One Infinite Loop. That's the mailing address for Apple's corporate headquarters in Cupertino, Calif. How do I know that? I tried to become an Apple VAR.
In September 2008, I received a call from a colleague who informed me he had left his job as sales rep for a prominent health-care software vendor to take a management position with a new company he felt had a top-notch orthodontic software package. Knowing his track record for success, I immediately asked how I could become involved. After a few minutes of strategic planning, my colleague offered up what proved to be the Achilles' heel: His software package was Mac-based. At first I didn't really see that as a problem. Having personally had more than one doctor ask me about Macs, I knew there was an interest level in the marketplace. I made a quick call to my good friend Dan, who also owns a health-care-specific integration firm. I knew he wasn't an Apple partner but was curious to see if he saw the same potential. "Oh, yes!" he exclaimed. "We get asked about Macs all the time." We decided to contact Apple separately and report back to each other.
A Google search turned up the home page for the Apple Channel Program. After thoroughly reviewing it, I felt fairly confident my business was a good match. At this point, I had two options: I could launch the online application or fill out an online information request form. Because I typically like to speak to a real person, and because Dan launched the online application, I chose the latter. After two days, I had not received an e-mail or call from an Apple channel manager, not even a canned e-mail. I checked with Dan—he was in the same boat.
Days stretched into weeks. Dan began having someone on his staff e-mail Apple every day. I filled out the online request form a third time. Wanting to give Apple the benefit of the doubt, we chose not to pursue the issue again until the new year. In January, I located the 800 number on the channel program Web site and started dialing. I asked to speak to someone in the channel partner program and was immediately transferred to an automated messaging system that directed me to the channel partner Web site. Slightly irritated, but unabashed, I called again. This time, I asked to speak to a real person. I was told that there wasn't actually anyone in that department who was available but she could transfer me to customer care. Once connected to customer care, I again asked to speak to someone in the channel partner program. After having to explain exactly what a channel partner was, I was once again transferred. This time, I reached a fellow by the name of Jason, who identified himself as representing the channel program. Finally!
Jason proceeded to tell me that he couldn't help me, that there was no one to talk to about the channel program, and I would have to go through the online process. I tried desperately to explain my situation to Jason—he apologized but stuck to his guns. There simply was no other way, and I would have to wait for Apple to contact me. I've now filled out the form four times, and still no call.
One Infinite Loop.
C.J. Ezell is president of The ASI Group.