I love most Apple products. I love the company culture of innovation and progress. I’m a big Apple fan. I’m not sure I’d call myself a “fanboy”, but I like the company and their products. When it comes to their retail stores, I love the design, look, and feel….but hate the store…
To be fair, it’s not just Apple stores. It’s just about any store with a semi-informed sales staff….
This has something to do with the kind of person I am. I’m a DIY kind of guy. I like to do things myself whenever I can. I either teach myself, get help from friends, or use the great reference site (GOOGLE). That’s why I love big box stores. Home Depot, Lowes, Best Buy, Sams Club. Their sales staff isn’t there to push product. They’re there to help you find the right aisle so you can choose for yourself.
Before I purchase almost anything, I’ll research it beforehand. Unlike 90% of the people that walk into these gorgeous Apple retail stores, I’m informed. I know what I want, I don’t need a “sales pitch”. I don’t want to answer your questions like “What will you be using this for?” or “How much music do you listen to?”
And for the most part, I don’t want your recommendation. I’ve researched and researched and asked all of my friends, family, and colleagues for their recommendations before walking into the store. I’m walking in to make a purchase, not to make a friend. This is why just about every Apple product I have has come from Best Buy and not an Apple store.
Upon entering an Apple store, you’re bombarded by blue-shirts asking you what you’re doing in the store today. And when you tell them the product that you’re there to get, they’ll give you a spiel about it and won’t let you buy it until they’ve done this… I’ve actually had this happen….
My parents were in town for the weekend and we were out to lunch. We got to talking about how he loves his 27″ iMac and how they’ve been looking into purchasing a Macbook Pro for my mom. After a little talk, I realized he’d done his homework (he taught me to be a DIY-er after all) and there was an Apple store a few minutes away. So we stopped in.
After being repelling the blue-shirt attack at the front of the store with “We’re getting a Macbook Pro today”, we headed over to the laptop section. I showed him the different options at 17″ and within seconds he chose “that one”.
We flagged a sales guy down and told him we wanted “that one”. After an initial look of amazement (I don’t think he hears that without a spiel first). He looked at us and goes, “OK, let me tell you about it.”. We reply with, “Oh man, don’t worry about it, we’ll just take this one.”
After fumbling around with a few more “features” the 17″ Macbook Pro had, my dad finally stopped him mid-sentence with “How exactly do I pay for this and leave the store?”
During the final sales transaction, we were bothered even with talks about software, setup, training, and accessories. By the time we left, it had been about an hour to purchase a laptop.
Between the two of us, we had over 20 years of software development experience, 10 years of database development experience, 8 years of networking experience, educations in computer science, and the majority of our lives spent on technology or IT in general. This 19 year old sales guy was trying to tell us why the product we had already decided on was “sooo cool”. We were there to buy a tool, not buy a toy.
I have no hope that this philosophy/culture within an Apple store will ever change. This is why I rarely step foot in one.
Apple caters to the masses. The masses that want the “next big thing”, the “shiny” toy, and “what everyone else has”. This isn’t going to change. These stores are packed with people that want to be told what to buy.
Scott Adams (the creator of Dilbert) had it right when he said, “You can never underestimate the stupidity of the general public.” Apple knows this and has designed a retail store to take full advantage of that fact at a disservice to the DIY culture.
That’s perfectly fine with me, as Best Buy continues to honor my Reward Zone gift cards! 🙂