(AP Photo/Douglas C. Pizac)

I needed a folding cover — one of the top-only magnetic things for my iPad 3, a device that seems to be called iPad 3 by every merchant in the world except Apple, its maker. Apple identifies it as “third generation.”

Did I want to go to the mall and beat my way through the weekend crowds to get to the Apple Store? No. Once there, did I want to wait for service at the Apple Store? No! Although, I have to admit, service at Apple — so long as technical support is not required — is fairly fast. Even so, parking at the mall on the weekend is a nightmare. There’s a Best Buy not far from my home, and so I went there. (A day earlier, I went to an AT&T mobile phone store, but they were out of magnetic covers.)

There was a magnetic cover at Best Buy. The models in blue and pink (yes, somewhat feminine colors) were $16.95 each; the exact same model (identical manufacturer, same style and same features), in clear, was $29.95. I asked a sales person about the discrepancy. He said the clear ones were popular, so they charged more for them.  

I checked the Amazon price for a similar (not the same manufacturer, but clearly identical features) on my iPhone — $12.95.   Guess which one I bought? It came by FedEx. (We pay Amazon a family amount yearly and get second-day air for zip until the calendar rolls again.) The Amazon cover is fine!

On my way out of Best Buy, I realized the store was configured for maximum convenience for the managers and employees and minimum convenience for customers. The intent seems to be for customers to be herded like sheep through a serpentine collection of merchandise shelves to get to the checkout lines. When Best Buy got going and made its bones, there were supermarket-style rapid checkout counters in the front of the store. Zip, zip — one could get his or her stuff and exit rapidly.   There were bright lights and knowledgeable clerks, lots of them. The store had a “watcher” at the front, but somehow you felt less like a thief than the watcher makes you feel now; maybe it’s the relative darkness.    

Best Buy now is dark, slow and unappealing, not bright, cheery and fast. Maybe Best Buy didn’t drive Circuit City out of business. Maybe Best Buy will fall from grace, a victim of brightly lit Sam’s Clubs, Wal-Marts, CostCo clubs and, oh yes, Amazon, which doesn’t need lights at all, bright or dim.  

Have a great week and shop carefully.

 

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