Blog Post

Apple Changes One to One Subscription Program


In an article in USA Today, Ron Johnson, Apple’s (s aapl) senior vice president of retail, describes upcoming changes to the hugely popular One to One training and support program.

Originally part of ProCare, One to One was launched in May 2007. $99 bought a 1-year membership, granting one 60-minute training or support session per week, up to a maximum of 52 sessions per year. The content of the sessions could be based on an established theme created by Apple, (eg. “Simple to Switch,” “Moviemaking” or “On the Go,” amongst many others) but could just as easily be based around a specific issue or subject of a customer’s choosing.

Since its launch, One to One has proven hugely successful, with a current subscriber base of half a million customers.

The changes Johnson describes are subtle but important, so I asked Apple for further clarification. Here’s the new deal. Whereas previously anyone could buy a One to One subscription without an accompanying purchase, beginning June 2, Apple will limit new subscriptions to customers buying a Macintosh at an Apple retail store or on the Apple Store web site.

There is no “grace period” for the undecided, either. Customers who want to buy a One to One subscription must do so on the day they buy their new Mac. Existing One to One customers will be able to renew their subscriptions for one further year.

Apple’s focus with One to One is shifting away from convincing customers to switch, to supporting customers who have already made the move from PC to Mac. “We originally set up One to One to get people to switch to the Mac,” Johnson said. “Now we want to expand it to make it even more relevant to people who have bought their Mac.”

41 Responses to “Apple Changes One to One Subscription Program”

  1. In our 80’s we bought our first Apple and have been very happy with it, but without the One to One sessions we probably would have junked it.
    It is a real blow to me to have the One to One unavailable to me because of changing rules. My learning will be curtailed and at age 84, I need all the help I can get. I have used the One to One as a selling point to a friend. I sincerely believe you are making a big mistake. I won’t make upgrades to the system I have ——-tiger ——-i considered going to sno leopard, but without One on One to help me , no reason to add new capability. I’m very disappointed in the company.

  2. Barbara Merritt

    I want to renew my one to one but I may be unable to get into the store
    by July 6th which is when my previous one to one expires. Can I renew
    it by phone. If not any other suggestions. Thank You Barbara Merritt

  3. monica savage

    CANT BELIEVE IT: i have been duped. i bought a new mac and went for the $99 one to one believing i could get a one on one 60 min training. my time was confirmed today at 1 pm. i work alot and organized my day for this. got there and they told me ” so nice to see you. — the girl left and then hesitantly came back and told me to have a seat with the -other guy and the tutor will look after both of us” i was a little peeved and asked what the one to one was and they said i signed up for a personal project– and i agreed, but i had to choose on the website what i wanted– then they said no personal training on a sunday???
    what garbage, then they suggested i log on and see if the system made an error. I then demanded my money back but was livid that they did this and tried to make it look like it was my fault that they didnt have someone to tutor me. typical i guess with people who think ( and can i guess) get away with this. What to do! – i did get my money back but am totally angry with them.

  4. jerry swirsky

    I bought a macbook last December(2008)It was never explained to me that I had to purchase One on One at time of purchase. In fact,the sales person said it made sense to work with the Macbook for a while and then consider purchasing One on One and that this could be done any time within a year.
    This does leave a bad taste from a Company that produces wonderful products.
    This is the kind of PR that Apple doesn’t need!!

  5. NewMacBuyer

    I purchased a new mac and one to one training about a week ago. My first two training sessions went great. Both the trainers were very good and made the sessions interesting and I learned alot. However, the third session was a real nightmare. The trainer is one of the supervisors of the creatives so it wasn’t because of a lack of knowledge. It was obvious from the first greeting that my being there was an inconvenience and irritation to the trainer. There was no introduction and there were no questions about what I was there for… just silence. Ok, so I decided to try to get things started by mentioning where I left off in my previous session… silence accompanied with a look of: so who cares? When I asked what direction the trainer would recommend taking that suddenly sparked a condescending diatribe about: “well what did you buy the computer for, what are you going to use it for, there is way too much to cover to just start showing you everything.” I could go on with a detailed account of this total waste of a “training session” but what I’m really wondering now is if anyone has a suggestion how to proceed. Should I talk to a store manager or higher management , just go to a different location for training or just stuff it and carry on as if everything is fine. I have to say I’m really disappointed and I’m trying to put it in perspective. But the experience was so full of tension and negativity that I really feel like not going back for any more one to one training and say the hell with it.

    • Peter Dahlke

      To bad that you found a lemon hanging on the apple tree. My experiences have been excellent. When you sign up for you next scession, add that you do not want to work with this instructor again.

  6. I have to agree with the majority of Mac lovers. I have had pro care subscription through 3 macs and I want to continue as I get deeper into the Final Cut Studio Apps. Please respect us as mac lovers and learners. We are your greatest source of support and want to continue that way
    Bonnie Kaplan

  7. Apple should make it pay per session. Say $5 to $10 per session. They are a business, and they don’t “owe” one to one sessions to their customers for $99 a year.

  8. Howard

    I went to sign up for a _community college_ class on Final Cut Pro and it was $600.

    Quit ‘ur bitchin’ about not being to get a year’s worth of training for $99.

  9. This makes me feel like throwing my macbook off my balcony. As an newly independent consultant, I planned to purchase the one-to-one support and just learned that it has been yanked for only those with new purchases.

    With the current state of the economy, Apple should rethink their approach, and perhaps simply change the pricing scheme. This is very limiting for someone who is not in a position to purchase a new computer, but would simply like to hone in on what they currently have.

    Take care.

  10. I purchased a iMac on May 26th online and I saw that I could purchase the one to one service after the purchase. I go to purchase it and wham no can do! So I did purchase the iMac over the PC for the great service….right? I’ve been to 3 of the classes at the store but most are way too basic for my needs.

  11. Howard

    I’m sorry but I feel some of these comments reflect a sense of entitlement. How much would you have to pay a trainer to give you one-on-one lessons for an hour especially on the more advance topics?

    My guess would be two lessons would be at least as much as a year’s worth of OTO.

    Apple is taking a financial bath on this and I’m amazed and thankful that they’re offering it all. Even with all the quirks the program admittedly has, I believe that others should be grateful as well.

    Heck, when my membership is no longer renewable next year, I’m planning to buy a Mac Mini just to have access to the OTO.

  12. Mickey Todd

    I’ve had a very favorable experience with Apple and it’s employees…but, I am not happy when I try to make an appointment for One-on-One and because of limited availability of time slots…the next time is several days more than “in one week”…which makes it possible to get maybe 30 to 35 sessions instead of “one a week” … as it is presented.

    • Peter Dahlke

      The infrequency of one to one sessions has the smell of bait and switch to it. How many of the trainers are being redirected towards other store related functions? These are management moves. Last year Apple extended the one to one contract because of the back log issue. They gave the users an extra month of service. Might this be on the horizon? Some one upstairs needs to look at this element of their business model.

  13. Courtney

    I am SO DISAPPOINTED in Apple. I bought a mac two months ago and couldn’t wait to take the one on one. I travel for a living so waited til just now to call and make appointment. Only to find no can do. I was not offered one on one when I bought the computer and had no idea the policy was going to change. I am such a Mac fan and love the support they give you….this gives me a BAD FEELING that more is coming. I guess I thought Apple was different…..
    I would hope they change this policy and recognize the value of tried and true customers There has to be a way to make this available and viable.

    I love the product but this tarnishes my enthusiasm for the company.

    • I just bought my third Mac just about a month ago, The sales rep told me I could come in any time to buy a One -On-One membership. I went a couple of weeks after that to buy it and the store was closed for renovation. I just now I got back to the store and BAM I got the No Can Do. Everybody was nice about the whole thing and I can’t get mad at them because , well they’re the “little People” I just have the feeling that I just got screwed. I won’t ever stop by the store again

  14. Chris Ryan

    I think we are seeing the other side; just concerned that Apple is alienating customers. If the concern is crowding in the stores, which I’m sure Apple will agree is a nice problem to have, then they need to rethink space allocation. How do “new tables that display twice as many computers” address store overcrowding? New tables take up more space. Ideally when you look at every thing that sets the Apple Store apart, One to One, a Genius Bar, and ProCare for faster service, what happens when all of these services get maxed out? Well you expand your stores and build more… Not limit services to exclusive groups. It would sure suck if I didn’t have an Apple Store nearby and I bought a Mac and then they build one a few months later… But no One to One for me. Thoughts?

  15. x-Apple Creative

    I worked as a Creative for 3 years at an Apple retail store. We would run out of room all the time trying to find a place to do a training session and on weekends it was out of control. I’m sure we we’re past the fire code plenty of times. I think this is a wise choice for Apple. They can’t very well add on to their stores because most of them are in malls & the sessions need to happen in the actual store and not some off site location because there are many times when Creatives (trainers) need support from the geniuses. Our small store had 10 creatives, and for ever creative there was a customer they were training, already we’re up to 20 people in the store not counting normal customers & staff. You people need to see things from the other side of the spectrum.

  16. “Apple is trying to reduce the frequency of some customers just enough to make the One to One sessions a bit less crowded.”- There will no longer be a limit to the number of sessions you can attend, its all down to availability.
    “This is a harsh move by Apple, and I wonder if it’s just the precursor to killing the service altogether in another year or so.” – The service is growing now more than ever – no plans to close it down.
    “Don’t know if it counts for ipods.” – Nope, Mac only.
    “So the only way to get one-to-one would be to buy a new mac?” – You can renew a membership for three years running.
    This new service has been trialed (successfully) in a few US stores, and so is now spreading to the global market.

  17. Mac Daddy

    The new One-to-One doesn’t go into effect until Tuesday June 2. So if you want the original One-to-One, sign up on Monday. The Apple stores still offers free hands-on workshops with a Q&A session if you want specific answers. And there’s always the free Genius Bar tech support.

  18. I’m disappointed by this. It’s not so much that only new Mac buyers can avail themselves of it (at $99 Apple must be losing money on this service), but rather that there is no grace period for a new user to make that decision. When you have to buy it at the time of the Mac purchase, it becomes a pressure sale, and I hate that.

    Many people reflexively say “no” to pressure sales without considering what’s being offered. A week later they may wish they could do this and are unable to do so. This is a harsh move by Apple, and I wonder if it’s just the precursor to killing the service altogether in another year or so.

    • Fortunately, they’ve eased up on this…or maybe they felt sorry for an old lady, but I was allowed to purchase the 1-2-1 after a week of trying to figure out what to do with all my extra fingers. I’ve had two sessions and each one saved me a week of trial and error.

  19. Chris Ryan

    Its funny how Apple tries to put their “shiny happy” spin on news and make it sound like its what’s best for the customer. Look at how One to One has evolved over the past few years though. Originally, a customer could come in as often as they wanted (when it was ProCare). Eventually Apple adopted a once per week rule (that stores rarely enforced) to help keep more appointments available. Then to spice things up, they rebranded the service as One to One and offered members a nifty little notebook to track their learning. Of course, this didn’t last too long and the program shifted towards a set of cards that would act as a checklist for learning the Mac basics. But from what I hear, that’s gone too. Even Apple’s dedicated place in the store, The Studio, has now been turned to extra seating for people waiting for the Genius Bar. (True, One to One sessions do happen here, but in the stores I’ve been in, this area does crowd up quickly).

    The best way stores used to sell One to One was to offer a complimentary One to One session with every new Mac purchase, allowing a user to experience it and then decide if they wanted to continue on for $99. With the new plan and lack of a grace period, it sounds like stores won’t even be able to offer this. How many times do you go to buy something big and just start saying “no” to all the extra stuff a sales guy tries to add on?

    The pure logistics of a One to One membership don’t really work out anyway. If you imagine every Creative gets paid $10 an hour (hypothetically speaking), if a member uses the service more than 10 times a year, then Apple is already losing money (being that membership is $99). Am I right on this or is my logic flawed? (I’m a humble guy, so please correct me if I’m wrong).

    I really think Apple is going to see a loss of customers because of this… but I doubt they’ll ever admit that. Instead, we’ll likely perceive it as just traffic to the stores slowing down a bit, with a blame on the economy.

  20. JudasX

    I completely agree with everything that has been said. From the consumer perspective…it makes no sense to establish a deadline on the One to One and alienate current mac owners (and there are many of us) who still consider the training daily to maximize our usage.

    I hope it dings sales and customer satisfaction enough to justify re-establishing the old/current One to One plan. The most ironic thing is that Businessweek just voted Apple over google for most Innovative 2009 business, but with this move and the potential power of Google Wave, Businessweek may just regret the decision.

  21. Guzardo

    I specifically signed up for One to One when my local Apple store offered three small group classes on Final Cut Pro. If I’m not able to attend future classes, then I have no compelling reason to upgrade when the next version of FCP is released.

    This isn’t an “expansion.” It’s shutting out existing customers who may make future buying decisions based on what they learn from One to One sessions.

  22. Sharon Plante

    I don’t understand why you would alienate current mac users who utilize the program to further their abilities with their mac they already own. So the only way to get one-to-one would be to buy a new mac? That makes no sense for keeping customer loyalty.

  23. stupid

    I don’t understand it,

    they’ll just going to return it when they can’t figure it out, and regret they have no more options. The other choice would be to return and buy the same thing again this time purchasing one to one. OR buy an ipod? Don’t know if it counts for ipods

  24. Roland Ratliff

    A big mistake. I was considering one on one right now to learn aperture 2. I figured that along with this, I could also learn a little more about some other mac features that I might not have known. I already have a mac, so I would not have known about all of this then. The one on one thing is a Monday morning decision, not a time of purchase thing.

  25. Chris Ryan

    This seems like they’re giving customers a nice, glossy, aluminum and glass middle finger. The initial emphasis behind the introduction of One to One was to help more customers return to the store because, in Apple’s eyes (and from a purely financial standpoint), those customers spent more money. Now, as the service has become more popular (like anything else… such as the Genius Bar), its become crowded, harder to get appointments when you want, and harder to have some sense of privacy when you’re actually in a session. The result is Apple scales back.

    How many customers are Apple going to alienate with this plan? Here’s an example and a true story. You have an Apple employee, sweet as she is, who really is a Switcher at heart, and who bought her very own (non-discounted) One to One membership so she could come in, on her own time, and have her fellow colleagues teach her new applications. Now, she can’t purchase One to One anymore? The customers who have had it for a few years are likely going to be using it less than those who just bought it, but Apple is still turning them away?

    Between Apple’s move three years ago to limit sessions to once a week and now to limit a membership to just two years; it just doesn’t seem to make sense from any perspective except Apple is trying to reduce the frequency of some customers just enough to make the One to One sessions a bit less crowded.

    However, I can be a bit biased in my thoughts and rage. So please, fellow readers, share your thoughts!

    • Del Denham

      Yes we live in Sun City Az. & we leave for the high country in the summer , we will be leaving in may & will not get our years worth of training, we was told we would get & hrs. a week but it is more like & hr. in two weeks its not good & we are not very happy about it . If we could get the hr. a week as promised we probably could learn enough to make it worth the money spent ,but like it is going no way (doesn’t fit the the learning curve )

    • What about those customers that repeatedly make appointments and do not show?
      As for your example of employees, there are so many resources offered for training there is no reason in the world for them to be using OnetoOne.
      There are also free workshops offered to anyone. Did I mention they are FREE?
      Did you know your AppleCare includes unlimited one on one phone support? So if you are having problems you can call and ask.
      This is not a big deal at all. Much ado about nothing and a way for you to generate traffic. Sigh.