Customers Are Calling Apple Stores “Hell on Earth” As the Company’s Reputation Falls

When Steve Jobs launched the Apple Store in 2001, it was praised for its aesthetic and innovative approach to the brick-and-mortar-store experience. Apple Stores were hot destinations, but now it appears consumers are becoming disillusioned by them.

Lately, shoppers turned to social media to complain about their experiences at the stores. Customers were outraged about overcrowding, long wait hours and unpleasant customer service. Some went as far as describing their store visits as “hell on earth” and compared it to visiting the DMV.

These poor in-store experiences betray Apple’s disconnect with consumers and could partly explain its declining reputation. In The Harris Poll’s recent Reputation Quotient study, Apple dropped in the ranking from #5 in 2017 to #29 this year.  Back in 2013, the tech giant was second on the list of 100 companies; only Amazon kept it from first place.

Business Insider reporter, Avery Hartmans wrote about her hellish and “extraordinarily frustrating” experience at an Apple Store.

“Having no clear points of contact or direction is confusing for all types of customers, even someone who knows exactly what they need and how to ask for it,” she says. “And while doing away with traditional cash registers seems on its face like a great retail innovation, it doesn’t work in a busy store.”

In 2016, Apple retail boss Angela Ahrendts changed the shopping experience to resemble “town squares” where customers can congregate, but the initiative seems to be backfiring. From our assessment of the ten brands topping the RQ survey this year, it appears consumers prefer convenience and efficiency over aesthetics and innovations that seem tone-deaf to their busy lives.