“Oh, I’m sorry, no. I received it as a prize. What you see here is all that came with it. But I can show you the e-mail they sent me.” I took out my iPhone and quickly pulled up the e-mail.
While he was away looking for a manager another store employee, who was standing there listening the entire time, took the iPad out of the shipping box and said he’d throw away the box for me.
I again explained that I received it as a prize and showed him the e-mail from the PR company who sent it to me, along with the shipping slip. I was confused at this point, and starting to feel like they thought I had stolen this iPad. “Your company makes the product. Why should it matter where it was bought? It’s still the same product. I don’t want any cash for it – I’m only asking to pay the extra money and upgrade to the 3G model.”
“Well, without the receipt, we can’t do anything for you here,” the manager responded. He then smiled and added, “But it’s a popular product, so you shouldn’t have any trouble unloading it some other way.”
Unloading it. Seriously? I hoped for a moment that maybe “unloading” was new hipster-speak for “finding a legitimate way to trade it in somewhere else” but quickly realized that they totally suspected me of stealing this iPad.
“I don’t want to sell it,” I insisted, “I want to USE it. But the 3G version would be more useful for me, so that’s why I’m trying to exchange it.”
“Well, we have to have some proof that the serial number on this model matches what was purchased. If you can produce a receipt with the serial number on it, then we can help you. Like I said, iPads are hot. I’m sure you won’t have any trouble unloading it.”
I was furious. I wasn’t angry about the exchange policy – if that’s their policy, fine. What I’m still angry about is the way I was treated. I don’t care how popular their products are – when I walk into their store, I expect to be treated with respect, not as an enemy.
From the moment I said I didn’t have a receipt, nothing else I said mattered to them. I was no longer a customer – I was a scammer. Forget the fact that I was planning to spend $130 to upgrade. Forget that I was likely to buy a case and other accessories to go with it. Even with an e-mail, a valid explanation and a shipping box showing where it came from, they couldn’t help me and could only suggest I turn to a reseller market to make a little cash off of it.
Edited to add: After all that drama, it was suggested in the comments that I try Walmart. I took it to my local Walmart, and they let me exchange it with little hassle. I can’t believe I’m saying this, but Apple could stand to learn a few lessons in customer service from Walmart.