x Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 23 January 2018

Navigating the vagaries of a new phone purchase

Last week I purchased a new phone, and now I have a story to tell

Last week I purchased a new phone. To buy said handset, I went to the nearest outlet, expecting to be greeted with the shopping experience to which I've become accustomed over many years of visiting such stores. Namely poor lighting, uncomfortable seats and a thick stench of confusion in the air as a hundred poor souls who would rather be anywhere else in the world wait for bored customer service clerks.

But no. Instead, I walked into a gleaming, Jetsons-esquely futuristic Lifestyle-o-Matic Store 2.0, breezing with sparkling white walls, swivel chairs and a scattering of subtle, comforting shades of blue, pink and green. More unexpectedly, a team of eager and smiling helpers buzzed about, thus diminishing the world of bewilderment I had already prepared myself for.

The waiting area, rather than offering the expected assortment of benches, was shaped more like a Roman forum, with customers casually slouched on the various tiers waiting for their number to be called.

High up on the walls, emotive and encouraging suggestions like "interact" and "feel at home" had been written, probably to promote the capabilities of the handsets displayed below (or maybe to encourage those waiting to settle in for the long haul). Taking a more omnipresent direction, others advised readers to "be everywhere" and "talk everywhere".

After a short wait that didn't have me pulling any amount of hair out, I was eventually invited inside a glass-walled office where I sat on a swivel chair as a woman stared at a gleaming white and ultra-thin monitor, tapping my details into the system. This was all very weird. Despite the mere purchasing of a phone being a somewhat simple procedure, I'd written off the morning to accomplish it, expecting to be passed from one confused adviser to another. Yet here I was, just 20 minutes in and within sniffing distance of completion. The phone itself was sat on the desk, winking at me. I felt like fist-pumping the air, and started doing 360-degree turns in the chair to celebrate.

But then nothing. Followed by more nothing. The tapping behind the screen became a little more aggressive, the mouse clicks more frantic. Finally, with my spins of delight a distant memory and tears of boredom welling up in my eyes, I inquired as to the problem.

"Er, it seems we cannot process your request right now... The scanner is broken."