Switching to Mac Part 2: The Retail Experience

This post is part of a series of posts about switching to a Mac – here are links to all the posts:

I recently bought a Mac after years of using Windows PCs.  If you want to know how I came to the decision, see part 1.  The act of buying a Mac from an Apple store is kind of unusual in itself.

Getting In

The Apple store in Exeter is welcoming.  Very welcoming.  Maybe a little too much so, with staff on both sides of the doorway waiting to pounce, and numerous staff around waiting to speak to you as you look around.  They’re not pushy, though, just chatty.  I felt a bit uneasy going in – I’m nowhere near hip enough to enter an Apple store, and wasn’t sure if I’d be allowed in without becoming much cooler somehow.  It turned out not to be a problem.  I suspect I got away with it because I had a Lowepro bag – there are probably special rules to let photographers in even if they’re a bit unhip.

On the second visit, I was there to buy.  I bypassed the door guards swiftly, and headed straight for the 24″ iMacs.  A friendly assistant called Hannah turned to ask if she could help, so I just said “Yeah, er, 24-inch iMac, wireless mouse, and a copy of Aperture”.

There was a short pause, and she said “Oh.  You want that?  That was easy!”


She explained that upgrading to wireless keyboard as well as mouse was almost no difference in cost compared to buying the extra wireless mouse, so I went for that option.  She then explained a special offer they had on printers, that would give me a fairly decent HP inkjet for free through a cashback offer.  Since our only printer at that point was a Windows GDI printer, which wouldn’t work with a Mac, I took that too.  She offered me Apple Care, which I turned down, but may consider later anyway.

Ringing up the Sale

This part was the first real surprise.  There are no tills.  Hannah just opened a browser on the display machine we were looking at, and logged into Apple’s retail system from there.  The sale is rung up through a web browser on the display machines, and set for delivery to one of the two desks in the middle of the sales floor.  The browser then showed the progress of the order being picked and brought to us while we just chatted about cameras.  Sam wandered off to fondle the iPod Touch.

After a while, the stuff was all brought down the glass stairs.  Hannah pulled a card machine off a holster on her belt, and took the payment.  She took my email address, and the receipt was emailed to me there and then.  No paper needed.

…and Out

All done.  She made sure I had the details of their training courses and demos, and where to do the rebate for the printer.  The iMac box turned out to be surprisingly heavy, but I turned down the offer of help taking everything back to the car, and made away with my new toys.

10 thoughts on “Switching to Mac Part 2: The Retail Experience

  1. You want Apple Care. Things go wrong with Macs (as with other machines) and the service I have gotten with Apple Care has made it well worth my while. Friday, for example, I showed an Apple Genius a problem with my Mac Book and he decided it was a problem with the keyboard. He also noticed a crack in the right top of the plastic (not hard to notice as I had taped it down) and said they would replace that as well for free.

    He said it would be done Monday or Tuesday — instead they called me the next morning and everything was fixed. You want Apple Care.

  2. Also, as a new Mac user, you want the AppleCare for the unlimited phone support, beyond the first 90 days. If you are reasonably close to the Apple Store, you might also consider getting the $99/yr One to One Personal Training – well worth it for at least to first year, in order to smooth out the bumps in the transition and rapidly increase your productivity.

  3. Thanks for the comments, everyone. Apple Care does seem to have a good reputation, so I think I’ll probably go for it. I’m not so interested in the phone support or training – there aren’t many problems Google can’t fix.

  4. You want Apple Care, but you can wait until the 1-year warranty end approaches.

  5. You’ll be looking for software, but the pickin’s will be slim at your usual Windows-based shareware sites. I recommend VersionTracker.com over MacUpdate for 99% of your needs, if only for political reasons. Also recommended: http://osx.iusethis.com/ , http://www.pure-mac.com/ , http://www.apple.com/downloads/ , and http://www.dashboardwidgets.com/ .

    I use iPhoto for my sorting/storing. It’s lightening-quick for me but I have 4GB of memory and only 10,000 photos so your milage may vary. (When reading reviews, note that iPhoto ’08 is very different from iPhoto ’06 and Aperture 2 is very Different from Aperture 1)

    My /Applications/3rd Party/Photo Tools folder is pretty slim, containing only Photoshop CS (the first one), Art Director’s Toolkit 4, Gimp, GraphicConverter, Image Tricks, PDFLab, Pipette, Polodroid UK, PosterRazor, and Xee.

    If you need video tools or audio tools, THEN I can recommend stuff.

  6. Hi Neurotic Nomad,

    Thanks for the suggestions – some good sites there. I’m not missing too much of the important at this point, I think. TextMate seems to be winning as a text Editor, CyberDuck seems to do the job for FTP. VLC is still available over here, though Perian seems to make Quicktime play most of the same files. The GIMP works, but is a bit of a mess. For the bits I can’t do in Aperture, I think Pixelmator might be the one.

    Aperture seems to suit me well – I’m finding it much better than Lightroom.

    Just tried out Polodroid UK, and it’s strange, but fun. I’ll keep working through your suggestions – thanks for leaving such a useful list.

  7. Pingback: PigPog » Switching to Mac Part 4: In Use

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