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Delbert H. Rhodes, Op-Ed

As customers do we desire the best deals for our dollars? Absolutely; and during the past week yours truly began to search. My findings: Store.Apple.Com. For many years, the desire to own an Apple Macintosh seems as only a dream; and although then gainfully employed the cherished delectable appears too expensive. Now unemployed and retired somehow this brand of thinking escapes me; and therefore, I open my eyes to reality; and that is, “Make it happen.”

Recently, my Panasonic CF-52 suffers forgetfulness, it continues to fail whenever I attempt to access its desktop. The gem provided me years of service but it is frustrating to be repeatedly denied entry. A patient man but tired and torn, I trash the laptop; and although semi-tough it is not tough enough. Why not trade it for another? The hard drive contains too much that I want no one else to have and especially my written works.

Subsequent to considerations of all time favorites, and although Microsoft Operating Systems and I no longer share hearts, I revisit such laptops as Dell, Hewlett-Packard and Toshiba; recently, I returned a Toshiba because of its annoying Charms Bar; not so charming, as it appears without solicitations continuing to interrupt key strokes, obliterating desired tasks. Revisiting this or any computer with Windows 8 is risky. Ultimately, my intent to become an Apple user; and thereby, enjoying the fruits of true computing, gorge me with anticipation.

I look forward to technologies absent the guile and greed of Bill Gates’s empire.

Locating an Apple Store nearby, I telephone it and receive the automated human salesman; naturally, I prefer speaking with real people; however, and as long as it is honest, a sale is a sale. During the interview, and subsequent to my detailed description of the intended purchase, the “salesman” forwards my call to an Apple Specialist.

We are on our way?

The Specialist with whom I chat is friendly, cheerful and expertly represents Apple and the product of my choice, the Apple Macbook Pro, refurbished. Why refurbished rather than new? According to research, the new models are overly priced and the refurbished models not only are cheaper but avail the exact protections as would their new counterparts. Yes, and including the Apple Care Plan which converts the annual warrantee into a three-year plan. After about two days of discussion, I realize a financial conflict with my credit card and then halt the deal.

Within twenty-four hours I resolve the issue. Kudos to my financial partners. Later, I email the Apple Specialist regarding the deal but with conditions. Correct, yours truly decides that closure based merely on a voice, a plan and a promise is not a good deal; for my money, I need protections, financial security.

I request; and yes, including “Please,” that the Specialist provide me proof of his Apple credentials, or another form of legal photo identification: the Specialist’s response: “Thank you for the email. I am certain you can understand why that request is not allowed.” Okay and as stated within my email, the deal is off the table. I ask, should I stroll into the Apple Store, would I be denied identification of its salespeople, would names or should they be requested, even Apple personnel employment numbers be provided me. If so then why deny me the same parcels of proof at the online store?

Why would a reputable company like Apple not consider the financial concerns of its customers? Does good business acumen assert such practices as prudent and regarding every avenue of transaction? Are these codes written in company policy, and is the information secret? Only the Company should know? If so then perhaps only the Company should buy its products. Why must customers trust deals with invisible store personnel without proof of credentials? The telephone, a voice, a plan and a promise…I think not. Mirroring the circumstances, would Apple close business deals… rhetorical, right.

I firmly believe that online stores like Store.Apple.Com should build into transactions voluntary submissions of employee identification; and without customer request. Here, the relative x’s and y’s may appear minor but considering potential sales and customer comforts and of course, trusts, the end results, the differences, are major. Companies and Customers benefit and everybody is happy.

After all, do companies not fare well from customer expenditures?

Without the dollars, the ChingChing at the registers is quietly stilled, and should such situations persist, the benefits of closure witness only financial failures. Yeah, Store.Apple.Com, “Go and sit in the corner and watch your head grow.” Nevertheless, seeking satisfaction, attending my goal, I surrender to the inconveniences of the safer route, I drive to the store.

My first visit to the local Mall ends without success. The parking plan offers little to like, which always turns me away; traffic flows close by and momentary distractions could end tragically. Plenty of sidewalks but the creatures of discomfort crowd my senses of wellness. Moreover, tight parking spaces provide room too cramped for even small children to maneuver between cars. I take the risk, oh, well.

Also, and because the terrain is strange to me, I move about with unsure footing. I am the sailor aboard a rolling ship, the surging seas rendering the ocean invisible. Aimlessly, I stroll from place to place. I return to my vehicle and then quickly, the Mall falls to my rear. The comforts of home once more mine.

After more days of telephone calls and smooth talking salespeople, I shut down, allowing for time to think.

Yes, I return to the Mall and this time with a new game plan, if the store is here then I would find it. I would either leave with the MBP or receipt of sale, awaiting delivery of the laptop. A crowded store, I peruse the MBP; and finally, a salesperson assists me. The first attempt to purchase fails: I phone the Creditor, satisfy the interview, and then return to the store. This time: I close the deal.

Refurbished or new? I decide new. Why? After lengthy discussions, the first salesperson could not provide the exact assurances as offered by the Online Apple Specialist. Also, and once more, the Spider Senses tingled. I wondered whether the refurbished model would actually display body defects; the salesman-remember, uncertain-could not certify that the refurbished model would inherit a new body. I want nothing scratched, dented, or smudged. The Apple Man stressed that he has “…never seen any with damage to the body…never.”

Still, and wary that the better deal may escape me, I revert to an old conversation between a friend and me: “…you work, have the money, so why buy a used product,” emphatically, “Buy new!”

So, there you have it; and, although seemingly, my premise may be thwarted; nonetheless, I never implied that refurbished is the better choice but that customers want the best deal for their dollars. Sometimes and considering the unknowns, new is the best deal. Moreover, by purchasing the Apple, Macintosh I realized a long-lost dream, ending perpetually procrastinating the purchase.

I now compute A.M.U.Y. (c): Apple/Macintosh/UNIX/Yosemite and say good-bye to closed sourced Operating Systems and Software. Clarification: Apple, a closed sourced company uses Open Sourced materials.

For them whom know the Spanish language, is it not interesting that the abbreviation/acronym-A.M.U.Y.-is A Muy; and its English language translation, “a very.” Yes, I am proud owner of superb innovative technology and “a very” satisfied customer.

Happily, to Bill Gates’s O.S.C.S.A.T. (c): Operating Systems Commercialized Strong Armed Tactics: I say, “SEE YA!”

Here, I would be remiss not to mention my overall experiences while inside the Apple Store. Although the store services a large crowd and it takes about ten minutes for help to reach me, the personnel, a total of six, is patient, positive, kind and friendly. Without such qualities a job in sales is the wrong place to be.

The two salespeople actively assisting me are very helpful; and although the first could not ascertain some things that the Online Specialist offered; still, the salesman presumes them as available only at the Online store. Moreover, the gentleman is quite knowledgeable of the Apple Macbook Pro. I ask many questions of him about the refurbished model and his answers are on target. He virtually repeats what, previously, I gained through research and during discussion with the online Specialist.

Supporting her, the second salesperson and I spend little time, as on my reentry into the store I eagerly close the deal. Effortlessly, “L” speeds me through billing and receiving. Doubtlessly, she too comes Apple Ready. Shortly, a young gentleman and calling me by name, delivers a beautifully bagged box. Cheerfully interactive, he and I briefly exchange conversation. His face illuminated with smile and while gracefully departing he appears almost angelic.

Prior to “L”s departure I present her my business card, for “Living Shadows.” Thanking me for the gift, she mentions her husband, he too writes. “Tell your husband not to steal my stuff.” “L” agrees and then off to her next assignment; and I am feeling quite good.

Previously, while awaiting assistance, I observe other customers who are either linked or awaiting links to store personnel. Facial expressions exhibit anything but frustrations; engaged customers seem satisfied and waiting customers are satisfactorily engaged. The interrelations, although outstanding, have but one flaw. Rather than seeking customers who might need help, some staff members stand in small groups, chatting.

These members, apparently, assign salespeople to customers. I stand for long periods and often these personnel pass me by and without a curious stop. True, I am not overly anxious but I risked my life in traffic to arrive at your store, please, help me. I step in and request assistance.

The one complaint noted, the Apple Store operates as a well oiled machine: a resource of high energy; and here is the skinny, genuinely, it is service with a smile. Happiness in the workplace…works for me. Definitely, I shall return, the Apple Store at The Crabtree Mall in Raleigh, North Carolina is a wonderful place to visit and with which to transact business. Bravo!

Regarding the Specialist and in fairness, I am without certainties that the man is other than he claims; I have only my feelings, my thinking. During the telephone transaction, each time I desired to move forward, to close the deal, the “Spider Senses” tingled, webs on the ready to spray. Possibly, something lurks in unseen shadows.

Therefore, and preferably, I erred on the side of caution. Plan ‘B’: and although inconvenient, provided me something that every customer desires and deserves, satisfaction. For, it behooves us to realize, that sometimes without assurances and although shiny on its outside, the apple may be wormy at its core. 😯

Copyright (c) 2015 Delbert H. Rhodes

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