Apple Store Employees Speak Out Against Demoralizing, Draining Work Conditions

Apple Store Employees Speak Out Against Demoralizing, Draining Work Conditions

A series of interviews with retail employees conducted by a labor movement website paints a scathing picture of what it’s like to work at the Apple Store: underpaid, demoralized, physically drained and with no way to secure full-time benefits without turning your personal life over to Apple.

Here’s the breakdown of the complaints.

• Veteran Apple Store workers asking about pay disparities (namely, that new hires were being paid more than many employees who had been at the Apple Store for a year or more) are told that “money shouldn’t be an issue when you’re employed at Apple.” Rather, the chance to work at Apple “should be looked at as an experience” worth more than competitive pay alone.

• Apple Store keeps its retail employee healthcare costs low by defining all employees as part time unless they can literally guarantee that they will be available to work at anytime the store is open. This is true even if you work 40 hours a week.

• Apple understaffs its retail stores to keep costs down, adding undue amounts of stress for employees and customers alike. A Maryland employee interviewed said that Apple’s understaffing could make the workload “overwhelming” and “a lot more difficult to be effective.” A New York Apple Store employee confirms, comparing the disparity between the lengths Apple goes to to satisfy customers and the length it will go to appease employees as “demoralizing.”

• Apple management won’t take suggestions on how to make their retail stores work more efficiently because of their “very top-down corporate culture.”

• Recent changes in Apple Store scheduling policies have led to a “very big overhaul” of workers’ schedules and responsibilities, which means that the average Apple Store employee has less time to do repairs, less consistent schedules and a lot more employee burnout as they spend more time on the floor and work more early morning shifts immediately following night shifts. The new system is described as “draining emotionally and physically.”

The piece by In These Times is worth a read, even if it’s a pro-union site with a very clearly stated agenda. So take this with a grain of salt. If this is really the way that Apple is treating its retail employees, though, no wonder they want to unionize.

Related
  • Blake Beavers

    I just sent my app in for a position at a local store. I was talking to some of them there and they say the opposite of this but they could have just been trying to be nice.

  • Carlos Misa

    Talk about Apple yet there is a picture of a microsoft store? unbelievable 

  • stevewoz

    I frequently visit Apple Stores, at home and when travelling. It’s always a great pleasure to talk to store employees. As I’m purchasing one thing or another, or getting help, we chat about new product items and computer issues and solutions. It’s a lot like reading tech blogs and is an enjoyable part of my life. I know that these employees are low paid for their skills and knowledge. That’s supply and demand. But they should be thought of as members of the Apple family. The question is where you set the line for medical benefits and the like. Does it have to be 24/7 availability? Does it have to be 40 hours per week? I have had a long held belief that 30 hours is the right cutoff in almost any business. I also feel that it should be up to the supervisor for anything over 20 hours. Some employees are worth it but it shouldn’t be automatic. That’s my opinion. I’d give the same opinion for almost any business. At least Apple has good sales people and support staff.

    I presume that this doesn’t apply to Canadian workers!

  • Seth Cochran

    my friend who works there loves his job.

    also thats a picture of the microsoft store… just fyi

  • Erik Michael Eggers

    lol at the picture, microsoft store. not apple store. oops. 

  • Bob Forsberg

    You should work for the Obama administration….Take something that isn’t an issue, stir up some shit and create controversy where there is none.

    Short on real news?

  • digit13

    This frustrates me. I think working for Apple is something you have to really want to do. It cant be just working there for the sake of having a job. If you can’t handle it, find another job and let somebody else have the chance to work for Apple. I was prepared to give up working in a steel yard on good money to work for average money in an Apple retail store and was not fortunate enough to get the position. I would happily swap jobs with one of these sooks as it would be a cakewalk in comparison to what I do now.

  • tiresius

      Coming Next Week:  Cult of Mac writers complain about pay, lack of benefits, pressure to use good grammar and proper spelling.

  • Wes

    lol @ the Microsoft Picture. As if we wouldn’t notice

  • TylerHoj

    Hm…I still want a job at Apple. Have my social life, I don’t give a damn. Working at Apple would be awesome! 

  • Ted Witt

    The unions have screwed everything else up, so why not Apple?

  • Logan_Hickle

    Everyone who works a low end job has these same complaints! Nothing new! I work fast food at the moment and could say the same exact thing about every topic covered in this article…same stuff different day.

  • Connor deGuehery

    I’m relatively positive this describes every part time retail job in the country. Suck it up, geniuses. You got yourself into this mess. If you don’t like retail, get a corporate job. If you can’t get a corporate job, get a degree in something useful. 

  • Larry Davis

    If it’s so bad how about they quit and find another retail gig which I’m sure would be much better?

  • cadsby

    As a former Apple Store employee in New York City, I can tell you all of these claims have merit. As Apple Stores have increased in popularity/traffic the work load has grown exponentially over all area of store operations. And rather than increase staffing or allot more hours to existing employees, management simply expects everyone to take on additional responsibilities/work loads. Protesting is futile as there are literally thousands of people lined up to take your spot. We even have people regularly volunteering to work for free just to be a part of Apple Retail.

    Yes, I’m serious.

    I met a lot of creative and genuinely bright people working at Apple, but their employment practices are unconscionable. But it should be noted, however, that anyone who has ever worked in retail knows these problems are endemic across the entire industry. That doesn’t excuse Apple, it just means the problem is much more widespread.

  • tiduckman

    Am I completely out of touch with the Apple stores’ revamping or is this a picture of a Microsoft store?

  • Nicole Marie Rincon

    Wow I can’t believe it… oh wait… I can. 

    It’s called WORKING IN THE RETAIL INDUSTRY. 

    Every single retail employee goes through the same thing.

    Through college and during the lovely after-college-lull before my career kicked in I worked at an overly scented hell hole. 

    Worked full-time with no health benefits, would stand for 7 hours straight without a break and was frequently faced with the issues of an understaffed store. During the holidays the typical shift was 13 hours (yes, we worked past close) and there was no over time compensation. 

    Here’s a tissue Apple employees. 

  • Guest

    Some of these have merit. But this is no different than any retail store. I love my job. I do make less money that I have in the past. But I also get to genuinely help people and learn new OSX tips and tricks every day, and I would call myself highly knowledgable about Apple products. I go home happy 99 out of 100 days. I do have a long day from time to time, but I personally enjoy the payoff of not hating my job or life. I know most people cant say that, I didnt with two other large fortune 10 companies I’ve worked for… and part-time emos get benefits.   

  • tiresius

    @cadsby:disqus   
       Have to say that every time I’ve visited the NY Soho or Fifth Avenue Stores they have been mobbed, so I can well understand how you feel over worked (and probably overwhelmed).  
        However, I’m pretty sure your traffic is atypical.  None of the suburban stores I’ve visited have been quite so hectic, and I’ve never felt rushed or that the Apple employee on the floor or at the Genius Bar was eager to get rid of me and on to the next customer.  They were all helpful, knowledgeable, friendly people– sharing their love of Apple products.

  • jeanlouisnguyen

    The claims do have merit, but it’s also true for most retail jobs out there. Sad but true. Apple is only one more example.

  • Wirehedd

    They shouldn’t have to.

    Being part of a team requires the respect for the employees from management. People are not automatons and are entitled to be treated fairly and paid fairly. It’s the difference between being in an environment where you are paid in accordance to your worth and the productivity you generate versus being treated like a plow mule and working in a sweatshop.If a company can only exist by treating it’s employees poorly then it has no business operating a retail business. If they can’t earn enough margin to pay their employees well enough to live then they need to either improve their product margins or they need to go to a mail order model where they won’t be exploiting people.

    Apple is more than able to pay it’s employees well and to offer them health insurance if they are working full time. To do otherwise is simply miserly and disrespectful of the efforts they expect of their staff. If they are unwilling to do so then their employees should have every opportunity and the RIGHT to form a union where they will have the ability to ensure they are treated fairly and be a factor in making decisions that affect them directly.

    Personally, as a private business owner, if an employee isn’t happy it may be the employee but when none of them, or a large percentage at least, aren’t happy then it’s management’s fault and their responsibility to correct. I only have 11 staff but every one of them know they are valued and respected as they are the means through which I and my business succeed.

  • brownlee

    That’s on purpose. Notice that they are applauding. 

  • Wirehedd

    seriously??? So you getting to work only 5 days a week is screwed up? Being paid an hourly wage is screwed up? Not being subject to violence and abuse at the hands of your employer is screwed up?

    You owe everything you have that keeps you from being a sweatshop slave and serf to unions so maybe you should rethink your uneducated and uninformed opinion.

  • Wirehedd

    the grass is always greener on the other side of the fence.

  • MKShop

    So, they are complaining that they wont get full time benefits unless they work full time and are available during the hours the stores are open? Hey guys….it’s called retail. All retail stores are like that. Welcome to the working class. Now put down your hackeysack and guitar and get me my iPad2. LIfe sucks. That’s called being grown up. We bust our hump for a paycheck. It’s going to be hard and you gonna have to put in a thing we call “effort”. If your understaffed, then work harder or quit. You are a number. We all are. Apple is a company. It’s their goal to make a profit…not to worry about what bothers you. Man up…move on. Welcome to adulthood.

  • MKShop

    haha. Nice catch!

  • pangeomedia

    Coming Next Week: Cult of Mac readers complain about run on sentences, improper spelling, poor grammar, and reading conditions with bad lighting.

  • crateish

    Yeah. Back when 9 year olds worked 12 hours a day in factories. Those were the days.

  • Jim Smith

    You must have never been to The Westchester. That store has Flagship traffic and performance.

  • Jim Smith

    The benefits are excruciatingly good.

  • Jim Smith

    Part timers get medical benefits also.

  • Mark Thompson

    there is a huge difference to having 11 people and thousands of people… I work for a company, that when i started had about 500 employees, now that same company 7 years later has grown to about 3000 employees. Guess what I and most people there feel like we are not treated rite, feel that we are underpaid and that our responsibilities have grown massively. I am also in the same boat when a new employee starts sometimes they make more then me, and that working for my company shouldn’t be about the money but more about the privilege to have a job where i do. I am so sick of these people bitching. THIS IS LIFE! They are bitching because we are no in a society where all these kids growing up feel like they have a rite to something they don’t. They all feel like the world owes them something. If there job is so terrible and awful they can go get a new retail job and bitch about that one.

  • So sick of it

    Breaking news: Major American corporation treats its employees like crap.

    Really?  I’m sure that’s the first time.

  • techtravelguy

    Wow. Very well put, Wirehedd. 

    I worked for Apple Retail and definitely enjoyed my time there, but it was impossible to live on the meagerly wages. The claims in this article, though presented a bit too harshly, are all true in my memory and ultimately reflect badly on Apple. Yes, it is retail, but Apple likes to give the appearance of being “better” than the rest, and those are expectations that they don’t do enough to live up to.

    They do differentiate themselves in nice ways; you get some nice side benefits like free software, stock purchases and public transport allowances. But in the end none of this matters when you’re making $12 per hour. It’s a big insult when you realize that for all the nice discounts they offer, you can’t take advantage of them without neglecting to pay your rent. After 3 years it just got to be too much and I realized there was no point in continuing working there, though I honestly did find the work very fulfilling…getting people excited about technology is fun and they’re often very thankful for it.

    The disconnect between the company and the work was what bothered me. It’s a shame that Apple doesn’t want to pay a wage that would keep good people there, but as you’d expect there are lots of people willing to take your place, so they apparently can’t help but take their employees for granted. It’s a shame.

    This line from the article rings most true for me: “the disparity between the lengths Apple goes to to [sic] satisfy customers and the length it will go to appease employees [is] “demoralizing.””

    Day after day you see customers whine and get their $1000 out-of-warranty repair comped, or their $1500 computer replaced on the spot, or get a free iPod Touch because they accused your store of being racist (yes, this actually happened), but employees would get ZERO latitude for being late or needing to miss a meeting. In the end you feel jaded, like your passion for the brand was just something that could be drained into profit for them.

    They actually asked me to come back, but offered to pay me a LOWER WAGE — as though I should be thankful for the opportunity to return…!

    Yeah.
    I could hardly believe it myself.

  • SparkyTheDog

    I am waiting for Samsung to open a retail store based on the design of the Microsoft store – which is obviously based on you know what.

  • techtravelguy

    They do but they’re not good. If you have anything more than a basic checkup you’ll pay through the nose for it.

  • techtravelguy

    They do but they’re not good. Very minimal. If it’s anything more than a basic checkup you’d pay through the nose for it.

  • Paulakero

    I am not saying the complaints are invalid, I can imagine the workload as the stores are mobbed by crowds.

    On the other hand I just walked past my neighborhood Blockbuster, it’s shuttered and still with the ‘closing sales’ signs in the windows… sometimes being mobbed by customers is a good thing, just saying

  • Jordan Burger

    MSFT….I know its easily mistaken, just like many other things Microsoft has copied Apple again.

  • Tony Glaser

    I believe Foxconn is still hiring . . . hey, how about a job swap . . . get out of retail, go to Shenzhen to so some manufacturing, and someone from Shenzhen gets to see how bad life is in retail!

  • imentitled

    Then QUIT! Meagerly wage? What do they expect in retail, 6 figure incomes? 

  • BeachWar

    Sounds like any and all retail jobs. Retail fucking sucks.

  • imentitled

    Quit whining, quit, and find something better then. Oh, you can’t find anything better. Then be thankful you have the job! “Meager” wages? It’s retail, not surgery. Do they expect 6 figure salaries just because Apple is making big profits? That’s not how life works. Build your own software company and in 34 years maybe you can be raking in billions too. 

  • Mike T

    Did Steve tell these worthless morons they could have opinion? Yea, didn’t think so… NOW GET BACK TO WORK!!!

  • dagamer34

    This is why you should not confuse using a company’s products with working for them.

  • alex2004

    Working at Apple is a hypocrisy.  Yes, Apple Retail is just that….retail.  But Apple wants the public to know that, “At Apple, our heart and soul is our people” blah blah blah.  They say they care about their employees.  They say they want feedback(FF = Fearless Feedback) but trust me from my own experience, complain about your manager and you get “Documented Coaching” in order to see the light.  And most people don’t make it out of DC.  I called Fearless Feedback, Fearless Blowback.

    It’s the lies that a lot of people are upset about.  The lies that Apple Retail Managers perpetuate.  And also the fact that they take advantage of people who work for them in the form of discouraging breaks in order to “take it for the team”.  Well, after I was “promoted to customer” because I made whistleblower comments to upper management regarding the Store manager, I decided that Apple should take it for what they did to me.  I went to the Labor Commissioner and turned a $75 paycheck error and years of missed breaks into a 5 figure settlement!  And to see how out of touch Apple lawyers are, the Apple attorney said during the hearing, “I know for a fact that our managers don’t take advantage of their employees.”  She did mention she was relatively new to Apple!  Well, she was the one who had to authorize the settlement after I was done with her in front of the Labor Commissioner!  We made them look like fools with all the evidence we presented.  LOL!!!

    Screw them!  Apple is a good place to get your start in retail because Apple employees are highly sought after.  In retail, in order to really move up, you have to jump ship.

  • Bob Whipple

    That’s why there are no customers in the picture!

  • CharliK

    Assuming these details are widespread and aren’t just certain stores being really crappy, it sounds like every retail shop in the US. 

    Every retail shop gives you screwy schedules half the time. Every shop understaffs and makes you crazy. Every shop tries to avoid full time to save money. And when they give it they want you to drop everything and be at their beck and call.

  • CharliK

    Complaining about your manager doesn’t sound like feedback, it sounds like just plain bitching. I’m sure what Apple means by “Fearless Feedback” is something a little more constructive. 

    As for the break thing, I know for a fact that that isn’t a company thing. I do a lot of shopping at Apple and a lot of tech stuff for our office and I’ve had employees removed by managers because they needed to take their break right now this second. Just a couple of days ago I has in with one of the company iphones and right after explaining what was happening to the girl that was helping me, her manager yanked her way and replaced her and I had to explain it all over again. I get that she had to take her break and all that but if she was already late how much more harm would it do for her to take 30 seconds to tell the new guy what was going on. Rather than making me play 20 questions again

  • Ryan Gregg

    Part Time employees only get medical benefits if they have been with Apple for AT LEAST a year….

  • Abraham Rocha

    I had a job at Burger King and it sucked.  I had a job as a bus boy at a hotel restaurant and that sucked too.  In both cases, I knew that I was doing what I needed to do to make a little money and get by while completing an education so I could get a better job. Most Americans can’t live on the wages you make in low level jobs like those.  My sister works at Best Buy.  Customers are  awful to her, but she’s nice to them.  It sucks.  She realizes that retail is not a great career, just like I knew Burger King is not a career type of place.  Suck it up people.  Apple sells stuff, you just fill the shirt.  I didn’t sell hamburgers, BK did.  I just served them.  We can’t stop people from complaining – everyone thinks they should get paid more and lots of people think they are the only people in the world who work hard and are underpaid.

  • Tombo

    You just bitched about your job, why can’t they bitch about theirs?

  • charlie edwards

    They do have a the freedom to quit.

  • MontanaGriz

    This is why I buy Mac stuff at a place called MacForce in Portland, Oregon.  The employees are paid well and get benefits, aren’t over-worked and stressed, and their politics (governmental and corporate/retail) match my own (not right wing-nut).  While the last part isn’t so important, it’s just one more reason to like going there for advice, maintenance, new Apple stuff.  Steadily busy, but not a mob scene.  I LIKE that Apple generates a mob scene in their stores, but I’m old enough to enjoy avoiding them.

  • alex2004

    So in your last few sentences, are you complaining about your treatment with the Specialist because, “it sounds like just plain bitching” that you’re doing!  So you advocate that the Specialist should have ignored their Manager’s order to immediately take a break to save you the trouble of explaining yourself again?  Well, once someone misses their break, a snowball effect happens and they get tagged by another customer the moment they are done with you!

    You know for a FACT that the break things isn’t a company thing?  Makes sense and I agree with you.  If it was a company things to openly deny breaks, then they would get into a lot more trouble than I got them into.  Maybe after a few “complaints” to the Labor board, they decided to wise up.  In my case, it was Apple who asked for settlement, not the other way around.  They didn’t want any attention drawn to the matter.  And I agree it’s not a company wide thing.  It happens in some stores and it doesn’t happen in others. Also, when managers have been reprimanded by Apple Attorneys, they’ll make sure everyone takes their breaks but after a few months, like most things, they forget about it and things start to slip through the cracks.

    My post was really about the hypocrisy and tried to address some of the frustrations.  And if you worked for Apple, you’d know that Fearless Feedback was a joke.  That’s why they rebranded it as, “Open Dialogue”.  Yep, an “Open Dialogue” straight to the Principal’s, er, Manager’s office. 

  • Wayne_Luke

    Working Retail sucks but it pays the bills and gets you through school. Get an education and a better job so you can get out of the retail grind. Apple’s retail employees are probably not treated or paid worse than other retail employees. Their jobs are probably a lot easier than working at places like Walmart or Best Buy. Definitely a lot better than fast food work.

  • alex2004

    Offer to buy one of them lunch and maybe they’ll tell you the truth.  It’s fun and it’s Retail.  You just have to realize it’s Retail and when it comes to politics, it’s High School.

    That $7.50 you spend on lunch in the mall might be the best $7.50 you spend if it yields you the honest truth.  In store, everyone knows that everyone is listening and will tell the manager if someone expresses their honest but contrarian opinion.

    The general line at Apple is, “No, I have no clue when the next i[Insert Product here] is coming out and YES, working at Apple is AWESOME!!!!!!  You can sign up for a job on our website.”

  • rsbell

    $12 an hour for retail?!

    You were damn lucky, and all you can do is bitch about it.

    Perhaps you need to get an education or experience that justifies a higher wage.

  • rsbell

    That’s better than part-time employees at almost every other company.

  • Junaidkureshi

    hahaha…very nice and those idiots are clapping for not having any customer.

  • Takeo

    The pic shows a “Microsoft store”…

  • Tom McGrath

    Oh, they do have customers actually. Left hand side, sitting at the table. Two toddlers.

  • Junaidkureshi

    very nice observation, thanks from Bill Gates & stupid Steve Ballmer

  • Junaidkureshi

    if they have decided to f**k their lives in retail store, then where ever they go complaint complaint and complaint or may be worst.

  • iainmacb

    Understaffed? Ridiculous. I’m visiting Chicago at the moment, both of the stores here have almost as many employees as customers. The bigger one had at least 30 employees, not counting people behind the scenes.
    I’m from the UK, and the Apple store in Glasgow is exactly the same. Its big and spacious, leaving plenty of room for customers, but even at peak hours there are easily enough staff members to deal with customers.
    How can people even bitch about that? Try working in a restaurant or a bar. You have maybe one employee for 15 to 20 customers. Apple must maintain at worst one employee to every two or three customers.

    Pay disparity? You mean your starting wage was lower a year ago than the starting wage this year? This is news? Do people not know how the economy works?
    If you don’t like your pay, you have two options; ask for more (probably won’t work), or quit.

    As for poor wages, if you do some research, the wages aren’t bad at all. A genius gets paid the most, between 15 and 25 bucks an hour. How is that bad?
    Specialist salary is fairly bad, averaging 11 bucks an hour, but try working in a restaurant and you’ll see poor wages. AND harder work.

    You think your life sucks? Work harder.
    You hate your job? Get a different one. Better yet, get an education.
    Almost anyone can get student loans. Study your ass off and you can earn plenty.
    I am poor as **** at the moment, plus I have another 8 years at uni. But after that, I’ll be pulling in over 250k a year, so long as I continue to study as hard as I can.
    So stop bitching, and if you don’t like your life as it is, do something to change it.

  • Thex1138

    So in total… how many retail employee’s have complained out of how many in total globally? 

  • AshBowie

    I totally believe this story. I worked at the San Francisco flagship store for the winter season about 4 years back. It was physically grueling and morale was always low…everyone was grumpy and tired. We got paid crap. Plus management made a big deal about how hitting certain sales milestones would result in employee rewards…once we hit those milestones, we were informed that only the full-timers got the benefits…the part-timers got nothing. As much as I love Apple products, working at the Apple Store is terrible. 

  • AshBowie

    It’s especially terrible that unions made the creation of the middle class possible. Now that unions are on the wane, it’s such a relief that we’re headed back to another Gilded Age where pay doesn’t keep up with gains in productivity, companies can reduce benefits to nothing, and the gap between rich and poor is gigantic.

  • AshBowie

    “So stop bitching, and if you don’t like your life as it is, do something to change it.”

    Why do you believe that trying to improve the quality of one’s workplace is not a reasonable and worthwhile thing to do? Is pointing out unfair treatment simply “bitching” or is there ever a time when addressing poor business practices is legitimate? Since the reality is that we are in an economic recession and even college graduates are having a hard time finding good paying work, might your suggestion ignore the fact that “working harder” no longer guarantees success? Is it possible that the best way to improve everyone’s economic well-being is to make all businesses treat their employees better rather than having individuals jump from one company to the next looking for one that is less bad than the others? Since you are going to be earning 250k a year, do you believe that all people should do what you do…and if they do, do you believe you would still earn that much?

    Do yourself and everyone else a favor and put down the Ayn Rand.

  • IAN

    Why does the photo show a Microsoft store?

  • Jim Smith

    Working at Walmart or Best Buy pale in comparison to Apple Retail. The work is endless. Outsiders tend to see the front of house and not what happens in back of house. They aren’t slave drivers but the job can be quite demanding requiring a certain type of motivated individual.

  • zazou1

    Uh, hello… Welcome to Corporate America….  

  • MLE

    No, it says they can work full time hours, but unless they are classified as full time employees- they will not give them benefits. Full time positions are also very rare, so by keeping the stores understaffed, they have lots of employees working full time schedules without the benefits. Also, in order to work for Apple, you have to demonstrate you have lots of flexability in your schedule- so its nearly impossible to secure employment elsewhere.

  • MLE

    So retail sucks as a job, so fuck em? How is that the solution? Can’t we improve retail conditions a little bit so the poor unfortunate people who have to work there have a slightly less crappy time. 

  • freediverx

    Who’s the genius who decided to post a pic of a Microsoft store in a story about Apple stores?

  • moordkuil

    So… that’s how ALL retail stores treat people? Hey, great country you have there. Must be wonderful, all that liberty and stuff. And low taxes, cheap fuel… Keep on voting for the biggest taxbreaks, suckahs. We here in ‘yeurp’ are laughing our asses off.

  • Howie Isaacks

    I worked at an Apple store for over 4 years.  I never felt over worked.  The pay was good, and the benefits were awesome.  My friends who still work for Apple are very happy.  It’s clear that there will always be some wimps who want to piss and moan about everything.  I guess they think that everything should be easy.  Welcome to the real world, losers!  Get an easy job if you can’t handle the stress.  If the Apple stores unionize, I’ll never set foot in one again.  Union drones don’t work for the company.  They work for their union.  Conditions will worsen with a union present.  When you’re a union member, you’re no longer an individual.  There is no merit system. Actually… That’s probably what the unionistas want anyway.  They feel entitled to everything.  They’re not interested in working hard to EARN pay raises and benefits.

  • Howie Isaacks

    WTF are you talking about?  Unless anyone commenting here actually worked for an Apple store, they don’t know what they’re talking about.  If you’re not from the U.S., keep your opinions about this country to yourself.

  • Howie Isaacks

    Whiner!  Welcome to the REAL world.

  • Howie Isaacks

    Sounds like an Obama voter.  Thanks for the hope and change!  We’re all loving it.  The REAL agenda here is that some people just can’t stand it when a company like Apple is successful.  Apple is a great place to work.  If you didn’t like it, you should have QUIT.  Pissing and moaning after the fact makes you look like a wuss.  I was a Mac Genius at an Apple store.  Until you’ve done that job, you have no idea what stress at an Apple store is.  I got through it OK, and so did my coworkers.  None of us complained about the hard work.  We enjoyed it.  I loved working on busy weekends, and I always enjoyed Black Friday.  If you’re so stressed over working in a busy retail store, what will you do when you’re faced with job stress someplace else?  Will whine there too?  Jeez!  Get a spine and stop the class warfare.

  • Howie Isaacks

    How dare you demand that people work hard for better pay??!!? This is Obama’s America.  Don’t you know that?  Wake up!

  • Joel Angert

    I think that it’s hilarious that the ‘microsoft store’ looks completely blatantly like an apple store, down to the colour and style of the uniform to the exact same shade of pine wood. 

  • Howie Isaacks

    Notice that the Microsoft store appears to be barren of customers :)  If you’re too stressed by working at Apple, then go to Microsoft.

  • peterpanpinball

    If you’re going to report on an Apple Store…how about an Apple Store picture to go along…?
    As a former Apple Store employee…I can say that everything I have read here is accurate…
    Great company…but so many areas they need to improve on from the standpoint of the employee.  Employees get some ok discounts, (usually around 25%)…but not enough to off-set all the other areas that could use improving…Now that there will be a new boss, perhaps this division of the company will start making their employees feel as special as the ones who get to work in the “mothership” in Cupertino.

  • travisgamedev

    The summary for this article needs to say, “A series of interviews with retail employees conducted by a labor movement website paints a scathing picture of what it’s like to work IN RETAIL.”

  • franco321

    Holy #%$^. I never comment on these boards but come on – this is not manual labor. I don’t want to hear about “physically draining”. What, you need to stand up for 8-10 hours at a time? Retail is retail.  This is what happens when the supply way outweighs the demand.  Truth is – if the run-of-the-mill Apple employees (ie. not the Genius Bar guys or the managers) had real marketable skills other than being nice to people and knowing something about, what, 10 products? they wouldn’t be working at the Apple Store.  The real reason they’re angry is because they know that Apple makes ridiculous amounts of $$ and think they are entitled to revenue sharing or something. Sorry – that’s not the way retail works, world’s most successful company or not. Sure, all workers have the right to want to better their workplace, but my feeling is that Apple store employees actually have it better than they think they do.

  • lwdesign1

    OMG — look at the badges of the staff in the photo. They have the WINDOWS logo on it. This is a photo of a MICROSOFT  store not an Apple store!!! This is proof positive that Microsoft copies nearly everything that Apple does, even enough to fool John Brownlee into thinking he’s posted an Apple store photo. 

    In my younger days I worked retail and in manufacturing. Work was strenuous and stressful. Pay was lousy and benefits were non-existent. I was just out of high school and it was still great to be making money of my own, and the money I saved bankrolled my ability to move out of my parent’s home and start my adult life. I worked other jobs until finally I set up my own sign painting and logo design business. That grew into a full-fledged graphic design business that I’ve been the boss of for over 40 years.

    My personal experience with unions has been uniformly bad. Eventually union executives end up being worse than the original employer and make it hard for the employers to stay in business due to incessant demands. Part of working for others involves HARD WORK, so work hard, learn a lot, get your experience and job history. As you grow up and you’ve learned as much as you can along the way, you can get better jobs and even make your own job like I did. The money will come if you work for it–but no one is going to hand you a decent wage when you’re young and inexperienced. The socialists and left-wing Democrats will rabble rouse and tell you that you are “entitled” to many things. But you’re not. You have to work hard, put up with bad hours and bad pay until you’ve established enough work history, experience and talent in certain areas so that you can take over a middle management or upper management position, or can start your own business.

    Ain’t nothin’ free. Enjoy the experience, and if the experience is too debilitating, QUIT and find something else.

  • RilesPro

    pro union site says it all. that’s a joke, its one of the best places to work. If you are a career retail employee at age 38 that’s your fault for being an idiot. Educate yourself on what the wealthy population does then do something for yourself

  • Theresa Mesa

    My son deals with the same thing at Marshalls. Again, it’s called retail.

  • Hilton979

    lol at the country we’ve become when any day working at “The Apple Store” can be considered by anyone to be barbaric.  

  • Jamal22

    I think they are about to break into one of those fake-impromptu dances the MS store employees are forced to do.

  • Darrell Talastas

    Yea every retail store is like that, honestly though I have been working at Guitar Center for a year and a half and its the best job ever.  It’s honestly the only retail job that promotes from within, pretty much all corporate used to be sale associates.  

  • Slash_Cynic

    Umm most retail jobs are underpaid, demoralizing, and physically draining not to mention have poor benefits.

  • Wirehedd

    Canadian workers who get medical benefits are offered benefits over and above what we get just as a part of BEING CANADIAN. Benefits like free prescriptions, full dental coverage and additions like chiropractic care and emotional counselling and so on. These extra benefits are usually available for anywhere from $79.00 thru $200.00 per month.

    Basic medical care is available to all Canadians without any requirement for some blood sucking insurance company taking a quarter of your monthly income. We all pay a small percentage of our income off the top and it’s never missed and doing so allows everyone to get the care they need no matter what their social status or income level.

    Check this out http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/H… for more detailed info.

  • Wayne_Luke

    The point is it is retail and working retail sucks. You do your bit, get your education and get out as soon as possible.

  • Elsic1975a

    At the end of the day, it’s Apple, and people expect more from Apple. 

    Apple spends a lot of time drilling the message into its staff that Apple is different, and they worked to create a different experience in their stores that would redefine what retail is. 

    When it turns out to be just like working at Target or any other retail job, people are incredibly disappointed. The staff expected more.

  • Mike Rathjen

    I worked for $3.75/hr washing dishes at Denny’s. It was nasty, people smoked everywhere, and I got no health care benefits other than free band aids when I invariably cut myself. For two weeks I actually had to work 80 hours a week. It was minimum wage and half of my coworkers were ex-cons.

    Be grateful for what you have. Your job is clean and you don’t go home smelling like smoke and covered in grease and food remnants. Your hands aren’t all f’d up from the weird and intensely strong dishwasher chemicals.

    Ask yourself this, would you be willing to *randomly* trade lives with one of the 7 billion people on earth? Probably not, because you know you’d be worse off.

  • AshBowie

    “Sounds like an Obama voter.”

    I sound like someone who believes that employees should be treated fairly and given adequate pay. You sound like a corporate troll. The troll tactic of calling people a “wuss” for not being thankful for their mistreatment is classic right-wing garbage. People deserve good working conditions, fair pay, and honest management.

  • AshBowie

    Apple employees already work very hard and deserve to receive fair compensation and good working conditions for helping to earn Apple’s billion-dollar profits. What you are suggesting is that anyone who doesn’t have a higher degree in a high-pay field deserves to be treated like crap. You are wrong.

  • AshBowie

    Wow, well I guess I can’t argue with that…

    Wait, yes I can. Asking for fair compensation and a good working environment doesn’t make one a “whiner.” It actually makes one an advocate for good business. But you are right…crappy pay and lousy business practices are the real world now, thanks to the mentality you seem to have. The answer isn’t to roll over and take it like a victim, as you seem to suggest. The answer is to work together as employees to pressure the suits to provide decent pay and fair practices in exchange for the huge profits they earn.

  • AshBowie

    So, if those practices are common in retail, that makes it okay? I don’t think it does. That just means the problem is pervasive and needs to be addressed across the entire industry. At the same time, Apple is supposed to represent innovation…they should be at the forefront of good business practices.

  • Ramón

    I can only speak about my Apple experience from the consumer point of view, but those of you who live in the Bay Area and remember when the only two stores were the Palo Alto and the Bay Street ones may recall that at the time employee attitude at those stores, particularly the Bay Street one was abysmal; to the point that I felt compelled to write a complaint letter to Apple.
    In the ensuing years the Apple experience has done a 180° turn. I’ve lost count of the times that somebody at Apple, either at Stockton Street, Stonestown, or even by phone has saved the day.
    With the increased traffic there certainly have to be increased pressure, but I wonder if some of the complaints aren’t simply made by people without work ethic.

  • decisivemoment

    The healthcare game stinks to high heaven if true.  I doubt whether the short-staffing charge is still true, though.  Certainly, while short-staffing was my experience with local Apple stores a few years ago, my recent experience has been far better.

  • HecticDMC

    As soon as someone holds a gun to my head and forces me to work at the Apple store, I’ll care about employees’ seeming inability to find gainful employment elsewhere. The so-called complaints here don’t even come close to the definition of harsh working conditions. Soon as they do, people will care. Until then, get another job if you’re not happy enough with the one you’ve got. Happiness isn’t legally mandated, as far as I know.

  • HecticDMC

    “Apple management won’t take suggestions on how to make their retail stores work more efficiently because of their “very top-down corporate culture.””

    THE HORROR.

  • Matthew Brock

    The new Obama special at the fast food restaurant – order anything you like, and the guy behind you pays for it! :)

    Seriously, I worked retail years ago, and this doesn’t sound much different than what I went through. It’s a relatively non-skilled job, yet people often expect the same wages as if they were doing a skilled job. Unions come in and try and make you pay people well above what their skill level would get in a competitive market.

    I solved it by starting my own business and making exactly what I was worth based on how much I was willing to work. I’m happy, but work(ed) a lot of late nights, weekends, holidays, etc. Now, when people see my driving around in my BMW convertible, they say I’m “lucky!” Funny how the harder I work, the luckier I get!

  • Matthew Brock

    So… risk your own money, invest your time, and start your own retail store. Then, you can give everyone the pay, benefits, and treatment you obviously think they deserve. It will be interesting to see how long you last giving unskilled people skilled wages in the real world.

    Employees and outsiders don’t see everything – they just see what looks like big money. It’s like Obama and the liberals bashing Big Oil for their “obscene” profits, forgetting that the oil company assumes all the risk, does all the work and makes about 2.5 cents per gallon profit, and the government steps in, does nothing, and make 16 cents on every gallon sold. Who are the greedy ones there?

    You can’t pay someone in an unskilled position $20/hr plus full benefits and expect to be competitive and successful. Retail is a low margin, high volume game. Being a clerk isn’t supposed to be a career or pay all the expenses for a family. It’s usually a stop-gap sort of job while you prepare yourself for another career.

  • CharliK

    “My manager is a total asshole” is complaining and bitching. Much of what you said at the ‘asshole’ tone to it. Suggesting that in the interest of customer service an employee delays a few seconds to bring the next person up to speed is valid feedback. 

    Also it is not that hard to say “I’m sorry I”m not available” to someone. 

    As for the whole settlement, of course they didn’t want it being talked about even if it was one person at one store etc. Because the blogs would pass it on as company policy. As they already have with all the other folks screaming about being treated the same as every other retail job. 

  • Ixodes Scapularis

    Then you were an idiot for allowing a company to abuse you like that.  There are FEDERAL work rules about mandatory break periods, overtime pay & classification of workers as ‘part time’ just to avoid paying benefits.

    As long as there are workers willing to be used and abused like that then the companies will continue to take advantage of that ‘sheeple’ workforce.  If you reasoning was ‘well I needed the job’… that’s exactly why unions came to be in this country and people who claim that unions are obsolete and no longer needed are fools.

  • Nicole Marie Rincon

    Okay, so your solution is to unionize retail workers who are composed of 60% transient, seasonal staff. Yea, good luck. 

    I suppose my feeble, idiotic brain is unable to grasp when I’m being ‘abused’. I should have walked away from that job. No! I should have called OSCA. Hm, wait, I still need to pay my mountain of student loans in a massive recession and prepare for graduate school.

    By the way. This “FEDERAL work rule” or the FLSA does not define who is treated as part-time or full-time, does not require breaks and the FLSA does not require overtime pay for work on weekends, holidays, or regular days of rest, unless overtime is worked on such days. That is all a state by state matter. 

  • Michael Neebul

    asfdaebarg tqanrt3e23

  • MM

    Where I am you are Full Time if you get more than 35hrs. So employers will just cut your hours to deny your benefits. I don’t think Apple could get around that here and if they can elsewhere then they should be complaining about the laws.
    Working retail and/or customer service is demoralizing. The customer is always right. Boohoo.
    Keeping staffing at a bare minimum? What company doesn’t?
    Any company is about making a profit and you can expect them to act upon that to the extent of the law.

  • MM

    ’cause they can buy software and hardware at a million other places.

  • Jpicc2

    Very well put Matthew Brock.  It is a retail position, and there are enough people lined up to take those jobs.  Unfortunately that is the nature of the beast.  These positions are not for skilled, college graduates and shouldn’t be a career choice.  These jobs should be reserved for college students and teenagers.  Quit complaining about how bad things are, and take a look at most other jobs out there, its all relative.

  • snookasnoo

    Working in retail is a sh***y job?  Shocking!

  • snookasnoo

    Impossible?  Hardly.  The 

  • snookasnoo

    Impossible?  Hardly.  The 

  • snookasnoo

    You write like a 12 year old.  Learn to spell and use grammar and punctuation.

  • snookasnoo

    Great job getting suckered into being anti-union.

  • snookasnoo

    He is just some dumbass who was all too easily suckered into the corporate line about Unions.

  • snookasnoo

    I agree in principal but do not assume you ability to get an education in the UK is the same for people in the U.S.  Thats from someone who worked two full time jobs while going to school full time.

  • snookasnoo

    Howie you are a fool.  Good luck with that.

  • snookasnoo

    Because the Republicans really value people.  Dumbass.

  • snookasnoo

    How exactly?  By taxes being lower than any time since the 1950′s?  Amazing what idiots some people are.

  • snookasnoo

    Heh,  You know nothing about big oil.  Its a license to print money.  Especially on the refining side.  Now explain why are taxes are subsiding that.  Or didn’t Fox News tell you what to think about that?

  • snookasnoo

    OK.  Maybe you can learn grammar, spelling, and punctuation while we are doing that.

  • snookasnoo

    You don’t know anything about Unions or what its like being in one.

  • iainmacb

    1. Apple employees do not receive unfair treatment. They are paid better than many people who work harder than them. The fact remains, their jobs are not as physically or mentally taxing as those of others receiving similar wages. They also have more benefits than many.
    2. Working harder DOES guarantee a job. If you don’t have a job, it means other people are working harder than you. Up your competitiveness, up your chances at employment.

    Let me elaborate with a germane analogy. My girlfriend just graduated postgrad business. She spent a month visiting me in the UK, then as soon as she got back to the US she began job hunting. She applied to everything that she could, from jobs that she was under qualified for to jobs that she was overqualified for. She heard nothing for a couple of weeks, and continually applying for jobs (up to 5 or 6 some days), she finally heard back from a couple of places. She now has a guaranteed job, and is going to her final interview for another one Tuesday.
    Now, one of her good friends, who we met up with the other day, is complaining that he can’t find a job. So we chatted about what he could do to increase his chances (improving CV, etc). Turns out, he applied for one or two jobs over the course of a week. THAT’S ALL. And since then he complains about not being able to find anything. We told him to apply for more and he said “None of the other jobs look good”.

    Therein lies the problem. Too many people expect to be handed a job without having to do any work finding it. Too many people are picky about jobs when if they weren’t they would find one sooner and more easily.

    By the way, telling me to “put down the Ayn Rand” is like me telling you to “do everyone a favour and put down the Karl Marx”. Just because we have similar ideologies doesn’t mean anything, let alone that (I assume you’re trying to imply) I parrot other people’s beliefs. Pull your head out of your arse.

    Finally, by saying that one day I will earn a lot, I was not implying that everyone should do (nor can do) what I aim to do. I was merely stating that working hard and doing your best will eventually pull through and put you in a better position than you are currently in.

    Did the CEOs, members of the senate, top athletes etc etc etc get where they are today by pissing around and complaining? Pretty sure they didn’t. I’m pretty sure they got there by working their backsides to the bone, taking every opportunity that was thrown at them and eventually seeing their hard work reap them rewards. I’m not implying here that everyone has the potential to be any of those things, but everyone has the potential to do better and be better than they currently are.

  • iainmacb

    Are student loans not available to pretty much anyone? I mean so long as you haven’t defaulted on previous loans or gone bankrupt there will always be someone out there willing to lend you money.
    I just checked the Sallie Mae student loans site and that seems to be the case.
    Good on you for working your way through school, its people like you with commitment to advancing in life that do well.

  • AshBowie

    “Apple employees do not receive unfair treatment.”

    My experience and the report say otherwise. So, I have both personal anecdotal and objective evidence to support my claim. You have nothing but your ideological desire to excuse corporate malfeasance.

    “Working harder DOES guarantee a job.”

    No, it doesn’t and the unemployment and underemployment numbers bear me out. Plus you are making a logical error. It is reasonable to assert that in order to get a good job one must work hard. That is not the same as saying that working hard will get one a good job. The employees at Apple Stores work very hard and yet, despite your unfounded assertion, are regularly treated unfairly.

    And seriously, the whole “whining” complaint is itself whining. People have a right to demand fair treatment and good pay and to call out corporations that violate decent employment practices. According to your logic, the only people who should get fair pay and decent treatment are CEOs, federal politicians, and top athletes, implying that everyone else should just be thankful for their gruel. That is exactly the attitude that has gotten us into the economic mess we’re in, and I’m happy that more people are waking up to the fact that it’s garbage. Yes, everyone can improve themselves, and they should…***but so should corporations*** Just as you say, they have “the potential to do better and be better than they currently are.”

  • David Lemieux

    Hey watch it Howie!!!
    These are people who have balanced budgets and stable countries where they live well ’cause they earned it, not at the expense of their younger generation and those to come. It’s not like they almost all live off a few countries that actually generate wealth… They earned those 35 hrs per week and retirement at 52… it’s not like many of them live off borrowed money or anything… right??? OK… so if you’re not German or British or a handful of other such nations who try to actually be responsible, please keep your comments about America to yourself… AND THAT’S FROM A LEFT-LEANING CANUCK, no less….Karul DuJardin… hummm… in these parts that would be Carole Desjardins, no?!

  • David Lemieux

    I agree with Michael and let me add this JSUTGW iUUdid99d and mmjs863iuhdh as well…. ;-)

  • David Lemieux

    Here is my 2 cents worth…

    Apple should be a better employer because they are Apple and that is what I expect from Apple as a long term Apple client and supporter (Apple II circa 1981, Apple club president circe 1987).

    Just as I expect Apple to come out with products that are not half-baked and buggy. Just as I expect them to go the extra mile for a client on warranties. Just as I expect Apple designers to put better quality design in each Apple product, I expect them to do more for their employees so that their employees can do more for me…. the client… they guy that MAKES Apple what it is, as much as Steve does. Even Steve would acknowledge that.

    What I would like even more is a comparison chart between Apple, Best Buy, Radio Shack and Walmart. I would like to see what benefits each gets, upward mobility, merit review program, etc.

    I STRONGLY suspect, based on an interview of the guy trying to start the union, that Apple is probably one of the best. It’s just that Apple can be better. Let’s make sure we keep things in perspective when we know there are people who hate Apple just because they are Apple.

  • James Katt

    I don’t know about you. But other than the money complaint, all the other complaints are HOGWASH.  

    Come on now.  How hard can it be to work LESS THAN 40 HOURS A WEEK at an Apple Store????

    Compare that to working 80+ hours a week with sleep deprivation as a physician.

    Compare that to working 80+ hours a week, 7 days a week, as a farm laborer.

    Compare that to working 40+ hours a week doing construction.

    Compare that to working 40 hours a week for UPS or the Postal Service.

    You hardly lift anything at an Apple Store.

    You don’t even do a hard sell at an Apple Store.

    Those that are complaining are the LAZIEST people.  They should be identified AND FIRED.

  • caseymcg

    Actually, under FLSA, employers are REQUIRED to pay overtime wages for hours worker over 40 hours per week, no matter whether that time is from weekdays, weekends, etc.  Period.  So, sure, merely working 13 hours in a given day does not entitle one to overtime (under FLSA), but if that were one’s hours 5 days a week, the employer would be obligated (under FLSA) to pay 25 hours (hours above 40) at time and a half.

    And OSCA?  I think you meant OSHA.  In any event, that agency deals with workplace health & safety issues, things like preventing workplace accidents (like a crane falling on you at a construction worksite) or keeping the workplace free of poisonous or noxious chemicals, etc., not wage and hour issues being discussed here.

    Finally, employers are not required (under current law) to provide health benefits to anyone.  Most reputable large employers, however, as a policy matter, offer health benefits to all full-time employees across the board as an enticement to recruit workers.  What some companies do is play fast and loose with what the typical person would call part-time so as to be consistent with their policies while saving a few bucks.  Illegal? Not that I can see.  Unethical? I think so.

    I have no knowledge of how Apple treats its workers so make no judgements there.  That said, if the allegations asserted in the main post are proven correct, I think its fair to criticize, no matter what retail industry standards are.  To say that “everyone else does it” as an excuse for engaging in shady, albeit legal, business practices doesn’t hold much weight.  But that’s just me.

  • Eraser Head

    Better than “Pencils”-
    http://www.iworkatpencils.blogspot.co...

  • Hrunga_Zmuda

    That’s absolute nonsense. If they work more than 32 hours a week, they are full time. I have a friend who used to run a federal wage enforcement office, and he has told me that such claims by employers are not going to fly. Employees need to contact their local office and bust Apple for these claims if they are true. I sorta think they are not. But if they are, they stand to make millions in back wages and benefits!

  • Hrunga_Zmuda

    By the way, that’s a Microsoft store. FAIL.

  • Grossu Maxim

    You’re supid! What has M$ store with Apple Store.

  • Eraser Head

    They should try working at “Pencils”
    http://www.iworkatpencils.blogspot.co...

  • Anon

    actually, your numbers with selling things at apple are a big deal. You can get fired for not selling the appropriate amount, with the appropriate add ons. Not to mention on top of the crazy long 7 day a week shifts, store meetings are scheduled for two hours after closing on Saturdays and Sundays. It can get pretty ridiculous, this coming from a nurse with a spouse who works at apple. I’d rather do four on, one off any day than work at that store. 

  • Vv

    Sounds like my experience at Target. I don’t consider any retail job a job for life, it is just something to use (like they use you) while you work on better things.  

    Doesn’t excuse their behavior though. Just saying that Apple is no different than any other major retailer–they ALL do these types of things.

About the author

John BrownleeJohn Brownlee is a Contributing Editor. He has also written for Wired, Playboy, Boing Boing, Popular Mechanics, VentureBeat, and Gizmodo. He lives in Boston with his wife and two parakeets. You can follow him here on Twitter.

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