apple troubles

Apple staff speaking out against alleged corruption at retail stores

December 25, 2012
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apple troubles Apple staff speaking out against alleged corruption at retail stores

Apple employees come forward

When you walk past any Apple store in the world, what do you see? Clean tables, helpful faces, innovative technologies, and more, and upon entering, unless it’s a holiday and it’s too full of people, feelings of enthusiasm are invoked, even in non-Apple fans. “Ooh” and “aah” sounds echo throughout the retail store, unlike any other. Try going to Gap and feeling as if pure oxygen is being pumped through the air system – it won’t happen.

Steve Jobs’ legacy was that of perfection and beauty, and just making peoples’ lives better. Their marketing is simple, minimalistic, and by most standards, superior. So why then are there whispers that the retail locations have a dark, seedy underbelly? Gizmodo.com tech writer, Sam Biddle has swapped emails with current and former Apple retail employees claiming corruption in the stores that if true, would have Apple fans enraged.

Before we dive into what Biddle uncovered, we should note that it is our belief that although Apple is held to a higher standard, and consumers have a certain ownership given to them over the brand, most big box retailers have misbehaving employees that act out of line and take advantage of their role (you’ve seen 40 Year Old Virgin, right?). The retail world is far different from Cupertino, and while low level retail employees are the front line of the brand, the face if you will, it is unfair that they sully an entire brand – but that’s the reality of how a consumer feels when their “personal videos” are shown to all employees when a computer is dropped off for repair… or worse.



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There are tales of employees hooking up in the back room, gay bosses feeling inclined to honk womens’ breasts and butts, and general bad behavior, but the following unbelievable stories actually impact the consumers whereas a poor retail culture does not.

Unbelievable story #1: destroying devices for fun

Biddle’s sources say employees would destroy iPhones and iPads for fun – they’d play football with the devices to see who could get the biggest crack in each, jokingly calling it “field testing.”
Employees would destroy iPhones and iPads for fun. They’d play football with iPhones and try to see who can get the biggest crack in an iPad.

phone abuse Apple staff speaking out against alleged corruption at retail stores

Unbelievable story #2: sex, drugs, and power

One person claims bad boss behavior far beyond an uncomfortable hug. “I have had bosses sleep with employees, bosses buy drugs from employees, bosses get us wasted at bars… I have had a boss sexually harass me and torment. Ugh its [sic] disgusting how poorly apple employees are treated…”

bad bosses Apple staff speaking out against alleged corruption at retail stores

Unbelievable story #3: fudging the numbers

If sex, drugs, and “field testing” weren’t enough, some team members created false cases to cover things up for people and offsetting prices while consumers paid the same amount, and “hot chicks” who submitted devices had their images viewed by Genius Bar staff on a regular basis. “Discount codes were also applied liberally where they didn’t belong. In short: Geniuses played the system to get free toys,” Biddle writes.

bad Apple staff speaking out against alleged corruption at retail stores

Unbelievable story #4: genius bar staff making money from parts

One genius bar staff said he would remove parts of computers and exchange them for cheaper ones, making a lot of money out of it, and expresses that he does not regret it. Additionally, it is reported that theft of products was common, easy, and employees worked together to steal:

theft Apple staff speaking out against alleged corruption at retail stores

Unbelievable story #5: hot people get free stuff, employees have side businesses

One tipster claims that not only do attractive people get preferential treatment and free devices when theirs are broken, and on top of that, some staff does repairs on the side for ridiculous amounts of money.

hot Apple staff speaking out against alleged corruption at retail stores

Unbelievable story #6: extreme invasion of privacy (and underage girls)

If true, the most damning story is what all consumers fear – their pictures and videos being looked at and even shared among employees. Apple employees systematically would look through attractive womens’ devices for private photos, sometimes even emailing the images to themselves. There’s no telling where the images ended up. (Also see story #3.)

nudes Apple staff speaking out against alleged corruption at retail stores
badly Apple staff speaking out against alleged corruption at retail stores

Unbelievable story #7: employees stealing display items

One former employee cavalierly explains how she and others would take the giant display items and selling them online for a fat profit:
biddle Apple staff speaking out against alleged corruption at retail stores

Unbelievable story #8: managers cook the books

According to one source, staff at one location had a massive manipulation scenario wherein they would code receipts of certain buyers spending over $500 as “business contacts” to count toward their business revenue, fudging their targets.

scenario Apple staff speaking out against alleged corruption at retail stores

The bottom line:

It is unlikely that this is unique to Apple, but it does conflict with the perfection portrayed by Apple leaders, and has one question how widespread these problems are. More importantly, will Apple take steps to get rid of the riff raff so the quality employees can function to their best potential?

The bottom line is that next time you go to an Apple store with a device to be repaired or replaced, you might want to at least wipe the pictures of any device, especially if you’re an attractive woman, or have an attractive young daughter, just to be safe.

Marti Trewe reports on business and technology news, chasing his passion for helping entrepreneurs and small businesses to stay well informed in the fast paced 140-character world. Marti rarely sleeps and thrives on reader news tips, especially about startups and big moves in leadership.



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  • windbourne

    Sounds like they are running the apple stores like MS would. Bad idea.

  • http://www.facebook.com/notabanana Amanda Schulte

    who cares? you cant control every single person. imagine that dbags working for apple. shocking

    • Robert Cameron

      You must not have read to the bottom line or you would understand who should care. “The bottom line is that next time you go to an Apple store with a device to be repaired or replaced, you might want to at least wipe the pictures of any device, especially if you’re an attractive woman, or have an attractive young daughter, just to be safe.”

  • NcoClub

    Same thing goes on at every big box retailer. The one I worked for had employees doing side business repairing and installing computers. Employees stealing laptops, printers, fax machines, software..you name it. Giving all their friends employee discounts at the register. loss prevention was pretty much powerless to stop it and since everyone was doing it nobody would dare turn in anyone else for doing these things.

  • Altair_420

    This reminds me of when i worked at jack in the box and people would destroy food and things in the back, just fuckin off in the middle of an overnight shift. They’d spit in the food sometimes too…… I never did it , but i did smoke weed in the break room and on the roof everytime i was shift leader at night.

  • http://twitter.com/patspahr9 Patrick Spahr

    Last year I had a really weird problem with Apple support–they said there was a fly in
    the drive, called it a bio hazard and they refused to fix it–finally got fixed–but fucked me up
    for a month. After that I bought a back up laptop in case it happens
    again–my sense was something was off at Apple Tech support center–it
    is a large organization, and things are getting a bit out of
    control–maybe the rank and file are not paid enough to be really happy
    and Apple sitting with Billions in cash is now getting resentments built
    up in many ways–

  • RDU06

    In reading all of these examples, the most notable reality seems to be that none of these people stepped forward to report these violations. In every business, be it retail, hospitality (anything) we are at the will of the individual serving us. Are they a schmuck or are they a person with integrity. Good and bad people work EVERYWHERE. But standing by and watching behaviors like these without taking action is condoning it on the job. Maybe the people that participated in your interviews by providing this information didn’t do the things they described, but they did observe it without doing anything and that is shameful and nearly as pathetic.

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