Originally published via Medium on April 13, 2014
Although third party Apple resellers should be getting devices into the hands of consumers, in reality they may actually be driving customers away from the company. Why? Because they’re frustrating.
When a particular Apple third party reseller opened up shop in our Apple-Store-less city several people would stop me and tell me, “Oh, we’ve just gotten a new Apple store in town!” I, like so many other Apple users, was excited to hear the news. I would no longer have to make a 300 mile round trip drive simply to visit an Apple store to support my Macbook Pro. However, my initial excitement became disappointment when I saw what they were talking about, a look-alike franchise Apple Store. Sure, the store doesn’t say “Apple Store,” or anything of that sort, but the store carries the Apple Specialist logo in place of a logo of their own and decorates itself with the large glass windows and thick wood tables synonymous with the Apple brand. To the average person, this looks and feels like an Apple Store.
So what’s the problem?
So far the idea of having 3rd party resell stores look like Apple Stores doesn’t seem so bad. In fact looking at it from an Apple point of view, one could say it makes the user experience the same no matter where you are. Aesthetically yes, the user experience is the same. Unless of course the consumer wants support. Not long after the look-alike store opened its doors did I hear a friend of my sister’s complaining of “the new Apple Store.” She had apparently been having trouble with syncing iTunes and her iPhone and excited to get to go to an “Apple Store,” went to the look-alike for support. Apparently whilst there the staff attempted to sell her a new computer, a new phone, and eventually ended by telling her they didn’t know how to help her. And that there is the major flaw, these stores are set up to push product, not support products that have already been purchased.
We need support
With the creation of Apple Stores, Steve Jobs explained his vision for a store in which, “when you went to buy a computer or after you bought a computer that if you had any questions you could ask a genius, well that’s what we’ve got.” Jobs, referring to the Genius Bar present in every Apple Retail Store today, found it a key piece of the store, Jobs wanted users to know how to use their devices, and be able to have them repaired in the store simply by bringing them into one of thousands of stores and meeting with someone that knows what they’re talking about. Of course, today the quality of these “geniuses” has fallen, but the idea behind what it is they do still remains, but something many third party resellers lack entirely. Thankfully, the chain near me has decided to start their own line of “geniuses,” referring to them instead as “pros.” But, like the above experience my sister’s friend encountered, they too are focused on pushing product.
Let’s come up with a theoretical, I am having trouble with my Macbook Pro, its optical drive has stopped working and I, being the “moron in a hurry” that I am, see this “Apple Store” and run in to the 3rd party reseller looking to have it repaired. However, the people in the store are unable to tell me what we should do. They can observe the optical drive isn’t working, but this retail chain that has opened here doesn’t do in-store service. But wait, they’re authorized service providers, aren’t they? They are as both the reseller and Apple display so prominently on their websites, but they don’t do their repairs in store, in fact in researching where exactly they do their repairs, I found a job listing for a service technician in a city where the store has neither a store nor office.
But that’s not the strangest part of the job listing. Under “Duties” the listing states that the technician must “Meet or exceed sales goals.” A service technician is required to meet or exceed sales goals? So your technicians are now also required to push product alongside your salespeople? This practice is untasteful. It is not the responsibility of the technicians who are working to repair user’s products to then also be working on upselling individuals and attempting to meet sales goals. In this way, the reseller truly looks to be taking advantage of its customers, understanding that they now hold their machine ransom. Oh, but the listing gets worse when you look at the job offer’s required qualifications:
Ability to become certified with minimal training) in: Apple Sales Training Online (ASTO) — Product Professional Apple Certified Macintosh Technician (ACMT) Apple Certified Suppor[sic] Professional (ACSP) Mac Integration Basics (MIB) Minimum 2 years of retail sales experience
Not only are they continuing to push for their technicians to become salespeople, but they also want them to have only “minimal training.” How can a technician be expected to make quality repairs on a product when all they hold is the minimum Apple online training to receive a certificate? These unprepared technicians with little to no real world experience are more likely to make a mistake whilst servicing products and inevitably leaving a bad taste in the mouths of consumers when it comes to Apple’s repairs.
In defense of 3rd Party Resellers
However not all 3rd party resellers organize their stores in this manner. In fact, I have on occasion visited a locally owned Apple resell store that does not make it their goal to push product on the consumer and provide support which is damaging to Apple’s reputation. No, rather they have good intentions in mind for the consumer that make their customers return again. Their model is the model all Apple resell stores should operate on, not only worrying about their own financial success.