Friday, July 02, 2010

Apple Conundrum

"In any moment of decision the best thing you can do is the right thing, the next best thing is the wrong thing, and the worst thing you can do is nothing." ~ Theodore Roosevelt
Today was supposed to be the day. The mental agony of "should-I, shouldn't-I" was finally in the past. We were prepared for bold action. I piled into the car with spouse and child and we made the half-hour drive to the promised land. We examined our proposed acquisition. We exhaustively tested its capabilities; we played with it (and discovered a must-have app called Angry Birds - you'll laugh yourself silly!). We admired it and drooled over it. Then we tried to get one of the ubiquitous blue-shirted employees to assist us in lightening our pockets to the tune of $499. Yes, we were going to buy an iPad today.

I say "were" advisedly. After futile attempts to get someone to deign to take our money, we finally lighted upon the staff member whose sole job is to take names and enter them into a digital queue for customer assistance. So we got on the list, and went back to playing with the object of our affection. My daughter played UNO, my husband played with Pages and Numbers for iPad (Apple's word processor and spreadsheet programs), and I wandered away to look at peripherals. After a while (and really, who can get too bored playing in an Apple Store?), it was our turn with an Apple Specialist. And I will say this for the customer service in Apple Stores. Every time I've been in one, we've had to wait to be helped (they're always crawling with people, even in the middle of the afternoon on a work day), but once you've finally got a Specialist to yourself, they aren't going anywhere. They will stay with you without evidencing the least sign of impatience (no matter what inane questions you ask or what tangents you go off on) until you leave the store.

We told our Specialist that we wanted to buy and iPad, and that we had a few questions about some of the functionality. She was too delighted to help us and answer any questions we might have. After playing with an iPad with her for at least half an hour, we were finally down to it. We told her we were sold, ready to buy one of the pretty shiny things - specifically, a 16GB wi-fi version for $499. And then, the letdown.

"I'm sorry," we were told. "We only have the 16GB wifi+3G ($629) or the 64GB wifi+3G (something astronomical - we didn't ask). Would you be interested in one of those, or would you like me to put you on a waiting list for the 16GB?"


After all that, after spending so much time with us and building us up, how could she dash our hopes so cruelly? And more to the point, why didn't she mention the lack of availability up front?? We missed half of the Uruguay-Ghana game hanging around in the Apple Store to buy a product they didn't even have in stock! Why isn't there a sign somewhere letting people know when they walk in exactly what they can actually buy in the silly store?

It's like the feeling that you've got a huge sneeze coming on, only for it to fade away, leaving you curiously unfulfilled. (I once read that a sneeze is the only other physical activity besides orgasm that involves your whole body - maybe that explains the disappointment...) So, our name is on a list somewhere, and we'll be notified in 3 to 30 days that we can go and pick up our new baby, with the added joy of another 50-60 minutes of driving, round-trip. (We were advised not to order through the Apple Store online, as it was likely to be much faster through the store. We'll see.) And so, we are now in the limbo of a decision made, but not acted upon, and are left feeling attenuated and annoyed. Apple really ought to be able to keep up with demand better than this. It's not like they didn't know everyone would want one...

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