samedi 16 avril 2011

I is for ipad

Three go in search of an ipad

There comes a time, no matter how much you love France, when you need to visit friends in the UK. Friends like Marks & Spencer, Boots, Tesco’s, and my new BFF, the Apple store in Lakeside shopping centre.

My laptop conveniently stopped working a couple of weeks before our visit to England. So I booked an appointment with the Apple store where Mark or Steve could sort it out (I find everyone in the Apple stores are called Mark or Steve). Mark/Steve duly got everything going again and asked if there was anything else I wanted. “Yes,” I replied, “an ipad.” His face fell as he explained the only way to get an ipad was to go online after 9pm and reserve one. No, it wasn’t possible to reserve one in-store.

So, at 20.59 I duly went online. After several abortive attempts I got connected and clicked to reserve an ipad. I was then taken to a screen where I was ordered to put in my Apple ID. There had been no mention of this earlier. As far as I knew, I didn’t have one. I tried a few Apple-related numbers and phrases but was told each time that they were not correct. Try again! So I applied for an Apple ID. By the time I had got one, all the ipads had gone.

The next couple of times I tried to log on, complete with my Apple ID, I didn’t get anywhere near the reservation screen. Then, on our penultimate night in the UK, I noticed it no longer said you had to reserve your ipad, it merely said that the store would set it up for you. Not trusting anything the Apple website said after the ID debacle, I tried to seek out more information. My friend Helen, who we were staying with, tried to phone the Apple store. Although it wasn’t closing time, they had obviously shut down the phones.

So she tried the central Apple number, to be greeted by a virtual person with a Scottish accent. “Treat me like a real person,” said the VP cheerily, “and ask me your question.” Helen quite naturally asked whether ipads were now on general sale and, if so, could we get one at Lakeside. “The number for our Lakeside store is…” intoned VP. “Connecting you!” Of course there was no answer.

Next morning, we rang an Apple store at random and were told yes, ipads were on general sale – subject to availability! We went to Lakeside anyway. They were on sale and I even got a choice of colours. Mark/Steve did indeed set it up for me.
At one stage, I was required to enter my address. “It’s in France,” I said. “Cool,” said Mark/Steve. So I typed in my address. “Invalid postcode,” screamed the ‘system’. Mark/Steve informed me this information would never be used for anything (so why was I supplying it?). No matter. I entered a UK postcode from an old address at the end of my French one. The ‘system’ was happy; Mark/Steve was happy; I was happy.

And the reservation system hadn’t been a great success, confided Mark/Steve. You don’t say!

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