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How to beat the line at the Apple Store

Leah Yamshon | Nov. 24, 2011
A visit to your local Apple store during the holiday season can be maddening.

A visit to your local Apple store during the holiday season can be maddening. The stores are overrun with other shoppers, there’s a mob around each gadget table, and waiting for your turn to be helped by an Apple store employee takes eons. The walk-in line to purchase an iPhone 4S alone can take upwards of an hour, depending on how many people are in front of you. While we generally like the Apple store’s “no register” system, it can be headache inducing during busy periods.

This year, there are a few ways to beat waiting in a long line. It just takes a little planning ahead.

Check yourself out

Bring your iOS device to the Apple Store, because the Apple Store app is a handy guide for holiday shopping. The app shows you where the nearest Apple Store is, lets you search for product availability at specific stores, and allows you to purchase items yourself.

If you’re just purchasing accessories or other small gifts, there’s no need to wait for assistance at the store. The Apple Store app has a new EasyPay feature, which is essentially a self check-out system. Customers scan items with the iPhone’s camera and pay using the credit card associated with their Apple ID. While EasyPay is limited to accessories and non-Apple products—you can’t use it to buy an iPhone, MacBook, or any other piece of Apple hardware—it can certainly eliminate your wait time, since you don’t need a “blue shirt” to help you out.

Before using EasyPay, make sure you enable the app’s Push notifications and location settings. EasyPay will only work within an Apple Store, so if your location settings are disabled, the app won’t recognize that you’re in a store and won’t grant access to the EasyPay feature.

Once the Apple Store home screen pops up within the app, tap EasyPay. (This home screen also lets you make a Genius Bar appointment, ping an employee for additional check out help, and sign up for in-store workshops.) Next, scan the barcode using your iPhone’s camera. Once the item is recognized, a product page displays more information about the item scanned. Tap Pay Now at the bottom of the screen and enter your Apple ID and password. The item will be charged to the credit card associated with your Apple ID and iTunes account, so make sure you have that card with you—before you can complete the purchase, you must enter the card’s security code. The app emails you a copy of your receipt and stores another copy within a section of the app.

The EasyPay feature does have a few kinks to work out. It only allows one item to be checked out a time, which might actually slow your shopping down if you have several items on your holiday list. Be prepared to enter your Apple ID and password multiple times and have a bevy of receipts sitting in your inbox. You’ll also have to flag an employee down if you need a shopping bag or a gift receipt, which could also slow you down. Additionally, EasyPay only works on the iPhone 4 and 4S, and requires iOS 4.2 or higher.

 

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