retail news in context, analysis with attitude

by Kevin Coupe

This is the kind of review that most retailers dread.

It is on, is my columnist Mark Sunshine, and here's how it starts:

"I love my Apples but I hate going to Apple stores.  The store near me is overcrowded, noisy and delivers crummy customer service. The problem with Apple is that it sells a lot of iPhones, iPads and computers but didn’t build enough retail infrastructure for acceptable customer and warranty service."

Sunshine writes that when he had a problem, he needed to make an appointment in order to get it fixed: "No one who buys a new iPhone, Apple computer or iPad needs an appointment. People spending money on new products don’t have to wait.  Only people that own broken Apple products were sent away."

You can read the whole critique here.

Now, to be honest, I'm not sure that Sunshine is being entirely fair here. (Despite his last name, he seems a little cranky. Perhaps he should put a little Monty Python on the Victrola...)

Not all Apple Stores suffer from the problems he describes. I go to the Apple Store frequently, and I've never encountered the cultural service issues that he complains about. (It sounds like the small store near his house is a lot smaller than most of the newer Apple Stores out there.)

That said ... I do think that Apple has to be sure that its mania for creating new products is matched by a dedication to customer service. And while this may be an isolated case, this column is a perfect example of how one bad customer experience can be broadcast to a large audience.

Could this be a result of a change in leadership in the Apple Store organization? (The guy who pretty much created the division, Ron Johnson, went to JC Penney, only to be replaced by John Browett, who had a history in discounting. Browett is now gone, after just six months, and a search is on for his replacement.)

Apple needs to pay attention to these complaints ... and to be willing to examine the entire division from the ground up.
KC's View: