Apple Singapore Store is finally opening on our shores. That is long wait by many Apple fans and aficionados. One common reason why so many fans are hoping that Apple will open a store in Singapore is that the shopping experience of Apple Authorised resellers in Singapore pales in comparison to actual Apple run stores overseas.
Flagship Apple stores overseas are manned by staff who are friendly and have better product knowledge. The stores are also vastly bigger, have impeccable interior designs and are better stocked with Apple inventory. This means you can almost get any Apple product in their store. All these contribute to a good shopping experience.
We at Mac Plus are a little ambivalent about the opening though. Here is the low down of what to expect, and our very own predictions based on insider information.
1. Singapore’s Apple Orchard Road Store will focus on the retail experience
According to eagle-eyed netizens, Apple Singapore has been hiring service personnel for the store since Nov 2016. As on now, 17 May 2016, the jobs postings consists of solely service personnel. Positions for Apple Certified Technicians were not available.
According to an source close to an Apple Authorised Reseller that Mac Plus had dealings with, Apple Singapore primary focus in Singapore is sales and frontline service quality, not repairs. They were aware of the poor service (rated 2 stars on google) that Apple Authorised Service Providers are providing, but did not take active steps to address the issue.
2. Promotions such as Back to School and education pricing will finally be available in Singapore’s retail store
Apple’s well know Back-to-school promotion typically bundles free accessories with the purchase of a Mac at educational pricing. The promotion typically runs every year, but for students or MOE teachers in Singapore, the only way to get a Mac with an educational discount is through the online Apple Store or the Campus Stores in NUS, SMU and ITE Central run by Sapura. The marketing efforts by Sapura is so lacking that we could not find a list of all the campus stores in Singapore anywhere on the web.
Calls made to Apple Singapore using the 1800 number are picked up by Singaporeans (Updated 10 June 2017)
It is nice to at last speak to Singaporean Apple customer service officers who better understand our
Singlish English. The last we made a call regarding our purchase, although we could not get an exception to ship our iMac faster, the customer service officer was at least polite and was understanding. Even though she said the estimated date of delivery is the fastest possible date Apple could deliver, our iMac actually arrived one day earlier! Hopefully their friendliness will equate to better product knowledge. When we texted one of Apple’s Mac specialist, we were wrongly told that the iMac 5K Retina 27″ Mid 2007 had SSDs that are soldered. That is not true. Both the iMac 4K 21.5″ Mid 2007 have SSDs that are slotted in, not soldered on.
1. They will still be staffed by locals
This is our guess based on the recruitment placements found on Apple’s website. All the jobs listed are sales, retail, and customer service related. According to a source familiar with the matter, it appears that a number of ex-staff who were working for the Authorised Resellers were the people who have applied for the positions.
We are not sure about you, but we were disappointed with the level of technical expertise provided by the retail staff of Apple Authorised Resellers. The few times we went, most of the staff were unable to tell us what processors were in the Macs that were on sale, or whether they were last year’s models or the newest models. One staff even errantly told us that higher wattage Magsafe chargers cannot be used on MacBooks with lower wattage requirements. Our own testing has proved it to be false.
Apple will definitely provide training for their staff to improve their service quality, but whether their product knowledge will be enhance remains to be seen.
2. Pricing of Apple products will still be higher than in the States
This is a no-brainer. Products sold in Singapore has traditionally been higher than those in other countries such as Canada or the States. We do not expect things to change. If you wish to see where is the cheapest country to buy a Mac, check out this cool website that shows you the cheapest places to purchase Apple products.
3. Repair services are likely still outsourced to Singapore’s Apple Authorised Service Centres
This is a prediction based on the fact that Apple Singapore did not recruit any technicians or technical support engineers. Our source told us that the reason why Apple Authorised Service Centres provide poor diagnostic services and have perpetually misdiagnosed and over-charged customers is due to the fact that they hire more customer service personnel than technicians. Most of the diagnosis are made by untrained customer service personnel. The Apple Authorised Service Centres do not have enough technicians who are able to provide accurate diagnosis.
4. Calls made to Apple Singapore
will likely still be handled by Apple Care advisors in India using the support page’s call back system will be handled by Apple Care advisors in India (Updated 10 June 2017)
Support calls made to Apple Singapore used to be routed to Apple Australia. The benefit of having calls picked up by them is that Apple Australia’s Support Centre consists of Apple Advisors and Apple Product Specialists who are directly employed under Apple. They are more aware of Apple’s support options and are able to make the call to offer product replacements for free even though they are out of warranty in exceptional cases (terms as exceptions).
Since last year, calls made to Apple Singapore’s support telephone via the call back system are likely outsourced to a call centre in India. The disadvantages are that the staff in India are not able to order any “exceptions”. They consists of only Apple Advisors who are not qualified to order any exceptions. All such requests have to be processed by Apple Product Specialists housed in Australia. They will usually direct you to your country’s Apple Authorised Service Centres. The many times we called, they were not able to put us in touch with the Apple Product Specialists in Australia.
So if you have a product that just failed a few days after the warranty has expired, it may be difficult to get a replacement without paying additional fees. Hopefully this might change after the Apple Store opens her doors to the public.
So what are your hopes and wishes for the new store? Do comment on our Facebook page.