Reader Anjela writes in wondering if a certain employee of the Apple store has has a rare disorder that makes women invisible to him. That might explain why the employee spent the entire AirBook shopping excursion talking to her husband instead of Anjela—the actual customer.
1 Infinite Loop
Cupertino, CA 95014
Today (2/28/2008, at approximately 4:00pm) I walked into the Bellevue Square Apple Store (in Bellevue, WA) intent on buying a MacBook Air. I am delighted by the MacBook Air. I am the geek for whom the MacBook Air was invented. I am a lifelong PC user, and until now the leap to a new, unfamiliar operating system was a roadblock, but for a machine with a full-size keyboard and monitor that comes in at three pounds, I was not just willing to make the switch, I was genuinely excited. (The fact that I don’t want my next laptop to run Vista doesn’t hurt, either.) I’ve been waiting to get one since the day they were announced.
I had a horrific customer service experience in your Bellevue Square store that has me rethinking this idea. I will certainly never set foot in that store again, and I hope I never have to deal with any of your Apple Store employees in person, if this is how they’re trained to treat customers.
The Apple Store “genius” — and I’m offended that he was called that, given the stupendous idiocy he exhibited today — was named Bill. Bill was called over when my husband and I came into the store; I had told the concierge that I was interested in buying a MacBook Air.
Well, first of all, Bill DID NOT LOOK AT ME. He did not greet me. He greeted my husband, introduced himself, and shook his hand… and completely ignored me. He didn’t ask my name, what we were there to buy, or who the new computer was for. He did not make eye contact. He simply behaved as though I were not there, and steered my husband through the crowded store — ignoring me and leaving me behind.
When I caught up to them, he was commencing the hard-sell of “AppleCare”. After being told several times that I was not interested, he asked my husband if he was a Microsoft employee, and pointed out that he could get a 12% discount on it. My husband finally stopped Bill in his tracks and told Bill that the computer was for me. He asked Bill if the education discount, which I qualified for, or the Microsoft employee discount, which my husband qualified for, was a better deal. Bill told my husband that the education discount was better — but continued talking to my husband as if I were not there. Even after being told the computer was for me and that we’d be using my education discount on it, Bill did not greet me, make eye contact with me, or acknowledge my presence in any way.
After scrolling through a screen of peripherals and asking my husband — not me — about each one, and only giving up on selling us the items when my husband — not me — confirmed I was not interested, he muttered something I could not make out (I presume because he was, again, talking to my husband and not myself), and wandered off.
I did not wait for him to come back before leaving the Apple Store. As my husband was not interested in anything at the store, he left, too.
I am a grown woman. I am 29 years old. I was dressed in normal clothes — a plain blue t-shirt, jeans, a flannel overshirt, sneakers. I don’t know how or why this employee could not see me, but I was extremely offended by the way I was treated. I have a credit card. I use computers — in fact, I intended to use the MacBook Air for my volunteer position as a CSS/XHTML coder. I’m the person who walked into the store ready to buy myself a new computer, not my husband. Yet Bill could barely bring himself to look at me, and appeared more interested in selling my husband the peripherals that went along with the computer than in selling me, the actual buyer, the product I was willing to “make the switch” for.
I hope you’ll let the managers at the Bellevue Square store know that women use computers, too, and that if a couple comes into a store to buy one, perhaps it would be a good idea to ask which of them is making a purchase. And if the answer is “a girl”, please tell the employees to talk to her, and not her partner, brother, spouse, or some random guy standing ten feet away from her, as I believe Bill might have done.
I can honestly say I haven’t had a customer service experience this awful for several years (a fast-food restaurant manager who threw a pen at my friend when she asked for his regional manager’s name comes to mind). If I decide to get myself a MacBook Air despite all this — and right now, I’m not sure I will; if Bill’s attitude was typical of what I’ll face should I need technical support or any other sort of customer service from Apple, I don’t want any part of it — I certainly won’t be going to one of your stores to be ignored by an employee; I’ll be ordering it online.
Ew. What a jackass. You’re right to report this employee, and we also would have left without buying the computer, but the next time someone treats you like this—call them out on it right there. There’s no reason sexist jerks should get away with treating you like that. You don’t even need to be rude, just look the jerk in the eye and say, “I’m the one with the money, talk to me. Don’t talk to my husband.” Then, if they don’t get embarrassed and profusely apologize, feel free to calmly explain to them why they have lost your business. We don’t mean to suggest you did something wrong by simply walking out; we offer this advice because standing up for yourself will make you feel a lot better. Trust us. You don’t need to wait for someone else to let the jerks know what is up.
Apple owes you an apology for this employee’s behavior.