How the Apple Store Lost Its Groove

(Josh Centers) #1

Originally published at:

Bloomberg has spoken with current and former Apple employees about concerns regarding the Apple Store. Can Deirdre O’Brien bring back the aspects of the Apple Store that made it so successful under Ron Johnson?

1 Like
(Jolin Warren) #2

My local store doesn’t have a Genius Bar, and I much prefer it to the old Genius Bar format. There are loads of tables, and the ‘geniuses’ come to you. The staff there are friendly and helpful, so that will make a difference to the experience. Overall, though, I agree that the Apple Store has become a pretty bland experience, so hopefully we will see things change.

(David Ross) #3

In our revamped store (6 months?) you check in then get to sit on wooden cubes. Feels like you’re in a pre-school. Not everyone has the body to do such. The store employees are sympathetic but only in quiet conversation.

After the first interview you might get to go stand next to a table where they will come out and work with you.

Sitting at a cube while carrying a 27" iMac is just plain stupid. Which was me at my last visit.

(jimthing) #4

Agree, whoever thought those wooden cubes would be great for customers to sit on, should be made to sit on one all day every day for a week.
…then see what they think of them after doing so.

Of course in all seriousness, the reason they use them, is because they’re adaptable, take little space, can be used for people waiting to be served or for event audience members.

But they still suck for the user, regardless of Apple’s reasoning. :laughing:

I do hope they better organise the space by areas, so people can stop being forced to bang into each other needlessly.
(Adam Engst) #5

Furniture for coffee shops and fast-food restaurants is often designed to encourage turnover rather than to be comfortable. So perhaps that was what Apple was going for with the cubes.

(David Ross) #6

But I’m there for a repair. And will be shown to a table after someone “qualifies” my problem.

Sorry to me this is just nuts. And from what I can see everyone at the cubes is there waiting for the initial qualifying questions before they assign you to a table and actual genius. With maybe a few there for a seminar. As they juggle
their coat, purse, backpack, whatever while trying to take part in the seminar or wait with their broken thing.

(Ron Risley) #7

Wooden cubes? Sheer bloody luxury!

I recently had an appointment at my local Apple store. The person at the door said to “go stand over there and someone will be with you.” There was a mob of people standing around juggling various devices. All the seating was taken, so most of us had to stand – for over fifteen minutes in my case. There was an increasing volume of low murmuring coming from the crowd. There was no sign of “someone being with us.”

Eventually, a guy in an official t-shirt came out and asked “does anybody here have an appointment?” At least twenty-five people raised their hands, and more would have if they hadn’t been trying to keep from dropping their computers. I think it was at least another hour (and, of course, well past my “appointment” time) before I even started talking to a Genius.

Honestly, I have had far better customer service at the California DMV.

1 Like

David Ross

    May 13

But I’m there for a repair. And will be shown to a table after someone “qualifies” my problem.

I find this especially aggravating since I have to click through a multitude of screens and answer a multitude of questions before I can even get to the page to set up an appointment. And then I can’t get an appointment for about a week even though I am semi retired and can be flexible about time.

Sorry to me this is just nuts. And from what I can see everyone at the cubes is there waiting for the initial qualifying questions before they assign you to a table and actual genius.

And why does someone who already filled out the online form when they booked the Genius appointment have to go through the rigamarole about what’s wrong at the door? Can’t the door monitor just check to verify the appointment?

I think that in order to get it’s groove back Apple needs do get rid of the Groves. Restore the Genius Bars, or even better, have a designated Genius area + Bar where someone who invested a lot of money in overpriced Apple hardware can wait without having hoards of people tripping over their iMac. Even better still would be to have enough Geniuses, as Apple did in days of old when knights were bold, and Geniuses that actually knew something about anything Apple related. And it shouldn’t take more than 2-3 days to wait for an appointment.

(Simon) #9

I can’t agree more with @MMTalker. If you already entered all the information into Apple’s system, why shouldn’t the person dealing with your case be fully informed when thy get to you? Instead you have to start all over again.

Also, having to wait for several days for a reasonable slot (no, 10am on a Tue doesn’t work for most people who have to earn a salary) is just silly. Apple can do a lot to improve the Store experience. If they really care, that is.

(Diane D) #10

I have a flexible schedule and can make 10am on a Tuesday, yet I still have to wait 2 weeks. I’m not sure what happened to the stores but they are nuts these days.

I used to be able to go in mid-morning without an appointment and be seen quickly.


(Simon) #11

Apple became very popular. And the stores crowded along with that. Their popularity with customers is a great thing. But you can’t rest on your laurels. When you get that many more customers you need more staff. And when you can’t fit that staff and the customers anymore, you need to build more stores. IMHO that’s where they lost it.

Take Berkeley. Cal has something like 40k students. Most of them have at least one Apple device if not several. But there is just one modest Apple store here. Sure, there’s more in San Francisco and there’s one in Emeryville and in Walnut Creek, but by and large there’s one joint for pretty much the entire university. The place is perpetually packed.

Open up more venues, reduce the crowding, and the experience will likely get much better again. My suspicion is that Apple secretly likes the stores crowded so people passing by get the impression that’s where everybody wants to go (just like they like constrained inventory at launch).

1 Like
(David Ross) #12

They want you to sign up for Joint Venture. For $500 per year you can almost always make an appointment 30 minutes out. I see this all the time when the regular queue it days out. They WILL fit you in.

But $500 per year just for that is not for everyone.

(john960) #13

My little anecdote:
The battery on my 2013 MacBook air was finally giving out, with lots of indications. So I’m presently only 60 miles from an Apple store, so I walked in expecting to drop off my Mac and pick it up later. Boy was I wrong. First I had to have an appointment to have a genius confirm I needed a new battery. That took days, so another 120 mile round trip. I showed up, checked in, started getting text messages about losing my appointment because I wasn’t checked in. Finally someone came over wondering why I was hanging there, and she determined that I’d never been checked in. Finally got to the ‘genius’ who looked at the battery health in the about box and agreed it needed changing, and told me it would be several days. What?? I expected a quick repair. Another 120 mile round trip.
While waiting around I looked at the new MacBooks on the tables, and decided I wouldn’t buy any of them. I don’t know who Apple thinks they are serving, but its not me.
/s Happy Apple customer 1984 to 2019. Good long run.

(Paul Schinder) #14

I live near State College, PA, where my wife is a professor at Penn State. It too has 40k students at this campus. The nearest actual Apple Store is in Lancaster, about 100 miles away. (There’s an Apple Authorized dealer in town for repairs and such.) I’ve been to various Apple Stores while traveling, but never bought anything more than a cable at one. So all of these complaints are amusing, but my guess is that they’re irrelevant to a significant fraction of TidBITS readers.


In some malls I’ve been to there are also Microsoft stores that tend to have bigger footprints than the Apple Stores and are also located more prominently. They are always almost empty, with almost all the visitors a bunch of young kids playing video games that look like their parents parked them there so they can shop at other stores without having to deal with nagging.

Apple must be doing some things right.

1 Like
(Mike Salmen) #16

I’ve been a Mac guy since the '80s… arrived at dawn to be first in line when the Apple store opened in Charlotte in 2002…I still have the souvenir T shirt they were handing out.

The last few years, I’ve pretty much experienced everything crappy described above.

2 of my last 3 visits to my local (Chula Vista) Apple store have been annoying. In one case, the “Genius” told me that a particular monitor adapter I wanted “didn’t exist”. I went next door to Best Buy and bought one.

I’m sitting here with 4 Apple products, I know more about my Macs and the associate software then most of the help in the stores. So unless I just want to go play with the latest product release, there’s no good reason for me to visit an Apple store anymore.

(Tori Hernandez) #17

LOL! I’m reading your complaints and also find it amusing. I read other lists like Nextdoor AND they are complaining about long lines at the gas station and people cutting. Geez! Do we have it so good that we can’t BYPASS these nuisances, breathe and count our blessings!!! Oh! No! Now I’m complaining…,

(padrecohen) #18

Adam, those wooden cubes give people hemorrhoids. Going to an Apple Store used to be energizing. Now it’s an exhausting experience. Best to know exactly what you need or want before stepping into the chaos on the floor.

1 Like
(jimthing) #19

Microsoft stores… what are they?

Yours sincerely, Europe (lol!)

Apple must be doing some things right.

The difference is Apple has vastly more devices that need servicing or dealing with; hence are busy.
MS is still largely a software company, that sells a handful of devices itself while the majority are from third-parties.
So comparing one with the other is a rather chalk and cheese comparison.

(jimthing) #20

Do what us Brits do and form an orderly queue.
…if someone even tries to jump, they’ll be met with a lot of other queuers aggravation… people huffing, coughing, mumbling under their breath; really serious things like that! So basically nothing will happen. :slight_smile: