For Christmas, my parents bought me a $50 gift card to Apple, thinking I could use it online. Wrong! So Monday, I go to the Willow Bend store, (which I'm already reluctant to go to from a prior lame experience, but it's close to the clas I'm cutting out from early), and try to use it along with an AmEx gift check (present from HP) to buy an Apple keyboard (see below) and an overpriced iPod holster. I ask at the beginning of the sale, can I use both of these? Sure! Oh, she's a trainee. She asks for help because she's locked out of her POS terminal.
Supervisor does something to it, tells her to make sure I sign the check twice, since it's blank. After I fill it out, he cuts in, and asks if I'm sure the card is $50. Then I ask, won't it tell you? And he said, well, if we put in a number that's too high for it, it won't accept it. So I'm already worried that my parents gave me a higher value card, I forgot the right number, and the extra is about to be eaten. (turns out it was $50, but I'd think the system should have just pulled that info on its own.)
So then he asks me, is it okay if I use the check, but leave some money on the card? No, I say. The whole point why I had to come to the store was because Apple didn't accept their own card at their own online store. I really would hate to have to come back, when I already had to think of something overpriced to buy just to empty the card... Hm, okay, he says, we can probably give you cash. So then some other guy standing around gets asked if they can give cash back from the AmEx check, to which he says sure! No problem. So finally, it works out. I feel really guilty about spending $40 for an iPod case as soon as I leave the store (no kidding, there's gotta be an RDF) but keep walking. I've already had a seemingly schizophrenic Apple experience returning something before at this location, and I don't want it again.
Okay, so a few days before this, I get a $30 coupon in email to buy something, along with my education discount. So I decide to go ahead and spring for a mac mini. I decide I will buy an official Apple keyboard at the retail store later, to use the card my parents gave me, since I can't use it online. (see above) Actually I originally decide to buy the combo keyboard and mouse, but I realize later I have a decent Wacom tablet with mouse I'm not using, that I can plug in for the mouse. So Thursday morning, maybe 3AM, I order the faster mini, stock except I decide to pay for the 512MB upgrade. Before I put the memory upgrade in, it says one day expected shipping time. After, it says 1-3. $643 for the fast mini with the 512MB, @$30 off and my edu discount. Yay.
So today, I get an email saying Apple can't meet their ship window (it ended yesterday), and I can change or cancel until they ship, which is projected to be by the 24th... I'm not happy about this, so I call the number in the email and ask to change the order to just the stock fast mini, so I can get it faster. No problem, she says, though it takes her 10 minutes to actually figure out how to do it. She then quotes me a price of $624, and says the target date is now the 27th. What? Do I still have the $30 coupon and the edu discount? Yes, she says, of course. I thank her, and ask if the delays are because they may be shipping 10.4.2 with the machines? She says she has no idea, they never get told the reason for the delays. I thank her and hang up.
So then I go back to my desk to check the order, to see why losing the upgrade only saved me $19. Well, she erased the coupon, despite what she said. So I have to call back. I don't even want to think about the extra delay in getting my mini, I'm just upset about the money at this point. I either want the $30 off I was promised, or I want to cancel. I'm already thinking how I will have to repack the keyboard and might as well return the iPod case, but that I'll go to the Knox street location, where the people are actually friendly. (Knox to Willow Bend is like Austin to L.A.)
So I call, the wait time is longer, then I get someone who repeats my order number about 4 times before finding it. When I explain I had a coupon before, and it got lost when the order was revised, he looks, asks me if I placed the order online or over the phone, then finds my coupon # after about 5 minutes and reads it back to me. Then it takes him almost another 10 to finally say it's fixed. New total price: $594.29, though he doesn't give me the new total, just says, if I want to go look again, he put the coupon back on, so the mini is $549 now. Looking now, it's still the 27th. I can tell I'm his last call of the night, ending at 10PM Central; he doesn't confirm the ship date. I don't ask. We both are glad to hang up.
1) I know I must sound cheap, but $30 was 5% of the price of the properly revised order, and I'm a poor college kid. My decision to pull the trigger now, instead of later, was based on that extra discount.
2) I hate the hassle I get at that particular Apple store, too. When I walk in, they're indifferent at best. I'm shaved, showered, just came from school. I'm not wearing designer clothes and I'm fat, but that should make me look just like the average Apple developer. They don't know, or don't care, that this costs sales. I'm trying to throw money at them, and they don't want it from me, is what it boils down to. (The people at the Apple store on Knox don't care how I look, they smile and try to help, they don't have to be hunted down and asked, so I don't think this lookist attitude is universal.)
3) I am disappointed that Apple's systems don't talk to each other, so I can't use my Apple gift card online. The sign in the store says "think of all the ways you can use your Apple card," but it's only one. Oh, and my parents are upset, now, too, because my mom says she was promised that I could use the card online, before she bought it. Nobody likes being lied to when buying something, nor of causing the recipient of a gift hassle.
4) The inventory and ordering systems available to the phone personnel are also apparently quite slow and labyrinthine, or I just had slow agents both times I called. They didn't sound inexperienced, though, so it's probably not their fault.
There's lots of other things I could have added here, about how I would have handled things as an Apple rep had I been on the other side, but it would narcissistic to explain how I'd have done things differently, and made the customer feel like I cared, either on the phone or in person. Let's just say that, I understand being dumped at the back of the line for revising my order, even though the first agent seemed to agree I might get my order faster if I got the base model instead, but when the second agent was telling me he understood the need to get my unit soon since classes had already started, it would have been trivial to offer to upgrade my shipping, because of the inconvenience with the missed ship date and everything else, don't you think? I didn't feel like I should ask for that, but at the same time, it's what I wanted to hear. It's the sort of thing I gave people when I had a similar job.
No offense to /. friends who work for Apple, or like them, but I think Apple service in general is lame, especially for a company that touts itself as being premium quality. My in person "Apple experience" is usually bad, and nobody at Apple seemed interested in improving it either this time or in the past. It's only my friends who keep me convinced that the hardware and OS are worth this. Oh, yes, I won't bother writing Apple about it this time, because they ignored me the last time I wrote about that store and their service. I'm just going to whine about it here.