One of Apple’s most important characteristics is the way it deals directly with customers. Step into an Apple Store, or visit the company’s online store, and you’re immediately struck by the same elements of understated good taste and user-friendliness that we associate with its products. Apple never misses an opportunity to emphasise its brand values.
In this article we show how to make the most of Apple’s various stores (and those of its reseller partners). In terms of bricks and mortar, we explain how to book an Apple Store appointment, how to return a faulty product or get a broken device fixed, and how to find your nearest store. And for the site, we walk you through the process of making a purchase online and what to do if the site doesn’t appear to be working.
If you’d like to work on the other side of the polished wooden desk, have a look at How to get a job as an Apple Store Genius.
How to shop at Apple’s online store
It’s easy to buy a brand-new Mac, iPad or iPhone from Apple. The simplest way is to go to Apple’s website and make your purchase there. You’ll find every current Mac, iPad and iPhone, and lots of accessories.
The menu bar along the top of the site is split into seven sections: Mac, iPad, iPhone, Watch, TV, Music (which includes the AirPods, HomePod and the iPod touch) and Support.
The first six of those categories include accessories you can use with your new Apple product, from headphones and cables, to connected home devices and displays, mice and keyboards. The accessories sections include lots of products from manufacturers other than Apple.
Buying a Mac from Apple’s online store
Buying a Mac on Apple’s online store is really easy if you know what you’re looking for – and if you don’t know what you’re looking for, there’s lots of information on Apple’s website to help you choose.
Go to the Mac section of the Apple website. You can choose a subcategory, such as MacBook Air or iMac Pro, from the new menu bar along the top; if you do so, the next page will show you (for example) an overview of the current MacBook Air and links to read detailed specs and view your buying options. That last one is the button labelled Buy, obviously.
Find the Mac that most closely matches the one you want, and click Select. Now you will see various configuration options, including extra RAM memory (we tend to recommend that you buy more RAM if you can afford to as it will future proof your Mac). You can also add other products to the order, including Apple’s SuperDrive if you think you need a CD/DVD drive with your Mac.
Once you have configured the Mac you want, click on Add to Basket. You can then review what you have bought, and when you are ready click on Check Out.
When you get to the checkout you have the option to apply for a payment plan that will allow you to split payments over up to 24 months.
Before you arrive at the Checkout you will need to sign in using your Apple ID and password. If you don’t have an Apple ID you can proceed as a guest. However, if you frequently make purchases from Apple you will find it easier to log in to your account as all your payment and delivery details will be automatically filled in.
At this stage you will be able to see Delivery Dates and Options, or choose a pickup location – you search with your postcode and will see you can pick up from various newsagents and supermarkets nearby.
You can also choose to press the Chat Now button if there is anything you are unsure about.
You will get free standard delivery if you order costs more than £50. When your item is dispatched you will receive a Dispatch Notification email and or text message, you can also visit the online Order Status to view the most up-to-date status or your order.
Buying an iPhone from Apple’s online store
It’s also easy to buy an iPhone from Apple’s Online Store, and many people choose to do this if they want to buy an iPhone outright, rather than sign up for a contract with their mobile network.
Go to the Apple Online Store and click Shop Phone and you can choose from the various iPhones on offer.
If, for example you were buying the iPhone 6 you would click here and make various choices: 4.7in or 5.5in; colour; storage; and if you don’t already have a contract with a mobile phone network you can choose one of the pay as you go packs on offer from Three, O2 or EE. If you do already have a contact that you are happy with then you can choose to buy your iPhone SIM-free.
When you are ready to go to the Checkout just click Select at the bottom of the page, and then Add to Basket in the summary Section.
Buying an iPad, Apple TV or Apple Watch from Apple’s online store
You can follow the instructions above to buy any Apple product on the Apple online store.
Apple’s online store isn’t working
From time to time when you visit Apple’s online store you will find that it is offline. This is what usually happens just before Apple announces a new product, although some times we all get excited and then it turns out Apple has done nothing of note, perhaps only tweaking something in the back end.
If the Apple Store is down when you visit chances are it may be back online in a few hours. When there is a new product the site usually goes down in the morning and is back on around lunchtime in the UK, unless it happens to be down during an Apple Keynote, which tends to happen in the early evening. In that case we would expect the store to be offline from about 6pm to 8pm.
Finding your closest Apple Store location
Alternatively, if you’d prefer to try the product out, you could walk into the Apple Store on your high street or in your closest shopping mall. Not sure where your closest Apple Store is located? Apple has stores all over the country, 39 in total, and you can look for your local store on Apple’s website here.
There are Apple Stores in the following locations:
Apple’s flagship London stores can be found at Regent Street and Covent Garden, you’ll also find Apple Stores in major shopping malls including Bluewater, Lakeside, Bullring, Trafford Centre, Manchester Arndale, Westfield Stratford and Westfield White City.
How to reserve an iPhone from an Apple Store
When Apple first launches a new iPhone, stocks are very limited, and for that reason it’s sometimes necessary to reserve your iPhone for in store pick up.
The alternative would be having the new iPhone sent to you at home, but collecting it in store gives you the opportunity to use Apple’s expertise to transfer the data from your existing phone to the new one – especially handy if you are moving from a non-Apple phone to the iPhone.
Apple will set up the iPhone for you, transfer contacts from your old device, set up your email and get you started with iCloud. Apple will also help you browse and download apps from the App Store.
More information here.
How to use Apple’s Genius Bar
Another reason to go to the Apple Store is if you wish to visit the Genius Bar.
The Genius Bar is the place to go if you need your Apple hardware repaired. Apple’s Geniuses may also be able to help you with software issues.
To arrange an appointment with an Apple Store Genius, visit the Apple Support page and choose the product that’s causing you problems. You will need to answer a number of questions to drill down what the exact issue is, so that Apple can find the best way to help you. For example, when our MacBook Air wasn’t charging we went through the following choices: Mac > Mac notebooks > Startup or Power > Power adapter not working as expected. We were given checks we could run at home that could fix the problem, and the option to Continue, at which point we were given the option to: talk to Apple Support now; Schedule a Call; Call Apple Support later; Chat; Take in for Service; or Visit the Genius Bar. We opted for the Genius Bar.
To arrange your visit you need to enter your postcode to search for the closest Apple Store to you, you can then choose the store which is more appropriate, and, if they have reservations available, you can make an appointment. You may have to try a few Apple Stores before you find one with the necessary expertise for your particular problem.
Getting support from Apple
You can also get help from Apple by calling the customer services number: 0844 209 0611. But there are a number of other ways to get support via the website as outlined above. For more information visit this page on Apple’s site.
Apple Store iPhone repair
If you’ve broken your iPhone screen you may want to go to the Apple Store to pay for Apple to fix it.
You can make an appointment with a Genius at the Apple Store to service your iPhone. The cost of the repair will depend on the iPhone model and whether you have AppleCare coverage. It may cost more if the phone is out of it’s one year warranty period.
If you are the kind of person who frequently breaks your gadgets it might be worth investing in AppleCare+ which covers two incidents of accidental damage, although you will still have to pay an excess fee.
Alternatively you can send your iPhone away to Apple to be fixed, but it will take longer than going to an Apple Store, where you will get your iPhone back the same day.
Here’s everything you need to know about getting a broken iPhone fixed: Will Apple replace my broken iPhone?
Apple’s refurbished store
Unfortunately, as a rule Macs are not cheap, but if you are looking for a bargain you can also pick up a Mac, iPad or iPhone second-hand from Apple. It’s possible to buy refurbished Apple Macs, iPads, and other Apple products, from a special section of the online store. Go to apple.com/ukstore and scroll to the bottom of the page where you will see a link to Refurbished & Clearance.
Refurbished Macs and iPads are likely to be brand-new but returned models (if it is from a previous year) or reconditioned current models. A reconditioned Mac could be an ex-demonstration model used during Apple teaching programmes, or a unit sold to a customer who subsequently decided to return it. The returned unit may have been faulty (and fixed) or may simply have been returned under the standard sale-and-returns procedure – Apple allows any customer to return a Mac bought from the Apple Store within 14 days for a refund as part of its standard returns policy.
The important thing to note is that Macs bought from the Apple Refurb Store are not discernibly different from new ones bought direct from the Apple Store. All the Macs bought from the Apple Refurb Store are cleaned, checked, tested and visually indistinguishable from brand-new models.
The only noticeable difference in our experience is that an Apple refurb Mac will be packaged in a brown box rather than the white retail box they normally arrive in. Aside from that, we have yet to pick up a Mac from the Refurb Store and find it wanting.
The price for reconditioned Macs changes frequently but is typically 10 to 20 percent less than the original price. With Macs commanding a high retail price, this reduction can represent quite a difference. For example, you can find a 2014 (that’s the current generation) 1.4GHz iMac on the Refurb Store for £759 – a £140 saving on the £899 you’d pay for the exact same model in the Apple Store. There are even bigger savings to be made on older models. You can also find refurbished iPads on the store, but Apple doesn’t resell second-hand iPhones.
You may also be able to get a deal on a new Mac by picking up one from your local Apple reseller, such as John Lewis and PC World, or Apple premium resellers like iStore, Stormfront, Solutions Inc, Western Computers and KRCS. They do have sales, and although Apple bargains are rare, they do come along occasionally.
However, you should beware that because Apple is strict with pricing and the margin that third-party retailers can make, it is rare that you will find a genuine bargain when buying a new Apple product from someone other than Apple.
You should always first visit Apple’s online store to find out what is on offer from the mothership, and make sure that if you’re buying an outdated model you are doing so knowingly. Copy down the specification and product code of the model you want, and use that in your search. If you know what to look for you could grab a bargain – just make sure you aren’t buying last year’s model while being sold the idea of this year’s.
Apple warranty and returns policies
One of the benefits of buying from Apple is its warranty and returns procedure, even for refurbished products. Apple states: “Before we put a refurbished Mac, iPod, iPad or Apple TV up for sale in special deals, it undergoes a rigorous refurbishment process to make sure it’s up to Apple’s tough quality standards.”
More importantly, a reconditioned Mac comes with the same one-year warranty (extendable to three years with AppleCare protection). You also get the same sales and return procedure with Apple, and can return a Mac bought from the Refurb Store within 14 days if you’re not happy with it.
Buying Apple products elsewhere
The key thing, as always, is to know exactly what you want, and exactly what you are getting, especially if you are buying from a private seller. Get it all in writing, and if at all possible view the device you are buying, and use it, before you purchase. Always use a credit card to make expensive purchases, or a secure payment service such as PayPal. This will make it much easier to chase up if there is a problem. And remember, if it looks too good to be true, then it probably is: you really want to see proof of purchase before you buy a second-hand Mac to ensure it hasn’t been stolen.