No one panic, but I spent about $5300 at the Apple store last Friday on a plethora of Apple computers and other devices. Thanks to partitioning software I will not be abandoning my beloved Microsoft Outlook so not to worry, Arrow-Tips will not be turning into an Entourage blog. However, my experience with Apple (the company, not just the computer) was very interesting and refreshing in a way I think even PC users might find valuable. Plus I need to clear up some facts from a Twitter #Apple rant last Friday.
It was time, time for a new computer for our family and time to broaden my expertise as a software and business process consultant. So last Friday my husband and I packed up our 2 little boys and headed to the Apple store in the Galleria. Never mind that apparently there is an Apple store less than a mile from our house in Memorial City mall because we somehow missed that fact in our excitement about crossing over into the dark side (AKA going Mac instead of PC).
Those of you who live in Houston know that a trip to the Galleria can be daunting in the best of times, but on the Friday after Christmas it is downright terrifying! Traffic is a nightmare to say nothing of parking or keeping up with young children in the crowds. And of course, not only are we going to an extremely crowded mall, we’re going to one of the most crowded stores in the mall – the Apple store.
The good news is that my husband had done his homework and we pretty much knew exactly what we wanted. Our friendly sales person Shane also knew his stuff and after hearing about our needs convinced us we needed a few additional items so that by the time we walked out each family member was carrying at least one of the items listed below:
and we also got an HP Photosmart C4480 All In One thrown in for free.
We were seriously pumped up about all this cool new stuff so despite the fact that we were expecting 11 guests for a small family Hanukkah party in about 2.5 hours, we immediately started setting up the new network when we got home. Then the unthinkable happened – our brand new iMac froze up during installation (Bad Apple #1 – our iMac).
This wasn’t our first rodeo so we did all the normal things like restart the computer, etc., but we couldn’t seem to get past one of the start up screens. We weren’t too worried though because Shane had informed us that unlike most PC support lines, Apple provides excellent phone support so we decided to give them a try.
The Apple phone support representative (Bad Apple #2) asked us to try several different procedures to get past the error which my husband dutifully performed, but to no avail. My husband was then informed that our only remaining alternative was to pack up our computer and take it back to the Galleria Apple store – it felt an awful lot like the PC experience at this point.
After all the time we had already sunk into this endeavor not to mention the fact that we were now expecting guests who were in turn expecting to be wined and dined within an hour, we did not relish the thought of returning to the Galleria. At this point, I started Twittering about our experience – I won’t attempt to recreate the twitter stream here, but if you are really interested you can check out my updates between 5:33 PM and 6:25 PM on December 26th. I will say there are some hardcore loyal Mac users out there – this tweet stream may even have generated as much feedback as the one during my husband’s US Naturalization ceremony.
Our next move was to call the Galleria Apple store and see what Shane and his manager were willing to do to save us as a customer. Shane was mildly apologetic, but really didn’t have the authority to do much other than put us on the phone with Joel, a senior technical support guy at their store. After my husband offered a few ideas for resolving the situation (including charging our credit card to send us a brand new computer and then crediting our account when the old one was shipped back) Joel (rottenest apple of them all) informed my husband that his ideas were “Utopian” in nature and would not work in our current society. Joel then unceremoniously hung up on my husband. At this point it looked doubtful that we would be moving to the dark side after all.
My extraordinarily reasonable husband then decided to give Apple one last chance to redeem themselves by calling Apple Support to complain about Counter-Utopian Joel. It was at this point that a miracle happened – Apple turned out to be the great company that inspired us to convert in the first place. This time we got a really great support representative on the phone who convinced my husband to take the iMac back out of the box and give him a chance to talk us through the installation problem.
At the same time, Galleria Apple Store Manager Theresa beeped in on the other line and did what Joel should have done in the first place. Theresa politely suggested that we take the Apple back to a store closer to us (Memorial City) and that we would find a 10% discount waiting there for us on all our purchases if the 2nd phone support attempt was unsuccessful. As it turned out, the trip to Memorial City was unnecessary since on the second attempt our iMac started up just fine. I’m happy to report that at this time all our new Apple products are up and running and we’ve even managed to get two PCs hooked into the network. Oh, and we had a great Hanukkah party thanks to our understanding and patient guests.
As I mentioned, several of my Twitter pals were shocked by the problems that we had – many stating that they had never had an issue with an Apple machine before. The point here is not whether or not anything ever goes wrong with a product or vendor because no matter how good the product eventually something will go wrong. The point is, how well does the company stand behind the product and make things right for the customer. Despite a few bad apples, Apple Inc. did just that – they made things right and kept a customer. And a customer with a particularly big mouth I might add.