Friday, December 16, 2005

Apple Store good and bad

So, as crossover readers of FFTMC know, I was on a gig in Cleveland last week: eight long days of rehearsals, recordings and concerts, with a good dose of snow mixed in for good measure. Amid the frenzy of sackbuts and cornetti, I managed to find a few hours to hit the Apple Store in Cleveland (actually, it's in Cleveland Heights, in the ritzy Legacy Village shopping centre). It was my first ever visit to an Apple store and I was suitably impressed. Every possible combination of Apple gear was on display, including several of the incredible 30-inch Cinema Displays. Until last week, I was pretty happy with my 20-incher; now I'm lusting after that monster, even though I know it's a pipe dream for at least three years. But the best part was that the guy at the genius bar fixed my Ethernet port.

I've had this iBook for over four years now and I had never previously been successful in connecting to the Internet via the Ethernet port. The first 2-and-a-half years I was on dial-up (!) so it didn't matter. In fact, I didn't even realize there was a problem until I finally gave in and got a DSL hookup last year. When I tried to plug into my modem, I got nada. Luckily, Airport and a wireless router solved the problem, but I always wondered about the Ethernet port and had always suspected that I had some obscure setting wrong. So I was gratified and relieved when the Apple Store genius showed me that two of the pins in the port were depressed and so not connecting. He took it in the back and worked some magic and voila, I have my Ethernet port back. Not that I use it, but was nice to finally know what the problem was. I left the store with a Nano for my wife and an iSight camera for my mother's future iBook.

My second trip of the week to the Cleveland Apple Store came toward the end of my stay. I wanted to get a new case for my own iPod and had some per diem money left over. So I go in and start trying out cases. Shortly thereafter, an employee approaches me and informs me in a haughty voice that their policy is that the packaging is not to be opened (I should say that none of the cases I was looking at were shrink wrapped or in sealed boxes; I was not destroying any packaging). So I politely asked if they had some demos I could try out, to which he replied with a sniff that they couldn't POSSIBLY have demos for ALL the iPod cases. I again politely stated that I didn't want to buy an iPod case without taking a look at it first and trying it out. His reply (his politeness was pretty forced by now) was that he quite understood, but that their policy (which, incidentally, was posted nowhere in the store) was that the packaging was not to be opened, because then no one would want to buy the merchandise. To which I replied that I certainly wouldn't be buying it if I couldn't open it, and walked out of the store in search of a Best Buy--where they were quite happy to let me try out as many cases as I liked.

Maybe I was just tired from being on the road and looking for something to bitch about, but my second impression was not a good one. The store had every product Apple makes on display, just screaming out to be touched and handled and explored. Why make an exception for iPod cases? They don't want the cheap third-party stuff to get wrecked? Very bizarre, to say the least.


JoviFan said...

I hope you don't mind yet another post from me, but I am interested in your opinion of Apple products and the Apple store. I bought my iMac G5 in September, on the very last day that the company was running a beautiful deal for teachers. (Free iPod mini, free Cannon Printer/digital camera dock/photocopier/scanner, free three-year Apple Care coverage, free year-long membership in .Mac). I had decided to buy a computer, and the Apple was the obvious choice. I originally had planned to buy the notebook, but the desktop was just sooooo pretty that I had to have it. Of course, five seconds after I brought it home, they came out with the new version of iMac G5 with iSight built right into it. As for the store...the people were lovely, but when it came time to fork over the free iPod mini, the woman claimed there were none left, but that she could give me the $179 voucher toward a different (naturally more expensive) iPod. I called her bluff and told her I would just order it online. She called my bluff and reminded me that the iPod mini was being phased out and that the Nano was all the rage. I called her bluff right back and told her that I am so behind the times in technology that I just bought my first DVD player ever about a month ago and would not be phased in the slightest by having a phased out iPod mini. She managed to "miraculosly" find one in the back room. I didn't appreciate the fact that she was trying to strong-arm me into buying some new pimped out iPod when there were obviously plenty of the freebies right there in the store. There is another strange looking dude there at the Apple store in Cambridge, MA. He looks like a claymation, charicature of a guy I used to date. The ex is named Tony, so of course, I have begun to refer to the Apple store guy as "iTony."
Anyway, they are a strange bunch of people in there. All the employee are these strange Mac cult members..some nicer than others.

Peter Garner said...

Jovifan. Bring on the comments! It's nice to know someone other than me is actually reading this stuff.

However, if you're looking for an objective opinion about Apple and its products, you've come to the wrong place. I'm pretty well indoctrinated, and Steve Jobs' reality distortion field has a firm hold.

It sounds like you got a pretty sweet deal on the iMac, and despite the coolness factor of the built-in iSight, a separate unit is more versatile (if you don't have one, they are definitely worth the extra cash).

As for the Apple Store weirdness, well, as I stated in my original post, I'm somewhat ambivalent myself. Chalk it up to the big business mentality. Apple is a big corporation, just like any other, and they're out to take as much of your cash as possible. Sounds like you got the upper hand in the end, which is great, but don't take it personally when they try to screw you. That's just life as usual in our consumer-oriented society.

All that said, I firmly believe that Apple makes the best computers out there. They cost a little more--though the gap isn't what it used to be--but one generally gets a better computer too. I hope you get many years out of your sweet iMac. They are truly beautiful machines