updated 10:05 am EST, Mon January 2, 2012
Details of incident kept quiet
A former Apple Store Genius and a group called the Apple Retail Workers Union are reaching out to top-level Apple executives following a firing at the Arrowhead outlet in Glendale, Arizona. Neither party is going into many details about the incident, but the ARWU claims in a press release that the Genius -- who has elsewhere identified himself as Chad Ramey -- "was bullied by management to quit or be fired after a simple misunderstanding." The activist group adds that "Rather than let tempers settle the employee was cornered in the managers office and asked a coworker to be present, who then witnessed a confrontation that should never have been allowed to escalate as far as it did."
The ARWU notes that it is trying to contact Apple CEO Tim Cook, as well as Apple's human resources, and Steve Cano, who has been reported as possibly assuming control of Apple retail. The goal is ideally for Ramey to "return to his position at that [Arrowhead] store and that reforms be made to prevent further mistreatment by leadership at that store."
Ramey himself has written an open letter to Cook, stating that "It was truly one of the most heart-wrenching moments of my life when I had to walk out of that store for the last time," since helping Apple customers was something he gave his "entire heart and soul" to do. He complains, though, that Apple Stores have changed "from something truly spectacular and wonderful, to big-box retail that is no better than a Best Buy or a Walmart." He tells Cook that "What was once a truly enriching place to work has become a place that leeches and drains everything from their employees. Apple retail no longer values its people and when I say people, I am referring to both your customers and your retail employees serving you on the front-lines."
Ramey argues Apple retail workers are burning out because despite their desire to focus on customers, Apple management is throwing "increasing hurdles" at them, and treating them like they're disposable, forcing out some of the more talented staff. Specifically he suggests that workers are being asked to handle too many appointments and open more and more active queues. "Most interactions are now completely transactional, rather than transformational," the letter reads. "We are lucky if we have time to ask the customer their name, nevertheless [sic] truly get to dig deeply into their lives and their issues, and further repair their relationships with both Apple and the Apple brand."
"I know this letter may never reach your eyes, but I would feel as if I’d abandoned my team if I never even tried to make a change," Ramey states in his conclusion. "If you truly care about the future of Apple retail, Mr. Cook, you'll return to the foundations on which it was originally based. Create an environment where employees feel wanted and needed. Go back to the days when sales and support were geared toward the customers and not the bottom-line. If you don't, you'll continue to burn through some of the greatest and most talented resources in your workforce.
"Apple is supposed to be a leader within the industry. You set the standards. You can make changes and others will follow. Use that position to better the world of retail, not sink to the depths of those around you. Make the change that will affect so many lives."