The New York Times published a lengthy report today regarding Apple’s retail operations. The article covers a few aspects of the business, but most of it focuses on the employees.

Following the tone of its previous piece on Apple’s supply chain, The Times paints a bleak picture of Apple’s retail employees, describing them as overworked and underpaid…

The entire thing can really be summed up by the first paragraph:

“Last year, during his best three-month stretch, Jordan Golson sold about $750,000 worth of computers and gadgets at the Apple Store in Salem, N.H. It was a performance that might have called for a bottle of Champagne — if that were a luxury Mr. Golson could have afforded.”

Dividing Apple’s overall retail revenue by the number of its employees, the author calculates that, on average, each of them — including non-sales staff — made the company $473,000 last year. Wow. Compare that to the average employee’s salary of $25,000 a year, and we admit, it looks sketchy.

But it’s not like Apple is underpaying its employees. The article redeems itself from being a total witch hunt by pointing out that the company actually offers above average pay compared to most other retailers, and surprisingly good benefits. Each employee is offered health care, 401(k) contributions and substantial discounts on Apple products.

Aside from the pay, The Times outlines a number of other complaints from current and former Apple Store workers, including limited upward mobility, and constant stress from the ever-increasing foot traffic. It also claims that according to internal surveys, employee satisfaction at several locations is “surprisingly low,” especially among technicians.

Of course, Apple refuted the claim, and issued the following statement:

“Thousands of incredibly talented professionals work behind the Genius Bar and deliver the best customer service in the world. The annual retention rate for Geniuses is almost 90%, which is unheard-of in the retail industry, and shows how passionate they are about their customers and their careers at Apple.”

The entire article is worth a read — if only for its insight into the lives of Apple Store employees. It really could have done without the cynicism though. Newsflash: not everyone in the world — especially in retail — is always happy with their job.

  • Jeri Cho

    90% attrition rate for Geniuses? It is expected though. Sure is make nice reading to one’s CV having experience working at Apple or even considered to work for Apple. So, it’s not surprising.

    • Not attrition, it clearly states retention! LOL. Talk about reading what you want and expect to read.

  • Apple do care about their employees, I don’t understand where did the guy get “underpaid” and “overworked”, if something that IS underpaid and overworked, it’s certainly approves for the people who works at McDonald’s…


    Another hit piece on Apple by the NYT?

    *feigned shock*

    I guess they didn’t want to be outdone by Time.

  • is the NYT stupid? apples retail stores are absolutely incredible, all the employes enjoy there jobs and are happy with there paycheck. alsoappleispretty loose with the work hours, they actually adjust to your schedule a bit to help with college students

  • Whoever wrote this NYT article should be fired. Apple employees are not overworked that’s a fact, they actually adjust to your schedule to help out college students. And the paycheck+discounts is great,no one has ever complained about it. Apple is bringing a lot of Jobs to the US, over 500,000+. If anything apple should be getting praised not criticized

  • No, they make about $12/hour.

  • Winski

    The last two experiences I’ve personally had with the ‘genius’ staff at two, separate store locations, has not been the most pleasant things I done in a retail environment before.

    First, after being told by the AppleCare folks that the genius staff would sell me memory and assist in an upgrade with that memory on my MBP, and that was proven to be total lie, I began to wonder. Let’s try another location…just for yuks.

    That experience hurriedly reaching for an 8 on the 1 to 10 suck-scale, I made an appointment to have my MBP upgraded to Mountain Lion. What a nightmare. Sure enough, they have a fat pipe they let me use to down load the upgrade… But after the download, and re-build, then the fun started.

    IMMEDIATELY, after Mountain Lion installs, AND you TRY and start various, STANDARD, applications like mail, contacts or Safari, be REAL careful what happens…. Let’s start with ‘Contects’ (address book) … On my install TODAY, the initial setup thought my old pop mail account was in fact an iCloud account… UGLY. So, the way that Mountain Lion looks at ‘contacts’ as part of ‘mail’ and iCloud is a bit odd. Mountain Lion could not figure out who it was or what it was or where to go to find out when trying to ‘update’ my contacts database (217 entries) …. It just sits and churns in a loop FOREVER. Luckily, I was sitting at a Genius Bar, otherwise I would STILL be trying to figure this out. A ‘genius’ helped me by deleting some .plist files (he did it too fast for me to follow) but it was not fun.

    THEN, because the initial setup process thought my old pop account was an iCloud account and allegedly messed up my ‘contacts’ database, when I started the Mountain Lion MAIL client, things got REAL strange… the new Mail just IGNORED almost all of the mail FOLDERS in my mail client from Snow Leopard… Just ignored them… I had to retrieve my latest Time Machine back-up and get my old email folders from that back-up. NOW, I have to IMPORT these into the new Mountain Lion mail client… This will take hours…

    All in all… UGLY. AND, I was at an Apple Store