. The associate must have seen the frustration on my face (not to mention, my meat hooks around her neck) and said she would go talk to her manager. It took 10 minutes, but she came back with a new keyboard that was then exchanged for my non-working one. Kudos again to the people working at the store.

If you are going to use an appointment system to talk to so called “Geniuses,” fine. If you need help with using your computer, that is a valid hurdle to get over for using that service. But to make returns and warranty work use that same system is completely ludicrous.

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