Departing Apple Retail Employee Outlines Grievances to CEO

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Apple Store Thumbs Down

A former Apple Retail Genius has fired a departing salvo to Apple CEO Tim Cook in the form of an email outlining many internal developments at Apple Retail stores and the employee’s dissatisfaction with those developments.

The email, reproduced at the employee’s website, describes a devolution of the internal organization and treatment of Apple Retail employees in recent years. The author claims that Apple’s “CORE” training, which stresses individual customer attention, has become almost completely supplanted by the traditional bottom-line approach that other electronic retailers, such as Best Buy, are known for.

“Due to the overwhelming number of appointments per employee and the continued push to open more and more active queues [available slots to aid customers at the Genius Bar], most interactions are now completely transactional, rather than transformational. We are lucky if we have time to ask the customer their name, nevertheless truly get to dig deeply into their lives and their issues, and further repair their relationships with both Apple and the Apple brand,” the author states. 

While the email itself remains unsubstantiated opinion, the points raised by the author are mirrored in other recent complaints from Apple Retail staff, including a thus far unsuccessful attempt to unionize. These feelings, coupled with changes to the way Apple handles customer repairs paint an interesting picture of the world’s most successful retail operation and its struggles as it enters maturity.

In the view of at least one employee, however, “Apple is no longer about enriching lives, it is about enriching pocketbooks.”

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My recent visits at our Genius Bar have been as informative, useful and efficient as ever at resolving my Apple hardware and software issues. Some Apple employees do work very hard to assist some customer who, by their behavior and or feeling of entitlement do not deserve the level of attention they do get to solve their problems. Being unionized would not solve that problem.
Given the number of Apple Store employees, I expect some of them to feel like the author of this post whose view are more dogmatic than pragmatic. I have no doubt about the sincerity of his complains, nor am I passing a value judgement on his attitude towards his former job. I have a feeling that he would be happier working in a non business work environment.


Meh! It seems every employee nowadays is an insightful Jerry Maquire that believes he is qualified to write a company’s “peanut butter manifesto” (to mix my references). I can’t believe stuff like this gets so much attention.

Phil Coates

Its a cattle market. Shove them in and swop them out. Thats my experience with Apple UK stores in NE England. They don’t have time to ask questions and just swop out first. Shame really.


The last time I was in an Apple store I was on time but it took the Genius 45 minutes more to get to me, and then it was a miserable interaction.  This Genius seemed to be a temp, who really didn’t understand things.  I complained to the management and got a call about it.  They basically affirmed what this letter said - that Apple is making it easier to get appointments by opening more slots, but the actual appointment was becoming sub-par.


My typical Genius Bar service over the years has been above-average in satisfaction and effectiveness. On top of that, it’s seemed to me over the last 12-18 months that yeah, they’ve begun arranging *quicker* service—but I’ve perceived NO evident loss in the quality of the personal interaction, nor of the tech service.

This is all anecdotal and subjective, of course. And some negative experiences are inevitable in any large and still-growing industry.


My visit to the store was to find a solution to printing from the iPad before AirPrint was widely available.  The person helping me gave advice that was very frustrating (“go to a computer and print the document”).  It was disappointing service - but I still like my iPad even with its printing deficiencies.


Genius Bar experiences can be hit or miss. The first Genius Bar appointment concluded with the genius admitting she did no know anything insightful about iMovie which was the core reason in scheduling an appointment. The kicker was the iMovie genius was greeting customers at the door and was not available for consult.
The second appointment was scheduled around better understanding iCloud and the sharing hierarchy between iPhone and iTunes. Again, the employee stated he did not have training on the product but did offer his experience with the product to provide insight. While departing the store I wondered if the “i” in Apple product is more about enriching the iCorporation and less about the iConsumer.

Ross Edwards

The common denominator between Ramey’s rant and the few negative experiences I’ve heard friends or family have at Apple stores lately has been failure on the part of a manager to take sensible and prudent actions to resolve an issue.  This is troubling, and suggests that there is a systemic problem, not just a matter of a store here or there that has more foot traffic than its blueshirts can handle.

For my part, even during the holiday rush last month, and even when I had no choice but to be served by the most airheaded tee-hee 18-year-old girls they had on seasonal staff, I was given prompt, polite, and technically accurate assistance with my transactions.*  If Apple CORE can teach THOSE kids to be competent on the sales floor, the training of front-line staff isn’t the problem.

*And it wasn’t trivial—I needed some third-party hardware that would manage inputs and switching among my condenser XLR mic and a rack of guitars and basses for use in GarageBand, and the typical mixing boards and Pro-Tools-style equipment was overkill in my case.  The fashionable neophyte staffer recognized what I was talking about and helped me narrow down which device to get.  She even knew to remind me not to turn on phantom power to the XLR socket until the condenser mic was turned on.  That’s downright competence, not a “Hi, the iPhone bumpers are over here!” response.


My most recent experience was in Munich, Germany and happened by chance to be on the day the iPhone 4S went on sale there. I didn’t have an appointment and thought I’d have to wait a long time but no - they were well organized and efficient.

My first helper (the Genius Bar space was closed off to handle iPhone sales only) knew what to do but couldn’t quite get it done. So we went to the expert, who also struggled a bit but managed to fix it. Total time was less than ten minutes.

Outstanding support !

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