My experience upgrading my iPhone at the Apple Store and why resellers suck
Requested tl;dr: spent extra time upgrading phone due to resellers cheating and skipping line, and Apple Store employees seemingly turning a blind eye.
So today I decided I wanted to upgrade my iPhone to the 11 Pro. I had a ton of gift cards to use, and with the upgrade I’d pay almost nothing out of pocket. The Apple Store in Salem, NH (Rockingham Mall) had the model I wanted, so I went there. I quickly got a reservation and was told I just had to wait in line to get the phone. Great.
Or so I thought. I got my reservation text at 1:17 PM. They told me it would be about an hour to get through the line.
About 15 minutes after I got in line there was a minor commotion up at the front (there were about 6 people in line ahead of me and the commotion). Two men had walked up and got in the line near the front. Somebody behind them was objecting politely, and one of the men said they had been in line with their friend, but had sat down at the bench while their friend waited. The friend (who had been in line) confirmed this.
Maybe 10 minutes after that I saw another person near the front motion to somebody behind me. I turned to see a couple of people who were at the end of the line come up to the front and get in line with the person who had motioned to them. The two people in front of me (who were together) were clearly perplexed as to why this would be ok, but did not seem assertive enough to ask why these people had just jumped into the line. As they were talking about it, a couple more people jumped in the line with the same group.
I decided I would ask why all these people were jumping the line. They were clearly surprised somebody was asking them, but claimed they had gone to get something to eat, and had a reserved time. I told them I had seen them come from the back of the line, but they pointed at one of the Apple employees and said “just ask Carl, we were given a time over an hour ago.” I had not been given a time, so I asked them specifically if they were saying they had a specific time. Yes, they claimed they had a specific time. Why are you waiting in the line then? “Just ask Carl”, pointing to the employee again.
Ok. I asked Carl. Carl said that they had been given out times earlier, but changed the strategy for the line, and were no longer giving out times. Ok, so maybe these people did have times. So I asked Carl why they made people who had times wait in line with the people who didn’t have times. People already in line will not know about the times and think the line was being cut. He said something about “every customer’s journey is different”, and excused himself to go help people.
I was annoyed that they would allow people who had times assigned just walk up and get in line near the front, and decided to tell the manager about my annoyance when it was my turn. By the time I got to the front, 6 people had jumped into line and joined people already there. By my count there were 8 or 9 in the group. Then I noticed something. For this entire group, each time somebody went in, they would start the process, and a man wearing a large backpack would go over and finish the transaction. The people would then hand the phones to him, which he’d put in his backpack. The people would then get back in line. He did this several times (the people would sometimes go in together and do 2 phones at once).
Even worse, when getting back in line, they would get in line with one of them already in line, skipping everybody else.
When I got to the front, I asked to speak to the manager. The person said “sure, he’s right there, he’ll be with you in a minute” – and pointed at Carl.
I got to a very nice employee who started my transaction, and I told her I wanted to speak to the manager before I left. She asked me if it was about the wait. I said it was, and that it wasn’t the wait so much as that one man was being allowed to buy so many phones by having people stand in line for him. She looked a little guilty and said “yes, I’d be mad if I was in your position too”.
Another employee went over to Carl, who looked over and then came over. He apologized and said that he had misunderstood. I showed him their process – the multiple (at least 9, possibly 12) people in line (now in a large group as they kept skipping everybody and joining their group as they got in line), would be brought in, be processed, and the one man (who was also in line now) with the big backpack would pay for and take the phones. They would go back out and get in line, skipping ahead to the person in their group closest to the front of the line.
He stated they did not know this was happening, and he would address it right away. He told my person to get me a case and charge it to the store. This was a nice gesture, and not expected.
I was moved to the back of the store, but I did see the ringleader with the bag was no longer in line, but the group working for him remained. I did find it amusing that they were all clearly talking about me, and would look away when I looked up at them.
I estimate I spent at least 45 minutes in line solely because of these people – doubling my time. If I’d caught on to what they were doing earlier I could have stopped them from jumping the line so blatantly. So if you’re at the Apple store, watch for these clowns and say something. I’m not sure if the employees really knew what was happening or not, but the reactions were a bit off, and they allowed the group who they already knew (by their admission, they had dealt with a couple of them more than once that day) were in on it to stay in line.