Has your experience at the Apple Stores worsened indeed?


Apple has been expanding its retail presence like crazy in the past few years as its iPhone, iPad and Mac sales exploded. There are now 500+ Apple Stores, and tens of thousands of employees that work in retail for Apple.

The change of strategy, however, has been to build the Apple Stores as a branding vehicle - they are in some of the world's poshest places, like the recently opened 114 Av. des Champs-Élysées, 75008 Paris, France shop that is housed in a magnificent old building with kaleidoscopic solar roof tops. 

Apple also uses its stores to showcase breathtaking design decisions that often blend historic architecture with futuristic, all-glass lunges, and various funky accents like said kaleidoscopic roof. What it doesn't use them much for any more, it turns out, is its signature five-star customer service. 

A recent Bloomberg piece described a patchwork of experiences from customers who simply wanted to walk in and buy something - from 20-minute credit card payment session, to chasing retail employees to run said card only to turn out they are Geniuses who don't deal with point-of-sale customers.

We've been hearing this "long on loyalty, short on pay" mantra about Apple Store employees since at least 2012, yet the stores and staff in them are now many times more numerous with the consequent misses on the customer-centric aspect. It looks like the hiring of Angela Ahrendts to manage Apple's retail presence was long on glamour, short on substance, as could be expected from a former Burberry CEO.


Right after Apple's holiday quarter profit warning, Tim Cook replaced Mrs Ahrendts, who was one of the highest-paid execs during her stint at Apple, with a company veteran, Deirdre O’Brien. Needless to say, the problems in the Apple Store didn't start with Angela Ahrendts but were rather exacerbated by Apple's push into many new businesses and accessories like smartwatches and AirPods that were missing from stores months after they were announced, or the recent foray into services that will require retraining to sell subscriptions and the like. According to one of the Store employees interviewed: 


Apple's newest magnificent store that opened over the weekend, is situated in the Carnegie Library in Washington D.C., and is the 505th retail shop of the company. That many Geniuses simply can't all be trained at the headquarters in Cupertino like they used to be, and are now given sessions at the stores where they will work, and for a week at that, not the two or three weeks of training they had before. Moreover, the Geniuses earn about $120 on average for the day after taxes and deductions which is more than, say, a T-Mobile store rep, yet often not to the level of the prompt and personalized service they are expected to provide.


Add to these the reduced space of the Genius bars, whose staffers now have to chase customers waiting for their gear to be fixed, throughout the store, and one can easily see how converting the Apple Stores into hang-out places has backfired somewhat on the clean cut buy-or-repair approach that Steve Jobs reportedly favored. 

This is why we wanted to ask you of you have noticed a similar decrease in customer-centric focus upon your visits to your local Apple Store in the past few years when the breakneck expansion of their number was joined by an overhaul into hangout places and Today at Apple session meetings.

Has your customer service experience at the Apple Stores worsened indeed?

Yes
70.29%
No
29.71%

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21 Comments

1. iloveapps

Posts: 909; Member since: Mar 21, 2019

Apple fans: No Android fans: Yes

13. oldskool50 unregistered

Apple fans: Lie Android fans: speak truth. Apple fans: Cry Android fans : laugh @ them.

14. domfonusr

Posts: 1092; Member since: Jan 17, 2014

… perhaps for those who like to deal in absolutes and broad-brush generalizations...

2. Papa_Ji

Posts: 873; Member since: Jun 27, 2016

What is apple store ???

7. iloveapps

Posts: 909; Member since: Mar 21, 2019

Its the one Samsung experience trying to copy.

21. jasrockett

Posts: 127; Member since: Oct 05, 2011

Exactly, there's millions of computer stores and phone stores. Never been in an iStore. Voted yes anyway cos the wankets s**t me

3. LawnBoy

Posts: 203; Member since: Feb 23, 2019

What's an Apple store? Do they sell organic apples? Stick with Android.

4. Vancetastic

Posts: 1703; Member since: May 17, 2017

It’s hard to say, exactly. We have two Apple stores near us, and the experience at one of them was awful, but the other was just great.

9. tedkord

Posts: 17453; Member since: Jun 17, 2009

There's always going to be variation between different stores in a chain. It depends on the quality of the employees and the quality of the management directing those employees.

20. Vancetastic

Posts: 1703; Member since: May 17, 2017

I think location has something to do with it, too. The one with lousy service is in a “hip” part of town...

17. ph00ny

Posts: 2066; Member since: May 26, 2011

Some of the mall locations have always been hit or miss in terms of apple store experience. Had to bring my wife's mbp in for battery replacement only to find out that battery is glued to the top of the case and needed top cover to be replaced... luckily apple care was still active on the laptop

5. stijnvbml

Posts: 76; Member since: Feb 20, 2013

My experience in the Apple Store in Amsterdam, where I live, has been consistently good. Great service, competent people and short waiting periods. In US Apple Stores (been to 3), the service always seems to be rushed and employees a bit rude.

6. Whitedot

Posts: 859; Member since: Sep 26, 2017

"Geniuses" sounds very, I mean very pretentious.

8. tokuzumi

Posts: 1951; Member since: Aug 27, 2009

I think the experience depends on whether you are a walk-in, or made an appointment. The store is always crowded, so if you are just passing by and decide to walk in, I would expect your experience might not be great from a customer service perspective. However, if you made an appointment, you are usually taken care of very close to your appointment time.

10. tedkord

Posts: 17453; Member since: Jun 17, 2009

I didn't vote because the last Apple item I bought was the iPhone X, and that was a pre-order online and pickup locally. But I do think in general there's been a decline in customer service in the US in retail stores, and I think that's due to constant downward pressure on costs, affecting pay and hours. It's human nature to match your effort with the reward, especially if you put the effort in and don't see the reward increase. 35 years ago, when I was a teenager working in retail, the minimum wage was $3.35/hr. Today, it's $7.25 (more in some states). How much effort do we expect for poverty level wages?

16. oldskool50 unregistered

Isn't that sad? In 35 years, minimum wage has only double. While the price of living had more than quadrupled.

11. NateAdam8

Posts: 439; Member since: Feb 17, 2012

Don't know haven't been in one.

15. oldskool50 unregistered

I remember back in the 90's when gateway opened stores to show their products, but you couldn't walk out the door with a computer. You had to order it and wait. That was a downside. Fast forward and apple houses and sells its own product in their stores vs other stores which sell multiple product from many major names and brands. Apple stores are boring. You already know you're goign for one thing or the other. You can't go buy a phone, and then go to another isle and by a loaf for bread. My last Apple store encounter with my iPhone 7 Plus where literally after a week, the home button and FPS simply was not working. Apple refused to replace it under warranty because they claimed by device had gotten wet. It has NEVER been in the wet whether, and those lame triggers can be cause by sudden temp changes, which living in Chicago happens quite often as you come in and out of cold weather. After spending almost $900 just days before to buy the Red one, I was very disappointed and that was my last iPhone and I won't buy another. Once i have a bad experience with a product, or brand, no matter who it is; I no longer do business with them. Apple trying to charge people exorbitant amounts of money for repairs. No quick turn-around. Discouraging 3rd party repairs by outright lying to customers and genius guys who honestly aren't smart or very helpful are more like the people at car showrooms who just tell you about what you are buying, but don't know anything else. It is sad when you ask a genius a question about how to do something on the product they are selling you, and they don't even know how to do it. That's worse then then Best Buy. The hands on experience at Apple stores is nice. But it's no different then any other store , other than being to crowded with people who aren't even buying anything. It's noisy, it's pushy, you can't just enjoy trying to really see if the device you think you want is a good fit. Or trying to learn some new features. You can't even touch the phone without people bumping and pushing and genius guys constantly bugging if you want help because they have a sells quota to meet. Every question you ask, is ended with "when you are ready to make a purchase let me know".

18. mariosraptor

Posts: 184; Member since: Mar 15, 2012

I’m an apple user, not a fan. And I say yes. It has worsened. It’s mall in every shop. If they only served coffees to make it even worse.

19. darkkjedii

Posts: 31529; Member since: Feb 05, 2011

Haven't been in one for several months, but last time it was cool.

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