We have five iPods for various purposes in our house, of differing ages and types — which means that we also have three different, non-compatible cords to connect the players to the master computer’s USB port. It’s an annoyance, but I’m used to it.
When we went to Florida, I forgot to bring the cord that I needed to charge the iPod Shuffles that Marcia and I use for gym workouts. We happened to stop at a mall for a brief shopping trip, and there was an Apple Store there, so I popped in to pick up one of those cords, just to have a spare.
The customer service experience that followed was singularly annoying and unproductive, as the plethora of sales associates milling around the store seemed more interested in playing with gadgets than helping or directing walk-ins — to the point of literally making it hard for me to get to the self-service wall rack for small Apple items.
When I could not find the cord I wanted on the wall rack and eventually got a service associate’s attention, I was told that they don’t sell those particular cords on their own, so I would just have to buy a new Shuffle to get one.
I expressed incredulity at the shakedown element of this scenario, at which point the associate tried to sell me a more expensive iPod instead, because the connector cords for that iPod are (for now) more readily available in Apple Stores. I told him I did not want or need another iPod, so instead he offered to provide me with an iPad tablet demo, thinking maybe I’d want one of those instead.
His affect was smug throughout, treating me like I was stupid and slow, apparently because I was not willing to wait in line to play with the latest hot technology being offered in the Apple Store. No, I just wanted to buy a cheap little gadget related to what he clearly considered to be an out of date Apple appliance, which apparently rendered me worthy of scorn and pedantry.
But I needed neither of those things, so I left, and I posted a few annoyed notes on my Twitter feed soon thereafter. Here they are:
In Apple Store, trying to buy an iPod Shuffle-to-USB cord, experiencing the most self-indulgent, inefficient sales model EVER. #appleyuck
I do not wish to join your cult, Apple, but only to buy a small accessory that will allow me to keep using your product. Y U NO sell me one?
I do not wish to chit chat, nor take a seat, nor am I in the market for a tablet. How about listen to your customers as a model, Apple?
In summary: Apple Store = dismal retail failure, filled with smug, unhelpful Mac disciples, spouting propaganda. No thank you. #applefail
Note well that I did not tag any of these tweets with any of the official or common Apple-related hashtags. Within minutes, however, I had three separate people, all in Italy (where it was the middle of the night, mind you), none of whom have ever before followed or commented on anything at Indie Moines, ever, jump down my throat about how wrong I was and how good Apple’s customer service model is.
Hmmmm. You can also note well that I have fewer than 150 followers on Twitter, so it’s not like I’m a big cheese with a wide reach on such matters, especially not in late night Italy.
This almost instantaneous barrage of pro-Apple tweets reeked obviously of poorly-managed paid social media damage control and/or of the cult-like behavior that zealous Apple devotees often demonstrate. I’ve been online and using social media longer than probably 95% of the people on the Internet, and I’ve never seen anything quite as clumsy as this.
Has anybody else ever had similar experiences when criticizing Apple in a public forum? Could they really be that protective of their brand and consumer perceptions of it, but also that clumsy at managing it?
(Note: Please don’t answer if it’s the middle of the night in Italy, and you’re on the Apple payroll. Thank you).