What's it like working inside one of Apple's shiny, bustling retail stores?
Gizmodo recently published an exposé about the "most corrupt Apple Store," based on interviews with two ex-employees who were once active on the Apple selling floor. The anonymous Apple Geniuses, as the retail employees are called, dished on apparently crooked management practices and antics that might make you reconsider leaving your precious MacBook at the Genius Bar overnight.
"[W]e just erase people's hard drives that are assholes," one of the employees told Gizmodo. When asked what happened if people complained, he noted that the customers "signed a form that legally made us not responsible for data."
The "corrupt" Apple Store's regional manager was reportedly no better than her underlings. Gizmodo's sources alleged that she "heavily discounted computers to local plastic surgeons" in order to receive a stomach stapling procedure. They also claimed that fake transactions were rampant in the store, as was blatant manipulation of the company's return policy.
While this particular Apple Store may be the exception, there have been other less-than-rosy reports about the corporate culture within Apple. Bloomberg News reports that a former Apple employee is suing the company, claiming that Steve Jobs had guaranteed him a "job for life."
The company also apologized recently for multiple staffing issues that lead to some employee's hours being cut; the managerial error left stores understaffed and fueled rumors on the blogosphere that Apple was beginning layoffs. John Browett, senior vice president of retail, "instructed leadership teams to tell employees that that the company 'messed up,'" per PC Mag. Apple is not issuing layoffs, according to Browett -- on the contrary, the company is currently hiring.
Still, Apple isn't the only technology company whose help-desk employees have mixed reputations. Best Buy faced its own controversy when members of the Geek Squad were caught stealing porn from customer's computers several years ago, according to The Consumerist website.
Geek Squad workers also filed a class action lawsuit this past March against Best Buy over work hours and rest periods.
Let us know your thoughts on Apple Store employee and management practices below. Have you previously worked for the Apple Store and seen some interesting behind-the-scenes activity? Or have your ever sent in a broken Apple product, only to find that your data was wiped in the process? Sound off in the comments section, or email us your experiences at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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1. Apple III (1981)
The successor to the very popular Apple II was focused on business users and priced accordingly. Unfortunately, the hardware was unreliable. Apple lost the business market to the IBM PC, launched the same year, and a rapidly expanding market of PC clones.
2. Lisa (1983)
The first commercially produced computer with a graphical user interface cost $9,995 when it launched. It quickly fell into the shadow of the cheaper Macintosh, launched a year later.
NeXT Computer (1989)
Jobs' venture after being forced out of Apple created a computer that was in many ways ahead of its time, but in the vein of the Apple III and Lisa, it was also too expensive to catch on with mainstream users.
3. Puck Mouse (1998)
The new iMac was the first major product created after Jobs' return to Apple in 1996, and it was a big success, despite its tiny, round mouse. Users couldn't tell which way it was oriented by feel, and it tended to disappear in the cup of the hand, making it hard to use.
4. The Cube (2000)
This small desktop computer was beautifully encased in a cube of clear plastic. It won design awards but was a flop in stores because of its high price. Also, it didn't really offer any functional benefits over other Macs. Apple's designs are iconic, but people aren't usually willing to pay a premium for design alone. The Cube idea lives on in the Mac Mini, a more successful but less eye-catching small Mac.
5. iTunes phone (2005)
It's easy to forget that the iPhone wasn't Apple's first venture into the cellphone business. It formed a partnership with Motorola Inc. to launch the ROKR in late 2005. As a phone, it was decent if unexciting, but as a music player, it fell far short of the iPod. It could only hold 100 songs, and transferring them from the computer was a slow process. It was also criticized for not allowing users to download music over the cellular network, a limitation that also applied to the first iPhone. Some even called the ROKR "the iPhone."
6. Apple TV (2007)
Apple's foray into the living room was an uncharacteristically half-hearted effort - Jobs later referred to the Apple TV as a "hobby." It was a small box that connected to a TV and to a Mac in the home. A tiny remote allowed the owner to play music and movies from the PC on the TV. It was expensive, at $249, and complicated to set up and use. Movies purchased from iTunes were low resolution and looked blurry on HDTV sets. In 2010, Apple introduced a much improved, cheaper Apple TV designed to connect directly to the Internet.