April 1, 2012


So last night when I was at the Apple store at the future Destiny USA, a younger woman walked up to Bryan, the Apple person that was helping me get my new iPad set up (we were basically waiting for my backup to download from iCloud, it was moving along at a wonderful pace). She was dressed in a way that suggested ‘hipster’ but not really quite there. Perhaps it was more her glasses than anything that looked hipster. She had an air of money about her. I didn’t find her unpleasant.

“Excuse me,” she said to Bryan, “may I speak with the manager, please?”

Bryan was very courteous with his reply, “Is there something I can help you with?” I don’t know if Bryan was the store manager or if the folks at the Apple store try to field these things before calling a manager, but he was quite nice about it.

“My friends and I have been standing over there for 20 minutes and no one has helped us and I’d like to let the manager know how rude the staff is here.”

Now this kind of bothered me, because I have been to many Apple stores over the years and while I have had some employees be less enthusiastic about Apple products than I am (because, I am a nut after all), I would never categorize any Apple employee that I have ever encountered as ‘rude’. Bothered or distracted? Maybe, and that’s usually because they’re handling a line of people out the door, but not once have they been ‘rude’. Not even ‘miffed’.

“I’m sorry about your experience,” Bryan replied, “did you press a specialist button on one of the iPad kiosks to indicate that you needed help?”

“What are you talking about? The folks on the floor have helped the people all around us but never talked to us.”

I would have been one of those people. I noticed this barely hipster girl (I like the male hipsters better, but that could be due to the mustache and gay thing I have going on) sitting in front of a cinema display playing on Facebook with a couple of her friends when I was looking at the iPads. Now granted, I didn’t press a specialist button until I was shown to do so but I did make a conscious effort to make eye contact with an Apple Specialist to show that I needed some assistance. I don’t know if the woman with the complaint had done the same thing because I didn’t notice.

Again Bryan apologized for her experience at the store and said, “if you’d like, I can get a specialist for you right now.” Seemed reasonable enough to me.

“Never mind, I called Best Buy and they have what I’m looking for on hold for me now, so I’m going to go there, but I just wanted to let the manager know how rude the sales staff is here.”

This kind of bothered me for the aforementioned reasons based on my experience but the thing that really bothered me is that she was really just trying to convey an air of bitchiness. She never mentioned the product that she had on hold nor did she ever say what she was trying to get an Apple Specialist to help her with. She just needed help.

“I’m sorry that you didn’t find what you were looking for and I will relay your experience to the manager. Again, I apologize that you weren’t helped in a timely fashion.” I admired Bryan’s calm approach.

“Well never mind,” and with that she bolted out of the store. A casual observation from me noted that she headed down the mall hallway in the direction opposite of Best Buy.

Bryan and I resumed the setup of my iPad. We then had a casual conversation beginning with me asking, “So, how is it to work in the mall?” He told me that he loved working for Apple but the mall … he could take it or leave it.

I get that. Bryan and I finished up my business (and I walked out with a beautiful new iPad) and I thanked him for his help and went on my way.

I mention this little scenario because it reinforces a couple of things I’ve observed over the years: 1. Folks are in way too much of a rush these days and don’t give customer service folks the respect they deserve. 2. While many customer experiences are absolutely hideous these days, there are establishments out there that focus on a premium retail experience for the customer, and while it may cost a little more than the bargain basement crap experience you can get from a big box, it is available to those who still prefer quality over quantity. 3. Most people are just rude and some folks just look for a reason to be rude.

I learned a little bit of a lesson with that scenario last night that has put me in a better mood this weekend, a little patience goes a long way and I need to remember that.