There are a few "geeks" here at Metzger Associates, so that means we like stores with lots of gadgets. Two of us set out a couple of days ago to purchase a new Apple laptop.
First, every CompUSA we've visited in our area (Colorado) is, well, disheveled. There are accurate price tags on about seven or eight out of every 10 products, and the display items are sometimes -- but not always -- with the boxes to be purchased. If you'd like a phone or MP3 player, good luck. The display units are usually beat up and often completely broken or missing. Assistance is typically hard to find. If you know what you're looking for, you can do just fine. Need some help? You may be in for a long wait.
Check out is consistently painful. Many of us have experienced Saturday afternoons with two check-out stations opened and six or seven people lined up at each one. Sometimes, two or three associates are behind the returns counter with no customers, but not helping alleviate the long lines.
Then, there's The Apple Store.
First, the store we visited is new to Boulder, Colorado, and in a new shopping center, so it was quite crowded. Nevertheless, the displays were immaculate and well-organized, and help was easy to find. After we selected a laptop, it was quickly brought up from the back (no random stacks of boxes here!) and check out was handled via a handheld right then and there. Our receipt was emailed to the address we provided, and a small blue sticker that read "thank you" was placed on our computer. And we were done.
To be fair, we've not visited every CompUSA in the country, but the several in the Denver/Boulder area are all about the same. Also, CompUSA has many, many more products to keep track of than The Apple Store, but it's no excuse for sloppy stores, sloppy service and an overall sloppy customer experience. Sadly, CompUSA is becoming a store we visit because we have to, not because we want to. It doesn't have to be that way.