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Apple Store - Am I doing it wrong?
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Atheist
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Jun 27, 2010, 02:02 PM
 
I know I've made my dislike of Apple Stores known but I just want to make sure I'm understanding how they are supposed to work. I just went up to the Apple Store at Reston Town Center in Virginia. As with every Apple Store I've been in, it was very busy… which I suppose is a good sign. However, I had every intention of buying an iPad but after about 20 minutes I left the store empty handed. There were about 5 employees busy with customers and from what I can surmise, there's no way you can just grab what you want and walk to a checkout counter. Didn't appear to be a checkout counter anywhere in sight. So I'm supposed to just hover around one of the employees that is helping someone else until they can sell me the iPad? Am I missing something? This just seems like an awful customer experience. I feel like I had to beg to have the privilege of buying an Apple product. Maybe that's how Steve wants it.
     
turtle777
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Jun 27, 2010, 02:12 PM
 
My experience:

At the door, there is someone greeting you.

If you tell him you want to buy something, he will find a sales person to help you, or put your name down for the next available customer service person.

-t
     
Atheist  (op)
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Jun 27, 2010, 02:23 PM
 
Interesting… I must have a habit of visiting at the wrong time because I never see any free employees.
     
turtle777
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Jun 27, 2010, 02:28 PM
 
Originally Posted by Atheist View Post
Interesting… I must have a habit of visiting at the wrong time because I never see any free employees.
How did you sneak by the greeter w/o being asked if you can be helped ?

-t
     
The Godfather
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Jun 27, 2010, 02:29 PM
 
"excuse me mister, may I interrupt?" while tapping their shoulder.
"can you help me buy an iPad today?"
     
olePigeon
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Jun 27, 2010, 02:45 PM
 
What Godfather said. Also, look for any employee with an iPhone that has a card reader on it and ask politely if they can help you check out. If they can't, they'll almost always find someone immediately who can.

Coincidentally, that's also why every now and then you hear a story about how evil Apple is by refusing to accept cash for a purchase. Some Apple Stores (it started with the iPod stores) don't even have cash registers, much less cash to provide you with change. They don't take cash because they have nowhere to put it.
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seanc
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Jun 27, 2010, 02:59 PM
 
Originally Posted by turtle777 View Post
How did you sneak by the greeter w/o being asked if you can be helped ?

-t
I do it all the time. I've found that loitering around the genius bar/entrance to 'the back' works.
     
turtle777
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Jun 27, 2010, 03:01 PM
 
Originally Posted by seanc View Post
I do it all the time. I've found that loitering around the genius bar/entrance to 'the back' works.
But you do it intentionally, and you don't ask why you haven't been helped.

-t
     
seanc
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Jun 27, 2010, 03:04 PM
 
Originally Posted by turtle777 View Post
But you do it intentionally, and you don't ask why you haven't been helped.

-t
Yes, I don't like being pestered when I'm on a mission (late) to a genuis bar appointment. Then I'll catch the eye of an assistant and tell them why I'm here.
     
Atheist  (op)
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Jun 27, 2010, 04:36 PM
 
Originally Posted by turtle777 View Post
How did you sneak by the greeter w/o being asked if you can be helped ?

-t
When I walked in the door there was about 10 people standing around a single employee… I had no idea he was a "greeter". He certainly made no attempt to get my attention.


Originally Posted by The Godfather View Post
"excuse me mister, may I interrupt?" while tapping their shoulder.
"can you help me buy an iPad today?"
I guess that's my problem then. I dislike the idea of interrupting someone else while they are in the process of making a purchase just as I would dislike being interrupted.

I feel they should have a more obvious queueing mechanism to make sure people are attended to. The greeter is a nice idea but what happens when 10 people walk in the door all at once?
     
tooki
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Jun 27, 2010, 05:15 PM
 
Originally Posted by olePigeon View Post
Some Apple Stores (it started with the iPod stores) don't even have cash registers, much less cash to provide you with change. They don't take cash because they have nowhere to put it.
What the hell are you talking about? Every Apple store takes cash, even if they don’t have any obvious registers — most US stores don’t have a dedicated cash wrap, but it is shared with the Genius Bar. Many foreign stores do have cash wraps because cash is still the dominant payment method there.

And what is this “iPod Store” you speak of? Apple did open a few “mini stores”, but they carried damned near the whole selection of a regular Apple store.
     
residentEvil
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Jun 27, 2010, 05:30 PM
 
Originally Posted by tooki View Post
What the hell are you talking about? Every Apple store takes cash, even if they don’t have any obvious registers — most US stores don’t have a dedicated cash wrap, but it is shared with the Genius Bar. Many foreign stores do have cash wraps because cash is still the dominant payment method there.

And what is this “iPod Store” you speak of? Apple did open a few “mini stores”, but they carried damned near the whole selection of a regular Apple store.
there are ipod kiosks (think vending machines) all over here. in malls, airports, etc. they don't take cash; credit card only. it "sells" all ipod versions and accessories (except the touch).
     
OldManMac
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Jun 27, 2010, 05:52 PM
 
Apple stores don't have dedicated checkout registers (except for one or two by the Genius Bar, for checks). Most Specialists carry an iPod Touch with a credit card scanner/inventory scanner in a special case, and that's what they use to check you out. If you're paying cash, they have several of their merchandise display tables that have cash drawers in them. Management only wants Specialists to use the Genius Bar POS for checks.

As for the greeter (who is titled Concierge), it apparently depends on the store as to whether they have one at the front door. Our local store did, for about a year, but hasn't had one at the front for a few months. Any Specialist who is free (which isn't always the case, especially on weekends), is supposed to help all free customers, although people are generally assigned to zones.

Getting help can be a problem, especially in busy stores, which are often too small.
     
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Jun 27, 2010, 06:07 PM
 
Just bought a new MBP battery and an Airport Express a couple weekends ago-I had at least three folks see me holding a product and "looking around hopefully," ask "Can I help you?" The first one got me lined up with someone who could get me the right battery (I have an original version MBP), and the other two made sure I was being taken care of. I did have to check out at the Genius Bar, but that's due to some wireless network problem on the (very helpful) young man's iPod Touch...

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imitchellg5
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Jun 27, 2010, 06:14 PM
 
When I bought my iMac a few weeks ago, I told a specialist who was just standing around that I wanted to buy a 21.5" iMac and he gave me a completely blank look, so I went and interrupted a busy specialist. I couldn't believe that.
     
Atheist  (op)
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Jun 27, 2010, 06:23 PM
 
I think the Apple Store works when it's not busy but the minute there's a crapload of customers (which has always been the case for me), it totally breaks down. Then everyone is standing around trying to find someone to help them.

I suppose Apple is trying to provide a personalized purchasing experience but it doesn't lend itself well to someone that just wants to run in and make a quick purchase. Gimme a shelf full of products and let me grab one and take it to a checkout counter and pay.
     
imitchellg5
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Jun 27, 2010, 06:29 PM
 
Originally Posted by Atheist View Post
I think the Apple Store works when it's not busy but the minute there's a crapload of customers (which has always been the case for me), it totally breaks down. Then everyone is standing around trying to find someone to help them.
Literally... I've been there several times on moderately busy days and the Wifi is down thus the payment system is broken (part of me thinks that's the fault of the shopping complex, there are literally hundreds of Wifi base stations).
     
stevesnj
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Jun 27, 2010, 07:07 PM
 
Originally Posted by turtle777 View Post
My experience:

At the door, there is someone greeting you.

If you tell him you want to buy something, he will find a sales person to help you, or put your name down for the next available customer service person.

-t
Well I went to my Apple store, in Cherry Hill NJ, I was stopped by a policeman and Apple employee, "excuse me sir can I help you?", ME: "Yes I want to buy a laptop" Apple 'Borg' Salesperson: "sorry sir you have to wait in that (pointing) line". Sign says: "Apple iPhone Reservation line, please wait here" ME: "okay I am here for a laptop" Apple Borg: "Sorry you have to wait in line" ME: "but im not here for an iPhone reservation" Apple Borg: "but you can't go into the store until you go through the line" ME: " a line for something I don't want?" Apple Borg: "yes" Policeman:"you have to leave sir" ME: "okay".

Yeh, I am falling out of love for my company I used to have praise for. Slowly I turn, inch by inch...away from liking Apple anymore.
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imitchellg5
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Jun 27, 2010, 07:08 PM
 
What? There was a line to get in the store? Was it a launch day? Store opening? I don't get it.
     
stevesnj
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Jun 27, 2010, 07:29 PM
 
Originally Posted by imitchellg5 View Post
What? There was a line to get in the store? Was it a launch day? Store opening? I don't get it.
Dunno, the sign on Friday, June25 said "Apple iPhone Reservations" I don't get it either but looking in the store most of the tables had only iPhones on them, it was weird.
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Jun 27, 2010, 07:51 PM
 
Originally Posted by stevesnj View Post
Yeh, I am falling out of love for my company I used to have praise for. Slowly I turn, inch by inch...away from liking Apple anymore.
Try a local Apple Reseller or Specialist.. You don't have to worry about a crowd wanting an iPhone, because Apple won't let us sell them.
     
OldManMac
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Jun 27, 2010, 08:06 PM
 
Originally Posted by stevesnj View Post
Well I went to my Apple store, in Cherry Hill NJ, I was stopped by a policeman and Apple employee, "excuse me sir can I help you?", ME: "Yes I want to buy a laptop" Apple 'Borg' Salesperson: "sorry sir you have to wait in that (pointing) line". Sign says: "Apple iPhone Reservation line, please wait here" ME: "okay I am here for a laptop" Apple Borg: "Sorry you have to wait in line" ME: "but im not here for an iPhone reservation" Apple Borg: "but you can't go into the store until you go through the line" ME: " a line for something I don't want?" Apple Borg: "yes" Policeman:"you have to leave sir" ME: "okay".

Yeh, I am falling out of love for my company I used to have praise for. Slowly I turn, inch by inch...away from liking Apple anymore.
Somebody screwed up, at your local level. People who wanted to purchase or inquire about other products than the iPhone on the first two days of launch, at our local store, were asked to wait inside the door, and the line concierge got the next person who was available.
     
Eug
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Jun 27, 2010, 10:54 PM
 
Yeah, ur doin it wrong, but that said, I don't like the Apple Stores anymore either. Too disorganized IMO. I tend to go to other Mac stores or just get things from the online store.

And then there was the time I was kicked out of an Apple Store in the US for taking pictures of the glass staircase. It was years ago, but it still annoys me.
     
tooki
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Jun 28, 2010, 05:31 PM
 
Originally Posted by residentEvil View Post
there are ipod kiosks (think vending machines) all over here. in malls, airports, etc. they don't take cash; credit card only. it "sells" all ipod versions and accessories (except the touch).
So what does that have to do with Apple retail? The vending machines have nothing to do with Apple retail. I’m not even sure the vending machines are owned or operated by Apple at all, I assume it’s a reseller.

And it makes sense for a vending machine, given that a) Americans don’t tend to carry large amounts of cash, and b) even if they did, the quality of bill reader required to accurately detect large bills is costly. Not worth the cost for the small percentage of customers who wouldn’t pay by card.

Heck, at Apple retail the vast majority of sales are on cards, which is why they moved to the handhelds. 15 employees with card-only registers is a lot less of a bottleneck than having 2 or 3 dedicated cash wraps.

Originally Posted by OldManMac View Post
As for the greeter (who is titled Concierge), it apparently depends on the store as to whether they have one at the front door. Our local store did, for about a year, but hasn't had one at the front for a few months.
For about a year now, the Concierge position is no more, it was folded into the Specialist role.
     
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Jun 28, 2010, 06:17 PM
 
Originally Posted by Eug View Post
And then there was the time I was kicked out of an Apple Store in the US for taking pictures of the glass staircase. It was years ago, but it still annoys me.
Was it the 5th Ave. store in Manhattan NYC?
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Jun 28, 2010, 09:03 PM
 
Originally Posted by tooki View Post
For about a year now, the Concierge position is no more, it was folded into the Specialist role.
While you're technically correct (and it's been less than a year), there are some Specialists who function primarily as Concierge personnel, at least in our local store.
     
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Jun 28, 2010, 11:29 PM
 
Originally Posted by Eug View Post
Yeah, ur doin it wrong, but that said, I don't like the Apple Stores anymore either. Too disorganized IMO. I tend to go to other Mac stores or just get things from the online store.

And then there was the time I was kicked out of an Apple Store in the US for taking pictures of the glass staircase. It was years ago, but it still annoys me.
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torsoboy
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Jun 29, 2010, 01:00 AM
 
I have never been into an Apple store, and based on the comments in this thread I never will be. I am more of a browse and purchase at my leisure, or a grab-and-go type of guy. I don't want someone hovering over me offering a "personalized" experience... as soon as they come near me, there goes the "personal" part of it.
     
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Jun 29, 2010, 06:13 AM
 
Originally Posted by Phileas View Post
CCS on College. Great service, no lines, nice people.
I tend to go to Carbon Computing instead of CSS, partially because parking is easier.


Originally Posted by GuyWithACamera View Post
Was it the 5th Ave. store in Manhattan NYC?
Apple Store 5th Ave.
SOHO NYC

I think that is the first set of Apple Store glass stairs.
     
imitchellg5
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Jun 29, 2010, 10:18 AM
 
Originally Posted by torsoboy View Post
I have never been into an Apple store, and based on the comments in this thread I never will be. I am more of a browse and purchase at my leisure, or a grab-and-go type of guy. I don't want someone hovering over me offering a "personalized" experience... as soon as they come near me, there goes the "personal" part of it.
No, then that's why you should go to the Apple Store, since most of us here can't seem to get help when we want it.
     
tooki
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Jun 29, 2010, 01:37 PM
 
Given that the most common customer complaint is there not being enough employees in the stores, if one of them asks if you need anything and you say you're fine, they'll move along and let you be. Lots of people browse. Then when you're ready to buy, find someone to ring you up.
     
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Jun 29, 2010, 02:02 PM
 
I walked in a couple weeks ago to the Indianapolis Apple Store at Keystone to buy an iPad. The "concierge" asked how she could help, I said I wanted a 32GB iPad, she talked into her mic and a person arrived less then a minute later with the iPad. I made the purchase right there by the front entrance. I bet I never got even 5 feet into the store. It was so quick. Any other computer store and I still be standing at the item I want to purchase waiting for the pre-pubescent kid to finish his sale of monster cable to the customer in the TV section.

Apple stores rock.
     
andi*pandi
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Jun 29, 2010, 02:13 PM
 
The times I've been in them they've been super busy. Lots of people go to play.

When I helped my dad buy a new imac a few years ago, they had a register counter with 2 stations.
     
tooki
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Jun 29, 2010, 03:09 PM
 
A few years ago, maybe. Most dedicated cash wraps have been removed to make room for more training and support areas.
     
Atheist  (op)
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Jun 29, 2010, 04:03 PM
 
Originally Posted by Railroader View Post
I walked in a couple weeks ago to the Indianapolis Apple Store at Keystone to buy an iPad. The "concierge" asked how she could help, I said I wanted a 32GB iPad, she talked into her mic and a person arrived less then a minute later with the iPad. I made the purchase right there by the front entrance. I bet I never got even 5 feet into the store. It was so quick.

Apple stores rock.
As I said, when they aren't busy the one-on-one thing works okay but once they get busy it all breaks down.

Originally Posted by tooki View Post
A few years ago, maybe. Most dedicated cash wraps have been removed to make room for more training and support areas.
Can't say I've ever heard this terminology. Is that something only those that work retail are familiar with?
     
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Jun 29, 2010, 07:23 PM
 
Originally Posted by Atheist View Post
Can't say I've ever heard this terminology. Is that something only those that work retail are familiar with?
When I worked retail it was a register, not a "wrap". Must be a European thing.

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Jun 29, 2010, 07:24 PM
 
Originally Posted by Atheist View Post
As I said, when they aren't busy the one-on-one thing works okay but once they get busy it all breaks down.
Oh, the place was packed. Lots of people playing with the gear.

The secret is to chat with the doorman/greeter/concierge. I don't "shop" at an Apple store, I buy.
     
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Jun 29, 2010, 08:03 PM
 
Originally Posted by imitchellg5 View Post
No, then that's why you should go to the Apple Store, since most of us here can't seem to get help when we want it.
I would be very annoyed at having to try to get someone's attention to purchase my item.
     
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Jun 29, 2010, 08:05 PM
 
Originally Posted by torsoboy View Post
I would be very annoyed at having to try to get someone's attention to purchase my item.
Me too. I don't want to be bothered by sales people, but when I want to buy something, I don't want to have to go out of my way to get somebody's attention.
     
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Jun 29, 2010, 08:15 PM
 
Originally Posted by imitchellg5 View Post
Me too. I don't want to be bothered by sales people, but when I want to buy something, I don't want to have to go out of my way to get somebody's attention.
This is why cash registers and traditional stores work great. You get what you want off the shelf, and then you go pay.

I also hate having to pay at the table at restaurants. Having to wait for the server to come by and pick up my credit card and then having them leave for 5 minutes before bringing it back bugs the heck out of me. I would much rather walk to the front of the restaurant and pay there.
     
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Jun 29, 2010, 09:02 PM
 
If a store is super busy, Apple does not mind if a few people leave empty handed.

Obviously, they cannot sell them fast enough.

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Jun 30, 2010, 07:30 AM
 
Originally Posted by Railroader View Post
Oh, the place was packed. Lots of people playing with the gear.

The secret is to chat with the doorman/greeter/concierge. I don't "shop" at an Apple store, I buy.
I think you've just defined the key to the Apple Store-you use "guy shopping" techniques in an Apple Store, rather than "chick shopping" techniques. Let me expand on that.

Most women "shop" to browse items and explore what they are, how they look and feel, how they may go together with other things, etc. They also research products that are not at all fashion-oriented while "shopping." Most men, on the other hand, do their research and comparisons in other ways, especially when it comes to technology items. We can look at all the specs, read all the details and compare features online at home-and away from crowds. So as with "guy grocery shopping," we often go to the store, get what's on the list as fast as possible, and get the heck out.

At the Apple Store closest to me, the crowds are almost all people browsing and fiddling with products, with few who march in and say "I want this!" The only time in recent memory that I've gone in to fiddle with a product was when my wife said "so what's the big deal with this iPad thing?" She fell in love with it right there in the store, and if they'd had any on hand, we'd have walked out with one.

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Jun 30, 2010, 09:40 AM
 
I'd say Glenn that most men figure out what they want by researching online first, and then go into the store just to maybe fiddle for a couple minutes and make sure nothing's wrong, and then buy.
     
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Jun 30, 2010, 11:06 AM
 
Most of the men I deal with, every day, know little or next-to-nothing about the Mac, when they walk in.
     
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Jun 30, 2010, 11:19 AM
 
Wow, really? I stand corrected.
     
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Jun 30, 2010, 11:24 AM
 
The guy/girl shopping style may have merit... I like to see things in person if I'm spending a ton of money. I'll buy a harddrive off the internet but want to touch and see the computer first. Maybe then I go to the internet.
     
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Jun 30, 2010, 05:26 PM
 
Originally Posted by Atheist View Post
Can't say I've ever heard this terminology. Is that something only those that work retail are familiar with?
Yeah, it’s the terminology used in some retail establishments. It refers to the type of checkout area found in boutiques, clothing stores, etc. where there’s a counter (often towards the back or side of the store) with one or more registers on it. That’s in contrast to places with checkout lanes or a cashier window (e.g. at a car dealer).

The cash wrap comprises the whole are around the registers, e.g. where bags and other supplies are kept and the credenzas Apple stores used to have.

Originally Posted by jokell82 View Post
When I worked retail it was a register, not a "wrap". Must be a European thing.
Only if California is now part of Europe!

The cash wrap refers to the counter area where the registers are set up. A cashier works at a “register” or POS (point of sale system), which includes a “till” in which money is kept.
     
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Jun 30, 2010, 05:53 PM
 
Originally Posted by tooki View Post
So what does that have to do with Apple retail? The vending machines have nothing to do with Apple retail. I’m not even sure the vending machines are owned or operated by Apple at all, I assume it’s a reseller.

And it makes sense for a vending machine, given that a) Americans don’t tend to carry large amounts of cash, and b) even if they did, the quality of bill reader required to accurately detect large bills is costly. Not worth the cost for the small percentage of customers who wouldn’t pay by card.

Heck, at Apple retail the vast majority of sales are on cards, which is why they moved to the handhelds. 15 employees with card-only registers is a lot less of a bottleneck than having 2 or 3 dedicated cash wraps.


For about a year now, the Concierge position is no more, it was folded into the Specialist role.
you asked "what is an ipod store". i gave you an example. i think it was pretty simple to see what that has to do with apple retail. its a place to buy apple products that only take CCs.
     
tooki
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Jun 30, 2010, 06:24 PM
 
Apple retail is a division of Apple. As in, it belongs to Apple, Inc. It’s the arm that runs Apple’s retail stores.

There’s no such thing as an “iPod Store”, at least not by Apple itself. Those vending machines are, as best I can find out, owned and operated by resellers. As in, not Apple itself.

In other words, all unrelated to Apple’s decision to scale back on traditional cash registers in its own stores. (The fact that the vast majority of transactions were already paid by card probably had a lot more to do with it.)
     
residentEvil
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Jun 30, 2010, 06:34 PM
 
oh, you are using apple retail as a noun. i wasn't reading it that way. a unit (like apple legal, etc). gotcha.
     
 
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