(Only one cross-post here)
To post back on my experience, the Apple Store I mentioned above called me back in the evening on the same day when I bought the AppleCare for iPad and filled out the online survey form.
What's going on is this:
In Australia, for a few decades now, a little while before the West gorged itself on credit cards, there started a proprietary Australia-wide system called EFTPOS. It's basically a debit-card + ATM card system that all merchant terminals handle. So payment options are always the three in Australia - cash, "credit"(or debit) ie. Visa/MasterCard/etc and EFTPOS.
The Apple Store called me back and the guy (Shane) said that the counters are actually for EFTPOS. This is because the roaming-thingies only take cash and credit card transactions, presumably since they are Apple HQ USA-based. At this stage, the counters are supposedly only for EFTPOS.
This explains it, but it's a bit of a glitch in the Apple Store Australia-wide system.
The people lining up at the counters may not know if you pay by cash or credit anyone can take your order. As per all other non-Apple stores around the world, you line up at the counter if you want to pay and just go.
In the five minutes I was waiting, and with the guy in front of me waiting, and the last time I was waiting at the counter, at no stage did someone actually tell me or the guy in front of me or the guy behind me that you can be processed by anyone if you are paying by cash or credit.
Shane was fairly good, he acknowledged that this should be communicated better and seemed stressed but overall very professional.
I don't recall a sign at the counter, which one would assume a big sign would be helpful eg. "EFTPOS ONLY - For Cash Or Credit, just locate any friendly Apple Retail Staff". Of course, being Apple, even the Store Manager can't just type it up in Word, print it out on A4 and stick it somewhere.
So the counter is a bit of a liability, because it automatically "attracts" anyone to it, also due to its very central location within the Perth Apple Store (and presumably other Apple Stores ~ other aussies please comment) and looking and acting as a cashier counter. A regular joe or jane would just pick up a box and walk to the counter. Macs, iPhones, iPads would be handled separately by a Specialist first, mainly off-the-shelf stuff is the issue.
Now the other thing that's interesting is the statistics:http://www.apca.com.au/Public/apca01...ats_CardVolumehttp://www.creditcardfinder.com.au/p...tatistics.html
In the past several years, it appears EFTPOS transactions still outweigh credit card transactions by about 3:2**. However, in value in 2009 EFTPOS transaction amounts were 11.3 billion dollars per month and Credit spending was 17.8 billion dollars per month.
Shane mentioned that most customers to the Apple Store (as one would assume) would use credit cards. He felt that Apple is working on a roaming terminal thingy that does EFTPOS as well.
But again, at the end of the day, I think the first strategy is deflection ~ ie. the counter is way too obvious, customers don't know it's only needed for EFTPOS, and in most cases if you tell them to use a credit card they would whip it out fairly quickly. Because EFTPOS is essentially a direct-debit system for the Apple Store you'd imagine you would use a credit card, though perhaps there has been a backlash against credit... If you pay bills using credit cards for example you can get hit by a $2 or $3 "fee".
OK, end of summary.
**This could be because in convenience stores and petrol stations you can get "cash out" during an EFTPOS transaction, saving ATM trips and fees