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Apple Store worker divulges retail practices, experiences

updated 05:45 pm EST, Thu February 17, 2011

MobileMe not selling, person says

An anonymous Apple Store employee has come forward to Popular Mechanics with some information about working in the retail chain, which normally imposes a veil of secrecy. The person foremost claims that workers are kept "completely in the dark" about new products until they're announced during a keynote, at which point employees may gather around to watch, or else use it as an excuse to take time off. On launch days Apple is said to pay large bonuses for long hours, and in some cases provide extras like food.

The company is tagged as extremely strict, however, about speculating on future products with shoppers, even though a clerk may be asked several times a day about Apple plans. "That's the end of you," the anonymous source says. The person says he or she deliberately avoids reading the technology section of a newspaper in order to avoid potential slips.

While salespeople at Apple Stores are not paid on commission, the source says that they are nevertheless under heavy pressure to keep sales high at the risk of losing their jobs. They are allegedly pushed to sell AppleCare warranties with "just about everything," and often times MobileMe; the latter is claimed to be a particular problem. "Nobody ever sells it," the source says, which may back rumors that the company is planning a massive overhaul of the service.

Apple Store workers also reportedly lie to customers about unlocked iPhones, which are sold officially in some countries but not the US. "We usually have to tell them that if they unlock their iPhone, it won't work. That it's going to be like a $700 paperweight, and that the antenna will fry itself on T-Mobile," the source remarks. "Of course, that's not true, but that's what we tell them. And if they have an unlocked iPhone, we won't touch it at the Genius Bar."

Customers are described as a problem in their own right. "It's amazing how badly behaved some customers are. 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," the person remarks. More serious troublemakers may include shoplifters, people with fake IDs or credit cards, and Chinese resellers attempting to haggle or pay in cash.

One countermeasure Apple has taken is plainclothes security guards. "There are security guards everywhere. They are undercover, so you can't tell who they are," the source says. "A lot of them are retired cops, and they get paid really well. They have to deal with people doing things like wheeling in strollers and trying to use them to roll off with Time Capsules and iPods."

Apple's corporate attitude is described as sometimes akin to a cult. "Like, they give us all this little paper pamphlet, and it says things like -- and I'm paraphrasing here -- 'Apple is our soul, our people are our soul.' Or 'We aim to provide technological greatness.' And there was this one training session in which they started telling us how to work on our personality, and separating people into those with an external focus and an internal focus. It was just weird."






by MacNN Staff

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Comments

  1. climacs

    Joined: Dec 1969

    +43

    fascinating

    dealing with the general public does indeed suck donkey b.alls.

  1. lkrupp

    Joined: Dec 1969

    -4

    Caca

    "An anonymous Apple Store employee has come forward to Popular Mechanics with some information about working in the retail chain, which normally imposes a veil of secrecy."

    Yeah, right. Talk about lack of credibility and shear BS. I take this with the same grain of salt as some analyst predicting which product Apple will release next. Nada.

  1. 1golfdoc

    Joined: Dec 1969

    -4

    boo hoo

    another example of a young latchkey kid that was required to earn his money for doing a job. cry me a river! my old boss always emphasized how lucky i was to have the job and you know what, he was right. i was paid fairly and the company was the best i ever worked for. it was a strict environment as well which was fine with me, being held accountable and responsible for your job. one thing i've noticed is that places like apple and in & out burger in so. ca. strive to hire employees that are customer service oriented. if you approach your job with a cheerful upbeat attitude, customers will usually respond better.

  1. facebook_Michelle

    Via Facebook

    Joined: Feb 2011

    +17

    Partially believable

    I've never had an employee at an Apple Store try to sell me either AppleCare or Mobile Me; some of them have asked whether I wanted to buy it, but that's as far as it went.

    Nor have I had anyone tell me those horror stories about unlocked or jailbroken iPhones.

    But about a week or two after I bought an iPhone 4, I dropped it and cracked the glass. The Apple Genius I spoke with replaced it for free.

  1. chucker

    Joined: Dec 1969

    +5

    Genius...

    But about a week or two after I bought an iPhone 4, I dropped it and cracked the glass. The Apple Genius I spoke with replaced it for free.

    My guess is that you have really nice b****, Michelle.

  1. ScottG

    Joined: Dec 1969

    +4

    Just a Couple of Bad Apples...

    This just sounds like a couple of bad Apples in a large barrel of the ripe kind. Really I've never ever EVER! had a problem at an Apple Store, and I have 2 in my area which I frequent lots. Most people are standoffish with me too as I'm a well known Apple Programer, and I Never had anything but the utmost respect from all the staff at any Apple Store. Sure there are going to be a few bad happenings when it comes to customer interactions, that's just the nature of Customer Service. Sale people are CS reps too, as they are the forefront of the product they sell. You can't have a good buying experience if you have to deal with a Know it All, in the creepy way of a Know It All.

    Solution to the whole problem falls on Mangers, if you see this kind of abuse going on, and can't be corrected. Then you show that person the door, and let them go work at the Micro$oft store.

    Comment buried. Show
  1. Salsa

    Joined: Dec 1969

    -11

    Cry me a river?

    Why is everybody focused on comment about sales pressure? To me, the interesting comment is that Apple tells employees to lie to customers about unlocking their iPhones. All we have to do to verify his claim is walk into an Apple Store and ask about unlocking our phone.

  1. jdsonice@gmail.com

    Joined: Dec 1969

    +2

    Pure BS

    I have several friends who have worked at Apple stores. Many still do and some don't and none of them tell me anything like this at all.

    The only thing that sounds reasonable is the security thing. But the rest sounds like fantasy.

    Apple is not a cult but a company. Sure they want employees to push service contracts but then so does Best Buy and every freaking auto dealer. What is the big deal?

    And they make lots of money on MobileMe and they ask their employees to push it. Boo Hoo - is there another company in the US pushing something that they make money on?

    And of course Apple does not support unlocking phones. They don't sell unlocked phones in the US and anyone using the unlock software is doing so at their own risk. Warranty is always void on any product when you change basic design.

    Apple employees at the stores are very nice and helpful. This article simply insults all those good people.

    This is one of most stupid articles I have ever read. If Popular Mechanics published this c*** then the editors are idiots who need to get their freaking heads examined.

    And macnn you were stupid to waste any space on this too!

  1. facebook_Michael

    Via Facebook

    Joined: Feb 2011

    -4

    Why...

    doesn't Apple use those RFID tags on the expensive stuff to sound an alert when some low-life tries to steal something?

    And yeah, dealing with the public can be a pain in the butt. I know because I am can sometimes be one of those pains in the butt; I am not disrespectful toward anyone but I am insistent when I feel I'm right about something.

  1. herojig

    Joined: Dec 1969

    -3

    I beleieve the unlock part...

    Apple support forums is the same way. Mention "unlock" or "Cydia" and ur post is deleted immediately with a warning message sent to your inbox. I have a second hand phone, unlocked as in Nepal that's the only way one will work, and I cannot get any help from Apple whatsoever. That's just nuts...

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