Tuesday, October 16, 2012

The Apple Store in Paris: If at First You Don't Succeed...

I'm going to let you in on a little secret. When in Paris, never, ever, accept "non" for an answer. Or at least not the first "non" you hear. Why? Because despite what we were taught in high school, a "non" in Paris doesn't really mean "no" at all.

What it actually means is, "how bad do you want it?"

Here's what I mean. Yesterday, I spent my afternoon at the Apple Store near the Opera Garnier. Thanks to my seven-year-old, my Macbook started its day in a bath of hot, milky coffee and subsequently refused to cooperate. After a quick Google search ("coffee on Macbook") revealed a dizzying number of DIY fixes and photos of laptop innards, I opted for professional assistance.

So there I stood, on Apple's old-Paris-meets-new-millenium threshold, my caffeinated computer in hand. I headed for the "Genius Bar," having read that this was the place for service and repairs. Dozens of blue T-shirted techies hovered about, toting iPads and chatting with one another. I approached a pair of customer service reps. Could I speak to someone about possible computer repair? Blank stare. Repairs? Here? Non, non, non. You must make a rendezvous online, madame, to speak to someone about computer repair. Oh, I see. So even though I'm here now, talking to you, with my computer in my bag, I have to go online and make a rendezvous to come back to talk to you? Oui! He motioned to a bank of iPads on sleek blond wood tables and suggested I email him for my rendezvous. Oh, and there was a two week wait for repair appointments. Desole.

I felt dazed. Had I fallen into a parallel universe? Why was he forcing me to go online (not five yards from where we stood) to do something we could easily achieve in four seconds face-to-face? I tensed up and turned for the door, picturing my poor Mac in the tobacco-stained hands of the non-licensed repair guy I was sure I could find on CraigsList.

But no! This is Paris, I reminded myself. If at first you don't succeed, try, try again.

I would regroup, apply fresh lip gloss and deploy my feminine charms (admittedly faded though they may be for twenty-something computer guys). I scanned the blue T-shirted techies anew and identified my target. And this time, I brought a fresh, French approach.

Bonjour! Ca va? I know it's a lot to ask but I was hoping you could help me? I'm sure this happens all the time but I was at a cafe and spilled coffee on my computer...you must see that all the time, non? I thought so...Oh, me? I'm from la Californie originally. I know, I love it there, too. The beach! And the people are so nice! Really, you think so? That's so nice of you to say. I'm still working on my accent but I'm glad you like it...

I was shameless. I even grazed his arm as he led me to the Genius Bar.

Twenty minutes later, I sauntered out into the Paris afternoon, my computer in the able hands of my Apple technician, his (modest) repair estimate tucked inside my bag. I wasn't sure whether to feel proud of myself or the tiniest bit dirty. Mostly I felt grateful for that Balenciaga fragrance I'd spritzed at Sephora before I hit the Apple store. Everyone knows the French are suckers for a little seductive scent.


At October 16, 2012 at 6:39 PM , Blogger Lee I said...


At October 16, 2012 at 10:16 PM , Blogger HT said...

You are my idol! I was in the very same apple store last fall after dropping my brand new ipad on a tile floor and could barely hold back the tears long enough to ask the men in blue "parlez vous anglais?" I was told two weeks wait as well, which was well past my vacation time in Paris. I had much better luck back in Los Angeles where I was able to get a replacement (one get out of jail free card for a shattered ipad) but that experience sent me back to les etats unis with a great determination to improve my French :) work in progress.
Also, j'adore your blog!

At October 17, 2012 at 9:01 AM , Blogger Michelle Moller said...

You are a sassy little minx (LOL) fabulous technique - I may need to stop by for some lessons... you really made me smile today. You have to admit that you can never complain about any dull moments living amongst the French - they are truly a magnificent, complicated but intriguing culture. Here's to a coffee free Macbook from here on xxx

At October 20, 2012 at 11:06 PM , Blogger labergerebasque said...

The same “seductive” techniques hold true for the bureaucrats (fonctionnaires). Chappeau to YOU!

At November 19, 2012 at 12:07 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

Love it! Glad to see I'm not the only one who at times needs to do this! lol My dear sweet French man often sends me into places to use my own little 'womanly skills' as he puts it. I always try to say (with my New York mentality), no you will make more progress because you are French and a man and they will respect you more and you will get a better deal or get what needs to be done actually done... However, truth be told, he is always right.

It's terrible to say... but oh so true, the charms of a woman go much further in France than I ever thought. I just keep telling myself that I'm one step closer to adapting to the French culture in order to make myself feel better & a little less cheap. ;)


At November 20, 2012 at 6:19 AM , Blogger rajesh said...

I took my iphone to the Apple store because my phone stopped working and I had to make an appointment to see someone. I'm just wondering how much money do they make as an Apple repairs Specialist (fixing the phone)? Could they make a lot since they fix the phone or try to fix th phone?

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At June 23, 2015 at 1:32 PM , Blogger Bradleygregory said...

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