A European's experience in [NOT] buying a MacBook Pro in US

I’m visiting NYC this week. I’ve come to US thinking hard whether or not I want to buy a MacBook Pro. I decided that yes, I do. Now I changed my mind. Why?

I wanted to do a couple of things. Use employee discount, pay with my Irish card, and I absolutely required a European-style keyboard layout. This last thing is the ultimate reason why I decided to skip it.

Apple is excellent if you are an average customer. Walk into one of the stores (there’s one 5 minutes of walk from me), pick up what you want, walk out happy. I could have done that. I can still do that. I don’t want to.

First, I want my discount. It saves me a non-insignificant an interesting amount of money. I doubt I can apply the discount from within the store. [UPDATE: Americans love to apply sales tax AFTER quoting you the price. So my total savings are a bit less than expected. Still, they exist. And my estimates include Irish VAT, because I’m nice like that. Smugglers would really save a lot.]

Second, I want a European-style keyboard (British at the very least). I have a US layout wireless keyboard, and if I switch to Croatian layout in software, I cannot type < and > on it.

Turns out that Apple does not stock laptops with different layouts in their stores. Turns out that I need to wait 1-3 business days for them to build the custom laptop (!!!) and then another 1-3 business days for them to expedite-ship it. Oh you want standard shipping? 3-5 days. You dared to desire to pick it up at the store (which should actually be easier for them)? Well, feelin’ bad for you buddy — it’s as if you picked standard shipping.

Maybe you wanted to pay with your Irish card? No go — they want your billing address phone number to be a US number, and your billing address zip code to be a US zip code and a US address.

Especially if you include the fact I’d need to deal with Irish customs people as well, that’s enough divine signs telling me I should skip this purchase. Maybe I change my mind, but I doubt it.

What kind of bullshit is not stocking some British-layout MBPs somewhere in NYC? What kind of bullshit is “it takes 1-3 days to replace a keyboard”? With minimum training, it could be done in-store, even if you couldn’t stock 2 variants in each store. They don’t sell often enough? Don’t keep 50 of them, but do keep 2 of them.

And I was so looking forward to a Mac with a decent GPU.

via blog.vucica.net

2 thoughts on “A European's experience in [NOT] buying a MacBook Pro in US

  1. David Millsom

    Do British Apple stores keep an inventory of US keyboards? Do Croatian Apple stores, or Irish?
    I think not. Actually, I find it somewhat remarkable that you get tailored system in 3 days.
    That three days is probably the time it takes to shit it from China.

    1. Ivan Vučica Post author


      We're talking about New York. The easiest place in the US to get to from Europe. The place with many, many immigrants, tourists, etc.

      There are no Croatian Apple Stores. I'm sure they don't stock foreign keyboards, as no sensible person would go buy a Macbook while a tourist in Croatia — and not just because of layout, but primarily because of the price. Similarly, Americans would not go and buy a Macbook in the UK, at least because of the price.

      But I was trying to get one in the US. Because of the price. The thing is, I would not be able to use it with a missing key and the tiny, ridiculous enter key. I can use any European layout as I don't look at the keyboard. I can't use the tiny, ridiculous enter key on the US layout, and I can't get around with a missing key.

      Thinking they're shipping things from China is ridiculous. If they are, they're doing it wrong. Having one major store in a city or state with a warehouse that stocks, say, 5 keyboards of each layout shouldn't be a problem. Having service people open the Macbook and replace the keyboard in front of the customer (~10 min work, as I have witnessed that done) should be no big deal.

      I don't need a British layout. I could as well use a French one. My reference to UK layout is simply because it's essentially the US layout, but with a proper, large international-style enter key, and also the extra key next to left-shift. But no.

      Lost sale for them, David.

      We're not talking about a $100 laptop. We're not talking about a company with terrible 'customer satisfaction' rating. We're not talking about a big servicing procedure that takes 10h to execute. Swapping Macbook keyboard is easy.

      For the money I would have shelled out, I expected more, David.

      Well, at least I saved money.


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