Apple UK have this grand in-store customer service thing. You can buy from any Apple staff member, who have one of these portable credit card devices. I suppose this is all part of making buying easier, accessible, organic and less structured, and probably more fun.

So, when does organic descend into chaos? When “organic” has no structure.

I will think twice before buying a product in the shop again, or maybe in this particular Kingston Bentalls shop.  Unless the store is very big, so that there is a clear definition of space for people browsing, and a clear area where people want to buy. You see, Apple’s in-store service assumes that people coming in ALL want to talk, and ask questions.  But what if you know exactly what you want to buy?  Be prepared to wait for a long time in areas where there are no queues, people bunched up hoping that they are in the “buying” group (which can be easily mixed up with the group of people hanging around waiting for their friend who’s trying to buy), and all Apple staff member seemingly busy with stuff other than making sure that the customers who just want to buy something are being processed.

What results is pure and utter chaos.  When I finally got to the front of this “queue”, I mentioned to the staff member that the store was chaos. “Oh, it’s always like this.”  Once when a child hit my son, I complained to his mother, and she said “Oh, he’s always like that.” So you know by that, that her child will hit again, because they are quite proud that their child hits. Same thing here. I think this Apple store is quite proud that it’s chaotic and disorganised.

So, like many other businesses in the UK, this particular store takes no responsibility for their in store experience. By that I mean, it’s the customer that’s always wrong.  All I can say is that their lack of processes resulted in my not having received the email receipt that they promised me for my very large purchase (not iPad), and that I had to spend the next day over an hour on the phone and web, trying to find someone to send me a copy of my receipt. (I needed the receipt for warranty purposes, or else you have no recourse.)  I was actually quite cross as I felt I was entitled to receive a receipt at point of purchase, and not have to wait a minute extra for it, compounded by the fact that they got my email wrong. And yes, it was my fault that I have a different accent and that they did not hear it properly and wrote it down incorrectly.  This is UK customer service and response in action.  After pressing the issue, they finally offered a 10% discount voucher for future purchases, but to which 3 days later, I have yet to receive. Again, another big F in my book.

Long and short of it is that I’ve been left with a bad taste of Apple, particularly around their after sales service. Try finding the phone number to the store (or for that matter the online Apple shop) to try to sort things out and it’s quite frustrating.  You keep trawling through the web page in circles.  I suppose when your product is so popular, it doesn’t matter if you cheese off a customer or two. After all, there are tons more who are prepared to purchase.

All I can say is, it’s been tremendously disappointing and totally not what I expected, from what should have been a very straightforward purchasing experience. Just disappointing.