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You know nothing, Jon Snow
September 23, 2013 3:49 AM   Subscribe

"Nobody misses the reference to Game of Thrones when we say that standing there at the Genius Bar is akin to standing Night’s Watch on the White Wall. You just don’t know what’s coming at you next." -- McSweeneys goes inside the Apple Store and encounters unexpected feelings at the genius bar.
posted by MartinWisse (147 comments total) 16 users marked this as a favorite

 
I’m not being ageist.

ummmmm.....

Anyway... If this guy had waited on me when I bought my first IIe, I would be using a Dell this minute...
posted by HuronBob at 4:04 AM on September 23, 2013 [1 favorite]


The last story is actually pretty sweet.
posted by DoctorFedora at 4:19 AM on September 23, 2013 [3 favorites]


The fact that 90 percent of people in Apple Stores are either senior citizens or 13 year old kids is not good for their brand.
posted by colie at 4:54 AM on September 23, 2013 [1 favorite]


Yeah, Dell and HP and Compaq and IBM can tell them all about how middle-aged people are the future of the computer industry
posted by DoctorFedora at 4:55 AM on September 23, 2013 [2 favorites]


From the contents of my Facebook feed, I can state that seniors use computers a lot these days. Selling computers for them seems like a good business plan. My father-in-law loves his iMac and mother-in-law spends half her days playing Words With Friends on their iPad. They still don't believe me though that their graphic designer son is a better support resource than I am since I'm a "computer guy".
posted by octothorpe at 5:08 AM on September 23, 2013 [4 favorites]


I'm trying to vividly imagine what kind of people could non-ironically name/call such a part of their store the "genius bar".
posted by Fists O'Fury at 5:08 AM on September 23, 2013 [10 favorites]


Tapping their feet, chewing their nails, licking their lips, they’re worried bad about something that matters to them.

Is this like breaking bad?
posted by wensink at 5:14 AM on September 23, 2013 [1 favorite]


> The fact that 90 percent of people in Apple Stores are either senior citizens or 13 year old kids is not good for their brand.

I assume it's because everybody old enough to have their own credit card and learned how to use the web while young enough to develop fluency doing so will shop online instead. The bricks-and-mortar stores for durable goods are increasingly for people who either can't or won't shop online.
posted by ardgedee at 5:15 AM on September 23, 2013 [2 favorites]


“I’m not being ageist. I love my Nana. But, here? In the Apple store? When that person with the senior citizen flair beelines at you? You know their device is broken. Or they don’t know how to use it. Or, hey, great, both!”

LOL crazy old people thinking Genius Bar employees are there to help them with their Apple devices.
posted by Room 641-A at 5:15 AM on September 23, 2013 [16 favorites]


To extend on my previous thought, I wonder if this is why the Samsung and Dell and Microsoft stores aren't quite getting it -- they're aiming at the wrong markets. Or going about aiming at the right markets in the wrong way.
posted by ardgedee at 5:17 AM on September 23, 2013 [1 favorite]


Backups, people. Make backups.
posted by brokkr at 5:17 AM on September 23, 2013 [7 favorites]


Backups, people. Make backups.

Sadly, that lady forgot to backup her husband.
posted by GenjiandProust at 5:20 AM on September 23, 2013 [5 favorites]


The fact that 90 percent of people in Apple Stores are either senior citizens or 13 year old kids is not good for their brand.

Hmmm...I must be walking by my Apple Store at the exact moment when the 20-30-somethings visit, each and every time.
posted by Thorzdad at 5:20 AM on September 23, 2013 [8 favorites]


I was actually just in an Apple store since I bought one of those buggy 2013 Macbook Airs. It was a horrible, repulsive, fascist environment, but it wasn't just full of kids and old people - the age mix was really wide.

I found the chipper servility of the staff really unpleasant to experience. And it should embarrass both customer and staffer that anyone should have the job title "genius". (I mean, the whole thing belonged in some kind of Marcuse rewrite of Brave New World.) The dude who helped me was just fine, did a good job (we'll see how the repair goes) but I felt more than sorry for him.

Honestly, I have been brand-loyal because my family has been buying Apples since 1990, but if I'd experienced this gross, over-engineered festival of happy futurist corporate bullshit before, it would have put me off the product. As is, I'm thinking I might switch with my next laptop.
posted by Frowner at 5:22 AM on September 23, 2013 [15 favorites]


LOL crazy old people thinking Genius Bar employees are there to help them with their Apple devices.

Seriously. If I didn't need to repair/replace the thing, or an explanation of how to use some part of it I didn't understand, why would I walk up to someone whose entire job is repair, replacement and instruction? "Genius" or not, you're a tech-support rep.
posted by Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish at 5:23 AM on September 23, 2013 [2 favorites]


I found the chipper servility of the staff really unpleasant to experience.

But surely that's the best kind of servility? It's an ideal, like the talking cow who wants to be eaten.
posted by biffa at 5:31 AM on September 23, 2013 [11 favorites]


Max says, “One, I could have told you this before she asked, she had it on vibrate and thought the speaker was broken. Two, she lost her email password. She thought I might know it. She goes, ‘What’s my password?’ Lady, how would I know your password? Me, a total stranger you’ve never seen before? But I’m at the Apple Store, so I’m going to remember a password you made up in your head? She asked if a manager could help.”

He’s rubbing his fingers together, which he does whenever he craves a cigarette.

“It was Gmail, whatever. I showed her where to answer security questions to reset her password. Oh, you’re welcome, Google.”

Max saves his snark for me, but that lady thinks he fixed her iPhone.


Not only that, but she was right! Take away the contempt for the olds, and what happened was that there was a problem with her system she didn't know how to handle, and the guy at the Apple Store helpfully and swiftly dealt with it.
posted by escabeche at 5:32 AM on September 23, 2013 [4 favorites]


Apple is terrible. I am their most important customer/critic, and not everything they do seems tailored to my expectations and sensibilities. Those fools need to learn to listen to the expert: me. This is why they are plagued by failure and always struggling. I'm just going to be sitting here saying I told you so until you see that I was right all along.
posted by bleep-blop at 5:34 AM on September 23, 2013 [20 favorites]


Anyway... If this guy had waited on me when I bought my first IIe, I would be using a Dell this minute...

Never, ever hang out with a bartender or waitron offshift. They're not charitable to the human foibles of those they serve when on their own time. At. All. This does not mean they are any iota less than professional when on duty, and the most scathing snarkers are often the best at their job. Customer service is a profession, not a mindset or way of life. Those who work in it are permitted to have their frustrations and unwelcome challenges, and deal with them like other professionals.
posted by Slap*Happy at 5:35 AM on September 23, 2013 [61 favorites]


Seriously. If I didn't need to repair/replace the thing, or an explanation of how to use some part of it I didn't understand, why would I walk up to someone whose entire job is repair, replacement and instruction? "Genius" or not, you're a tech-support rep.

Eh, I don't know. Working a job that combines tech support with retail has to be... challenging sometimes. You will get people who have bought expensive pieces of equipment with no real idea how to work them (or how they work; it might as well be unicorns), people who are trying to run some kind of repair scam, people who are really really entitled, and your job is to satisfy them as much as possible in a fairly constrained environment. This article seemed really mild as far as venting goes.

I have been fairly satisfied with my "genius experiences," for what it's worth, and Apple tech support in general. Now, if I could just replace all the iOS apps with the older styles which did what I wanted them to do, I'd be a happy man.
posted by GenjiandProust at 5:36 AM on September 23, 2013 [7 favorites]


This article seemed really mild as far as venting goes.

Yeah, it's not exactly vitriolic. That part in particular just seems like a waiter talking about how everybody who walks in the door is hungry or something. What's that about?
posted by Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish at 5:42 AM on September 23, 2013 [3 favorites]


people who have bought expensive pieces of equipment with no real idea how to work them

They told me it was intuitive.
posted by Segundus at 5:42 AM on September 23, 2013 [10 favorites]


The fact that 90 percent of people in Apple Stores are either senior citizens or 13 year old kids is not good for their brand.

Also not my experience. A couple years ago when their phones started to gain traction in my daughter's middle school the conventional wisdom was Apple would be out on their ass when the next great toy came along. I was shuttling a car-load of 8th graders around this weekend and I can tell you that the addiction not just to the phone but to the OS itself is really something you can't appreciate unless you spend time around it. On top of that, every one of these kids, from modest backgrounds, was pissing themselves because Mom or Dad just plunked down cash for the 5s and that meant a hand-me-down iphone was coming their way.

As for hating on the customer service ethos in the store, the Ritz Carlton analogy seems apt. If I have a need, I want it managed, not ignored. Best Buy and Lowe's seem to have the monopoly on ignoring the customer and you can see where that has gotten them. I have probably spent hours doing other things in my life that otherwise would have been spent on the phone with my parents because of the local Apple store instructors.
posted by docpops at 5:47 AM on September 23, 2013 [1 favorite]


Anyway... If this guy had waited on me when I bought my first IIe, I would be using a Dell this minute...

Never, ever hang out with a bartender or waitron offshift. They're not charitable to the human foibles of those they serve when on their own time. At. All. This does not mean they are any iota less than professional when on duty, and the most scathing snarkers are often the best at their job. Customer service is a profession, not a mindset or way of life. Those who work in it are permitted to have their frustrations and unwelcome challenges, and deal with them like other professionals.

posted by Slap*Happy at 5:35 AM on September 23

I couldn't agree more. Get a medical professional speaking candidly and you'll get a similar experience. It isn't as likely to hear a soliloquy on the magic of helping others, although this essays last anecdote hit that note pretty well.
posted by docpops at 5:50 AM on September 23, 2013 [4 favorites]


I have been fairly satisfied with my "genius experiences," for what it's worth

Same here. The first time I went to the Genius Bar with an out-of-warranty iBook G4 that suffered from frequent kernel panics, I ended up working with a guy behind the counter who looked a little like Matt Groening and met my praises of Firewire Target Mode with a polite rib about how this must be my first Apple product and that "some of us have been enjoying such a useful feature since the days of SCSI". While the hardware test was running, he kept bouncing between me and someone else who needed guidance on syncing their iPod with iTunes and treated both problems with the utmost respect and without talking down to either of us.
posted by RonButNotStupid at 5:52 AM on September 23, 2013 [1 favorite]


Apple just sold 9 million iphones this weekend. They must not know what the hell they are doing.
posted by docpops at 5:53 AM on September 23, 2013 [5 favorites]


I'm trying to vividly imagine what kind of people could non-ironically name/call such a part of their store the "genius bar".

I dunno, I'm just a random guy who knows more than average about computers, and people will often say something like "You're a genius," when I fix/show them something. To be fair, you might get the same response fixing their cars, but computers haven't been around as long so folks a a little more in awe of them.
posted by CheeseDigestsAll at 5:54 AM on September 23, 2013


Just left Apple permanently. They wanted $30 to fix a service I'm paying them $30 a year for already. I was surprised to see forum after fourm entry saying how the customer service went from first to worst. I'm using a similar service from another company now and I'm very satisfied.
posted by Ironmouth at 5:54 AM on September 23, 2013 [1 favorite]


Anyway... If this guy had waited on me when I bought my first IIe, I would be using a Dell this minute...

I'm a vegetarian now because a butcher looked at me funny once.
posted by empath at 5:57 AM on September 23, 2013 [4 favorites]


Yeah. I'm not the biggest fan of the new setup that Apple uses for their stores. It just doesn't work well at all when the store's crowded.

There's no check-in counter. No queue. I'm basically just supposed to find an Apple employee who's magically not busy, and.... hope that they're qualified to help me with my particular problem?

Worse still, when one of them actually manages to approach me, I likely still haven't formulated what I need, shout "NO THANK YOU I AM JUST LOOKING PLEASE STOP TALKING TO ME I CAN'T AFFORD ANY OF THESE SHINY ORBS," and run away to cower in a glossy white corner, which is somehow also a receipt printer.

Have Apple considered that their stores are terrifying for introverts, indecisive people, and anybody else who isn't tremendously assertive?

Worse still, the in spite of all of Apple's alleged friendliness, the stores can be completely bewildering. They may have fixed this, but you can't actually make a Genius Bar appointment by phone. While it's possible (and quite easy) to phone a human in one of their stores, that human cannot do a single thing that the IVR system also does. This doesn't include making Genius Bar reservations. The only way to do that is to show up in person and return at a later date, go through Apple's website (which inexplicably doesn't work well on mobile devices), or use their iOS app.

This is a shame, because the Genius Bar, by definition is designed to service people who don't have functioning computers or smartphones. In my case, my Macbook was dead as a doornail, and I (greatly) prefer Android over iOS. I explained to the manager on the phone that my computer was dead; I don't own a tablet, another computer, or iOS device; the nearest Apple store would be approximately a 90-minute round-trip from my house; and couldn't he just pretend that I showed up in person and enter my name into tomorrow's list of reservations?

No dice. Ultimately, my roommate came home, I used her laptop to make the appointment (for the same %*#&ing day), and got a new AC adapter from the very friendly people at the Clarendon Apple Store. As usual, the geniuses were very helpful, but the process of getting to the genius bar was completely fucking insane.

Even "checking in" at the Genius Bar required me to flag down one of the (unmarked) employees on the floor who could help me with that. Which employee? Good question. They'll find you. Maybe.

At least the DMV is straightforward and linear.
posted by schmod at 6:02 AM on September 23, 2013 [13 favorites]


The fact that 90 percent of people in Apple Stores are either senior citizens or 13 year old kids is not good for their brand.

They are the only types of people left in America who have disposable income.
posted by srboisvert at 6:02 AM on September 23, 2013 [3 favorites]


I'm a vegetarian now because a butcher looked at me funny once.

Funny, I'm a vegetarian now because of how a butcher looked at me. Well, and his convictions for selling... unapproved meats.
posted by GenjiandProust at 6:04 AM on September 23, 2013 [1 favorite]


You guys are dissecting a McSweeney's article looking for insightful observations on Apple's retail culture?

I'm outta here - the hipsters have won…
posted by Pinback at 6:05 AM on September 23, 2013 [5 favorites]


docpops: "Apple just sold 9 million iphones this weekend. They must not know what the hell they are doing."

Comcast has 22 million customers.

AOL has 2.6 million dial-up customers.

Just because a thing is popular does not mean that it is particularly great. I'd argue that the Apple Store "experience" has not scaled well with Apple's popularity.
posted by schmod at 6:05 AM on September 23, 2013 [2 favorites]


So the middle of the road alternative in terms of embarrassing servility/helpfulness is Best Buy?

Which makes, what, MicroCenter the challenge tier of computer stores, I guess?
posted by Slackermagee at 6:06 AM on September 23, 2013 [1 favorite]


There's no check-in counter. No queue. I'm basically just supposed to find an Apple employee who's magically not busy, and.... hope that they're qualified to help me with my particular problem?

That's not so hard. It's finding one of the attendants who is qualified to take payment. Heaven help you if you want to pay cash for something, too. I'd much rather have a register line, but I suppose it would ruin the layout.
posted by GenjiandProust at 6:06 AM on September 23, 2013 [3 favorites]


This thread is full of examples of the kind of I'm-not-like-that bias sometimes called "fundamental attribution" bias: everyone thinks they hate this customer service model when they hear it described, and yet when you actually experience it you love it.

I think my reputation for snark is unassailably sarcastic and caustic, and I hate how popular Apple is, but when things break they fix them and I feel strangely grateful every time they replace my phone for free, which is like three times now, even though they've just been dealing with their own manufacturing errors. Just because you know you're being manipulated and managed doesn't mean it doesn't work.
posted by anotherpanacea at 6:07 AM on September 23, 2013 [1 favorite]


Every day, in every Apple Store, people flood to customer service, when what many truly need is therapy.
Brilliant. That should be the first thing they teach anyone in any customer service position.
posted by CheeseDigestsAll at 6:08 AM on September 23, 2013 [10 favorites]


I couldn't agree more. Get a medical professional speaking candidly and you'll get a similar experience. It isn't as likely to hear a soliloquy on the magic of helping others, although this essays last anecdote hit that note pretty well.
posted by docpops at 8:50 on September 23 [1 butt elephant +] [!]


This couldn't be more true. I know an acquaintance who is an anesthesiologist at a large children's hospital, and some of his commentary about the families of his patients is unconscionable. If I wasn't aware of the life-saving work he did, talking to him about anything would be insufferable.
posted by slogger at 6:18 AM on September 23, 2013 [1 favorite]


I have been fairly satisfied with my "genius experiences," for what it's worth

See, I don't ever want to blame the worker for what is a corporate problem - and, I assume, a social problem as well, since most people really like making staff grovel because, whoa, the customer is about to unchain a few dollars. The other day I saw a guy dump his entire hundred dollars' worth of groceries on the sliding thing at the checkout and walk away while muttering imprecations at the staff because the low-paid staff at the grocery store couldn't give him a total $2 discount on yogurt that he'd mistakenly thought was on sale - believing that you're king for the day because you're spending money is the end result of a society without any mechanisms to create equality. I have no problem with the poor fuckers who have to take a job where their title is "genius", and I don't care what they say about customers in their off hours.

I don't like walking in to a store where everything is hyper-engineered. I don't like companies that create whole body language repertoires for their staff, as if the regular control over physical presence, appearance, affect and language were not enough. I don't like dealing with a company which wants to render its staff puppets of capital (and which will, I imagine, replace them with cuddly robots as soon as Apple gets that down.)

In a sense, you could argue, the Apple store is actually an awesome experience, because it reveals the truth of capital - the desire to reduce employees to puppets who can only make gestures engineered at corporate; the Kim Jong-Il style images of products hung large and above eye-level; the omnipresent screens; the deskilling and depersonalization under the guise of experience-management; and the insistence that this is a joyful, good lifeway. There's no pretense at the Apple Store, except the pretense that capital constitutes the total of human life. I was struck, at the Apple Store, by how there was a big skylight - harnessing the sky itself in the service of Apple.
posted by Frowner at 6:25 AM on September 23, 2013 [31 favorites]


It was a horrible, repulsive, fascist environment

Fascist?
posted by Ray Walston, Luck Dragon at 6:26 AM on September 23, 2013 [1 favorite]


I've done a LOT of customer service, and it's all about attitude. This guy's attitude sucks. Sure, everybody bitches about customers, but this person has contempt for everybody, not just difficult assholes.
posted by theora55 at 6:27 AM on September 23, 2013


I found the chipper servility of the staff really unpleasant to experience.

We should do lunch. I know this great place with surly waiters.
posted by ChurchHatesTucker at 6:28 AM on September 23, 2013 [1 favorite]


[1 butt elephant +] [!]??? I must have missed that greasemonkey script.
posted by artychoke at 6:29 AM on September 23, 2013 [1 favorite]


Fascist?

I found it fascist. For these reasons: the shape of the space, the monumental contours of the furniture, the block-y architecture without details reminded me of the kind of architecture held up as ideal by Mussolini - everything is just slightly too big or too thick; the outsized images of products and idealized users were reminiscent of Soviet art and the various places I've been where portraits of the leaders and idealized/fictional "historical" figures need to be displayed; the way these things are hung at a particular and slightly unusual above-eye-level height so that you're looking up at a particular angle . I could probably think of other things if I looked closer. It was just creepy. I mean, it was also obviously modeled on cathedrals.

Did not enjoy! Do not want! Again, this is not even the little-ist, tiniest reflection on the actual staff, their motives or remarks. Everyone has to get over.
posted by Frowner at 6:31 AM on September 23, 2013 [36 favorites]


Frowner, that's insightful.
posted by theora55 at 6:32 AM on September 23, 2013 [1 favorite]



We should do lunch. I know this great place with surly waiters.


I know that no one believes this in America, but it is possible for both customer and client to behave with courtesy toward each other - it's possible to be a polite diner and an efficient waiter without the one indulging fantasies of control and entitlement or the other being surly and inefficient. We don't need a society where when you're working you're expected to act like you're chattel and love being chattel and when you're in turn buying you act like a spoiled toddler.
posted by Frowner at 6:34 AM on September 23, 2013 [23 favorites]


Edward Espe Brown is a cook and zen priest/monk associated with the San Francisco Zen Center. He tells a story about going to an Apple Store that goes something like:

"So I needed a new computer, and someone suggested I try a mac. So I wet to the mall, and I got out of my car and stared at the mall and thought 'what am I doing?' But I went in, and the store was full of people very busily doing stuff to things, and I couldn't figure out where to start, and I started to panic. A woman came up to me and said 'Can I help you?' And I said 'Um, I came in to look at computers, but there is so much going on that I feel overwhelmed and stressed out.' And she said 'Have you tried meditation?'"

Long pause.

"Apparently I have been doing it wrong for all these years."
posted by GenjiandProust at 6:39 AM on September 23, 2013 [13 favorites]


I know that no one believes this in America, but it is possible for both customer and client to behave with courtesy toward each other - it's possible to be a polite diner and an efficient waiter without the one indulging fantasies of control and entitlement or the other being surly and inefficient. We don't need a society where when you're working you're expected to act like you're chattel and love being chattel and when you're in turn buying you act like a spoiled toddler.

See also: the cringey as hell singing thing at Cold Stone Creamery.
posted by kmz at 6:47 AM on September 23, 2013 [10 favorites]


“I’m not being ageist."

We bought my 73 year old mom her first Apple computer this year. We also paid the $99 for her to have full on access to 1 year of Genius Bar education/help. We bought her an Apple because we were sick of her bringing her Dell over every month with some new complaint and spending time fixing her computer rather than enjoying dinner with her. We paid the $99 for the Apple in store support so that we no longer have to deal with questions like "what is my password?". She's also getting to know all about her computer at her own pace. (You should have seen her the day she discovered she could open several tabs at once in her browser!) It's the best thing we ever did for her. I think Apple is smart to support seniors like this. Every person we have told about this thinks it's genius. Many curse the fact that their parents don't live conveniently close to an Apple store.
posted by sadtomato at 6:55 AM on September 23, 2013 [4 favorites]


See also: the cringey as hell singing thing at Cold Stone Creamery.

It's like Cold Stone corporate wants you to feel like a monster.
posted by Pope Guilty at 7:00 AM on September 23, 2013 [1 favorite]


I like the Apple store just fine. Would y'all prefer Best Buy? Do you remember Circuit City? I bet you don't remember Highland Superstore. I'll take Apple any day.

My two experiences with the Genius Bar were pretty great. Twice they replaced my phone even though it was out of Warranty.

The Apple Store is the worst store ever unless you count all the other stores.
posted by bondcliff at 7:00 AM on September 23, 2013 [6 favorites]


It was a horrible, repulsive, fascist environment

You can talk about the effect of Fordist and Taylorist theories of workflows on retail workers and you can talk about advertising and Apple's penchant for vaguely Futurist-meets-Nouveau-Space-Age design experiences and the effect they have on Apple workers and consumers and you can even talk about our depressing habit of demanding gestures of service over products but none of that really requires the invocation of fascism, to which an Apple store resembles about as much as the ACA resembles communism.

I found the chipper servility of the staff really unpleasant to experience.
The Aquarium is gone.
Everywhere, giant finned cars macs nose forward like fish;
a savage servility
slides by on grease.
This brain-fart brought to you by Robert Lowell and Apple, Inc.
posted by octobersurprise at 7:03 AM on September 23, 2013 [8 favorites]


That was an odd juxtaposition, the bloody Apple floor and the Kenya mall.
posted by surplus at 7:08 AM on September 23, 2013


I worked for the Fruit Stand for a long, long time, and it makes me really sad to see how many people in this thread think that I along with my former coworkers are a bunch of fascist idiots out to make your day miserable just because we happen to hold a position called "Genius". This is patently not true, but I am sorry that you have all had a collectively bad experience at one or two of the stores and I hope you realize that a) that's not how it's supposed to work and that b) you still need to treat Apple retail employees with more respect than you think you should, because retail is miserably hard and most of us were and are doing the best we can with a system that is now undergoing tremendous upheavals.

I have worked every job in the store. I was trained to be kind, to be patient, and to be serviceful, even to the man yelling "Fuck you, you horrible ugly bitch" because I had to say to him, "Hey, I am really sorry, but water damage isn't typically covered by Apple Care. Let me see if BOH has the part you need and we can talk about the most cost effective way to minimize the damage done to your laptop" after the guy spilled hot coffee onto the thing because he was trying to use it while driving and drinking Starbucks at the same time. We were also trained to always admit when we were wrong and to approach problems systematically to ensure that loose ends were accounted for, which happens even to expert customers who sometimes forget that simple solutions should be tried first before unilaterally saying "My device has failed and it's your disgusting company's fault and I've already tried everything so do what I say." We have protocols. We follow them because 99% of the time we catch something you hadn't and we save you money by making sure that we eliminate those initial possibilities before saying "Let's get you a new device." Yes, sometimes that's a pain, and yes, we agree that you as a computer technician of 10 years are likely more knowledgeable than we are about your own devices, but you don't get to be racist, bigoted, foul-mouthed, or abusive to the people trying to help you just because you're angry about being inconvenienced. One of the reasons I left my store is because I was tired of being asked by customers to replace the "chinks" at the "counter" with a smarter, faster variety because some people felt that that was an okay thing to say about the person they were coming to for help with a device issue. That's really hard to deal with every day and I don't wish it on anybody because it's not conducive to living a healthy life, much less a happy business.

Most of the employees at the store genuinely try to make every situation they encounter right so that the customer wins in every way. That is what we were trained to do, and when I failed to do so it sucked and I ruminated over it for days. I still think about one of my first interactions with a customer because the person was so profoundly abusive to me and everyone around me that I wish I'd figured out what I could have said or not said to have made that situation less upsetting for all of us.

Apple Retail is not what it used to be, and I am bothered by that whenever I visit a location these days. To me a lot of the mistakes I see being made are systemic and it's not really possible some times for Specialists to buck the system when they need to. I guess what I'm saying is that we know you're frustrated and that you have anger towards the system, but taking it out on the employees isn't okay either. The nicest thing someone ever did for me as an employee there was to say during the height of the Christmas rush, "I'm tired and frustrated, and so are you. Please know that we are on the same page and that I know you want to help me in whatever way you can." That kind of attitude is what we as employees are taught to convey, but few customers return it in kind.

TLDR: Apple Retail knows they're failing you, and its employees are trying to fix that even if you don't think they are.
posted by These Birds of a Feather at 7:22 AM on September 23, 2013 [40 favorites]


Apple stores just don't feel right to me. It's not really a computer repair place unless:

1) it's located in a run down house, way out of your way, in a predominantly residential zoned area with a
2) surly man who mumbles, with questionable personal hygiene and hilarious facial hair
3) lording over a shag carpeted floor that has at least three cats hidden in the debris
4) which can only be described as the final resting place of where a group of transformers died of robot cholera
5) is unable to give you a firm idea of when it will be fixed
6) charges you a ludicrously cheap sum
7) returns your computer back better than new
8) is unable to explain what was wrong with it in the first place

and most importantly

9) your computer has somehow mysteriously acquired a ton of professional grade and very expensive licensed software

disclaimer: I used to fix computers professionally, I am what I mock
posted by hobo gitano de queretaro at 7:24 AM on September 23, 2013 [48 favorites]


I worked for the Fruit Stand for a long, long time, and it makes me really sad to see how many people in this thread think that I along with my former coworkers are a bunch of fascist idiots out to make your day miserable just because we happen to hold a position called "Genius".

You certainly aren't. The people who designed your job, on the other hand...
posted by Pope Guilty at 7:25 AM on September 23, 2013 [2 favorites]


I've met with Apple "geniuses" three times. Each time has resulted in my receiving a brand new phone to replace my broken one at no cost. I am happy with the service they provide.
posted by blue_beetle at 7:32 AM on September 23, 2013


Also, FWIW, I did not drink the koolaid when I worked there, so my comments are not a reflection of misguided fangirl respect for Apple. I just know what I saw, and know what I was trained to do, and at least when I was there the culture was really to do right by the customer at all times, money be damned. Now that's not the case and Apple's paying for that change in philosophy, and hopefully they lose enough money to see why those changes were ill advised. But in the meantime, abusing the people still trying to exist in a system that's dying isn't the way to get there.
posted by These Birds of a Feather at 7:33 AM on September 23, 2013 [1 favorite]


but none of that really requires the invocation of fascism, to which an Apple store resembles about as much as the ACA resembles communism.

Eh, I get what Frowner is saying. It's not that Apple Stores are literally fascistic, or that Apple is necessarily fascistic, much less that the employees of any given store are fascists, but I can see how the space could give that feeling. When you are designing spaces to create emotional impact, you can't necessarily control what impact you are going to get. Bridge Publications, the Scientology publisher was at an ABA in the mid-90s, and they had a display of the rereleases of Hubbard's books, and they were showing how the books were "burning up the charts" by... burning books. At a book fair. Let's just say that their display had an emotional impact, but not the one they intended for most visitors (who may have been inclined to take a negative view anyway, to be fair).
posted by GenjiandProust at 7:33 AM on September 23, 2013 [1 favorite]


I worked for the Fruit Stand for a long, long time, and it makes me really sad to see how many people in this thread think that I along with my former coworkers are a bunch of fascist idiots out to make your day miserable just because we happen to hold a position called "Genius".

I've seen literally zero people say this.

I guess what I'm saying is that we know you're frustrated and that you have anger towards the system, but taking it out on the employees isn't okay either.

I've also seen literally zero people say anything about "taking it out on the employees".
posted by kmz at 7:45 AM on September 23, 2013 [4 favorites]


Comments made upthread demonstrate the same derisive attitudes that were aimed towards me and my coworkers in the store every day, and calling the store fascist can be construed to mean that its contents and its employees are fascist, too. I take umbrage at the collective assumption that Apple employees are purposefully not being serviceful, and that is what I am responding to.
posted by These Birds of a Feather at 7:50 AM on September 23, 2013 [5 favorites]


The charge that the Apple stores have a fascist aesthetic has nothing to do with consumer service though or how well individual workers do their jobs.
posted by MartinWisse at 7:59 AM on September 23, 2013 [9 favorites]


When the alternative is dealing with the commission-vampires at Best Buy, I certainly prefer the Apple Store experience myself, as do my (mid-60s) parents.

At Best Buy they try to sell me extended warranties, antivirus, software I don't need, blah blah blah. At the Apple Store, when I ask to double the memory on a laptop I'm buying, they take me over to an iMac to show me the site where I can find the same memory for half the price Apple will sell it to me, and even helpfully write down the model number for me to take home.

At Best Buy, my mom knows she's likely to get scammed but isn't tech-confident enough to fight it, so is afraid to go shopping there without me when she needs something new. At the Apple Store she'll walk out with exactly what she came in for, no more, no less. Case in point, she wanted a portable Bluetooth speaker recently. We went into the store and listened to all of them, and one of the staff came over to help us out. *I* was the one trying to convince her to buy up to the Bose system, whereas the Apple staffer helped her pick out a mid-range one and made sure she was able to listen to the ones that weren't on display.

I've gotten replacement iPhones and charging cables with no hassle. When something hasn't been covered under warranty (I've lost both a phone and a Macbook Air to liquid damage) the Genius in question expresses regret that they have to charge me money to fix the item in question. (It may be entirely feigned regret, but at least it's not thinly-veiled glee) Turnaround times have always been great. Don't think I've ever had a bad experience with Apple support. The only other company I can say that about is USAA.

It may be that the Geniuses and other staff are secretly thinking nasty things at me but whatever. I have a very different job, but I have customers too, for whom I build very complex robotic systems, and I have learned plenty about human error and how to tactfully deal with it. I worked an IT desk in college, I support my customers now, and yeah, it sucks to go through all the back and forth of troubleshooting before realizing some idiot just didn't plug something in. I don't begrudge the Apple employees, or any other support employees, their venting of steam to each other. But Apple certainly seems to do a better job than most of training their employees to not make it obvious to customers that they're being effing morons. I appreciate that.
posted by olinerd at 8:03 AM on September 23, 2013 [4 favorites]


To be honest, I've only gone to the Apple Store twice - once to replace a dead Macbook charger that was under warranty (pretty painless), and once to look for one of those long three-prong charger wall cords, which they don't sell. I was annoyed when they tried to sell me an entire new iPhone charger ($50!) just to get the cord in the kit. Amazon had 'em for a couple bucks each.
posted by Slap*Happy at 8:03 AM on September 23, 2013


These Birds of a Feather: "I worked for the Fruit Stand for a long, long time, and it makes me really sad to see how many people in this thread think that I along with my former coworkers are a bunch of fascist idiots "

Don't mistake people's opinions of the architecture for their opinions of the staff.

Frowner: "I found it fascist. For these reasons: the shape of the space, the monumental contours of the furniture (...) "

BRUTALIST! STRUCTURAL EXPRESSIONISM!
posted by boo_radley at 8:06 AM on September 23, 2013


you still need to treat Apple retail employees with more respect than you think you should

Well, not really? In general people should treat all people in customer service professions with more respect than they do, there is no need to single out Apple retail employees for special attention. Like, just don't treat people like shit when they are providing a service to you. It's pretty simple.
posted by elizardbits at 8:06 AM on September 23, 2013 [12 favorites]


The "Apple is fascist" argument has been trotted out before, and not just on Metafilter. I get that it was brought up here in a semi-humorous fashion, but I have had that sentiment directed at me personally, and therefore it is a sore spot. That sentiment IME usually goes hand in hand with the belief that as representatives of a flawed organization, the employees are as fair a ground as punching bags as the employer. I am expressing wonder and anger over the fact that so many people in general think that if they have a problem with the way Apple functions as a commercial entity, the fastest way to air those grievances is to abuse the retail person they meet at their local mall. It's bizarre and i don't understand why this attitude is so pervasive and widespread. Apple employees don't deserve special attention; they deserve the baseline of common decency that should be afforded to all people in service positions, and while you may treat the Apple employees you meet with respect, many other people do not and do not think they should.
posted by These Birds of a Feather at 8:12 AM on September 23, 2013 [4 favorites]


These Birds of a Feather: "The "Apple is fascist" argument has been trotted out before, and not just on Metafilter. I get that it was brought up here in a semi-humorous fashion, but I have had that sentiment directed at me personally, and therefore it is a sore spot. "

That makes a little more sense in context. I think you're a good person, and have inherent worth as a person. You are not a fascist.
posted by boo_radley at 8:15 AM on September 23, 2013 [2 favorites]


There are things I like about Apple stores: the staff are diverse and it feels like the male:female ratio is about equal; the goods are displayed nicely; the staff are very well briefed on all the procedures. Moreover, they are remarkably calm and collected, which makes me wonder why I was so godawful at retail when all I had to peddle was shoes...

Yet, those benefits do not stop the horrendous situation that occurs when I walk in, where I stand around like a lemon and hope that the 'banter' will be quick and painless.

Also, this piece does nothing to dissuade me from feeling judged by cool and confident customer service reps for being a woefully inadequate Apple customer. Maybe I should tell them my fish died and let them pity and patronise me rather than mock.
posted by dumdidumdum at 8:16 AM on September 23, 2013


Think of all the college grads who told their parents to get a Mac as their next computer, or gave their old Macs to their parents, mostly to make providing IT support less of a pain in the ass.

Yes, I did that. It has made all subsequent home holiday visits so much nicer and less work-like.
posted by Annika Cicada at 8:16 AM on September 23, 2013 [3 favorites]


"You will get... people who are really really entitled..."

Apple's entire marketing strategy seems to be based on creating a sense of unearned entitlement among its customers.
posted by under_petticoat_rule at 8:21 AM on September 23, 2013 [1 favorite]


It's bizarre and i don't understand why this attitude is so pervasive and widespread.

I can't tell you about Apple stores -- everyone I know who worked in one was definitely in more pleasant, if stricter, environment than most retail workers -- but especially in America, especially in corporate chain retail, especially in luxury corporate chain retail, the Rules say that you can't do what you should do with abusive customers, which is to tell them to go fuck themselves (maybe in nicer terms) and show them the door and make it clear they're not welcome in your store again.

Unfortunately, that will get your fired immediately, even though it is good for business to keep such people out of the store. Abusive customers piss off employees, making them less patient and more testy. Abusive customers demand much more time for the same amount of money spent. Abusive customers alienate other customers as they're shopping. I can keep going.

Every store I've run, there was a blanket rule along the lines of "if someone disrespects you while you're helping them, tell me immediately" to make sure everyone I was managing knew that they did not have to put up with that shit, and I'd like to think that made them more confident and better-natured salespeople overall.
posted by griphus at 8:24 AM on September 23, 2013 [5 favorites]


The charge that the Apple stores have a fascist aesthetic has nothing to do with consumer service though

This might be true (though Frowner seems to suggest that it isn't, in her mind, at least), but what a "fascist aesthetic" is remains unclear. And even if we decide to agree that certain characteristics can constitute such (big signs, outsized furniture, monumental spaces, etc), it's still unclear why or how that description is useful. It's a metaphor at best and not a particularly apt one IMO. You may as well talk about the "communist aesthetic" of a CSA co-op market.
posted by octobersurprise at 8:24 AM on September 23, 2013 [1 favorite]


*I* was the one trying to convince her to buy up to the Bose system, whereas the Apple staffer helped her pick out a mid-range one and made sure she was able to listen to the ones that weren't on display

Likely the Apple staffer knew that BOSE is crap and wanted your mother to have something that wouldn't result in ear fatigue within the first month.
posted by Ber at 8:36 AM on September 23, 2013


Sadly, that lady forgot to backup her husband.

AAPL should be the single most sympathetic company in the world about that.
posted by The Bellman at 8:49 AM on September 23, 2013


The "Apple is fascist" argument has been trotted out before, and not just on Metafilter. I get that it was brought up here in a semi-humorous fashion, but I have had that sentiment directed at me personally, and therefore it is a sore spot. That sentiment IME usually goes hand in hand with the belief that as representatives of a flawed organization, the employees are as fair a ground as punching bags as the employer. I am expressing wonder and anger over the fact that so many people in general think that if they have a problem with the way Apple functions as a commercial entity, the fastest way to air those grievances is to abuse the retail person they meet at their local mall. It's bizarre and i don't understand why this attitude is so pervasive and widespread.

This is of course the beauty of corporatism. Nobody is the employer.
posted by srboisvert at 8:50 AM on September 23, 2013 [1 favorite]



Comments made upthread demonstrate the same derisive attitudes that were aimed towards me and my coworkers in the store every day, and calling the store fascist can be construed to mean that its contents and its employees are fascist, too. I take umbrage at the collective assumption that Apple employees are purposefully not being serviceful, and that is what I am responding to.


But hardly anyone has said this! In my own comments, I tried to distinguish between what corporate policy/design and the actual work of the workers and feelings of the workers. I do find it embarrassing that they make people call themselves "geniuses", I stand by that - but that's something that Apple should be embarrassed by, not staff.

I do think the stores are fascist in design, that they seek to create a kind of fun authoritarianism that forecloses ways of thinking and being that don't revolve around highly managed consumption of a large-but-limited set of ideas and objects. I find their use of space and, apparently, their remaking of employees' body language incredibly techno-dystopian-creepy. On technical points, you can't have fascism without a state, but I think that's something that needs to be updated for neoliberalism. Note also that fascism does not equal "killing people" any more than communism does. Fascism as a historical political movement involved a lot of things; like state communism it was highly aestheticized and engaged with the aesthetic idea of modernity. (Consider the futurists!)

To clarify: people are human. A lot of people want to do skilled work well and want to have meaningful, helpful interactions with others. People in shitty, exploitative service jobs often enough want to do those jobs well and to have human-scale interactions with others. The lousy fucking goddamn side of highly-managed capitalism is that it takes those human-scale ways of being and smooths them out and optimizes them into the service of the machine. You want to do your job well and help people; Apple wants you to do whatever will propagate Apple, and for the moment that's - up to a point - doing your job well and helping people. It's a perversion of what's good in people; it's the same as the skylight in the Apple store I visited, taking something that is various and good and interesting and trying to contain it in the service of marketing.

I assure you that I don't have derisive attitudes toward people who work frontline jobs, Apple Store or elsewhere. One of the other problems of this great nation is the idea that if someone is doing front line work, any asshole off the street can come in and hassle them and whine - there's no dignity of labor.
posted by Frowner at 8:55 AM on September 23, 2013 [3 favorites]


(There is a fascist aesthetic - this isn't even controversial. Mussolini and the Italian futurists went to some trouble to detail one and to outline their ideas about modernity, the future and the state (for which one can sub global corporations, IMO). The Italian fascist state was really into working all this shit out. As to whether there is a communist aesthetic - there's certainly a state communist aesthetic. You can see the remains of it in former-communist countries all over the world. It wasn't coincidence- it was a set of theories about what was beautiful, the purpose of art and how to show state power via architecture. This isn't handwave-y at all. I mean something pretty specific when I say "fascist aesthetics". Marinetti would have been all over the Apple Store.)
posted by Frowner at 8:58 AM on September 23, 2013 [3 favorites]


The problem with claims about the aesthetics of fascism is that they are overbroad. Design elements for the original fascist aesthetic get reused all the time, and some of them are just the product of industrialization illegitimately coopted by the futurists. You can describe most buildings in NYC as fascist, so it's like a catch all category that mostly helps push a pretty questionable spin. If you add in some vague comments about neoliberalism, it doesn't make it any better: they're obviously very different ideologies and practices, so conflating them basically captures very single element of modern life.
posted by anotherpanacea at 9:01 AM on September 23, 2013 [7 favorites]


Note also that fascism does not equal "killing people" any more than communism does.

I think while this is a statement that is factually correct, it doesn't really reflect what many people (myself, a person who knows exactly what the word means, included) immediately think of when they hear the word "fascist." As in, I can't imagine a person hearing something described in those terms -- even something like architecture -- without immediately getting a History Channel newsreel playing in their head of stomping boots, thrust-out chins, and most importantly, stacks upon stacks of corpses. The literal, abstract PoliSci 101 definition of fascism is not the concept most associated with that word, at least not since it became synonymous with the Axis.
posted by griphus at 9:03 AM on September 23, 2013 [1 favorite]


Wow, nobody commented on how the Game of Thrones reference is misplaced. He wasn't accused of knowing nothing about guarding the wall. He was accused of that in regards to living north of the wall.
posted by hcovitz at 9:05 AM on September 23, 2013 [2 favorites]


Sorry, can't imagine a random person hearing etc.
posted by griphus at 9:06 AM on September 23, 2013


MartinWisse: "The charge that the Apple stores have a fascist aesthetic has nothing to do with consumer service though or how well individual workers do their jobs."

It's 'cause they use all that Helvetica.
posted by octothorpe at 9:07 AM on September 23, 2013


1. Fascism involved the unification of corporate and state power.
2. The Corporation for Public Broadcasting is a corporation supported by the federal government.
3. Therefore, PBS is fascist.
posted by anotherpanacea at 9:11 AM on September 23, 2013 [3 favorites]


it's the same as the skylight in the Apple store I visited, taking something that is various and good and interesting and trying to contain it in the service of marketing.

Alternatively: natural light makes people happy. Rooms with lots of natural light are more pleasant to be in than rooms with no natural light. And if you want to bring natural light into a store, a skylight is the only real way to do it.

(I mean, what're you arguing here? That because capitalism is alienating, stores should be as unpleasant as possible?)
posted by asterix at 9:23 AM on September 23, 2013


43 hits so far in this thread for a command-F of "fascis". This is pretty impressive!
posted by Greg Nog at 9:56 AM on September 23, 2013 [3 favorites]


Of all the threads to be godwinned, I wasn't really expecting it to be this one...
posted by schmod at 10:05 AM on September 23, 2013 [2 favorites]


I don't use any Apple products, so I don't really have an opinion about their stores, but I did want to applaud hobo gitano de queretaro's spot-on description of old-school computer repair shops. A couple of places like that were most helpful to me back in the day, but there aren't many left, at least where I live.
posted by Nat "King" Cole Porter Wagoner at 10:15 AM on September 23, 2013


(I mean, what're you arguing here? That because capitalism is alienating, stores should be as unpleasant as possible?)

It's more like: because capitalism is alienating, stores should be as unalienating as possible. The monumentality of the skylight taken in combination with the slickly simulated techno-worship atmosphere of the store gives the effect of the space being one monstrous, crawling shrine to capitalism and servility.
posted by Quilford at 10:20 AM on September 23, 2013


If Apple ditched the white curves and glass thing for an aesthetic of bundles of sticks with axes in them, I would be roughly 80% more likely to patronize their stores.
posted by Copronymus at 10:21 AM on September 23, 2013 [7 favorites]


I want more Fascism.

I want a robot that looks and acts like the most amazing human being I could ever meet to take me around to retail outlets it knows I will love enormously (based on a custom-built, changeable algorithm) and convince me to buy things.

I want the outside surfaces of the world to convince me to talk to this robot and do what it says.

I want to walk into the shiny, lite-brite showroom with its tasteful skylight pouring down natural ambience on the robots fantastic frame, right as it powers up and greets me warmly by name for the first time.

Fascism is Good; The Corporation is the State is the Robot is my New Passion. New Passion Genius Serverbot is nicer to me than my family. And their tagline? "YOU JUST DON'T KNOW WHAT GOOD IS." - that effing rocks.
posted by Lipstick Thespian at 10:31 AM on September 23, 2013 [2 favorites]


I agree, the skylight is bullshit. Surprised no one has called Apple out for perverting trees' true nature and turning them into mere "flooring" for their capitalist techno-shrine, though!
posted by wemayfreeze at 10:37 AM on September 23, 2013 [1 favorite]


Please. Skylights have considerable architectural history and symbolism.
posted by Quilford at 10:45 AM on September 23, 2013


If skylights are wrong I don't want to be right
posted by starman at 10:49 AM on September 23, 2013 [1 favorite]


For example, in cathedrals, which Frowner mentions above.
posted by Quilford at 10:49 AM on September 23, 2013


This infographic best explains the connection between Apple Store architectural features and Fascism.
posted by Slap*Happy at 10:56 AM on September 23, 2013 [3 favorites]


y'all know that being a consumer of Apple products is optional, right?
posted by prize bull octorok at 10:56 AM on September 23, 2013 [3 favorites]


I found it fascist. For these reasons: the shape of the space, the monumental contours of the furniture, the block-y architecture without details reminded me of the kind of architecture held up as ideal by Mussolini

WTF? I hear Hitler loved Laurel and Hardy. Does that make them fascist, too?
posted by CheeseDigestsAll at 11:05 AM on September 23, 2013


the stores are fascist in design, that they seek to create a kind of fun authoritarianism that forecloses ways of thinking and being that don't revolve around highly managed consumption of a large-but-limited set of ideas and objects

As much as I'm enjoying this derail, which is truly hallucinatory in following its chain of free association wherever it may lead — it makes me feel like Metafilter is being free-written by a magical realist this morning — you realize that even your fellow anticapitalists might find this a very weird standard to hold a chain retail store to, right? Like, should we also be writing screeds about how we should reject JC Penney's because their cash registers aren't a potlach? Why does it seem more reasonable to complain about the Genius Bar being anti-utopian than that Orange Julius doesn't act like Occupy, or Adorno wouldn't like the Armani Exchange? The real mystery here is how the Apple Store specifically became the focus of this kind of symptom — why the place at the mall where people sell shiny computers triggered, in your political psychology, such intense ideological condemnation.

There's something really almost unique about Apple's place in mass culture and the strength of its branding that makes people project really weird shit on it.
posted by RogerB at 11:12 AM on September 23, 2013 [15 favorites]


seek to create a kind of fun authoritarianism that forecloses ways of thinking and being that don't revolve around highly managed consumption of a large-but-limited set of ideas and objects

Wait, you mean retail stores want me to buy the stuff they have in stock? How fascistic.
posted by downing street memo at 11:29 AM on September 23, 2013 [1 favorite]


I found it fascist. For these reasons: the shape of the space, the monumental contours of the furniture, the block-y architecture without details reminded me of the kind of architecture held up as ideal by Mussolini.

Fascists tended to embrace classical architecture, blended/augmented with Futurism. Apple Stores tend toward the latter, not so much the former. I'd call them Bauhaus, but IANAA.
posted by ChurchHatesTucker at 11:36 AM on September 23, 2013 [3 favorites]


The "genius" thing used to bother me quite a lot, like anything with "Homeland" in it. But eventually I recalled an older meaning of the word, which I remembered from lit classes in college, and it helped to think of it that way:

And as I wake, sweet music breathe
Above, about, or underneath,
Sent by some Spirit to mortals good,
Or the unseen Genius of the wood.
(Milton)

Actually, trying to find that quote, I see that Apple must have actually had the etymology in mind when they coined the term:

ORIGIN late Middle English : from Latin, ‘attendant spirit present from one's birth, innate ability or inclination,’ from the root of gignere ‘beget.’ The original sense [tutelary spirit attendant on a person] gave rise to a sense [a person's characteristic disposition] (late 16th cent.), which led to a sense [a person's natural ability,] and finally [exceptional natural ability] (mid 17th cent.).

That too makes me feel better, though I agree the chipper brightness of it all puts me off. I much prefer the IT Crowd setting, particularly the dank season 1 basement, where they pick up the phone, shout "Have you tried restarting it?!" and slam the phone back down. Anything other than that attitude, and I know they are faking it.
posted by chortly at 11:37 AM on September 23, 2013


Sort of like Bauhas and Brutalist had a fancy baby.
posted by elizardbits at 11:37 AM on September 23, 2013 [3 favorites]


Which makes, what, MicroCenter the challenge tier of computer stores, I guess?

MicroCenter is like the NetHack of computer stores. There's a system, and strategies that work well, and it is delightfully rewarding to those who research and plan and brutal to those that don't. And there are a surprising number of people trying to do a Tourist run by just being the most helpless twits possible, and they will always be in line in front of you.
posted by FatherDagon at 11:38 AM on September 23, 2013 [3 favorites]


Sort of like Bauhas and Brutalist had a fancy baby.
posted by elizardbits at 11:37 AM on September 23


BROcoco?
posted by Lipstick Thespian at 11:41 AM on September 23, 2013 [3 favorites]


And there are a surprising number of people trying to do a Tourist run by just being the most helpless twits possible, and they will always be in line in front of you.

Retching violently because they ate something off the floor.
posted by griphus at 11:48 AM on September 23, 2013 [2 favorites]


I haven't been in an Apple store in the last year or so but historically they've provided the most enjoyable electronics retail experience I ever received. I'm generally approached within the first few minutes of entering. When I ask for something specific, it arrives after a brief interview. When I'm browsing, they give me space to explore a display device without hovering. They wait until I look appropriately disengaged with the device before asking if I have questions. That is so damn refreshing. When I had an intermittent ethernet connectivity problem it was quickly diagnosed as an issue with the logic board where an affiliate store had looked at it and returned it unfixed with a "could not consistently reproduce" reason. The logic board was replaced gratis by the way. I've had several optical drives on various laptops replaced gratis. Sure the name Genius Bar is irritating, but it conveys a certain competence that smooths over a lot of insecurity for folks who are not so tech savvy. I get that I'm not the core demographic for their retail presentation, but damned if they didn't do a great job of accommodating a more technically adept customer while still tending to the sheep. If it weren't for the MacOS/iOS everything is gestures convergence thing, I'd still be on the bandwagon.

The narrative wasn't particularly out of line. I know I've been a lot smugger and critical of folks I've waited on when doing retail.
posted by Fezboy! at 11:55 AM on September 23, 2013


Retching violently because they ate something off the floor.

no, those are puppies
posted by elizardbits at 11:56 AM on September 23, 2013


Skylights have considerable architectural history and symbolism ... For example, in cathedrals ...

The history is a fact; the symbolism is debatable, given that skylights and roof lanterns have been used on everything from churches to palaces to ordinary houses since the 16th century or so. Skylights, by themselves, are no more necessarily evocative of religiosity than an arch.

There is a fascist aesthetic - this isn't even controversial

No, it isn't. It is controversial to assert that one thing, which is kinda vaguely reminiscent of another thing, is the same thing. Yes, obviously Futurism was obsessed with speed and glory and grandiosity and the machine and just as obviously Fascism took grand gestures and specific elements from Futurism when it didn't march hand-in-hand. So did the rest of the 20th century to a greater or lesser degree: urban architecture, railways, airlines, cinema, artists, typographers, science-fiction writers, space-programs, political campaigns, international organizations, etc. have all used elements of the Futurist, even Fascist, aesthetic. Now, this could mean that the entire 20th century is fascist, or it could mean that it isn't very meaningful to call these things fascist outside of specific political or historical contexts.
posted by octobersurprise at 11:57 AM on September 23, 2013 [7 favorites]


As much as I'm enjoying this derail, which is truly hallucinatory in following its chain of free association wherever it may lead — it makes me feel like Metafilter is being free-written by a magical realist this morning — you realize that even your fellow anticapitalists might find this a very weird standard to hold a chain retail store to, right? Like, should we also be writing screeds about how we should reject JC Penney's because their cash registers aren't a potlach? Why does it seem more reasonable to complain about the Genius Bar being anti-utopian than that Orange Julius doesn't act like Occupy, or Adorno wouldn't like the Armani Exchange? The real mystery here is how the Apple Store specifically became the focus of this kind of symptom — why the place at the mall where people sell shiny computers triggered, in your political psychology, such intense ideological condemnation.

Me personally? Uh, because I was in an Apple store on Saturday for the first time and found it unpleasant?

I knew when I wrote that I found it unpleasant for a particular set of reasons that a lot of people would be all "oooh, you have cathected on the Apple Store, why don't you complain about X, you have some kind of weird Apple hang-up"...but believe me, if I'd been in an Orange Julius (there's one right down the street) I'm pretty sure I wouldn't be thrilled about it either. In terms of Apple specifically, I'd say that Apple is pretty strongly and overtly ideologized.

I mean really, I don't care that much. It was gross in a weird way, that's all.
posted by Frowner at 11:59 AM on September 23, 2013


I mean, I can complain about Occupy, if that would help.

Also, this whole business of "lol wut there are no intentional aesthetics in late capitalism especially not the kind where a highly theorized college educated person would draw on the aesthetic resources of the twentieth century, it's all just marketing" line that seems to run through some of the comments....well, I doubt very much that the extremely expensive marketeering at Apple is run by a bunch of ignoramuses. I'm pretty sure those are smart, smart people with all the resources in the world to draw on, and a lot of them are probably pretty familiar with fancy aesthetic theory. Years ago, I had a temp secretarial gig in Target's marketing division - and half the people there were ex-punks with many of the same books in their cubicles that I had at home on my shelf. It was a disillusioning moment for us all when we realized this, let me tell you.
posted by Frowner at 12:02 PM on September 23, 2013 [2 favorites]


Saw the traffic from this discussion to the post about Helvetica being fascist (never mind Futura). I actually wrote a series of post, inspired directly by the iPhone and Apple design, wondering about why WHITE had become the "look" of high technology. While the Nazis were anti-modernist reactionaries, there is a good deal of Nazi DNA, by way of the rocket program Wernher von Braun, his brother Magnus von Braun, and Walter Dornberger built for the US in the PostWar years.
posted by Powers at 12:58 PM on September 23, 2013 [1 favorite]


I doubt very much that the extremely expensive marketeering at Apple is run by a bunch of ignoramuses. I'm pretty sure those are smart, smart people with all the resources in the world to draw on, and a lot of them are probably pretty familiar with fancy aesthetic theory.

I have no doubt that the design of every minutest fraction of The Apple Experience™ is carefully, consciously chosen. And I have little doubt that someone at Apple could tell me precisely why each choice was made. (See also, at this point, Peter Marino.) That said, even if Apple did incorporate specifically Fascist imagery or design elements into their stores, it wouldn't make them Fascist, necessarily, just, as you said, gross. Not everyone in a Che beret is a revolutionary. John Galliano could march a herd of models in SS uniforms down the catwalk and it wouldn't make him a Nazi (though it would make him exceptionally tasteless and gross.)
posted by octobersurprise at 1:01 PM on September 23, 2013 [1 favorite]


(Also, people, the Italian state was the paradigm of aetheticized fascism!! The futurists! Marinetti! The Nazis certainly had an aesthetic and an engagement with modernism, but it was Mussolini who sprang to mind while I waited for the Genius with whom I was scheduled. Perhaps "genius" in the Apple Store just means "spirit of place". That would be okay, actually.)
posted by Frowner at 1:02 PM on September 23, 2013 [1 favorite]


iPuppy
posted by Lipstick Thespian at 1:06 PM on September 23, 2013


That said, even if Apple did incorporate specifically Fascist imagery or design elements into their stores, it wouldn't make them Fascist, necessarily, just, as you said, gross.

I think it really depends on what you consider fascism to be. Maybe that's the problem in this conversation.

If folks are reading it and saying "Frowner alleges that because of certain architectural peculiarities, we can tell that Apple espouses the social politics of Mussolini, wants the state to fulfill the classical fascist role and is fully conscious of and an active advocate for these things", well, yes, that's pretty silly.

I'd suggest, though, that there is an aesthetics of fascism (well, there are probably several...). Just as there are religious aesthetics - a medieval French cathedral is built a certain way for Reasons, even though you can look at Chartres without a single bit of awareness about medieval French Catholicism - I think there's architecture that is designed to foster things like making people feel small; making people feel part of a mass/crowd; obscuring or canalizing choices about how to interact with the space; obscuring detail and obscuring localism/marks of place...and some other stuff. And that these things - especially the simplification, dehistoricization and massification - are part of conventional fascist politics. And aesthetic experiences have an effect on how people feel and think. (I don't think this is some kind of wild overstatement of the goals of architects, either - creating spaces that have effects on how people feel and think is bog standard; it's not all decorated sheds, pace Venturi.)

Do I think Apple stores are part of some kind of Evil Plot? No more than neoliberalism generally. I just think that there's a particular political/aesthetic experience designed in to the Apple store, and that it's a bad one.

Some folks probably have great experiences in the Apple store - imagine someone who's never been able to afford a nice piece of technology and suddenly their life takes a turn and whoa, they can afford a nice laptop! The Apple Store is probably a palace of wonders. Or a little kid who doesn't actually get to use a tablet or whatever because they don't have one at home - the Apple Store is a place where they can use that cool thing. Or someone whose home life is poor and things are dirty and broken a lot - again, the Apple Store is a palace. The fact that individuals have individual experiences in an environment doesn't mean that the environment itself is a blank slate; the two things happen at the same time in the same space.
posted by Frowner at 1:12 PM on September 23, 2013 [4 favorites]


iDouchebags
posted by quonsar II: smock fishpants and the temple of foon at 1:14 PM on September 23, 2013


I think the followers of Frownerism would assert that vis-à-vis Fascist psychoarchitectural elements of modern retail design ARE present, yet that the modern Corporate State has yet to overtly blend true Fascism into it's marketing approaches. Primarily due to the shifting nature of the economic structures of the country and the marketers dream of isolating demographic trends.

While a strict Octoberist takes a more hardline, classical view of ontological discourse around the meaning of Fascism and the meaning of Marketing, claiming that while the interior realm of the Apple Experience is hotly-lit, and blinding, that this hot blinding interior is NOT the true interior of the Fascist worldview.
posted by Lipstick Thespian at 1:21 PM on September 23, 2013 [1 favorite]


As much as I'm enjoying this derail, which is truly hallucinatory in following its chain of free association wherever it may lead — it makes me feel like Metafilter is being free-written by a magical realist this morning — you realize that even your fellow anticapitalists might find this a very weird standard to hold a chain retail store to, right?

And

y'all know that being a consumer of Apple products is optional, right?

Phew!
posted by RedOrGreen at 1:27 PM on September 23, 2013


RedOrGreen - what possible proof do you have that Apple products are in ANY WAY optional in our culture?
posted by Lipstick Thespian at 1:30 PM on September 23, 2013 [1 favorite]


Fascism and the meaning of Marketing

This was hands-down the worst Peanuts special.
posted by griphus at 1:38 PM on September 23, 2013 [5 favorites]


I don't think this is some kind of wild overstatement of the goals of architects, either - creating spaces that have effects on how people feel and think is bog standard; it's not all decorated sheds

I don't think it's an overstatement at all. It's every architects goal to affect people with space. That's what architects do.

these things - especially the simplification, dehistoricization and massification - are part of conventional fascist politics.

But authoritarian architectures have tried to produce these effects on visitors since the Romans, the Egyptians, even. What makes these effects specifically fascist, in the abstract, detached from the historical circumstances that give Fascism its name?
posted by octobersurprise at 1:41 PM on September 23, 2013 [1 favorite]


Fascism and the meaning of Marketing

This was hands-down the worst Peanuts special.
posted by griphus at 1:38 PM on September 23


Dude, tell me about it - what the police did to PigPen in the town square - definitely not for children.
posted by Lipstick Thespian at 1:42 PM on September 23, 2013 [1 favorite]


This thread is full of examples of the kind of I'm-not-like-that bias sometimes called "fundamental attribution" bias: everyone thinks they hate this customer service model when they hear it described, and yet when you actually experience it you love it.

I really experienced it and I was furious. I can't get customer service for less than the cost of my product? All wrong. Totally wrong. I quit Apple for good last week.
posted by Ironmouth at 1:50 PM on September 23, 2013


I recently bought a MacBook Pro after 10+ years of Windows PCs. My Apple store experience was hands down the best one I've had when buying any sort of electronics. The two people who helped me were genuinely nice, very bright, good mix of technical and end-user focus as needed. I had a smorgasbord of questions ranging in complexity and they took all the time I needed and left me alone when I needed to think. They also diagnosed a Mac Mini problem free of charge and got me a useful resolution. I never felt any sort of sales pressure or nerdly sneering, which is more than I can say for the local place I take my PC to get fixed. I'm fine with "Genius" - as a career programmer and project manager, my experience is that people who can handle dialogue with a people whose tech ability varies from "grandma" to "network admin" are very, very rare and sought after. My hat's off.

As far as the off-hours ranting about customers, generally I used to do this only when customers' actions were beyond the pale. Everyone in retail does this as a way of bonding. Doesn't mean they hate customers. It means that eventually certain repetitive issues can wear you down (unless you vent as therapy!). If retail employees are *really* ranting about you, it's probably you that's the problem. The article made pretty clear that the employees under discussion weren't directly their frustrations directly *at* customers; they were being nice when most people would have said Take This Job And Shove It!
posted by freecellwizard at 2:06 PM on September 23, 2013 [1 favorite]


Are we seriously dancing about architecture here?

I mean, the take away from the article was not about how the store layout makes working there a horrible thing. It was about how the overwhelming majority of employee to customer interactions that are remembered and recounted by the employees are utterly horrible experiences for the employee.

I get that Frowner got to visit an Apple Store and it was a "gross" experience for her, and I have had the same experience walking into the local Apple Store's in both Las Vegas and Portland (and Richmond, VA, way back when it first opened). But honestly, given the limited space that most retail operations have, and the volume of visitors these stores generate, they layout and design of each store is critical to it's function. Their design choices are not arbitrary, or trying to evoke some grand ahistorical link to some political ideology. They are sectioned out and designed with the goal of serving as many customers as possible in the small area they have to work with. First off, most people are completely unaware of just how many employees are working on shift at an Apple Store. It is upwards of 50 employees per shift. Most mall retail stores have a maximum of 5. Those 50 employees can are split between sales floor "specialists", each working a particular product line, Genius Bar front line, repair backline, Trainers, managers for each of those sections, and Business sales reps. All out of that one storefront. Last I was informed, the Apple Store at Pioneer Square in Portland, OR employs over 150 people from a retail space of 3000 square feet. And the actual retail space is only about half of that, because they have to have a back area from repair and inventory storage, plus offices. So the front of house design is critical to be able to allow all of those employees to be out of the floor as well as have room for the customers to come in and wander around or browse displays. The reason they have those receipt printers at the end of every single one of the tables? Some days it is impossible to get from the front of the store to the back in anything under 20 minutes, due to it being packed in with wall to wall customers.

Oh, and the whole "genius bar appointments"? That is critical to actually being able to get anyone services in a reasonable amount of time. No, you can't just walk in with your computer and wait in line, because if everyone had to wait in line, the line would be around the block and down the street, literally. There are that many people who need service. In any given day, the Genius Bar will see over 200 people while the store is open. And every single one of those customers needs to be interviewed, because you can't just say "it doesn't work". Do you know where the surly tech support stereotype got started? From having to fix a computer where the only information you have is "it doesn't work". So to do a proper job, and actually help a customer fix their particular problem (whether it's a hardware issue, or a user education issue), that takes time and a whole lot of patience. It would be lovely if the Genius Bar employees could just stand behind the bar and have nothing else to do but help every person who walks up with a question or problem, but the reality of the situation does not make that at all possible.

Apple Retail Stores have a lot of problems, but this little piece doesn't even begin to go into the current crop of shit that's going to make working for one even more of a clusterfuck than it already is. But anyone who spouts off on an opinion about how Apple "is doing it wrong" without having all the facts should really step back and actually look at what is going on. Your perspective, as valid as you may feel it is, is solely based upon a limited amount of information. The reality is much harder to grasp unless you are actually looking at the whole picture, and your individual experience may not be due to Apple doing it wrong, but due to you being one of those "entitled" customers, who might feel that because you paid x for something that you should get y for free. And quite frankly, you are wrong, and always will be. And being rude or dismissive of the people who work from Apple retail stores is not going to make your experience any better.

*Note: I do not work for Apple, Apple Retail, or any affiliated company**. I have, however, been an Apple customer since 1999, and will continue to be one, because it has been the one platform in which I can have the most flexibility in computing. If we really want to get into a Slashdot or Ars Technica Battlefront war about how horrible Apple is, you better come armed with more than non-sense demands that they bend over backwards to please your particular aesthetic ideals. That particular battle is best fought by competing with a better product. Good luck with that.

**anymore. I used to work for an Independent Apple-Specialist, which was what existed before the Apple Retail stores existed. Let me tell you, the customer experience in an Apple Store is light years better than when the only places you could go to buy or get service for your Mac was some small business that was basically one step to the side of the repair shops that was described up thread. I will entirely give anyone who works at the Apple Retail Store so much slack after having to deal with customers who couldn't figure out that the mouse is not a foot pedal, and that the CD tray is not a coffee cup holder. I have also witnessed a customer use an original Bondi Blue iMac as a bowling ball, because the could not understand the difference between Internet Explorer and Netscape Navigator. For some segments of the population, I swear, the idea of a metaphor is completely foreign to them. When you say "Desktop", they look at the top of the table the computer is sitting on. No, seriously. I have seen this, you guys. It will utterly baffle you when you can't even talk to someone about Files and Folders when their first reaction to those words is to look for a real, physical filing cabinet on the case of the computer and attempt to pull on non-existent drawers.
posted by daq at 2:23 PM on September 23, 2013 [9 favorites]


I like the Apple store just fine. Would y'all prefer Best Buy? Do you remember Circuit City? I bet you don't remember Highland Superstore. I'll take Apple any day.

Micro Center is pretty cool. But then, I like digging through bins and piles of cables and hard drives and memory cards and picking up a couple of micro sd cards too.

I am not really an Apple person so much.

I have had to go into the Apple store to buy iThings for Apple people, and frankly it does freak me out. The employees were friendly and attentive enough. I just felt like I was leaving grubby little Toshiba handprints all over their pristine white cube thingy.
posted by louche mustachio at 2:29 PM on September 23, 2013 [2 favorites]


When I walk into a Best Buy store, I find the design aesthetic to be Marxist Socialism, with a smattering of Stalinism. The place looks like a war zone and there's nothing in stock you want. There are lots of workers employed, but no one can be found who can help out. And whenever I buy something, they keep pushing a damn Five Year extended warranty Plan on me: "What's good for the state of Best Buy is good for you, comrade."
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 2:32 PM on September 23, 2013 [5 favorites]


And don't get me started about the anarchic dystopian wastelands that are RadioShack and Fry's.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 2:34 PM on September 23, 2013


Ironmouth:
What service are you paying $30 a year for that they want another $30 to fix?
posted by daq at 2:36 PM on September 23, 2013


I'm genuinely surprised that Apple customers seem to need so much help to get their products to work.
posted by brokkr at 2:41 PM on September 23, 2013 [1 favorite]


I'm genuinely surprised that Apple customers seem to need so much help to get their products to work.

Not everyone can be as tech savvy or competent as you. Thankfully for them, Apple is making products that serve their needs, and helping them out at their retail stores. It seems to be working out well for both sides so far.
posted by RedOrGreen at 3:14 PM on September 23, 2013


Comments made upthread demonstrate the same derisive attitudes that were aimed towards me and my coworkers in the store every day

So Apple Store employees (and bartenders/doctors/etc) are allowed to mock and belittle customers when not face-to-face, but customers mocking Apple Store employees when not at the store is Not OK? That's a confusing double standard.
posted by jacalata at 3:21 PM on September 23, 2013 [1 favorite]


I'm genuinely surprised that Apple customers seem to need so much help to get their products to work.

Reasonably tech savvy Apple customers go to the Genius Bar for there's something physically wrong with my device type problems ("there's a dead pixel on my screen," or "my trackpad is stuck,"), imminent device failure ("my macbook won't boot past the spinny circle screen!"), or instances where troubleshooting via Google has failed. Not everyone is that tech savvy though, and as others have noted, many tech savvy folks specifically buy Apple products for their less tech savvy nearest and dearest precisely so they can take advantage of Apple's generous tech support and beginner user training.

After I spent about half an hour at the Genius Bar while someone in the back took my Macbook apart to get my space bar and track pad unstuck, I am full of nothing but admiration for the employees' patience. While I was waiting, I saw employees walk some seriously un-tech savvy people through basics with incredible patience and friendliness, keep up an endless stream of small talk and tech questions while trying to fix a software issue, talk sweetly but not condescendingly to a child about fixing her iPad, and offer helpful advice to a user whose computer knowledge did not extend particularly far past creating and saving documents. I was exhausted even contemplating attempts to walk these people through their problems, not to mention keeping up a pleasant stream of small talk all the while. I've never seen nearly that level of service or knowledge at the likes of Best Buy or Radio Shack. Whatever other problems Apple has, I'm pretty damned impressed with the in-store employees I've interacted with, even though I do find the whole Apple store experience to be kind of overwhelming.
posted by yasaman at 3:33 PM on September 23, 2013 [2 favorites]


jacalata:
No, it's not a double standard.
The employees are there performing a service for the customer. They are being paid to not respond directly to rudeness, threats, intimidation, misplaced anger, or any of the myriad of stupid things that get thrown at them through the course of their work day. The customers who are being mocked are the ones who have done things that are, fundamentally, bad behavior. And the employee is not allowed to react to that bad behavior. They have to take it. They get to deal with people who insist that the coffee they spilled on their laptop is the Apple Store employees fault, and that they (the customer) should get their computer repaired for free.

I have yet to see how anyone who is mocking an Apple Store employee has a logical or valid reason to say jack or shit. If the Apple Store employee was being rude or dismissive, or unhelpful, fine. But, by and large, I have yet to see this as a prevalent attitude. The rudeness and bad behavior of the general public towards people doing their jobs is more than enough justification and reason for said employees mocking or belittling, as they have had to take innumerable full face, spittle flecked diatribes from more than one unhinged individual during the course of their day. They did not instigate this. They simply bear the brunt of being treated as "the help", because of some idiotic mentality in our society that if someone is working in a service job, they deserve to be treated like indentured servants who are beneath contempt. THIS IS WHY THEY VENT ABOUT IT.

If every interaction with customers was as polite and congenial as we all wish, only idiots would be venting about bad customer behavior because there wouldn't be any real reason to complain. But that is completely not the case. People are mean, stupid, arrogant, entitled, myopic, angry, and irrational, and when they don't understand something, they tend to be even more so*. And when you are wearing an Apple work shirt on it and they don't understand why their expensive technology isn't magically reading their minds, you are suddenly the focus of all that misdirected anger and frustration. So no, it is not a double standard. It is an inevitable result of our current consumer culture. But feel free to mock people who are simply doing their jobs and taking abuse on a pretty regular basis. You are still wrong.


* I am not excluding the employee in this statement, either. And some of the more caustic and venomous venting by bartenders/doctors/Apple Store workers is just as hate-filled and dumb as the attitudes they receive from customers. But when you criticize someone for reacting to being belittled and berated through a good portion of their work day, I have very little sympathy for your opinion that some how either party is on equal footing. The employee is not in a position to respond to abuse in any way that would not likely end their employment. If they are physically assaulted, they are not allowed to retaliate, even in self-defense, without the risk of losing their job. There are no heroes in retail. You get to stand there and take whatever abuse is directed towards you, simply for wearing a shirt with a logo on it (or a stethoscope, or standing behind the bar). And that is fundamentally damaging to an individuals psyche. Until you can figure out a way to erase the memories of an angry idiot telling you that you are a worthless piece of trash for even suggesting that they might not know how to use their computer, I think anyone who has to deal with bad behavior during the course of their job deserves a little fucking slack when they need to vent about how they've been treated. They may not choose the healthiest manner to express their frustration, but frankly, until we give every retail employee the option of seeing an anger management therapist at the end of every shift, I think letting them make fun of idiots who have behaved badly is perfectly fine and dandy. It can also be quite amusing, if the person is a good story teller.
posted by daq at 4:03 PM on September 23, 2013 [9 favorites]


daq, I could hug you for expressing my sentiments so much better than I could. Seriously.
posted by These Birds of a Feather at 4:26 PM on September 23, 2013 [1 favorite]


. The customers who are being mocked are the ones who have done things that are, fundamentally, bad behavior.

No, they're being mocked in the article we all read at the top of this page for asking for help, like idiots. And if you think retail/customer service employees are beyond even abstract, they're-not-even-here-we're-talking-ABOUT-them criticism because they deal with assholes sometimes, then we'll have to fundamentally disagree. I think you and Birds of a Feather are imagining derision here and it is silly of you.
posted by jacalata at 4:35 PM on September 23, 2013 [1 favorite]


I've been into the Chermside Apple Store a few times with my girlfriend, getting stuff done to her iMac. It was busy, noisy, cramped, and we waited too long, so I stood over by the accessories and told browsers they could buy the same thing or a better thing for half the price at the JB Hi Fi next door and I'm pretty sure I convinced at least two of them. I was like "Yeah, it's a good-looking mouse, but did you know you can't even right-click? But at least it's completely waterproof." So no matter what decision they made, I came out on top.
posted by turbid dahlia at 5:25 PM on September 23, 2013 [1 favorite]


Every job I've ever had has had some customer service element to it. If you never, ever, ever talk badly about customers you'll be eligible for sainthood when you die, because I can't imagine how that's even possible. Some of my past jobs were food service; I'm not sure much more needs to be said there. Many of my positions have had tech-support elements to them, including my current one. So yes, I can be empathetic towards someone who is not tech or internet-savvy, but at the same time be exhausted by describing how to log in to a website over and over and over again.

I realize that this may be confirmation bias talking, but it seems like some of the least tech-savvy people are the ones who don't even try to learn. They just throw up their hands and say "I don't get this kind of stuff" and don't read what you wrote or listen to what you say. They just want you to do it for them. I've emailed meticulous, jargon-free, step-by-step instructions complete with screenshots and literally received a reply that said "I don't know how to do that." So yes, before I responded to try to see where the breakdown was, I bitched to my coworkers and probably posted a frustrated screed on Twitter. I refuse to believe that this makes me a bad person; I just wish I could do it as eloquently as this article.

I know someone who works as an Expert at a flagship Apple store. The tone of this article, IMO as just an observer, captures really well the special hell (and the special bright brilliant moments) that Apple retail employees experience. When he comes home from work, there's usually an "I had this great customer interaction today" story and always several more "You won't believe what this customer asked (or how they treated me)."
posted by misskaz at 5:40 PM on September 23, 2013 [1 favorite]


turbid dahlia, was this 2005? Apple's mice have supported two button behavior since 2005.
posted by blob at 5:45 PM on September 23, 2013 [6 favorites]


"Yeah, it's a good-looking mouse, but did you know you can't even right-click? But at least it's completely waterproof." So no matter what decision they made, I came out on top.
posted by turbid dahlia at 5:25 PM on September 23 [+] [!]


In fairness, LOTS of Windows peripherals will run just fine on a Mac. I'm using an Acer brand flat screen display as a second monitor for my MacBook Pro. It was $80 at a PC store and required no special setup beyond a $7 DVI-HDMI cable.

Telling Mac users that they can't right-click, however, is completely outdated information.
posted by tantrumthecat at 6:22 AM on September 24, 2013


Whenever I'm tempted to roll my eyes at someone who has made it to 2013 without learning the very basics of how a computer operates, I think about what the guy who fixes my car must think of me.
posted by escabeche at 6:45 AM on September 24, 2013 [4 favorites]


I stood over by the accessories and told browsers they could buy the same thing or a better thing for half the price at the JB Hi Fi next door and I'm pretty sure I convinced at least two of them. I was like "Yeah, it's a good-looking mouse, but did you know you can't even right-click? But at least it's completely waterproof

That's the really special combination of dickishness and ignorance that customer service people love, btw. *slow clap*
posted by empath at 6:47 AM on September 24, 2013 [5 favorites]


Snark aside, I envy Apple product users a bit for the existence of the Genius Bar. So far I haven't had any problems with either my Galaxy Nexus or Nexus 7 but having a local place to go if they broke would make me feel better.
posted by octothorpe at 6:58 AM on September 24, 2013


I had a bad experience the only time I went to a genius bar. I'm not sure if that makes me a winner or a loser in this thread.
posted by under_petticoat_rule at 9:03 AM on September 24, 2013


turbid dahlia, was this 2005? Apple's mice have supported two button behavior since 2005.

Apple's mice have supported two button behavior since 2005.

two button behavior since 2005.

2005

top lel
posted by turbid dahlia at 7:40 PM on September 26, 2013


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