Wednesday, May 28, 2014

What You CAN'T Do At The Apple Store

By assessed market valuation, Apple Computer is the most valuable company in the world. With a stock price slowly regaining its high value, a share will set you back $624.56 as of today. The company is valued at $538.34 billion. That is more GDP than 80% of the countries in the world create in any given year. It might be even higher. Maybe Cupertino can become a city state along the lines of the Vatican City. They act like it.

Gotta Go? There's A Cheesecake Factory At The Corner
If you have ever been to the Apple Store it is almost like a Zen experience. Everything is white. Backlit images of products are displayed along the walls, row after row of products are set up for you to play with to your hearts content and hordes of blue t-shirted technicians are there to answer your every question. I never realized how awed Microsoft was until I stumbled into their store by accident. The only thing they didn't copy was the Apple, oh and the crowds. The Microsoft store is a very lonely place.

Lets look at the statistics before I go into my story. Apple stores took in $4.5 billion last year in sales. That was up 6% from the year before in a still struggling economy. There are 416 stores in the world and Apple plans to open another 30-35 more this year. The average store averages $10.9 million a year in sales and they get, on average, 18,500 visitors per store per week. Pretty impressive figures you have to admit. Measuring their stores on a square foot sales basis they sell more than any company on the planet. Far more than Harrad's, Tiffany's or any of the fancy stores that might come to mind, even Wal-mart.

Stores are remodeled fairly often. In fact, the Pasadena Apple Store in Old Town Pasadena was closed for several years to do...I don't know what. It looked pretty much the same as when it closed. I guess if you've got the cash spend it. What they didn't do, I found out yesterday, was re-open the public restroom.

Tuesday my wife's iPhone 4 died. After a trip to the AT&T store, they told her she would have to take it to the Apple Store to have the battery replaced. She loves that phone, has the same connections as her iPad and could see no reason to get a new phone. So up we went.

This is an Apple home. I bought the very first Apple PowerPC computer the week they came out in 1994. As a graphic designer I didn't really have much of a choice. I have had a PC but after about the third virus gave up and used Apple exclusively. If my clients used Word we were good to go. Today we have two iPhones, two iPads, two laptops and I have an aging duo-core iMac. I walked into to 2007 MacWorld just after Steve Jobs announced the iPhone to the world. When David Pogue told us all the next day this was the device that would change the world we wondered, Mac heads or not, what he was smoking. Yet, on June 29, 2007 I was number 222 at the Glendale, CA Galleria. As we know, he was right! I even bought 10 shares of stock for $93 a share, a bargain today!

We had no idea how long this would take and was told that it would be an hour before they could fit us in. That was ok. I could play to my hearts content. Then they checked out the phone and yes, the battery was dead and that it would have to be replaced. You couldn't leave it, you had to wait. It would take around 30 minutes and cost $80. My wife agreed and so we waited. Well, 30 minutes came and went and no phone.

After my prostrate surgery in January, continence is still an issue. I am better but have a 90 minute bladder. Well past that time I quietly asked an Apple employee where the rest room was. "We don't have one. If you need to go you will have to go down to the Cheesecake Factory on the corner." Stunned, I said, "Really?" "Yes. Go in and its in the back corner." I was utterly humiliated. I was starting to leak and needed to go now, not a three or four minute walk down Colorado Blvd. How they ever got a permit for this or any of their stores without a restroom with the volume of customers is beyond me.

I am not done with this. Tim Cook and most of the Apple board and maybe the Pasadena City Council will get a note about this as well. I am sorry. The population is aging and unbidden our bodies are starting to go. I didn't want prostrate cancer or any of the other afflictions I am dealing with. It just happened. That Apple, a company so revered would treat their customers like this is simply beyond the pale. I would be interested in hearing your thoughts.

Alan Krug

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