Competitive, secretive world of Apple Store employees profiled

Posted:
in Genius Bar edited January 2014
A rather tame accounting of the life of an Apple Store employee has detailed the kinds of customers and corporate policy that the company's retail workers cope with in their jobs.



A report by Popular Mechanics, written by a Apple retail employee, described a culture of secrecy while working with difficult customers.



"They have a really lenient attendance policy," the writer says. "You have to be late like 15 times before they'll fire you. But if you talk to the press or speculate to a customer about the next iPad? That's the end of you."



Speculating about what might be in the pipeline is so dangerous that the writer says employees play dumb and sometimes work to remain ignorant. "I am asked five times per day about the next iPad or iPhone, and I quite simply don't know. But I would be in huge trouble if I said something like 'The next iPad is going to have a camera.'



"I actually avoid the technology section of the newspaper so I have no points of view to accidentally comment with or drop into conversation. I'd rather just be dumb about it."



The difficult public



"Its amazing how badly behaved some customers are," the writer said. "I have seen customers have complete meltdowns and get phones exchanged that were like two years old. They scream, cry, curse. And it works. People can be horrible. Sometimes it's like working at McDonald's, with better pay. I've never been treated so badly in my life."



Other customer hazards include drug dealers trying to set up a phone account using phony IDs, fake credit cards or a false Social Security number. Call them out on that, the writer said, and they run.



Chinese resellers trying to negotiate deals on iPads, random people who just visit to use the computers, and shoplifters were also noted, requiring undercover security guards who are "paid really well" to "deal with people doing things like wheeling in strollers and trying to use them to roll off with Time Capsules and iPods."



Sales push



Apple Store employees aren't paid commissions, but they are tracked for sales performance. "If you aren't doing very well, you start getting manager meetings, and they sit you down and try to figure out why you aren't selling more."



One metric is the attachment rate, measuring how many copies of AppleCare and MobileMe an employee sells compared to the amount of hardware transactions they complete.



"We're supposed to sell AppleCare product support with just about everything, and honestly, those aren't that hard to sell, since they aren't a bad deal. But we're also supposed to push MobileMe, and that's really hard to sell. Nobody ever sells it," the employee said.



For better or worse



Along with other comments made in the report, the employee's remarks were tame compared to the anonymous complaint blog CrApple Store, which details horror stories of terrible customers and often portrays store managers as inept.



At the same time, one reader commenting on the story wrote, "I read some of the crapplestore posts and, honestly, that just wasn't my experience at all. I'm guessing that the store managers make a huge difference, but I worked in one of the Chicago stores and was truly impressed with how well the store was run and the high quality of the employees and managers. I'd worked in Magnolia Home Theater at Best Buy prior to the Apple Store, and the difference between the two was night and day."
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Comments

  • Reply 1 of 27
    Austin, the Domain, top notch folks. The manger is friendly, Genius Bar folks rock.



    I don't even ask anymore about products, they won't even hint.



    And, I have to say, that observing customers, you usually get the type of reaction you provide. Being respectful and nice get's great service as much as being a jerk.
  • Reply 2 of 27
    This sounds like nothing new to people who've worked in retail. Ups and down. Hell, that's many industries. I am just amazed at how adult people act like spoiled little brats to get an old iThingie replaced that's well out of warranty. I think I'd be the Ron Artest of retail if I actually worked in that industry. Instead, I work in IT.
  • Reply 3 of 27
    The Apple Store dude convinced me to purchase Applecare for my daughter's computer. Now I feel worked... But it is a good deal, right?
  • Reply 4 of 27
    hill60hill60 Posts: 6,992member
    Sounds pretty normal for retail almost any job you take has performance targets.



    Selling MobileMe?



    Piece of cake, " this comes with a free 60 day trial, give it a try and if you like it keep it going, it does blah, blah, blah, want me to set it up for you?"



    Done, if you don't ask the question they won't buy..



    I've been selling phones and plans for a long time now, commission based which is a driver to figuring out the best way to sell the things the company I work for wants sold.
  • Reply 5 of 27
    It should almost be a requirement that everyone works in the service/retail industry at some point in their lives. lol



    My dad loves his One to One appointments... he's a gentleman and thinks "all the young kids there are great" So, if any Apple store employees are reading this- know there's plenty of us who appreciate you!





    On the negative side.... After reading this article- I FEEL TERRIBLE that one time I got into a lot of speculation talk with a business phone support employee... Yikes. Hope he didn't lose his job!
  • Reply 6 of 27
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Muncie View Post


    The Apple Store dude convinced me to purchase Applecare for my daughter's computer. Now I feel worked... But it is a good deal, right?



    Speaking from personal experience, if it's ever needed, the benefits are first rate.
  • Reply 7 of 27
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Muncie View Post


    The Apple Store dude convinced me to purchase Applecare for my daughter's computer. Now I feel worked... But it is a good deal, right?



    I've used macs for 16 years. I always buy Applecare. I haven't used it on most computers, but when I have needed to use it, its easily paid for itself.
  • Reply 8 of 27
    I was a part time employee who was part of the group that opened one of the first stores in southern California. It was a good experience. I was working full time as a teacher at the time, and as a long time Apple enthusiast it was more about the experience than the money. We went through several days of training at a hotel before the store opened. As someone said in an earlier post, everyone should have the experience of working retail at some point in their lives. This was mine. Apple was very early in their retail experience (2001) and was still figuring it all out. As it turned out, we were somewhat overstaffed, and after about six months I was laid off along with several other part timers. There was plenty of hours for the full timers and they could work extra to cover any open times. I don't even know if they still even have part timers.



    The hardest part for me was being on my feet for sustained periods. I was in good shape but 55 year old feet just didn't have the stamina they once did. I loved the idea of the free chilled water the Geniuses used to give out. Sorry to see that nice touch pass. I recall being outraged when some jerk walked off with a Sony video camera. There was no security in those early innocent days. The whole vibe was idealistic and cool. I really liked sharing my enthusiasm for Apple products with newbies. It was Apple evangelism with an instant payoff. Good times.
  • Reply 9 of 27
    recrec Posts: 217member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by zzyzx View Post


    I've used macs for 16 years. I always buy Applecare. I haven't used it on most computers, but when I have needed to use it, its easily paid for itself.



    Applecare is definitely a good deal if you can afford it. Way too many things can go wrong, and although I've had Apple take mercy on me and replace my stuff for free, just as often I would be stuck. I think its definitely worth it, technology breaks, its just a fact of life.
  • Reply 10 of 27
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Muncie View Post


    The Apple Store dude convinced me to purchase Applecare for my daughter's computer. Now I feel worked... But it is a good deal, right?



    Applecare def pays for itself. I've had mostly macs since the late 90's and purchased apple care for them all (usually wait until 9-11months after I purchase the computer). I've used it twice. The first time was for the dome iMac. My hard drive failed like 5 days before the Apple Care was to expire. No questions asked, they replaced it. This was before all the retail locations, so an authorized agent picked up my computer and then dropped it off to me when fixed. The next time was when my MacBook Pro had some dead pixels on it. No questions asked, they replaced the screen, an $800 replacement at the time. Well worth it! I usually wait because I might want to sell the computer before the year is up, but it is transferable.
  • Reply 11 of 27
    ifailifail Posts: 463member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by ghostface147 View Post


    This sounds like nothing new to people who've worked in retail. Ups and down. Hell, that's many industries. I am just amazed at how adult people act like spoiled little brats to get an old iThingie replaced that's well out of warranty. I think I'd be the Ron Artest of retail if I actually worked in that industry. Instead, I work in IT.



    Thats not surprising at all, people act like the world revolves around them when they purchase anything. Time and again ive seen people make complete fools of themselves over a phone bill, or people raising hell simply to try and get a free meal.



    Whats sad is that people get their tantrums rewarded for acting like a jackass
  • Reply 12 of 27
    It should be mentioned that the UK store managers are particularly appalling (speaking from experience having worked at the Regent Street store). They don?t care about Apple, just their bonuses (yes because managers actually get a bonus! Other employees do all the hard work and sell the required percentages of attachments, they don?t care about hardware sales, which most people don?t need. They threaten your position within the company if you fail to meet targets and if you?re a new employee your three month probation is extended to keep you on your toes and even then they will probably let you go). Obviously Apple only hire the best leaders from the UK?s failed or failing businesses such as HMV, Dixons, Zavvi, Borders?.



    The managers and their little sisters are more than happy to strap on their crampons and thrust a piton into a coworkers back to get to the top. The latest one, I hear, has a lust for little cubby boys and is personally seeing to his development within the company while more experienced employees are overlooked. This is just typical behaviour in regard to getting promoted, you either have to sleep with someone above or be someones personal little sycophant.



    I?m glad to be free of that place because I have never felt more under-appreciated or used and tossed aside in my life.
  • Reply 13 of 27
    NYC store is well run. Mgmt helpful and always available.

    Employees are for the most part curtious and seem to be well educated in all Apple products.





    More companies should bring back that old fashion customer service.
  • Reply 14 of 27
    Apple care always worked for me (Although Apple always been nice to replace if any of my toys were broken) , But my MacBOOK PRO SCREEN WENT DEAD in Taiwan , while I was in Business trip, I found a Mac store and in one day they replaced my Screen and they gave me a loaner in between

    Apple care took care of everything , Another time my G3 Modem died in S korea , same thing one day turned around , My First Generation Iphone had green Camera and was replaced twice .



    So I have nothing bad to say about Apple Care and gladly without hesitation have suggested to all friends and family who have bought Apple stuff.

    Mobile me , I cant do without as my Email is .Mac or .me and it is so easy and all my Calendar , Contacts on my Macs and Iphone are all synced constantly .



    Apple store employees in Valley fair and Los gatos , CA where I shop I know and their manager , and they are the best..Both employees and the Manager .....



    I am a Tech support at my job and believe me some times it is really hard talking to some

    People , But that is what we get paid for and the payoff in solving people's problem is rewarding.
  • Reply 15 of 27
    poochpooch Posts: 768member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by VivianPotthasth View Post


    Thanks for info on this issue. I dont know that



    want a little spam to go along with your post?
  • Reply 16 of 27
    Applecare is good when it's cheap. Being a student rocks.



    The attendance policy was really strict in my experience. It was three strikes you're out.

    I can confirm the attachment metrics... no commission but ALWAYS pressure to do better with something.



    You know, they train you to think you are there to help people but deep down inside they PUSH in subtle ways to just sell the hell out of everything they have. Not a bad thing... just stressful and not paid well enough for a true expert.
  • Reply 17 of 27
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Robin Huber View Post


    I don't even know if they still even have part timers.



    Oh, they still exist.
  • Reply 18 of 27
    I dislike sales people. I thank God I've never had to work retail. Their job is to get me to part with as much as my hard earned money as possible. "we don't work on commision" but you keep pushing the mobile me on me.



    Speaking of pushing things on us. "Do you want soda and fries with that?" How much is the percetage of mark up on those items like 1000%.
  • Reply 19 of 27
    irelandireland Posts: 17,671member
    I like Apple's products, but it'd be a cold day in hell before I'd work in one of their stores.
  • Reply 20 of 27
    Hope that employee was already fired. What an awful disclosure. This should never seen the public. AAPL price is going to take a serious hit.
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