An angry customer gave Apple a second chance. Instead, Groundhog Day


Sometimes, you can’t sell a customer what they don’t want.

Sukrita Rungroj — Shutterstock

Times are hard, but not so much for Apple.

It seems like the company can do little wrong, other than not being able to release more new products and get them into customers’ hands the day after they’re released.

Recently, however, I told the story of my friend Kevin.

He has a strong self-image. He wears fancy clothes. Yes, he’s the absolute epitome of an Apple customer.

Hell Hath No Fury Like A Disappointed Apple Fan

Every one of Kevin’s gadgets is Apple. Frankly, I’m surprised he hasn’t persuaded Prada to design loafers with an Apple logo. Or Apple to design Prada loafers with an Apple logo.

His last visit to an Apple store — just before the holidays — was, however, painful.

Kevin had been eyeing a particular briefcase — designer, naturally — to complement his soon-to-be-bought MacBook Pro.

This being Kevin, he wanted the top-of-the-line MacBook Pro. Or nothing.

Perhaps I’m painting him as a not-nice person, but he’s enormously self-aware and a startlingly good friend. He’s just the way he is about, well, his self-image.

Kevin used to think Apple was his startlingly good friend until an Apple store insisted he didn’t want — well, need — the top of the line MacBook Pro.

The store had quizzed him about his needs. He explained he was the CEO of a company in the tech field and knew his needs rather well.

What transpired is that the store didn’t have the top-of-the-line MacBook Pro in stock, so the salesperson was somewhat desperately trying to sell him on something else.

Sadly, Kevin wasn’t having it and walked out of the store.

He’s Baaacckkkk

I thought that would be the end of it. I thought he’d just order one online and endure some first-world suffering.

A couple of weeks ago, however, Kevin texted me. “It’s happened again,” he said.

He’d gone to a different Apple store. He believed enough time had passed for the fanciest MacBook Pro to now be more available.

Kevin’s commitment to Apple is rather strong. Except, again, the store had no top-of-the-line MacBook Pros.

This is how Kevin described his latest encounter.

Apple store salesperson: “Well, perhaps you won’t need the top-of-the-line model. It’s very powerful, you know.”

Oh, not a good gambit. That sounds a touch patronizing.

Kevin: “Well, that’s what I need.”

Apple store salesperson: “I’m sorry, we don’t have it.”

Kevin: “What? Really?”

Apple store salesperson: “Perhaps you can look at the other models. You may not need it.”

I sensed this wasn’t going well. This blow-by-blow account wasn’t pretty. Let’s get back to it.

Kevin: “This is reminding me of a conversation where I went to an Apple store before the holidays and asked the same thing. And instead of someone being forthright with me, I get a ton of questions, as if I need to justify why I want it.”

What could the Apple store salesperson say to that?

Well, Kevin says they tried this: “We understand. It’s just that it’s [the top of the line Pro] highly customized and there are just not many ever in stock.”

Highly customized? For whom? And wait, ever?

Ever isn’t a good word.

The Unhappy Ending

This was the moment that may bring a tear. Only to absurd Apple obsessives.

Kevin produced the fancy briefcase he’d brought along in the sure — and beautifully misguided — belief that the top-of-the-line Pro would instantly slide into it.

He held it up to the salesperson. They didn’t think differently.

“They tried to tell me that I should order it online,” Kevin told me. “Then they tried to play up the idea that if I wanted it quickly I should compromise.”

Kevin was done.

An Apple obsessive whose adoration had been punctured. Twice. He’d not been rejected like this since the last century.

Please, I don’t support Kevin’s ways in all things. I know he can make a mule seem reasonable.

But sometimes, the approved sales guidelines just don’t work. Sometimes you have to look at your customer, listen and quickly realize that you can’t satisfy them.

If you can see that the customer is almost as obstinate as Steve Jobs, apologize for not being able to help him today.

He’ll thank you for it.

I asked Kevin whether he’d finally bought — or at least ordered — a new Pro.

“No,” he said. “It’s hard to get excited about it now.”

He’s stuck with his 2019 15.4 inch Pro.

It’s awful to watch love slowly die.

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