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Apple Stores still in turmoil, sources claim

updated 01:04 am EDT, Tue August 28, 2012

Apple allegedly pushing profit at expense of workers, maintenance

The labor situation in Apple Stores is still in a rough state, despite promises by the company, according to sources for ifoAppleStore. For example, contrary to statements by Apple retail head John Browett, workers were recently laid off or fired, but later just rehired -- and while interstore transfers are now going through, demotions aren't being reversed, overtime is still limited, and managers are assigning minimum hours to part-timers. Apple is thought to be trying several methods of maximizing retail profits, including changing how worker performance is rated.

A greater emphasis on sales has been put in place, according to one source. He says that contract sales of iPhones are being used as a key metric, and now appear on store performance charts. Apple is also tracking "essentials per hero product," meaning sales of accessories and other products alongside core purchases. Clerks are nevertheless being asked to push people to buy accessories using the EasyPay app, even though any revenue from the app doesn't count towards a worker's sales history.

The sources remark that efficiency measures are extending to budgets as well. Stores are reportedly scaling back on workshops, even halting the printed schedules that high-profile outlets have traditionally offered. Training areas in the Family Room and product displays in the Red Zone are allegedly being sacrificed in favor of more "Etc." and accessory shelves, with the aim of boosting sales. Even maintenance budgets are being slashed, which could potentially leave Apple Stores dirtier than shoppers are used to.

Topping off the situation, ifo's sources say that low-level workers haven't received an explanation or apology from Browett or store managers for the recent labor chaos. Instead, they're being asked not to talk about the issues with anyone, including management. Due to all of the combined changes, morale is said to have dropped precipitously in the Apple retail chain.

The sources suggest that the root of the current troubles reaches back to 2009, when Steve Jobs went on medical leave for six months, leaving Tim Cook in charge of Apple. Cook is described as an "operations guy" with a focus on revenues and profits, rather than customers. In Jobs' absence, Cook allegedly joined forces with CFO Peter Oppenheimer to confront the company's then head of retail, Ron Johnson, who was said to have been customer-centric but not generating enough revenue to justify expenses.

Cook supposedly pushed Johnson "quite hard" about how other channels were selling more Macs per capita than retail. Without Jobs to back him up, Johnson is said to have been unable to keep Cook and Oppenheimer from switching to a purely profit-driven focus. Johnson eventually left Apple to become the CEO of JC Penney; Cook is said to have hired Browett because he shared a belief in maximizing profitability.



By Electronista Staff
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Comments

  1. iphonerulez

    Dedicated MacNNer

    Joined: 11-28-08

    If Apple is going through a rough time, I can only imagine what the other consumer tech companies are going through. It seems as though Apple's methods are always put under a microscope. That's what happens when a company is undergoing rapid growth and then there's a change in management. They call it growing pains. I hope Apple is smart enough not to try to merely throw money at the problem. It will probably take careful planning to keep those Apple retail stores running smoothly. The holidays are nearly hear along with the release of the next iPhone. Apple has a lot of work to do to get ready for the customer onslaught.

  1. CAnderfeldt

    Fresh-Faced Recruit

    Joined: 08-28-12

    The salesmen are now running Apple.

  1. bleee

    Mac Enthusiast

    Joined: 03-28-02

    They hired a sleazy slim ball VP of sales... that's all there is to it. I hope Tim Cook fixes this.

  1. coffeetime

    Mac Enthusiast

    Joined: 11-15-06

    Shopping in Apple retail store is really a horrible experience for me. The crowds are incredible and many of them are just using Facebook. The best place to shop is still online, either Apple online store or MacMall.com.

  1. realfortin

    Fresh-Faced Recruit

    Joined: 08-28-12

    It seems that Apple is going away from what "made Apple great" and is going towards what made it's competitors fail. If they lose MacFans, they will lose momentum.

    Less training for the staff, less happy staff...equals customers that don't get that extra help with product, that get rushed because staff need to make quotas, customers that get pressured into accessories they don't need.

  1. Grendelmon

    Mac Enthusiast

    Joined: 12-26-07

    And here in Minneapolis/Bloomington, I still laugh when I see the Microsoft store across the way from the Apple store. Apple has too many people in their store trying to get help from a disgruntled staff, and the only way Microsoft can get traffic into their store is by bribing people (not customers) with handouts and free concert tickets. It's funny how times have come to this today.

  1. lamewing

    Dedicated MacNNer

    Joined: 08-04-04

    Originally Posted by GrendelmonView Post

    And here in Minneapolis/Bloomington, I still laugh when I see the Microsoft store across the way from the Apple store. Apple has too many people in their store trying to get help from a disgruntled staff, and the only way Microsoft can get traffic into their store is by bribing people (not customers) with handouts and free concert tickets. It's funny how times have come to this today.



    Nice tangent, but that doesn't change the problem in Apple's stores regarding the generally poor customer service . The long waits and sales people that lack basic knowledge of the products the sell. I love that there is often tons of info online regarding a products strengths and weaknesses, but the sales drone only can state that "I haven't heard about that, but I am sure Apple will address the issue". Sigh.

    Apple makes nice products (so does Samsung, Sony, LG etc.) but they have turned into just another company selling its wares with little concern for the customer. All they care about is the bottom line and their board of directors. Anybody who denies this is a fool.

    Will I continue to buy Apple products? Yes, but I won't, for one second, believe the nonsense in their press releases. WHO believes press releases (no matter who posts them) anyway?

  1. blahblahbber

    Banned

    Joined: 02-01-05

    Originally Posted by lamewingView Post


    Nice tangent, but that doesn't change the problem in Apple's stores regarding the generally poor customer service . The long waits and sales people that lack basic knowledge of the products the sell. I love that there is often tons of info online regarding a products strengths and weaknesses, but the sales drone only can state that "I haven't heard about that, but I am sure Apple will address the issue". Sigh.
    Apple makes nice products (so does Samsung, Sony, LG etc.) but they have turned into just another company selling its wares with little concern for the customer. All they care about is the bottom line and their board of directors. Anybody who denies this is a fool.
    Will I continue to buy Apple products? Yes, but I won't, for one second, believe the nonsense in their press releases. WHO believes press releases (no matter who posts them) anyway?

    Truth is in the pudding.... Wait a bit longer.... your eyes will be wide open.

  1. Flyingjoe

    Fresh-Faced Recruit

    Joined: 11-13-10

    Stupid, stupid, stupid.

    Their retail stores are one of the great success stories of American enterprise, with highest revenue per square foot of all retail chains.

    Why, oh why would they ruin this? They will nickel and dime their staff, who will become average workers like in any other store, instead of dedicated Apple believers. They will become worse than a Microsoft store.

    This was where Apple should have been leading by paying and benefitting their staff a bit more than other tech stores, and showing they think different.

    This is where Cook will go wrong.

    Sure, for a little while his store metrics will look better, but this is where it will go wrong in the long run. Apple fans will now start thinking Apple really does evil, just like Google and Samsung.

    You took the wrong turn, Tim... Sad, sad day.

  1. no1bass

    Fresh-Faced Recruit

    Joined: 03-06-06

    Amazing what the richest company in the world is doing, through their store employment policies, to the backbone if their success - the customer - which is lessening the joy of going to an Apple store. I guess cutting a few hours here and there and causing bad morale among employees is just part of the bottom line of a mega-bilion dollar company.

    I'll continue to deal online.

  1. blahblahbber

    Banned

    Joined: 02-01-05

    Originally Posted by FlyingjoeView Post

    Stupid, stupid, stupid.
    Their retail stores are one of the great success stories of American enterprise, with highest revenue per square foot of all retail chains.
    Why, oh why would they ruin this? They will nickel and dime their staff, who will become average workers like in any other store, instead of dedicated Apple believers. They will become worse than a Microsoft store.
    This was where Apple should have been leading by paying and benefitting their staff a bit more than other tech stores, and showing they think different.
    This is where Cook will go wrong.
    Sure, for a little while his store metrics will look better, but this is where it will go wrong in the long run. Apple fans will now start thinking Apple really does evil, just like Google and Samsung.
    You took the wrong turn, Tim... Sad, sad day.

    Can't expect the replacement to have the same vision in his heart or the strength of a founding father. Sorry buddy, greed is the blueprint for capitalism. Every business has to battle with conflicting interests in staff as shuffles are made. It is a power-trip... this is what happens when you lose your mentor/leader... confusion bleeds at the forefront; totally expected. Hang on for more...

  1. shifuimam

    Addicted to MacNN

    Joined: 08-15-06

    Originally Posted by FlyingjoeView Post


    instead of dedicated employees who care about customer service.


    Fixed™.

    This is a pretty interesting story. It looks like Apple is no longer the panacea it used to be for retail employees.

  1. aristotles

    Grizzled Veteran

    Joined: 07-16-04

    I never seem to have any problems with customer service at Apple stores and I never seem to have an dead pixels or other display issues with any of my purchases whether it be an Apple product or Sony HDTV. Maybe some people attract bad luck with bad attitudes. if you are expecting the worst then it will happen as a kind of self fulfilling prophesy. The same thing applies for customer service because those retail employees are still "people" and deserve to be treated with some level of respect.

    If you show respect, you will receive it in kind. Don't treat people like garbage if you want to receive good customer service.

    I have shopped at Apple stores in Vancouver (BC), Las Vegas, Tokyo (Ginza), London (Picadilly Circus) and Los Angeles (Beverly Centre & The Grove). At each location, I was treated as a valued customer.

  1. shifuimam

    Addicted to MacNN

    Joined: 08-15-06

    The problem, though, is that with customer service, if you raise enough hell and are a big enough bitch, you'll get your way.

    I've seen it over and over. Nice people get treated well because you want to treat them well. The assholes get treated well so that they don't blow everything up more than they already have.

  1. OkieDoc

    Fresh-Faced Recruit

    Joined: 08-07-01

    Probably it's just my local Apple Store, but I still find it to be a GREAT experience. Yes, the store is busy, but there are plenty of products to try out. The staff is always there to help, but butts out when I want them to.

    What metric are they being compared to? The abysmal experience at my local Best Buy?

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