thanks to MacMall’s incompetence i found a better Apple retailer

An excellent piece by Tony Greenberg, Why Good Service is About Trust, made me recall why we won’t be purchasing from again. This summer on a trip back to the US, my husband and I placed quite a large order with them for equipment to take back abroad. Being a graphic designer, Keith wanted a quad core mac tower (the best specs at the time of the order) and an equally able MacBook Pro for mobility. And a few programmes including the shockingly expensive Adobe Professional Suite upgrade.

With a four-week window in NYC we needed assurance about delivery– not a problem for most companies and certainly assured us by MacMall’s rep before we placed our order. First it took them a week and a half to authorise such a large order (really MacMall? that long to process a credit card authorisation for a measly ~$10,000?). Then two days before our flight there was no sign of delivery, no call or email notification about a delay. Had we been advised that the entire order was delayed by one spec, we actually would have gladly settled for a less than ideal workstation. We just didn’t want to waste our holiday doing any shopping, which is why we went online for this order.

But there was absolutely no communication. Numerous calls and emails from us over the last week prior to our flight were handled with lukewarm assistance by MacMall reps. Finally after one last wasted day on many frustrating calls and getting put on hold all the way up the management chain we canceled the order and hopped a cab to B&H, a photo/video/electronics megastore for professionals (not far from my Manhattan apartment). MacMall realised they were losing us and actually had the audacity to FedEx the order–with the delayed spec and all!– but it went Back to Sender.

Considering the circle of friends, family and clients that my husband and I regularly interact with, that’s a heck of a lot of bad PR for MacMall. Through MacMall’s staggering incompetence, we found that B&H is actually a MUCH better retailer with a stellar reputation  and impeccable customer service. The (literally just-released!) 2.93Ghz Quad-Core Intel Xeon “Nehalem” processor we ended up with under advisement from the B&H rep  is actually a much better machine than the 3.2Ghz Quad-Core we were struggling to get delivered from MacMall. Plus, due to its architecture, it cost us $2000+ less! I have to remember it pays to go to a physical store and talk to knowledgeable reps!

Here’s what Mr Greenberg had to say about MacMall:

..MacMall, a Torrance, CA. based distributor of Apple computers and related gear. It’s the same firm as PC Mall… I guess poor customer service is a core MacMall positioning element that I could have known about ahead of time. Note MacMall’s low consumer rating on If you were ever to consider returning or replacing a product, it would be one of the worst places you could choose. Out of thousands of online resellers, to me it seems like it’s just one step above a phishing site. MacMall execs, I suggest you look at the Apple stores, busting at the seams, and chase the premium services market not the sleazy discount / no service no frills game.

As Mr Greenberg writes:

I give them my money for, and put my trust in, their products or services, and I expect them to value that accordingly. I can be a firm’s greatest ally or its worst nightmare.

After all, what’s your time worth? … Shouldn’t our service providers pay us our hourly rate when they put us on hold? Ahh, that would make them think thrice.

And if you don’t value your time in dealing with a company that doesn’t, you should.

Companies spend hundreds, even thousands of dollars to acquire a single steady customer, on the expectation that they will be able to milk that customer for far more money in coming years (figure out your company’s cost of customer acquisitions and their lifetime value here).

We patronised MacMall for many years (since they launched their website back in college in the late 1990s?!), but we just found a better Apple retailer!


  1. Hi Nathalie,

    Thank you for your kind mention of B&H Photo. First and foremost, on behalf of all of us at B&H Photo, I’d like to take this opportunity to express our deep gratitude and warmest thanks for your patronage. We look forward to earning your trust and continued business for many years to come.

    Kindly send me your email address so that I can communicate with you off line.

    Please accept our best wishes for your continued success.

    All the best to you and yours.

    Hershel K. Waldner
    Online Marketing Department
    B&H Photo-Video-Audio
    212-239-7500 ext. 2893

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