They call them "Geniuses" for a reason! If you've ever owned or plan on owning an iPhone, Mac computer, or other Apple product, prepare to have your mind blown. We've reached out to several former Apple store employees (who will remain anonymous) for the insider tips and the shocking stories you need to know. Here's what they told us.
Money- and Time-Saving Shopping Secrets
1. You can self-checkout in the store. Through the Apple Store app, you can scan the barcode and pay via your Apple ID. This is limited to items on the sales floor, which is mostly computer and iPhone accessories.
2. Use ApplePay. It's way faster than a credit card.
3. Personal pickup is your friend. Apple has a free service where you can reserve an item at a store, prepay, and get in and out quickly.
4. Everyone can take advantage of the higher education discount online. In person, they will ask to see your college ID, but there's no verification online.
5. Your Apple-branded chargers and headphones are all covered under a one-year warranty. Even if you are out of warranty, it's less expensive to get them replaced through the Genius Bar than buying new ones.
6. Every store has free workshops. And you can attend an unlimited amount of times.
What It's Really Like to Work at an Apple Store
7. It's really hard to get a job there. Apple has a lower acceptance rate than Harvard. The easiest way to get hired is have a current employee refer you.
8. NSOs (New Store Openings) are a big deal. This is especially true if it's in a major city like New York, Hong Kong, and Barcelona. Executives from all around the world will fly in for the event. It's a huge sense of pride to be on an NSO team.
9. Apple's customer service training is based on the Ritz Carlton. New-hire training is three weeks. You learn the APPLE steps of service (Approach, Probe, Present, Listen, End), as well as the three A's of customer support (Acknowledge, Align, Assure). You'll start using these steps on your friends and significant others.
10. The pay is not great. But it is getting better.
11. The benefits are awesome. You receive part-time health benefits, employee purchase stock program at 15 percent discount, $100 a month for commuting, 401K match, and an employee discount.
12. Certain words and actions are off limits. These include:
- "Unfortunately" becomes "As it turns out."
- "I don't know" becomes "Let's find out together!"
- No pointing — use an open hand if you must point something out.
- "Crash" becomes "doesn't respond."
13. Each shift starts with a "daily download." After checking your email (you can't check your email unless you are in a store), the daily download is a 15-minute pep rally for the day. Team metrics, initiatives, and current programs are discussed.
14. Attendance and punctuality are strictly enforced. This is by far the most common reason for employees being involuntarily terminated.
15. Apple forbids its employees from talking about their job on social media and posting pictures of themselves in their uniform shirts. Because of this, there's an underground community of anonymous employees (like Genius Bar Tales on Twitter) who take to social media to vent their frustrations. Everyone reads them and tries to guess if they know who's behind them.
16. We see those comments you write in the surveys. If you fill out an online survey about your store experience, it will get back to the employee who helped you. Each employee gets an NPS (net promoter score) that is used during promotion and raise time.
17. When you leave voluntarily, you get a "clap out." The Apple store is no stranger to clapping. We clap for everything. If you ever see employees randomly cheering in the middle of the day, it's likely a clap out, given to send off an employee on their last day.
18. Product Launches are really exciting. Although we don't get to see the product before it comes out, we train on it in the weeks leading up.
19. Dating your co-workers is very common, but if it comes out that you are dating a manager, one of you will get transferred immediately. One former employee writes, "This is very common. There have been a number of Apple weddings I've been to, and I've met some of my closest friends when working at Apple. I also found my bestie working there."
20. When someone makes daily purchases or pays all in cash, they are likely a reseller. Products are frequently released in the United States before other countries. There is a huge market overseas for Apple products.
Genius Bar Pro Tips and Horror Stories
21. If you have a desktop Mac with AppleCare, you may be eligible for at-home repair. Don't lug your huge computer to an Apple store. Call AppleCare to see if they can arrange at-home/office repair (at no additional cost).
22. The Genius team is a boys club. Although Apple prides itself on diversity, one former employee notes that she never saw a Genius team that was more than 10 percent female, with many stores not having a single woman on the team.
"Being a woman isn't exactly a walk in the park when it comes to the Genius Bar," she writes. "There have been many times that a customer did not believe what I said or did not want me to work on their device. It's a little disheartening when a male employee repeats the same exact thing you said to a customer and the customer agrees. There have been times where a customer did not let me to touch their iPhone when it needed to be fixed but instead flagged down a male employee."
Bodily fluids, computers yellowing with nicotine, bug infestations, cat vomit on computers — you will get it all.
23. Not everyone staffed at the Genius Bar is a "Genius." A Genius is someone who is certified to repair and troubleshoot Apple computers. Apple has created several other positions that specialize in individualized training, group workshops, and iOS hardware/software that are all staffed at the Genius Bar.
24. You will see things you wish you hadn't. These include gross stuff in and on computers and phones. Bodily fluids, computers yellowing with nicotine, bug infestations, cat vomit on computers — you will get it all.
WE DO NOT GO LOOKING THROUGH YOUR STUFF, but sometimes it just happens. Please remember that. Be mindful of your browser history, or what applications open up automatically when you turn the computer on. You know that feature to reopen all windows when you restart? Just remember to close your last porn session browser before you bring the computer into the store. The same goes for mobile devices. Most times, a technician has to open up Safari to run diagnostics; please remember that and close any questionable websites. Even if you're not embarrassed, the technician might be.
25. Please let people know if you are leaving your device in an Apple store for repair and turn off message notifications. Most people have their messages synced across all their Apple devices. The last thing you want is to have one of them in for repair and have ultrapersonal and/or intimate messages start popping up. Again, most technicians do not go through and read any of that stuff, and most of them want to know AS LITTLE about a customer's personal life as possible, but it's hard to ignore a picture message that suddenly appears on the screen.
26. Be kind; most people behind the Genius Bar genuinely want to help you. When they tell you that in order to fix a hardware issue there will be a cost associated with it, understand that the Genius helping you has most likely tried everything they can in order to avoid this.
27. AppleCare is not insurance. AppleCare is an extension of the manufacturer's warranty. What that entails depends on the product. Physical damage is not covered for computers, and some mobile devices (iPhones, iPod Touches, and iPads) have AppleCare+ available. This gives you a specific number of instances to pay a lower deductible for physical damage.
28. Cases and screen protectors are not a 100 percent protective guarantee. It helps with cosmetic appearance, but if your product still gets damaged with a case on, that's normal. And no, if the case or screen protector is damaged, Apple cannot replace it.
29. Back your stuff up before you come in for a repair. A technician never ever wants to tell someone, "Hey, you know all those pictures of your new baby? Yeah . . . those are gone and it could have been completely preventable."
Yes, it is incredibly frustrating to delay a repair because you have to go home and back your stuff up, but keep in mind this technician is trying to help you not lose important information. If you don't care, and you tell that to your technician, they probably document that in the paperwork. Please do not be insulted by this. There have been a ton of instances where a customer was told a million different ways "there is a chance you will lose ALL of your information, are you OK with that?" and they said "yes" only to lose their sh*t when they find out that all of their information was lost.
30. When you drop something off for repair, make sure the customer information is correct. This is how the Apple store gets in contact with you. Also add anyone that might possibly pick up the repair. The Apple store takes customer privacy seriously and asks for ID when picking up the computer. They don't want to hand off the repair to the wrong person. It has happened . . . A LOT.
One More Thing
31. Celebrities need phones, too. Apple 5th Ave. has a secret room to the right of the cash wrap, used by VIPs and celebs to shop in private.
— Additional reporting by several former Apple store employees who wish to remain anonymous.