Saturday, February 21, 2009

Apple of my eye

Regular readers of this blog definitely know two things about me: I'm a stickler when it comes to customer service and I really, really do not adapt well to change. Those two things have successfully kept me from buying a desperately needed new computer for writing for over a year now. Every time I walked into a store, I was slammed by the reality that once I bought something new I'd actually have to learn how to use it. Add in the sales clerks who didn't seem capable of speaking plain "computer for dummies," and I was right back out the door.

However, last weekend both my email computer and my work computer -- don't even ask --started doing enough weird stuff that I decided I really needed to bite the bullet and go shopping. And since I already more or less knew what was out there in the Windows world, I decided to try an Apple Store for comparison. Oh, my!!!! To the astonishment of the brave friend who went with me, I actually left with a new system...and in a cheerful frame of mind...all in about an hour.

Now keep in mind that I haven't actually turned the computer on yet. I could be screaming my head off by this time next week, but I have survived the intimidation and annoyance phase of the process thanks to a store that actually knows how to treat its customers. Hallelujah!

From the moment I walked into the spacious, bright Apple Store at Aventura Mall in Miami, I knew I was in a new computer world. Greeted by what they referred to as a concierge, I was quickly introduced to a sales person who wanted to know exactly what I needed, then walked me through the process of using an Apple to accomplish that. Danny -- a saint in my book -- talked in plain English and never once implied that I wasn't the brightest bulb on the planet because I didn't have a clue about much of anything technical. Sure, he showed me applications I'll never in a million years need or use, but they were very cool. And for a minute there I honestly thought I could figure out how to use them.

He also pointed out their Genius Desk, which can problem-solve on-site. He told me the Apple tech consultants on the phone are here in the U.S. Both were very reassuring things for someone like me who may need a lot of help when I actually turn this new computer on.

And once I'd made my laptop selection, added in the wireless mouse and keyboard, one of the store managers -- Liz -- brought out the computer, introduced herself and told me to please call if there was anything at all I needed.

The entire experience was amazing, and a bit surreal compared to prior experiences in other stores. As a testament to the fact that this kind of customer service works, the store was packed on a weekday afternoon despite the state of the economy.

Sometime in the next week or so I will actually turn on the computer and install the word processing program and attempt to write something. I have high hopes. But even if something goes awry and I can't figure out what I'm doing, not only do I have other staunch Apple converts among my friends, but Apple geniuses besides! Oh happy day!

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Blogger still karibear said...

I love my computer [most of the time]. I have friends who have Macs who tell me I should switch, but it would be a nightmare - I have 2 hard drives with a total of 41 gigs of memory, and about half of it is taken up with files and stray programs, many of which I actually use. If I were to switch to a Mac, if would have to be able to import all my DOS-based files, and all my Windows based programs. Since I haven't heard of any Mac that does that so far, I'll stick with what I have.

As for the out-sourced tech support, I've had remarkably good luck with that. When I had problems with my ISP's connection last summer, the US-based support techs could only tell me that according to their equipment, my connection was fine and running at full speed - they just didn't believe me when I said there WAS no connection, I couldn't get on line at all. One of them told me to delete all cookies and that should fix the problem - trust me, if you do any financial stuff on line, you'll have to call each and every institution to have them reset your account if you do that. You do NOT want to delete all cookies! Finally, one of them gave me an 800 number that took me first to the Philippines, where I had a nice conversation with the young man answering the phone until I was transferred to another young man in India. They both spoke better English than the American techs I'd been working with to no avail. And the one in India knew exactly what was wrong and walked me through the steps to fix it, slowly and carefully enough so that I was able to continue doing the daily fix for a couple weeks until I finally decided to get rid of the anti virus program that was causing the problems.

BUt my lovely old computer has been rebuilt so many times it isn't funny, and it was never intended to have so much memory available. It is developing a serious case of the slows, and I guess one day I will have to replace it, but I'm not looking forward to that. Just to make it more interesting, I need a big monitor so I have room to enlarge the font enough to read things.

Besides, I've been using computers since before the first Windows program was released, and I just plain don't want to have to relearn stuff I already know. It's like taking a sideways detour, instead of moving forward.

February 21, 2009 4:19 PM  
Blogger Sherryl said...

Kari, you hit on many of the reasons I've been so slow to change. I know how to make my old computer function and it's just like the one I had before that, with the same Windows software. Sadly, they don't make that software anymore, so I was up against a wall. I had to make some kind of change and believe me, I resisted. I have friends who thought I'd baby my old computer to the grave -- its or mine.

February 22, 2009 4:05 AM  
Blogger Ettabug said...

However, to be fair, remember that customer service varies from time to time within a location, and especially within the corporate organization.

I have to share that I have had some extremely poor service with Apple as well - to the point that I almost walked away from Macs altogether.

This is more shocking when it is understood that I am a life long Mac user. I grew up with Macs, and have been a life long devoted fan.

I had an employee tell me that I was imagining the problem with my computer when it didn't immediately replicate for him.

I don't care that it was a busy time, I scheduled an appointment and made the hour long journey to the nearest Apple store, only to be treated like I didn't know what was happening with something that I have to use everyday.

Unfortunately, this has not been my only negative experience. I guess the fact that I have had to travel quite a distance each time, only makes the experience more poignant and upsetting.

I could write off one negative experience, but a series at different stores has seriously led me to question my loyalty to Apple.
All dealing with the same bloody problem none the less, it has come back four times in six month intervals. This has been hugely problematic as it seems to hit finals with unerring regularity. Thus, I am questioning the value of fixing it, yet again. While I still love the product, I don't know that I will continue to make the same choice (Apple) in my future. Especially as my usage is shifting from being tied physically to one computer to more of a cloud style of computing, in part due to the unreliability of my computer.

March 1, 2009 10:47 PM  

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