There are few things I enjoy more than using my Apple products. I've come to almost dread going to my local Apple store however.
The number of people working at my local Apple store is a bit overwhelming and I'm not the type of person that deals well with being constantly assailed by people who want to "help" me.
I went there recently because I wanted to buy an iPad charger. I really enjoy using the Apple store iPhone app to buy things, but it seems that lately, I'm so overrun by overly enthusiastic clerks who insist on walking me through my entire experience in the store, I rarely get a chance to use it.
Within 30 seconds of entering the store, I was engaged by no less than three clerks. I realize they're just doing their job, so I don't like to shut them down, but even if you tell one of them, "no thanks, I'm just looking" or "I'm all set I know what I'm looking for" it doesn't seem to matter because invariably you'll be hit by another who didn't hear that and you'll have to explain yourself again.
The experience reminds me of Radio Shack back in the day. There was never really a chance for you to go in, enjoy the experience of the store or shopping in it without being engaged by someone who was aggresively inquiring as to what brought to the store or asking how they can help. At least in the case of Radio Shack, the stores were typically small enough that one very kind refusal of assistance to a clerk was all that was needed. They didn't hover, or you didn't find yourself bumping into another clerk within a step and a half from the first one.
Once upon a time, I worked in retail. I used to hate bothering people or making them feel as though I were hovering or trying to sell them something. It's perfectly fine for a retail clerk to ask a customer if they needed help with something, I did that all the time, but if they told me "I'm all set, I'm just looking thanks" I'd leave them alone until they reached out for help.
There's a lot to love about the Apple retail experience. I love the store layout, the bright and engaging way that products are displayed for you to use and explore, I love the app that lets me buy my own stuff and walk out with it. However, the over abundance of clerks, or geniuses or whatever they're called, and their friendly, yet aggressive engagement have been killing the experience for me lately. I want to go in, relax, walk around and enjoy the sights and sounds of the store, maybe check out a few new things, get what I need then go. If I need help, I'll ask.
I have my first scheduled "genius" appointment tonight to get a problem resolved with my son's iPhone 5 not charging. Being so annoyed with the people side of the Apple retail experience lately, I'm pretty interested to see how this will go. The last time a Apple Store genius touched anything in our house was when my daughter had them do a memory upgrade on her MBP. The machine would not boot when she got it home. Keeping an open mind this time though.
My genius appointment actually went very well. Still a little crazy with clerks all over the place. While they couldn't fix the issue with my son's iPhone, they were able to upgrade him to something new, and resolved everything very quickly. Very pleased.
If you compete with Apple, I think there a plenty of great opportunities to lampoon a range of things about the company; it's products, services, the untucked shirt hipness of their events, their retail experience :-). If you're going to do it though, do it right. When the ads lampooning your competition are as cheesy as your products, there's a problem...