A Sydney dad has accused Apple of “stupidity” after he claimed a staff member in one of its stores made it so difficult to pay he was forced to walk out and buy the exact same product at JB Hi-Fi instead.
That was despite the fact he was ready and willing to stump up the cash right there and then in the Apple store.
Calvin Scott* told news.com.au he felt “frustrated and like my intelligence was being questioned” about the encounter he had at the Apple Store in the Sydney north shore suburb of Chatswood.
Mr Scott entered the store on January 28 intending to buy a cover for his son’s iPad. Finding one for $80 he approached an Apple staff member. That’s when he said the issue began.
Apple stores generally don’t have traditional check-outs. Instead staff roam with payment terminals which customers can use to pay with by card.
He said he was asked to wait by a staff member. “They got super awkward with me standing in front of them, so they asked, ‘Do you have an iPhone?’.
“I said ‘Yes … but how is that relevant?’ That’s when they started trying to sell me on this Apple Pay thing. He gave me the impression I had to use the app to buy the product.”
Apple Pay is the California based firm’s mobile payments system whereby people can load their cards on to an app on their phones and then pay directly though their iPhone.
In Australia, the technology is gradually being rolled out to accept Apple Pay. Customers of ANZ and Commonwealth Bank can load their cards into Apple Pay and it can be used to tap on and off trains and ferries in Sydney or for food in Woolworths.
But Mr Scott said he wasn’t prepared for what he said was an Apple Pay hard sell. He just wanted to buy his iPad cover and leave the shop.
“Even though I told the guy that I wasn’t interested, he kept going on. I asked him at least three times if he was going to take my money or my credit card, and he just kept deflecting back to Apple Pay.
“At one point I said, ‘You’ve got all these people in Apple uniforms walking around — are you sure none of them can help me?’
“He rolled his eyes at me and said, ‘That is a sales manager, and that is a technician’, as though I’m meant to be able to distinguish between all the black shirts.”
Increasingly exasperated at being unable to pay the normal way, Mr Scott took drastic action.
“I threatened to leave but he said I was being unreasonable. So I put the product down, walked across the street, and purchased the exact same item from JB Hi Fi.”
Mr Scott said the he found the whole encounter “weird”.
“I felt frustrated and I felt like my intelligence was being questioned. I’m not really concerned by the legalities (of whether a store can force you to use a certain payment method) as much as I am the stupidity that transpired.
“Very simply, it was poor salesmanship to insist I should use Apple Pay even though I told them I wasn’t interested.
“I’m just happy Apple has competition in the retail space.”
Apple wouldn’t comment to news.com.au on the incident at its Chatswood store.
But in late January Apple’s outgoing head of stores, Angela Ahrendts, told news.com.au staff members were not driven by sales targets.
“When (Apple founder) Steve Jobs hired his first team members he told them you’re not allowed to sell and there’s no quotas, no commission — it’s not a typical retailer.”
Apple has 506 stores worldwide including 22 in Australia. Recently the company has been revamping to make them less shop and more “town square” where people will be as likely to ask for advice and take part in a workshop as buy anything.
“80 per cent of people have gone to apple.com before they come into a store so they already have that deep learning in the products. But apple.com. is a 2D experience; when you come into a store that’s 3D. If you’re coming to the store, we’re assuming you want a much more human experience,” Ms Ahrendts said.
New and refurbished stores will include new style Genius Bars, dubbed the “Genius Grove” tucked away out of sight from the street and shaded by indoor trees.
Much of the store space will instead be given over to a multitude of workshops and talks under the “Today at Apple” brand.
These series of free in-store sessions at every store, all of which use Apple products, cover topics such as coding for kids, creating drum solos and guided walks to master architectural photography.
In Australia there will be 1000 hours of Today at Apple workshops each week.
* Calvin Scott is not the customer’s real name; they chose to remain anonymous and so a pseudonym has been used.