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May 21, 2008

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I find it interesting that someone at HQ prepared for the situation when network/cc were down but that it doesn't appear they thought it important enough to have a dry run practice session so at least the employees could keep up their applely demeanor.

Apart from wanting special treatment, the blond had a point. Why not have an emergency procedure that gets folks out the door faster by letting them complete part of the transaction later? Said "later" may be an extra opportunity to sell her something.

Ooh... you got an air! solid state disk model?

The problem is, Apple is not going to let people walk out of the store with thousands of dollars worth of merchandise without an authorization. If TD was really down...not much they could do except use a "backup" merchant account with another bank and that would just be a huge pain in the neck.

You should return the air and go to a best buy. Best buy is actually the better buy (a rarity) because they give you a free air superdrive for the same price.

http://www.bestbuy.ca/catalog/dept.asp?logon=&langid=EN&catid=26217&CMP=ILC-Top_Links

But if you can afford an air, you prolly don't care. :)

Robert,

Thanks. I called the guys at Best Buy in New Market and out of stock. Combine that with my general I want it now, kid in candy store, attitude and, well, there you go.

>R<

She was offering to leave her card so they could run it after she's gone.

What are the odds that someone will have a conterfeit card available when a POS system goes down?

Andy,
It was one of those you had to have been there kind of moments. The store clearly wasn't going to take her credit card, have her walk out the door with the product and have her come back. There is the issue of credit amount on the card, signature, etc, but it was the huffy, I don't need to be with the little people attitude that was hilarious. You had to have been there kinda thing.

>R<

My point is not that the princess should have gotten special treatment. It's that one should always be willing and able to take a customer's money.

Imagine what your posting would have been if they had a POS outage and still managed to do biz. Instead of a lot of grumpy customers, you'd have been telling us about how the apple folk and customers bonded over the experience.

There might have even been a tale of two princesses. One bounced out the door happily with her purchases, promising to come back tomorrow to pick up her card and the other stomped out to the hissing of the crowd.

Even though many people consider themselves enlightened and knowledgeable people, they often have no clue as to how the retail Point of Sale process is done. When systems go down you have to fall back on paper, that's the way it is. Online is no different, if an online site authorizations is down, you can't use your card. When I worked in retail if I would have done a transaction without a validation, and the card turns up bad or with insufficient funds then my store, AND MY PAY is affected. A store managers income is often tied to the store's P&L. As nice a person as I might be, I'm not going to let a person fly. Odd as it may be I work for money just like anyone else. If the roles were reversed I have little doubt that people would feel the same way. Getting upset and yelling at employees and Apple is just plan an adolescent, jejune behavior, and tantrums in adults should be treated no differently than how you deal with them as a child. A shame I couldn't have gotten away with spankings ; D When systems are unavailable you have to go back to taking imprints of cards, getting zip numbers and street addresses so that when systems are restored you can MANUALLY enter the data back in. As for backups, I think shoppers seem to think you just change connections and whammo it will work again. If it was that easy then it'd be easy to falsify and create fraudulent charges. Systems in place are done that way for a reason. : )

I run a mail and parcel centre and yesterday a couple transformers blew up near us and shut our power off from about 11:30AM until past our closing. No power means nothing works and only manual procedures will get anything to happen. Cell phones to call in for shipping information and pricing and other services we offer. Cash only as I couldn't find our supply of credit card slips, although one of our mailbox clients we let come in today to pay for his shipment.

So, I can understand the frustrations as expressed by the staff and the customers. A number of customers came in, saw the lights were out, we told them the power was off and they were PO'd that we couldn't take their money from their plastic. We did what we could, but sometimes that isn't enough.

Technology is pretty good, but it does fail periodically, so plan for it. We are at the start of some office renovations here, so we'll be getting some heavier duty UPS's and trying to get all our emergency equipment/preparations put together where they can be found when needed.

I think what many people don't get here is that this problem is the result of the bank's systems going down. There is nothing this Apple store or any other store using that bank for their credit and debit processing could have done. And you can't let people take merchandise without a properly authorized transaction. The woman making the stink could have been well over her credit limit on the card and the store would have been stuck if the card didn't authorize later.

I've been the victim of bank processing outages like this and they don't even so much as apologize for potentially costing your store a lot of money. And if the crappy equipment they will only rent to you dies, you have to wait until they courier a replacement to you. This is why most retailers hate their banks.

The only thing the store could have done to make things go faster was to make a separate line for cash transactions. They don't need bank systems or even power to deal with those sales. Just a calculator to add up the sale and tax, or simply a pencil and some math skills if they're old school :).

I'm well aware that taking the card is taking a risk.

My point is that exceeding expectations typically brings disproportionate rewards.

Andy, I do realize that you are playing Devil's Advocate and thats not such a bad thing. I believe that what we can take away from this is:

Some customers are going to have unreasonable expectations.
Those who can meet those unrealistic demands are the leaders in their field.

Given recent close encounters of a similiar kind what is even scarier is watching the individuals at the cash a) try to calculate the tax on a $100 purchase in their head [even on paper] and then b) make change from $150.00. Seems to me the Apple Store has an inadequate disaster recovery plan.

You people are really stupid. I worked at Apple in Toronto for 2 years, Yorkdale then Eaton Centre. First of all, in the 2 years I was there, the TD system went down maybe a whole 2 times. When it does, it's for like 15 minutes too. It's illogical that they would train employees on what to do when this happens, when chances are the employees trained won't even be working there when it does happen due to turn over.

As for letting people take merchandise without paying, that's ridiculous as well. You obviously don't know Apple. When I was there customers couldn't even use a credit card without a drivers licence which has since changed I believe. Don't be stupid. Then when the blond girl a week later gets her statement and calls Visa saying she was told by Apple to leave her card with them, and suddenly there's tons of transactions on it, what will happen to Apple? Whether hers or not she could dispute everything saying she didn't authorize anything.

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