Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Like Eve, unable to resist Apple

I first bought a Macbook about five years ago, and it had never gone wrong before last week.

My old PC was always grinding to a halt, and had to spend days being fixed at the home of a man I didn't know in an unsavoury part of town: I always imagined he was copying everything about me he could find on the drive he was recovering.

When my Macbook started taking several minutes to load up, I knew it was sick, but it wasn't dead.

Thanks to Apple stores, I didn't have to call the dubious man. Three visits to my local Apple emporium solved the problem:

On the first, I bought a small hard drive to back up my data, with advice from a young man who said I didn't need the more expensive one I was looking at because something that cost about half the price, around £40, would do just as well.

Backed up, I returned to the store and explained about the slow startup. Someone else looked at it, and said that the hard drive had failed. They could supply a new one but I'd be much better off going to a shop across the mall which sold them a lot cheaper.

New hard drive installed, back home, I tried to restore the data from my new backup drive. It copied back onto the computer, but then the computer wouldn't start.

Third visit to Apple store: a young woman was given my case, and sat me down to hear what I'd done. She operated on the laptop, and decided it was all probably fine. She'd call me later in the afternoon and I could pick it up on my way home from work. She did, it's working again and Apple has created another satisfied customer.

Why? Well, apart from the fact that the computer is working, and fixing it cost me nothing - for some reason, Apple doesn't charge for this kind of thing - it was the attitude of the people at the store which won me over.

They have overcome the social problems of geekiness. They listen like good doctors, and engage you in what they're doing to sort things out.

My helpers sat across the desk with the laptop angled so we could both see what was going on. They didn't play the 'you won't understand this' card; nor did they treat me like an idiot by making everything stupidly simple. I left with my dignity as well as my computer, even though I'd probably made some silly mistakes.

Arguably, there was a slightly cultish, evangelical feel to the place, everyone bouncing round with iPads in hand. But it was upbeat, polite rather than alienatingly cool, and stuffed with staff ready to talk about whatever you wanted.

If this is cold, calculating brand-building, give me more of it.

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