Apple Store Worker Says Staff Routinely Get Death Threats From Customers

Discussion in 'Politics, Religion, Social Issues' started by MacRumors, May 28, 2016.

  1. MacRumors macrumors bot


    Apr 12, 2001

    Business Insider UK this morning published a detailed interview with someone claiming to be a UK Apple retail employee, which provides an intriguing insight into what it's like to work in an Apple Store.

    The interview is unusual because every Apple staffer signs a confidentiality agreement on their first day in the job, which apparently prevents them from speaking publicly or announcing their new employment on social media, and even bans them from taking a selfie wearing their Apple T-shirt.


    According to the veteran staffer - who remained anonymous in fear that Apple would pursue a legal action against them - Apple pays about £8 per hour in the UK (around $11.70) and staff receive no bonus incentives for sales, leaving many unable to afford the products they sell.

    The worker claims that although positions in the company's stores are highly prized, Apple doesn't promote internally in the UK either, and that staff are prevented from transferring from part-time to full-time employment as a matter of policy.

    "We had between five and eight store managers during my time at the store, of varying kinds," says the staffer. "Only one of them had started at Apple, the rest had been recruited from elsewhere - from, say, Dixons or HMV."
    According to the worker, Apple Store staff routinely face death threats from unhappy customers, and receive no benefit if they manage to sell an enterprise contract to a business customer worth hundreds of thousands of pounds.

    There are some advantages to working at an Apple Store though, says the employee. Staff get a generous discount on Apple products, a 15% discount on AAPL shares, and occasional direct access to CEO Tim Cook.

    Apple declined to comment when contacted by Business Insider. The in-depth interview can be read in full here.

    Note: Due to the political nature of the discussion regarding this topic, the discussion thread is located in our Politics, Religion, Social Issues forum. All forum members and site visitors are welcome to read and follow the thread, but posting is limited to forum members with at least 100 posts.

    Article Link: Apple Store Worker Says Staff Routinely Get Death Threats From Customers
  2. scaramoosh macrumors 6502a

    Nov 30, 2014
    They need to call them something else, calling them a genius gets them a lot of hate from the get go.
  3. SSD-GUY macrumors 6502a

    Sep 20, 2012
    London, UK
    No matter all the environmental PR Apple spews out, Apple is still a profit driven company at the end of the day, and having worked in retail whilst being a Uni student, it's often those at the lowest end of the food chain that get Apple it's sales, but are often overlooked for everything else.
  4. Crosscreek macrumors 68030


    Nov 19, 2013
  5. furi0usbee macrumors 68000


    Jul 11, 2008
    Apple could never make so much money if it had to start paying their retail workers more silly! These stores print money, so you would think bonuses would be standard here. And since Apple (Tim) is very vocal about social issues, income inequality you would think would be one of the things he could directly affect at his stores by paying 2x minimum wage. People say a lot of things, but at the end of the day, it's how they run their ship that counts.
  6. captain cadet macrumors 6502

    Sep 2, 2012
    As someone who works for a major shipping company, we get threats all the time. Even when the passenger is obviously in the wrong (like the wrong port).
    I had a death threat once and that passenger left the port in the back of a British Transport Police van...

    Customer Service should be rename putting up with awful customers
  7. Peterk12 macrumors newbie


    Nov 28, 2011
    One thing to remember is that Apple's entire philosophy around the Store is to not pressure customers into buying an Apple product every time they walk into the store, so it makes sense why they aren't incentivizing employees to sell to customers.

    That would turn it into a Best Buy: every time I walk into the store, I'd have 3 people offering to show me a lot of products i'm not interested in that are all out of my price range, which would cause me to not go back to the store in a while.

    The promotion issues are rather annoying.
  8. snebes macrumors 6502a

    Apr 20, 2008
    As someone living in the US, I don't know the answer: are these standard practices in the UK? They are here in the US. I don't know if people go to the level of "death threats" here, but it wouldn't surprise me if that happened.
  9. dannys1 macrumors 68020


    Sep 19, 2007
    Judging by how angry people get on these forums are meer rumours, that doesn't surprise me!
  10. smacrumon, May 28, 2016
    Last edited: May 28, 2016

    smacrumon macrumors 68030


    Jan 15, 2016
    With all Apple's billions of savings, Apple should be treating its staff much better-- better pay, better conditions. Steve Jobs had been noted to have spoken highly of the way Hewlett Packard used to treat its staff when working for them as a teenager. A bit more of this old fashioned genuine appreciation for employees is required. When I think of Apple, I often think of McDonald's and the poor way they conduct their business and treat their staff.
    Saying this, death threats is not a tolerable situation and Apple should be reporting these customers to authorities.
  11. dannys1 macrumors 68020


    Sep 19, 2007
    Excellent point - its a horrible buying experience when staff work on commission. PC World/Curry's are like that over here which is why you can't even glance at a product for more than a second without being harassed by sales staff.
  12. riverfreak macrumors 65816


    Jan 10, 2005
    Thonglor, Bangkok
    n = 1

    It seems like every sentence that includes "Apple Store" should be prepended and appended with "an" and "in the UK". Death threats?

    Every Apple Store I've been in is absolutely packed with customers and employees. They must be doing something right.
  13. smacrumon, May 28, 2016
    Last edited: May 28, 2016

    smacrumon macrumors 68030


    Jan 15, 2016
    There are two faces of Apple. The one that they put out in their marketing and Keynotes, and the other one that customers experience and employees face. Apple need to resolve this otherwise I'll end my loyalty, dump their products and stock. There was life before Apple, and there certainly will be life after Apple. Does Apple want my business or not?
  14. asleep macrumors 68040


    Sep 26, 2007
    That would be a fail on Apple iQ test, lol.

  15. foobarbaz macrumors 6502a

    Nov 29, 2007
    I don't get why anyone would desire sales incentives.

    It sucks for employees and customers, because it promotes pushy sale tactics and punishes those that actually help the customer make the best choice. (And it only offers a short-term benefit to the company compared to employees who can focus on promoting the product without pushing for a sale.)

    Sure, ask for better pay. You help the company make money. But don't ask to be exploited.
  16. Turnpike, May 28, 2016
    Last edited: May 30, 2016

    Turnpike macrumors 6502


    Oct 2, 2011
    New York City!
    Blah blah blah.... there is always someone who is going to complain, but retail is retail.... it's seldom glamorous, even if you're working on 5th Ave in NYC. For the most part Apple's a great company, and because it's so great, complaints, problems, and unhappy people will always be in the news because their awesome track record make the exceptions more notable. And even though it says it's "cult-like" I think when you understand the trade-offs and the benefits, you see past all the stuff that's in the news and realize you're simply better off with their products for the exceptional hardware, software, and dependability. And for anything to work, like really WORK, there's going to need to be some rules, often times uncomfortable ones, and you just need to deal with it.

    I am curious, though... I wonder what that "occasional direct access" to Tim Cook is... having emails forwarded? To get to talk with him when he visits a store? Anyone know? Just curious....
  17. smacrumon macrumors 68030


    Jan 15, 2016
    From the linked article--"Workers feel the company's mandatory internal criticism policy makes Apple "like a cult.""
    This statement rings true on the forums here sometimes. Criticisms do not go down well with some forum members. Some forum members here will only accept positive endorsement of Apple. Constructive criticisms are fair and useful.
  18. IJ Reilly macrumors P6

    IJ Reilly

    Jul 16, 2002
    He was accused of being an Apple employee? How awful, hope he isn't convicted.
  19. wigby macrumors 68000

    Jun 7, 2007
    Having trouble believing any of the positives or negatives mentioned in this story. Discount on AAPL shares? I don't even think that's legal in the states but maybe legal in the UK. Sure death threats happen but no, they are not typical and say more about the way that particular Apple staff member handles issues than about the customer making the threat.

    However all of the NDA stuff sounds right and make sense. I'm sure other secretive companies have the same policies. All the non commission sales stuff sounds right too.

    And I've seen many Apple staff using non Apple phones. They seem fine working there and that's what it comes down to - the stores wouldn't be as successful as they are and have so many employees working there and trying to get hired if half of these problems were real.
  20. smacrumon, May 28, 2016
    Last edited: May 28, 2016

    smacrumon macrumors 68030


    Jan 15, 2016
    From the article--"They don’t give you figures, but you’re also expected to sell things like AppleCare". It seems staff are under a lot of pressure to up-sell AppleCare. This might explain why in some jurisdictions around the world, Apple has been implicated in making false claims about warrantees and guarantees.

    Many countries around the world have automatic guarantees and warranties and consumer rights that extend much further than Apple's 1 year warranty and 3 year AppleCare. For example in the UK Apple website:

    "Apple Products and Consumer Laws in the United Kingdom: Under consumer laws in the UK, consumers are entitled to a free of charge repair or replacement, discount or refund by the seller, of defective goods or goods which do not conform with the contract of sale. For goods purchased in England or Wales, these rights expire six years from delivery of the goods and for goods purchased in Scotland, these rights expire five years from delivery of the goods."

    I guess if Apple store workers are being pressured to sell, sell, sell, with the fear and risk of losing their job, they might not represent all the facts when selling to a customer, as has been noted in other countries like Australia--"The ACCC was concerned that Apple was applying its own warranties and refund policies effectively to the exclusion of the consumer guarantees contained in the Australian Consumer Law".
  21. NorEaster macrumors regular

    Feb 14, 2012
    Yes it's legal in the US via an employee stock purchase program. Many companies do this, including Apple.
  22. AFEPPL macrumors 68030


    Sep 30, 2014
    Cult is a very good description.
    I'm certainly looking to move away from the brand in many areas.
  23. theheadguy macrumors 65816

    Apr 26, 2005
    Try working for the government, then you'll have some room to complain about threats and abuse from the public.
  24. thermodynamic Suspended


    May 3, 2009

    Customers sure as heck shouldn't be making death threats - if I was in the store that day and heard, I'd report to a manager or find a security officer straightaway.

    For being representatives and branding for the company and its image, which is arguably a cost of value, the Geniuses aren't treated well - especially if commission isn't involved, but allowing commission can be both a blessing and a curse. But that's not sadly uncommon with the retail industry. Even for Apple.

    Having said that, I'll admit the share discount is great, just buy before shares go up to $500 each, since at $11/hr - after cost of living expenses - it would take a while to buy one share and then hope one gets a return on what could be perceived as a lottery ticket. Don't know what defines "generous", but it's hopefully far more than what even a college student gets as a discount. Access to Tim Cook is a big honor indeed, it gets one's name recognized which can lead to bigger and better things. There is no such thing as bad publicity.

    It's branding and people had been conditioned for aversion with "salesman" or "clerk", so the rose was given a new name.

    And some of them ARE knowledgeable. Others are just programmed parrots. It's enjoyable to know the ones who know the materials. This is where reward for demonstrated knowledge, as opposed to flat wages across the board that dissuades any more interest than absolutely necessary to parrot, can come in handy, encouraging in-depth knowledge of products and services and working with the customer for the best and most ethical solution. (Anyone using email doesn't need 16GB of RAM. On the other hand, a composer using Logic Studio (the best thing for composers since the Atari ST home computer from the 1980s/90s, IMHO) would benefit from RAM more than CPU (and a video editor would need as much as both and arguably a desktop workstation designed for the task more efficiently as opposed to a lightweight notebook that works to an extent but is likely to overheat for major rendering operations for an extended period of time)... maybe I should try another hand at music composition again, I still have my copy...)

    Absolutely. Environment is more than just the air breathed and liquid drank... College classes actually teach what should be obvious - those that interact with the customer are holding up the company's image far more than any advert or executive could. Because customers deal with the clerks, the "lowest end" the most. It's appalling they get death threats, and none of them deserve that from the get-go, regardless.

    But considering a customer has paid a LOT of money for equipment and products and services that have the reputation of being better quality, something is irking them and even if it's something as minute as a Genius having to operate by standard procedure written by someone else for him or her to adhere to - to the point emotional breakdown and making death threats - hopefully nothing more than an extreme catharsis, but it's still technically a terroristic threat and rampant emotion accomplishes nothing, even if a person has a right to be upset over maltreatment or what's perceived to be. Kneejerk bombastic threats are ultimately barbaric, however.

    Do Dell employees get death threats? Do Walmart employees get death threats? Or government employees? Or anyone else in between?
  25. TechZeke macrumors 68020


    Jul 29, 2012
    Rialto, CA
    Micro Center is an excellent store that runs on commission. The staff are actually helpful will even work hard to get you a bunch of coupons and discounts. My Gaming PC build actually came out cheaper than buying online, even WITH tax. Of course, when I walk into a place like Micro Center I almost always know what I want and know whats a good deal or not when it comes to impulse buys.

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