My Apple experience

I have overcome many cultural differences in England over the years. I don’t feel discrimination in my everyday life, generally speaking.

This afternoon, I visited the Apple store in Southampton. I’m the kind of person who shouldn’t have bought an iPad, as I used it mainly to check emails and read digital newspapers.

My iPad kept shutting down recently, so I took it to the store. The Apple store was heaving with people. Some Apple men in red shirt were standing at the entrance to welcome customers and give them guidance. They act like GP receptionists. If you’ve ever tried booking an appointment with your GP, you know you very much need to impress the GP’s receptionists first. If you’re lucky enough to impress the receptionists, you get to see the GP on the same day, otherwise you’ll get seen 3 and a half weeks later when your GP returns from his exotic holiday when you’re half dead.

The Apple store had a worker with the build of a bouncer at the entrance. A young lad passed me to this bouncer as he was the technical man. I opened up a webpage, in less than 2 minutes, he told me, “I can’t see any problems. There’s no problem as far as I can see. Everything seems working fine…” Yes, sir, there has been a problem, for months, otherwise I wouldn’t have made the tedious trip in this foul English weather to this overcrowded store. While my iPad works now doesn’t mean that there isn’t a hidden problem that hasn’t shown up in the past 2 minutes.

Without further diagnosis, he told me I needed to update the software, as my iPad was running on an old version. Here comes the crucial point, we couldn’t perform the upgrade from home. We had tried many times. That’s why I came to your store.

“If that is the problem, you need to show us the print screen that you could’t upgrade.” He also asked me to go home, to go online, book an appointment and come back again to the store.

This level of customer service was beyond belief. In his tone of voice, there was no warmth, no care. There was no eye contact. There was a total lack of gentle human touch. Needless to say he didn’t go that extra mile. He didn’t invite me to the store for a nice cup of tea.

I left with confusion. I’m not a technical person, but I felt from his tone of voice that his answer was not good enough. His attitude wasn’t right. He simply fobbed me off. I continued hanging around in the shopping mall for a while, wondering why and how I deserved being treated like that.

I had these questions in my head repeatedly, “Could it be I’m a woman that he looked down on me?” “Because I’m Chinese?”

I don’t feel discrimination in my everyday life. However, sometimes discrimination is so subtle. You can sense it, with a tone of voice, with a nonchalant look.

Half an hour later, I decided to hit the store again. I simply couldn’t leave this matter unresolved. This time, I ignored the bouncer at the entrance, crushing all teenagers to the ground and marching straight to the back of the store. There I saw at least 5 red-shirted people. I spoke to one lady with exactly the same problem that I had explained to the bouncer earlier. She took my iPad over, explained to me that it was an old iPad and might just need a complete upgrade. She updated the firmware (please don’t ask me what a firmware is) for me immediately. Everything was sorted in less than 10 minutes. She was efficient. She was smiling throughout. There was warmth in her manner.

Luckily my Apple experience today had a happy ending, thanks to the sweet lady at the back of the store. I asked my husband what he thought of me being mistreated by the Apple bouncer. He explained that some technical people wouldn’t like to deal with you if you couldn’t use technical language. “And, you’re a woman didn’t help.”

Top Ten Scariest Receptionists (by The Laughing Housewife)

I’m a tad grumpy (by The Laughing Housewife)

23 thoughts on “My Apple experience

  1. kerenbaker

    Hmmm. Not impressive. At least the end result was a more positive one. The first guy could be just been grumpy and lacked basic customer service. Apple has been normally good for us. It might be worth ringing them if you ever have a problem again or even booking your appointment online- you can do that; I did! Hurrah for your perseverance and getting it sorted !!

    1. Janet Williams Post author

      Thanks Karen for your sympathy. Why having a grumpy bouncer at the door on a Saturday morning?

      To be honest, my love for Apple is moderate, and I’ve no intention for any more Apple gadgets. My latest purchase is a PC for my son.

  2. keiththegreen

    I had a similar experience with Apple a few years ago, got the oh your a windows person, with the same tone as if I had a contagious disease. Haven’t considered Apple since in any product category, and have met others who have had the same experience. I’m not saying all Apple people need customer service training, glad to hear your issue was resolved.

  3. friendlytm

    I would have asked to see his supervisor in the first place. Nobody should endure bad customer service anywhere, business or government. He needs to be reported. Otherwise there will be no improvement. I wonder if there is a consumer satisfaction survey which is a protocol for any business. I am also an Apple customer. I never saw any emails or letter asking for consumer feedback. This is not good. I remember when it’s iOS had problems, there was a separate forum to talk about the problems. I guess nowadays customers are soooo fond of Apple products, that they will always forgive anything they have encountered!

    You husband ‘s comments reminded me to write a post …too much to say here.

    About discrimination, there is discrimination everywhere. I am a Chinese American woman in San Francisvo. While it is the most diverse and liberal city, there is still discrimination. Just have to stand up for yourself and don’t be afraid to defend your right. There are many stories, another human right subject to write…

    1. Janet Williams Post author

      Thank you for your advice. You’re right. Everyone should be treated fairly.

      However, sometimes I may think, life is so short, do I have the energy to fight every single battle?

      My husband is a technical man. He simply explained what he thought was true on a man’s mind. He told me he understood that some technical men didn’t like to deal with women (presumably non technical women). To be honest, a few years ago, I had a problem with a new car that I’d just bought. When I took the car back for checking,
      the engineer talked to me in a way that he wouldn’t do to a man, or a native speaker. His tone was belittling. I politely told the engineer that I know a lot of technical things about car, to stop him belittling me.

  4. todadwithlove

    I totally agree with friendlytm. There is discrimination everywhere. I am a Chinese living in Australia — one of the most multi-cultural countries in the world — and discrimination (racial or gender) is ever present. Sometimes it’s subtle, other times blatant. Like friendlytm says, we just have to assert ourselves and defend our rights. My laptop has just given up ghost; I was seriously considering an Apple Macbook. Now, I am not so sure. Thank you for sharing.

    1. Janet Williams Post author

      Discrimination and insensitivity. The other day, someone described Chinese as ‘chink’ in a newspapers. I was appalled and replied that it was unacceptable. Even today, some rude people still showed certain gestures referring to Chinese.

      In terms of Apple products, we have a few Apple products in our household, but we normally buy them from John Lewis, not directly from the Apple store. However, when problems arise, you still need to return to the Apple store in the end. To be honest, a less than perfect customer service has put me off Apple at the moment.

  5. ShimonZ

    All people are different. The first man that served you didn’t have enough patience, or wasn’t eager enough to serve. It could be that he had a stomach upset, and couldn’t wait to go to the toilet. There’s no point in guessing whether he doesn’t like women, or doesn’t like Chinese. Fortunately, you found a gracious woman in the same store, and got the service you needed. That’s what is important in this story, so far as I’m concerned. Hope you continue to meet gracious and warm human beings… and that you have no further problems with the Mac.

    1. Janet Williams Post author

      Dear Shimon,

      I like your common sense and wisdom. I knew that the man simply wasn’t the best candidate for customer-facing job. Perhaps his pet dog was ill that morning. However, I couldn’t help wondering that there could be other reasons at play for his not-so-perfect attitude. The reason I felt discrimination was that the scenario was very similar to a few of my experiences before. Discrimination can be very subtle, though you can’t really explain it, you feel it. I don’t normally moan about my everyday life, but this incident was interesting for me to explore further, and hopefully I don’t sound like a boring soul.

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