Apple’s customer service leaves a sour taste

I have only had good experiences with Apple. My iPhone (an old model now) works perfectly despite a few concrete nosedives. When we got an iPad recently it was a nice purchasing experience. Admittedly it was a Monday morning and the staff didn’t have anything else to do, but it worked for us.

But that’s all changed. The other day my husband went to buy the latest iPhone, which has been released for around two weeks. But it seems they didn’t want our business.

According to Apple we couldn’t buy the new iPhone outright. We could buy on a plan, but if we wanted to buy it outright we needed to order it online and IF (a big if) it was available Apple would email us and tell us a timeslot that suited them for us to pick up. If we didn’t come in at the designated time we’d lose it. In other words, forget about anything you, the customer, had planned to do. Apple will decide if you buy an iPhone and the time and day you will buy it. What is this? The Soviet Union circa 1975? Apple – you are running a business here! We are the customer!

Even Ikea isn’t that bad.

So we walked out.

Steve Jobs once said that once the accountants get hold of the business, all is lost. It seems that with Steve Jobs gone, Apple has lost their way. Clearly they need Russell Crowe to sort them out.


Secrets of the Superbrands

Recently I caught up with Secrets of the Superbrands, a doco by Alex Riley, who himself is a cross between Beaker from the Muppets and a noodle (a no-name noodle of course).

Alex is delving into why people will fork out so much dosh, and are obsessed by luxury brands for computers, fashion and food. He wants to understand why Apple garners so much admiration, why the opening of a computer shop is like a Lady Gaga concert. He asks why people will spend $3,000 they don’t have on a handbag and why people will turn a department shop into a middle eastern war zone just to get a brand name belt on sale.

What he finds is disturbing. When it comes down to it people are moronic, shallow pack animals for whom brands are like religion – but without the care factor. Brands have successfully turned themselves into mini religions, with their iconry, logos, beauty, exclusivity and idea that we seek them out to obtain happiness and recognise a brand in others. (In fact the area of the brain most connected with religion lights up when people are shown branded products.)

You know the really INSANE thing? It’s just marketing. In the case of sunglasses they are all made in the same factory. On Secrets of the Superbrands we see a factory in Italy where it’s Bally sunglasses one shift, the next hour, same people, same equipment, same factory it’s Prada, next hour Coach. And so on. Evidence that the product is just a product like any others made in a factory. The rest is marketing.

Alex Riley’s treatment doesn’t say much for people or the future of the planet. And the scary thing is these people vote.

A skinny rant on jeans shop assistants

In my quest for some non-skinny jeans I’ve been spending more time than is sanity-producing in jeans shops.

And because I’m searching for a rare item – non-skinny jeans – I have to talk to the shop assistant. Shop assistants in jeans shops are invaraibly young, pretty (for the moment), wearing an armour of denim and an attitude that could well solve the world’s global warming problems.

In the pre-skinny jeans era, shopping at jeans shops was not a problem. I could find what I wanted to try on and either walk out or buy it, which could all be transacted in grunts. But now … I have to ask questions. Do you have any non-skinny jeans? Do you have flare? Do you have bootleg? Does straightleg mean skinny? Are your sizes big or small? And what is a bum pump? (I am not making this up).

Every question in young blond shop assistant land is like totally a personal affront that you should deign to talk to her. What are you thinking talking? Don’t you know what a Boot Sunday Radiance Wash is? Or a Demi Straight Nightfall? Not to mention a Slim Extra Shade Love Boat? Denim Straight Indigo Intrigue?

Anyway, in the end I bought the jeans (Mod Demi Boot Agate), in fact I got two pairs. Because I don’t want to go back for a very long time.

Paris homewares obsession leads to ennui de maison

Whenever I go to a homewares shop, there’s a row of pretend Eiffel Tower vases retailing for $25.99 plus a bookcase load of Eiffel Tower bookends, Paris notepads, Paris pens, Essence of Paris room spray (I mean COME ON), pictures, candles, cushion covers and anything at all really that is big enough to plaster the word Paris on it.

Paris itself I have nothing against: great art, architecture, food. Sure the people could do a few rounds at charm school; c’est la vie. But I don’t understand who started this faux French homewares explosion, why, and more importantly, when it’s going to end.

Because if I have something in my living room advertising Paris or a French provincial farmhouse, I want to be able to say – I got that in Paris. Even if it’s made in China, I still want to be able to look back an think, ahh, that 1997 Paris trip. I want memories, even bad ones will do, as long as they’re mine. But if I buy a Paris cushion cover in Sydney I only have a memory of going to Bed Bath and Table and parking at Westfield. Those are memories I can do without.

The French have an expression for when they have absolutely had it up to HERE – it translates as “my bowl is running over”. Yes, c’est vrai, my bowl is running over and I don’t want to have to go to a faux French homewares store to pick up another one.

DFO – an outlet for leftover crap

I’ve heard about Direct Factory Outlets or DFO’s, as those in the know say, for years but never been tempted. But the lure of fabulously affordable gear and just a relatively short trundle down the road to Homebush got me curious. Were there really sell-out bargains? Would I pick up a once-in-a-lifetime label I loved? I had to find out.

So, one Saturday I moseyed on down. I knew I was too late. At 11am parking already looked like Bethlehem at Christmas time.

Wow, this place must be really good I thought. There must be plenty of bargains to be had and lots of fabulous new season clothes. Wrong on all counts. So wrong.

The shops, once I put my periscope up to see above the throng, were full of last season’s leftover summer gear at not particularly knock-down prices. The deals were no better than those anyone would have found in March in their local mall. There was a nod to new season stuff with about $10 off the price they would normally be. I bought some boots and saved $10, so was ahead for 2 minutes until I had a weird-tasting sushi and drink. Bingo – $10 gone.

After that I’d nearly lost the will to live, so joined the people wandering around in a giant circle, and I hoped I would bump into the exit sign on the way. What disturbed me the most about DFO, was not the obvious rip-off, not the windscreen washers in the carpark, not the scary sushi but the amount of people there who, not only thought this was a good place to spend a sunny Saturday, but that they were getting good deals. They were laughing and enjoying themselves and as I left the carpark cars were banked up waiting to get into the place.

I wanted to yell: turn around and get a life people. But some people need to find out the hard way. I know I did.

And another thing …

I don’t want to give out my name when I order a coffee.

Why do they need my name? I don’t want my name blurted out in front of the Gloria Jeans crowd. It’s none of their business.  Can’t they give me a number? Or even do their job and remember what I ordered? Who knows – maybe even bring it to my table? Do I ask too much?

Giving out my name at cafes feels like an invasion of privacy. After all it’s just a cup of coffee, not a committment ceremony here.

So what’s the answer? Give a false name?  I’ve done this many times but keep forgetting what my cafe name is. Probably stopping going to these places is the only real answer. It’s not like the coffee’s any good, but it’s difficult now – they know my name.

How’s your day been?

This is what I really hate. When people – let’s call them shop assistants – ask me how my day is.

It’s none of your business is how my day is. I am not your friend, relative or colleague. I hardly know you and who knows, I may never see you again, and if you keep it up, I will never shop here again so I don’t think it’s reasonable to start a whole new ten second friendship, based on … nothing.

Plus there’s: any plans for the weekend? What are you wearing this with? What are you cooking tonight (a butcher special), and the fake perennial … how are you? I don’t want any of these fakesque questions, I would really just like to stick to the weather or a plain old can I help you?

So, here’s the answer next time they ask how’s your day been? Normal. That’s what. Now hand me back my credit card and let me get back to enjoying my cranky day.