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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.

Another limitation is on what you can actually purchase with this app. No matter what the price, it cannot be used to purchase a piece of Apple hardware. For example, when you scan a $99 Apple TV unit, the app prompts you to get an employee for checkout help. But when you scan a $290 Iomega 2TB Mac Companion Hard Drive, it registers as an item available through EasyPay. Look for the EasyPay tag on store shelves—those products are the ones that are available for purchase through the app.

Returning items is a breeze; just show an Apple employee a copy of your emailed receipt or the one directly from the app. You’ll need to have your credit card with you when making a return, and make sure you’re within Apple’s return policy deadlines.

When leaving the store, you may be asked to present a copy of your receipt, although I didn’t experience that at any of the three stores where I tested the app.

If all you need is accessories, software, and stocking-stuffers, EasyPay could drastically change your wait time within the store.

Order online, pick up at the store

If you know exactly what you want to purchase, you can reserve items online or through the Apple Store app for in-store pickup. Just check the Pick Up option during check out when shopping online. Before you add an item to your cart, check the product’s availability at whichever store you’d like to schedule the pick-up. Usually, if it’s a stock-configuration, it will be available for pick-up the same day it’s ordered. If a store has it in-stock, it will be ready in as little time as an hour. You can either pay online and pick it up in the store, or reserve an item and pay in the store upon pick-up.

Because the iPhone 4S is quickly becoming this season’s hot commodity, reserving one follows a different procedure. You can reserve an iPhone 4S after 9:00 p.m. for in-store pickup the next day, or else face waiting in line for a walk-in purchase.

Depending on the item, it might be faster to have it shipped directly to your home than to pick it up from a store—especially if it’s a customized iMac or MacBook that differs from the stock configurations. When I played around with pick-up options, a customized iMac would take more than a week to ship to a store verses two to four business days to have it shipped directly to my home.

The Personal Pickup and Reserve feature is extremely convenient if you live in an apartment or a building that cannot receive packages without a signature—or, if you’re big on planning ahead.


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