The Apple Retail Store Hates You –
I recently visited the Apple store to exchange a defective power adapter which was still under warranty. I still have the defective adapter, as it has now cost more time and effort than it was originally worth.
What I have lost is time, money, and trust in the ethics of the retail store. What I have gained is disdain for their tactics and a sick feeling every time I hear “Apple Store.”
Why don’t I just dump my MacBook Pro and go with a PC? Because my employer uses Mac-based programs and hardware and I don’t see my building replacing 300+ machines any time soon. Whether “fanboy” or “hater,” my use of Apple products for work will change very little. However, my personal purchase plans have already changed and I hope others might be spared some of the inconvienience and inepttude I experienced in my last visit:
Rather than complete a simple warranty exchange, they want me to make an appointment to drive back to the store to exchange a defective power adapter that is well within the one-year warranty. Seriously. They actually wanted to put me on “Standby” and expected me to hang around for 2-3 hours in case a “genius” became available to evaluate my power adapter and determine why it doesn’t work.
I don’t really care why it doesn’t work. It doesn’t work. My warranty says that it should work (for at least 5 more months). It doesn’t work.
After skipping us and having a lengthy conversation with two other people, the concierge finally addressed us. I showed her the power adapter and the receipt. She asked if I had my MacBook Pro with me, though it was obvious that I did not. She then said that the service department would need to attach the power adapter to the machine to see whether the problem was with the adapter or the laptop. I told her that I have already done that and that all other appropriate power adapters can be used to both power and charge the laptop, but the defective adapter does not work to charge the battery on other laptops.
She was clearly confused by this and circled us to get to her scheduling computer, where she entered my name and email address. She then told me that she could schedule a time for me to come back to the store – two days later to have a “genius” evaluate my adapter. She also explained that she has taken the liberty of putting me on “standby” in case there is a no-show or the “geniuses” get ahead and can work me in.
Seriously? I have a defective item that is under warranty. (I didn’t have to make an appointment to purchase the adapter.) They don’t even have to look it up in the big ‘ole database – I also have the receipt. I have placed the defective item, the receipt, and the original paperwork, inside the original (and quite perfect) packaging. All they have to do is go find a box that looks just like this here purty box and switch ‘em. Heck, I’d even sign my name on one of those little ‘ole return forms that some of those not-very-customer-friendly chains require – I’m not difficult.
I didn’t even say any of the stuff in the paragraph above. Instead, I said that it seems ludicrous to go through all of that just to exchange a defective item that is clearly under warranty.
The concierge double-checked with her manager and then explained to me that a power adapter needs to be fully evaluated by an Apple Genius because “the service department has parts” and they need to look at it because “they have the parts.” I reminded her that a power adapter does not have replaceable parts and that I don’t need to have it evaluated, just replaced. There is nothing to fix – they just need to exchange it. She told me that a “genius” would have to see it, since they have the service department and the parts.
On January 7, after reading the initial comments, this section is being set apart to add emphasis. I have no disagreement with a company that wants to check a device for misuse – I even say that further down. The part of the experience that was infuriating and unforgivable is here:
Again, I said that it is ridiculous to take this much time to replace a defective item that is under warranty and I turned to leave. She asked about scheduling a time with a genius and I told her (again!) that it is ludicrous to take this kind of time to make a warranty exchange.
As my husband and I tried to leave the store, she followed after us, asking if she could get her manager and whether I would talk to her manager. She then raised her voice, called out my name several times, and loudly asked whether I would be willing to talk to her manager.
Since our quiet discussion at the back of the store was being turned into a very public display in the middle of the store, we stopped and agreed.
I have no idea what their motivation could have been. The manager never even looked at the adapter or the receipt. However, she made it quite clear that the chain of command is: Concierge, Manager, Genius. From this exchange, it is clear that the manager has no actual managerial responsibilities or skills, but must answer to the great Genius Gods and must insure that every customer worships at the feet of the great Genius Gods.
Rather than exchange a defective power adapter, they wasted an amazing amount of time having a manager come out to explain to me that they need to evaluate the problem and fill out a report about the problem so Apple can see and correct the problem in future devices.
I asked why they need to perform this evaluation while the customer is in the store and she told me that if they just take an item off the shelf and exchange mine, the defective adapter will not go through the service department, but will just be thrown out and Apple can’t solve problems that way.
If you are a retailer and you have some kind of moronic policy on returns, at least give your customers the courtesy not to treat them like they are the morons. Maybe you are a cell phone company and you need to check the little magic strip to see whether I have dropped it in a toilet; Maybe you are a car dealer and you need to look for damage to the frame; or maybe you sell power adapters and you need to check to see whether my cat has chewed a hole in the wire or whether I dropped the connector into a cup of hot chocolate (yep, I did that once – different adapter – it still worked.) Whatever your needs, making up silly lines about the service guys having the right parts for your AC adapter or saying that the company needs to keep you there to determine the nature of the problem in order to save all future customers from this problem does nothing but show disdain and a total lack of respect for your customers – aka, your former customers.
The Apple Store at West Town Mall in Knoxville chose to let me walk out of the store with the defective device, rather than do the right (and SIMPLE) thing.
BTW, I wonder whether they consider the far-reaching effects of word-of-mouth. I really don’t want to get into a big, long formula, but a little simple addition of only our public social-networking contacts leaves this tale of customer couldn’t-care-less-ness reaching about 996 direct contacts on Facebook and Twitter. I have talked to enough co-workers to put this number well over 1,000.
I am hoping those 1,000 people tell their 1,000 contacts to avoid the West Town Apple Store (if they can’t avoid Apple all together!).