A few years ago I purchased a brand new iPhone 3GS on the first weekend that model was available in Australia. At that time, there was no Chermside Apple store (the closest store to me today) but was at Robina (a good 1-1⁄2 drive away). Off I went, queued up before they opened and snagged the 2nd last unlocked model they had.
Then something strange happened…
The entire staff just started clapping at me. Cheering as well…
As I walked, slightly more uncomfortably with each passing step, I approached the door and skulked away - certain that I’d lost several inches in height in the 50m quick pace I’d set to escape the applause. The experience still creeps me out, even three years later.
Recently I purchased a bumper for my new iPhone 4S. I had purchased the iPhone 4S at a Telstra store: truth be told in part because I didn’t want to experience that humiliation again. So as I waited in the queue to pay for my new bumper, a poor soul, looking just as meek as I did a few years ago, walked out with iMac in hand, applause following them on the way out of the store. I paid and left without applause. Clearly my $39 bumper was just not clap-worthy.
It started me thinking: surely this is standard Apple Store behaviour? I Googled the night away and was surprised to find out that it was more prevalent at some stores and I just happened to live in a hotspot: the two stores that kept coming up exhibiting this behaviour were Robina and Chermside. Oh goodie.
I did track down a comment but could not confirm with the author directly, however Skittlebräu writes: “Speaking as someone who worked at an Apple Store, the clapping/cheering just happens whenever someone asks for it, if it’s a customer’s birthday, if a six year old kid buys his first Apple product, first person to buy x product on launch day etc. There’s no set event as such that triggers it. When you go through Apple Retail training you’re told to just join in on clapping whenever it happens…”
Perhaps there are cultures that might find the clapping to be somehow positive, inspirational or some such emotion, however every, single Australian I have talked to about this has felt nothing but repulsion for the clapping. It’s already discouraged me from buying Apple products from their stores - I’ll go to Telstra, David Jones, JB HiFi or Myer before I step in there. The only reason I went there for the bumper was because no-one else stocked it!
To summarise, I don’t understand their motivation to clap. It’s just, for the want of a better word, CREEPY. Also if they are going to clap then why only the more expensive items as has been my observation of the product purchases that get the cheers? Should I be offended if I only spend $50 in store and hence get no clap? Apple want to satisfy every customer according to the late Steve Jobs: so either clap everyone or clap no-one.