Stories from a former Apple Retail Employee

There’s a certain prestige in working for Apple. You get access to cutting-edge technology, see new products before they’re introduced and are shown innovation at the highest level. That is, if you work for Apple corporate. Apple Retail employees don’t enjoy those same perks.

Not that working for an Apple store is terrible, as it’s better than most retail jobs. The pay is marginally higher, the dress code is lax and the discounts are pretty handy. But unless you’re a huge Apple fanboy or just really, really like helping people, working for Apple Retail isn’t quite the awesome I imagined.

The Apple stores are run differently now, but here’s some points from when I was employed part-time from 2004-07 as a Mac Specialist.

Apple Retail employee shirts were always cool. Wish I had kept them.
1. You get one 25% discount per year and unlimited 10% discounts
This made buying a new computer a duh move every year, but most employees couldn’t afford that. Plenty of Apple Retail employees ended up using the 25% discount to buy for family members. The 10% discount was used mostly on accessories and usually paid for the tax.

2. There was no dress code, save the t-shirt
I’ve seen piercings, tattoos and shoes that probably shouldn’t have been worn out, let alone to work, on the floor during shifts. While the majority of employees were super fans and therefore tried to look presentable, that was their choice and not a mandate.

3. There’s really no training
We had access to knowledge base articles and could take quizzes, but most of what we knew we either learned on our own or were told by other employees. This wasn’t necessarily a bad thing, as we shared a helluva lot of tips with customers that way. There was an occasional customer who would try to stump the Geniuses or Specialists, but not as a rule.

Not your typical Apple employee uniform.
4. Customers were jerks when it came to popular products
The iPod Mini was by far the most popular product during the time I worked for Apple Retail and we’d constantly get people who were pissed off about it selling out earlier or not being in stock. They never quite understood that they weren’t the only people who REALLY, REALLY NEEDED a new iPod that they’d never seen before and I hated them for it.

5. Apple doesn’t care how much you spend
This may sound harsh, but Apple Retail didn’t play many favorites. Because we aren’t paid on commission, we paid as much attention to a kid buying an iPod as we did to someone buying multiple iMacs. I’d say our service was good to great, but every once in a while some entitled dick would bitch about spending $5000 on Apple products in his lifetime and more than once I’d respond with: “yeah, so did I and half the people in here. That’s what, three mid-range Macs? Wait your turn, please.” I always loved doing that.

Apple stores now are much less about the experience. It’s no longer a place to hang out and learn, as the products are far, far too popular. But man, it was a cool experience for any Apple fanboy.

Oh, and we got free iPods. 15 gig, 3G versions. I did like that scroll wheel.