Nearly one third (29 per cent) of readers polled by Macworld have experienced problems with the Apple Store – with 9 per cent of voters saying their experience was so bad they'll never use it again.
A significant 20 per cent of voters said they had faced problems using the Apple Store, but say they will continue to use it.
Better news for the company is that 48 per cent of the 649 readers who voted reported a problem-free experience using the Apple Store. Around one-in-four readers who voted – 24 per cent – had never used the Store.
However, in line with the old adage that a dissatisfied customer will tell ten people of their experience, while a satisfied customer will tell just one, this week's poll comments are full of furious broadsides against the Apple Store. One reader says the experience was "ghastly", and for another the store was "utterly useless".
Shipping problems abound, with many questioning the Apple Store infrastructure. One reader knows the whereabouts of his iPod – but unfortunately it isn’t in the right country: "My wife ordered an iPod – it arrived in Holland on November 7, and is still there. They do not know when it will be shipped. I have been given three different delivery dates all of which have passed."
Another respondee said: "I recently placed an order for a piece of software that was in stock, and was surprised to received two packages nearly two weeks later. One was what I ordered and the other was a different piece of software for another customer in Germany. Both mine and his addresses were on the package."
Many readers were dissatisfied when Apple's promise to deliver Panther on October 24 was not fulfilled. One reader ordered Panther on October 10 and received it on October 31, a week after the launch date.
Another reader is still waiting for Panther. "Today is November 24, one month after I was promised my copy of Panther. Do I have it yet? No. Day by day my estimation of the store is sinking ever further into the ground."
Apple's inability to cope with the delivery problems is highlighted by one reader: "It seems when something goes wrong it goes very wrong, and they can't seem to handle it."
For one reader the problems are a recent phenomenon. "I have been ordering from the Apple Store for about three years – recently I noticed a serious drop in delivery speed and reliability."
The shipping forecast Some question Apple's predicted shipping times: "Immediately after I got my shipping notification, I got a follow-up email which said that although my order had shipped, there would be an addition 4-5 working day delay on it.
"Apple is basically giving you an expectation of a delivery date, and then once they've taken your money and your items are in transit, they send another email to tell you that your items have been delayed."
The reader goes on to say that Apple Store personnel have told him that the standard 5-7 working day delivery schedule is unrealistic: "I was told that shipping from Taiwan to Europe takes 6 days, then another 2-3 days to merge together in The Netherlands and then get to Heathrow, then another 2-3 days to be deliver to the UK. So basically, their quoted shipping times on their site are a lie."
One reader claims the Apple Store told him that paperwork that goes with the shipments was not being passed to TNT correctly: "They said this was resulting in items being on hand but without the information as to whom the items were meant to be delivered to."
This is backed up by another reader who said: "My four G4s turned up today, one month after placing the order. I asked the TNT guys if they were having problems with Apple at the moment and he said: "Oh yes – there are items in the warehouse that are only addressed to a name and a city." He also said they have loads of iPods and no idea where they are going."
Another reader has had a similar experience: "Apparently this is the reason why my order has been going around in circles. When they do not have the delivery address paperwork, instead of holding it in the UK warehouse, which would be problematic due to space constraints, they return it to the hub in Arnhem which can deal with it."
Some readers blame the delivery company for the Apple Store woes. "My experience of using Apple Store was great. When I have brought goods from them I have been let down by the delivery services. Maybe they should change the delivery company to one who can do the job better," said one.
Of those who said they had never used the store one said: "They are not cheaper than retailers or other online services so there really isn't much point to them from this customer's point of view."
A positive outlook However, a number of readers wrote of positive experiences with the Apple Store: "My order number failed on the Web site, but to their credit, someone from the Apple Store team responded to my email query within about a half hour, assuring me that my order hadn't been cancelled. The product arrived in about half the time they said it would."
Another said: "The only minor problem I had was when I ordered my 15GB iPod about two days after it was announced and there were so many orders that they had problems delivering them. They phoned me constantly and it ended up being about three days late. Apple made the courier deliver it on a Saturday to make up for the inconvenience."
Some people praised the Apple Store's tracking system: "I used the tracking site to track my G4 and was able to follow it every step of the way, from Eindhoven to London, and even who signed for it. I found it useful and up-to-date."
Apple was not immediately available for comment.