Crowded Genius Bars Spark Work Changes

July 15, 2010

Faced with an every-increasing number of customers at its retail store Genius Bars, and in the face of on-going employee dissatisfaction about heavy workloads, tipsters say Apple will revise its operations to improve product repair service. Some of the changes, such as requiring the Genius staff to multitask with several customers, formalizes real-world conditions that have existed for years. Other changes, including the extension of Genius work hours until midnight, were made after pilot tests at several stores in each region, but have generated an additional round of employee complaints about staffing levels and workload. Specifically, tipsters to MacRumors and IFO say store management will more proactively monitor Genius Bar activity to insure a 30-minute service goal for both appointments made on-line via the Concierge reservation system, and for walk-in repair customers. Second, the Genius staff will be required to serve several customers at one time, speeding up the flow of repairs. And third, some of the more complex product repairs will be shifted from “while you wait” to overnight, and some of the Genius staff will begin working both before and after the store opening to complete these service requests.

The number of people with Apple computers increases every day, with about one-half of all Macintosh buyers at the retail stores being “new to Mac,” according to company executives. Based on financial reports, this means that at least 100,000 new Mac users are created each month from Apple retail stores purchases, and up to 1.1 million new-to-Mac users who purchased their computer from other sources worldwide.

This increase in customers has put a considerable strain on the staff of existing Genius Bars, ever since new store construction slowed following the 2008 economic downturn. In particular, the number of new U.S. stores has also slowed as Apple has focused retail expansion on international locations over the past two years. During calendar 2009, just 14 stores opened in the United States, compared to 30 stores in 2008 and 26 stores in 2007.

In addition, there have been persistent reports from store employees that the introduction of the iPad and iPhone 4 have exacerbated poor working conditions. Just two weeks ago, a tipster told IFO that the stores, “are working over full capacity.” The person said that, “Employees are unhappy but are unable to vent. Ron Johnson (Sr. V-P Retail) sent an email thanking everyone for there hard work, but it really doesn’t cut it.” As a result of the heavy workload, “Employees are stressed, overworked, and understaffed,” the tipster said. Similar remarks have been posted on-line by other persons claiming to be Apple retail store employees.

The Changes

Various changes to Genius Bar procedures were rolled out to test stores earlier this year. After several months, the stores’ management team and Geniuses were asked for their feedback on the changes, insiders say. After evaluating the pilot programs, Apple’s retail executives selected the most successful changes that balanced two factors: improved customer service and the workload of the Genius Bar staff.

In its report of the changes, MacRumors calls the first change “active queue management,” something that most store managers are already performing, insiders say. A key goal is to accommodate walk-in service customers, who frequently did not realize that a Genius Bar appointment is a routine requirement, yet who still expect prompt attention.

Despite being listed as an upcoming Genius Bar change, multi-tasking is an everyday requirement of any Genius, especially at larger stores. A store Genius has always been expected to begin work promptly, handle more than one customer at once, and to continue working until the end of shift in order to maximize the number of service visits. It’s not clear how this new policy will change these current work habits.

The expansion of Genius work hours may be the most significant change reported in this latest tip. Apple’s legendary quick service at the Genius Bars will change as more complex repairs will be moved to the “overnight” category. Customers who are used to while-you-wait repairs may find they have to return the next day—or later—to pick up their repaired product.

In turn, Geniuses will be asked to begin work three hours before their store opens, or to work until midnight to complete the increased number of overnight repairs. Tipsters say that no additional Geniuses will be hired to provide coverage for these repairs, and current employees weren’t consulted about the changes. On the other hand, the new work-late policy is in effect only two or three days a week at most stores, and affect only five or six Geniuses at each store.

The Genius Bar changes come just months after Genius Steve Camuti filed a lawsuit in California over being denied legally-required rest periods during the shift. The lawsuit says the company has a corporate pattern of conduct that has “for years” failed to provide 10-minute shift breaks, and failed to provide accurate and timely wage statements that “effectively shielded itself from its employees’ scrutiny for its unlawful conduct.”

As a result of the conduct, the lawsuit claims, “Apple has enjoyed a significant competitive edge over other businesses within the industry in which it operates.”

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{ 49 comments… read them below or add one }

Joseph July 15, 2010 at 1724

Eh, walk-in genius service? What is that?? :P

The last time I actually had any walk-in service at my Apple Store was well over three years ago. I live in Portland, Oregon and use the Pioneer Place Store. It’s always so crowded and feels over capacitated (even smells sometimes!). My last purchase took much more time than necessary; I knew exactly what accessory I needed and grabbed it within 1 minute of entering the store — looked around to find an employee with a device to ring me up — nothing. I couldn’t find anyone available in the whole store and ended up waiting in line at the cash counter. In my scan of the store, it seemed like a lot of them were just talking about Mac’s to people/potential customers, while the individuals who were ready to buy paced the store for an available associate with frustration. I also noticed several employees walk in and out of the back room door without acknowledging myself or the 4-6 other people in the cash line. It seemed like they were avoiding us.

So I defiantly see why any Apple Store employee would feel overwhelmed and understaffed as a team. I work in health-care we’re constantly understaffed. It sucks.

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adfadf July 15, 2010 at 2040

This new system is a joke at my store. We don’t even have enough geniuses to support this new system, yet the store refuses to hire more. We’ve had to make fake appointments at our store on a daily basis to fill up the available appointment slots so that we don’t have more customers then we can handle. To add insult to injury, we are the top performing store in our region for sales and yet they refuse to hire additional staff!

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Guest July 15, 2010 at 2152

This must be what they meant by more Full Time roles within the store. Red Zone people are gonna be blended in with Family Room people and the whole store is gonna be a zoo again.

Bring back separate Concierge. Bring back the clear, identifiable roles. Quit being cheap about hiring because the demand is clearly there. And all new US stores need a Genius Bar; and an iPod/iPhone/iPad bar. And a Studio. Clearly, separately defined spaces. And big enough workrooms to perform the work. And learn. And have a break area far from those spaces.

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Curmudgeon Geographer July 15, 2010 at 2235

Just aren’t enough staff to handle the level of customers. It feels like the old Yogi Berra quote is about to apply to Apple Stores, no one goes there anymore because it’s so crowded. I avoid them like the plague on weekends. It’s so damn loud, and not from the music pumping in, in fact that is drowned out by the chatter.

It is an amazing sight to sit from the outside and look in at a store so hopping with customers. I’m sure the upper management love seeing the places so busy, and I’m sure the neighboring stores feel some sense of shame in comparison. But it is beginning to really suck being in it.

In the end, I’m okay with it being busy, but I’d rather go in to a story hopping with customers when there are enough staff to handle them than to enter a store with so many customers and no staff available to either help OR take my money. This is no longer a brief unexpected ramp up. This level is here to stay and the staffing needs to hire to meet it.

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FrMRApple July 15, 2010 at 2309

I completely know what you mean. Except even as upper management, I was a little put off by how busy my store got!

Now days, I prefer to go to my local Apple store during the weekdays. I just can’t take it on the weekends. I made the mistake of trying to look around the store this past Sunday and… WHOO BOY. It was so loud, so warm, so crowded. Just a confusing mess. I was there for like five minutes and had to leave. And forget about taking your kids there. Things are broken, don’t work, kids “area” is filled up, all the computers are being used. Great toys, but Apple’s success has turned the retail stores into an endurance test.

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Widgette July 15, 2010 at 2321

It’s just another way that Apple Retail management is crapping all over their work force. In my time there the managers only cared for the numbers not their customers or workers. Training was so slight as to be non existant. New Geniuses were thrown to the bar with little to no training and expected to sink or swim. The Concierge thing was great when it finally got going with the database and stuff, but cheap asses in corporate cut that service. They removed the POS section and moved it an already over crowded genius bar. Now this. Glad that I don’t work there anymore. It was a bad work environment a couple of years ago, now it’s even worse.

Apple Retail, the dreamjob that’s really a nightmare

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FrMRApple July 16, 2010 at 0740

It’s retail. No retail job is a dreamjob.

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sinclap July 17, 2010 at 2331

I hear Costco is a retail dream job. They pay their grunts similar to the Geniuses.

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igetfiredforpostingthis iftheyfindout August 25, 2010 at 1840

I just feel awful now as I read through all these comments. No one exaggerated in the least bit. It sounds as if we’re talking about one of the worst jobs ever. And slowly I begin to realize that it is getting there.
I just want to quit now. But yet I hope and pray that the (ever fading) spirit of apple swings back and kicks all theese idiots in their guts that brought us this shit and get people with hearts in their positions. That’s why I don’t quit just yet. And if you don’t want that either dear fellows in misery listen this is important:
think about yourself first. Don’t let your self talked into overtime. Slow down rather than speed up when there is too much stress. let it slide a bit. Because the system does not work. The faster it gets worse the faster it can get better again. Don’t blame yourself or others for the bad stats and the unfinished pile of repairs.
They give us extra weights and ask us to run faster… Results in catastrophe. We can survive these dark times only if we don’t hurt ourselves or others.
shit f… that! why not just strike?!

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Anonymous Genii July 16, 2010 at 0152

As if we weren’t handling appointments and 2 standbys all at the same time already, now turn on ANOTHER queue with NO additional staffing, and just tell us to handle it somehow. All while having more geniuses than computers to document repairs and not enough genius bar space as it is. This new system may work well for large flagship stores but it is just adding to the insanity that already exists in the smaller ones. If there are any complaints though it’s a constant reminder from those above us that there are hundreds of fanatics that would love to take our place. sweet.

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Another Anonymous Genii July 16, 2010 at 0655

“As if we weren’t handling appointments and 2 standbys at the same time already”

Same here. And don’t forget – while juggling multiple appointments, run into the back and do a while-you-wait repair.

And in between all that, mingle on the sales floor and make yourselves available to the specialists and customers.

And don’t forget all the training modules on RetailMe!

And help that standby appointment! And did anyone do that optical drive on that Macbook..? He’s still waiting..

“All while having more geniuses than computers to document repairs and not enough genius bar space as it is”

I thought they solved this problem with Mobile Genius? Because everyone loves documenting incoming repairs on an iPod Touch… :(

Don’t even get me started on the non-optional 3 pm to midnight shift.

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Anonymous Genii 3 July 16, 2010 at 1116

Well let’s see. Being a current I feel it’s a little out of hand.

Here’s the scenario at hand.

They want us to take more than one customer at a time. But our customers have come to love the one on one support they’ve received until the recent changes have taken place. Now I’m juggling 3-4 customers at once because I have to make up for the lack of speed that the Family Room Specialist and piss poor quality of the Creative team who are helping out. I usually will work the full eight hour shift with only taking my scheduled lunch break, once in a while I will try to run out for a quick smoke or something to drink.

I know that in the past we’ve received NPS scores that were low due to people helping more than one person at a time. I don’t see how this is going to help better things. If there wasn’t a wait for training maybe we’d be better off, we’re running a 20+ Genii store with about 12 Genii current. The work flow is too much and you know, can’t say anything to upper management because they one “Can’t change it” (since it’s company policy ..atm..) two “we can stay later if you want to” Yeah, I have no problem staying late, but I also don’t like getting raped in taxes at the end of my two weeks. Shit, I pulled in over 16 hours of OT during the iPhone 4 launch and what I made back from that was like $100 after taxes. Why not just increase employee wages while we’re at it.

Another awesome aspect of the whole thing is “After 8PM, repairs will be completed” Well in a perfect world (if this wasn’t launched during the busiest time of the year “Back to School”) this would work flawlessly. Right now we have over 376 repairs (machines & devices) either awaiting service or ready for pick up . That’s a ton almost triple of last year. Also a lot of it has to do with inexperienced people fielding appointments (i.e. FRS/Creatives). Sorry to trail off, but back to the “After 8PM” thing, so at my store the Genii working the bar who are scheduled (1-10,2-11,3-12) we’re informed “..At 8PM finish with your customer and run into the back and start fixing stuff, try to get as much as you can done and we’ll get through this” Well that’d be cool too if the whole “you’re not to be interrupted” thing actually was happening on all fronts. Unfortunately my wonderfully amazing sharp as a tack Store Manager comes in every night around 8:30PM (I almost always close, total night owl) and does the damn Bill Lumberg approach with me, “….sooooooo, ummmmmm… can you come out and help cause it’s sixty-five minutes behind”

I really do hope they at least bring back the Concierge role, maybe just a team of ten people who actually talk back and forth on which customer is actually here and hasn’t just left the store. I hate when a description is put in and then the Specialists switch spots and I go to ask, “Do you know who so and so is?” Know what the answers I get are “I Don’t Know” and “I didn’t check them in”

Hopefully once Back to School is over this will finally work out, but for now this is the worst time of the year for it, hell, even starting this during the Holiday season would’ve been better. Oh and wait until the whole Business thing moves in, that’s gonna be more BS too.

Argh, why do I care so much, they treat me like shit anyway.

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Shock Me July 16, 2010 at 0506

The Stores are extremely crowded. I would be terrified to be a Genius. The last time I was there even making a purchase was a challenge. Most stores in the same mall get by with one or two sales clerks and a manager. My local Apple store had at least 20 blue-shirted staff on the floor actively helping people.

If I were Apple I would hire more sales staff, increase the size of the sales floor, and have a separate place next door to handle Genius work. A training program would also help greatly.

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bcr July 18, 2010 at 1614

Yes! A separate place next door to handle Genius work!! There’s NO reason that the genius bar needs to be in the retail section of the store. Make the entire genius bar into a POS area and use a completely separate room for appointments. This would also stop random customers from going up to the bar to ask a question from a genius who’s already in the middle of the appointment. Sometimes this happens and even when a genius tells them that they can’t help, the customer they’re currently helping gets angry that they took 30 seconds to tell someone they couldn’t help them!

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Former FRS July 29, 2010 at 1153

Working in one of the large urban stores as an FRS, I ended up being terrified to even be that. No matter how many customers I juggled with iPhones and iPods our queue never ran on time. When Apple decided that we would replace broken screens on iPhones we were responsible for finding our own time to train, which of course didn’t happen because if I was lucky enough to have free time, no one else was free to train me.

I left the store just before the iPad came out. I simply couldn’t deal with a store that was completely ignoring my career goals (I may have been the only FRS in my store going for Creative, had finished their last training program, which then didn’t count once the FRS position was created, and I watched for over a year as the store just juggled their current Creatives around. Last time I saw one of my stores promote a part-timer who wanted Creative was a few months after I opened my first store – a small mall store – about 2 years ago.)

I don’t see how the new policies are going to make working the bar any better. It sounds from those still with the company that things are actually worse. Making the geniuses stay until midnight? That is insanity. At this point maybe what Apple needs to do is buy a second space next to each of their existing stores to build a Genius Store in. Go into one to shop, go into the other for service. Seems like the only way to solve the crowding problem. I can relate to everyone here talking about how crowded it is. I can go to my local store during weekday work hours only, which is tricky. Other than that if I need to shop at Apple, I stick to the website.

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Mac Guru July 16, 2010 at 0654

I interviewed at an Apple Store to see what it would be like to work for “the company” and quickly determined that I could never work at an Apple store. I’m a musician, a father, and a 20+ year technology industry veteran. I have a personal life outside of my work like. Balance is the key for anyone to be happy, and what the store wanted me for would have required me to stop being a Dad & Musician. Not Cool! Even after I turned them down in writing, they still contacted me due to my age and experience. When I informed them again that I would not be interested in mandatory weekends or after hour work, they finally stopped contacting me. But they say things happen for a reason…I ended up getting a great job at a university that blows away working for Apple.

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FrMRApple July 16, 2010 at 0745

It’s a retail store. Of course weekends and evenings would be mandatory. That is when there is the business.

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Smarty Pants July 16, 2010 at 1713

I worked at a Store for a short time. It was the most amazing (but horrible) experience that I ever had and I am glad I did it but I did not enjoy a minute of it. I have learned a huge amount about Retail that I would never have. What I only hope is that everyone who works at the Store(s) will have the knowledge and guts to MOVE ON because I see lifers and it’s sad. It’s not just about Apple (which we all love and continue to support) but Retail itself is a crap job. I know some Retail managers will get offended but IMHO it’s just not the kind of career you should aspire to. Apple, McD, Nike, whatever. Use it to pay the bills for a while but learn some skills and then get a REAL JOB. Don’t waste your talents at Retail. If you are only a part-timer then I guess it’s OK. I see some Creatives also building their own business doing video, design, etc. and that’s great. I am most worried about the Genius who have engineering talent and they’re just doing fix-it jobs.

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Erik P. July 16, 2010 at 0709

“Second, the Genius staff will be required to serve several customers at one time, speeding up the flow of repairs.”

While I haven’t worked at an Apple store, I’ve done desktop support for the better part of 15 years and I can tell you that working with more than one user at a time does NOT speed up the flow of repairs. It speeds up the user’s perception of it perhaps, but a tech can only do one repair at a time and sometimes juggling more than one call at a time actually lengthens the time it takes to complete the tasks since you have to keep breaking your workflow to look at a completely different issue. So I’d say that statement is nothing but bunk.

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FrMRApple July 16, 2010 at 0748

If a tech can’t multitask, then they are useless. Every job requires multitasking.

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Erik P. July 16, 2010 at 0901

That is obvious! Of course you have to multitask! As I said I’ve been supporting Macs and PCs professionally since 1996 in both small and enterprise level businesses. I wouldn’t have lasted long if I couldn’t multitask.

My point is that to pretend that you are faster and more efficient when troubleshooting multiple machines is ridiculous. You are still only capable of actually working on a single issue at any given second in time. Multitasking does not mean you are solving problems simultaneously, it means you are switching between problems. Back and forth. What I’ve found is that this can actually cause some brief slowdowns in a high stress environment where distractions are high and problems may be complex. What I was saying is that multitasking, when things are running smoothly, can be more TIME efficient for the tech, but I don’t see it actually getting any of the problems being worked on completed faster. It will always be faster to focus on a single issue till it’s done, then move on, but it won’t be as time efficient for the tech.

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Mass Mac Man July 16, 2010 at 1717

People who say you need to multitask do not know what they are talking about.

Scientific evidence shows that multitasking is detrimental to work quality and speed.

It’s a proven, scientific fact.

People just like to talk about multitasking since Multi-Finder came about in the 198s0.

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Another Anonymous Genius July 16, 2010 at 0754

It’s getting so ridiculous at my store. We are CONSTANTLY about 45-60 minutes behind on appointments. That is WEEKDAYS. Weekends just get worse. It’s impossible to do while you wait repairs because if you hop in the back for 20-30 minutes then the appointment queue just falls even more behind. So we are forced to make everything an overnight repair, but then we have more overnight repairs than we can possible handle and are forced to quote customers 7+ days for their repair, which with the old system we could get done much sooner.

This on top of management pushing us to send out less depot repairs and do everything in-house. It’s literally impossible to keep up. And what about Ongoing Training? YEAH RIGHT.

Luckily we’ve been getting approved for overtime and each Genius has been getting 5+ hours of OT a week just to do repairs late at night. Geniuses have been working 12 hour shifts (voluntarily) to just keep up with things. We’ve also had Geniuses come in for a whole day of overtime just to stay in the back and do repairs.

It’s not just Geniuses, FRS’s and Creatives who help out with the iPod/iPhone side of things are feeling the pressure too.

Customers, understandably so, are frustrated for waiting 60 minutes for their appointment. The feel of 30 customers just staring at you while you work is awful. Our store was bad as it is, now it’s just getting unbearable and many of the Geniuses are looking for other jobs.

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evySF July 17, 2010 at 1452

“The feel of 30 customers just staring at you while you work is awful.”

It would be so much better if the Genius’s had a better way to call their next customer other than us having to hang in the back waiting for a small voice to call out. The video screen can be interesting for the first 10 minutes, but it repeats itself and thus you are staring at the poor overworked Genius’s. I, myself think they are great, but feel real bad to know how hard it is to work there.
Shout out to Chris and, especially Moe from Stonestown. They are great!

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Mike K. July 16, 2010 at 0842

I’ve used the Genius bar in the past, but usually just to find where the fix to a dilemma is hidden or mis-labelled in all the menus. And so it is with any computer and all the techie tricks to make it work! But, the Mac and all the Apple gadgets are the best in the business and that’s why the stores are so crowded. And, like any technical problems, there is always the smart-ass who will try to intimidate the hapless user! It’s been like that ever since College!

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asim July 16, 2010 at 1226

i was just told that they do not do any repairs in the daytime. despite my procare membership, my 20 minute repair will wait until this evening! and, they did not tell me about this when i dropped it off. i think procare members that paid extra for prompt service should have gotten some notice about this.

i am extremely unpleased about this. extremely.

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Phonics Parade Dude July 16, 2010 at 1719

If anything, we all should be much more appreciative of the help we get from the Genius people.

It’s just just “Apple” that we are dealing with. These are real people that are helping us.

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Ex-genius July 17, 2010 at 0734

Everything said here by every current employee I agree with 100%, and is directly why I now no longer work as a Genius.
The job already required us to work harder than we should have had to and payed less than we deserved. They get you to work there by promising you an exciting professional environment which would lead to a corporate job or some other job within Apple that didn’t force you to forsake your social life. Now it is going to get even worse with this “all hands on deck” system.
I remember being taken aside by my lead and being told this new system coming into play. Having done the job already for several years, and being one of the top techs in my store, I know the ramifications that this would bring. So did he, I could see it in his eyes as he was forced to sit there and lie to me about how it will work out and it will be better than it was before. I wasn’t going to have it. I had been lied to for too many years about too many things, and I told him exactly what my opinion was. He wasn’t even upset. He knew it too, but just like me he was going to be forced to take it, and like it.
At this time, I was in the process of moving to a new city and was working on transferring to another store. I had been given the runaround for ~6 months over headcount, no one was returning my calls, and I was simply feeling undervalued. During the time I worked as a genius, I saw the genius role change. They used to hire people with technical ability, personal skills, a desire to perform, so on and so forth. The hiring process takes a LONG time, and as people were constantly quitting, we were typically understaffed by 5 or 6 people. I couldn’t understand why this store I was transferring to couldn’t get the headcount to hire an already trained employee that could immediately be put to work!
The reason why is because 75% of the job was restoring and replacing iPods and iPhones, thus the FRS. They gave the FRS the crappiest parts of the job that require no technical ability to allow the geniuses to focus on what they were good at and uniquely qualified for, repairing computers. This would then allow the FRS to move into the genius role when a positioned opened up. However, for every genius that left, it was replaced with an FRS. Rarely did an actual genius position open as a result of one leaving. FRS were typically taken from Specialists who showed some limited interest in the job. Most of these people had limited technical ability, but they figured that they would learn it on the job. However, I never saw any FRS come up to the skill level of what they used to hire for geniuses. During my transfer attempts, they had the audacity to offer me a spot as an FRS or Specialist. No thanks.
In addition to the FRS, they also were pulling creatives to help out with the iPod / iPhone queue. I won’t even talk about this for long because it just makes me sad. They were supposed to help, but they made it worse. They typically only worked 50% of their bar shift because they had to “prepare” for their upcoming one to one appointment, and they could never do anything quickly. They did about 1/3 the work they were really expected to do during their bar shifts.
Anyway, with all this happening, I realized that I was now part of a dying breed of geniuses that actually could put “genius” on his resume and have it mean something. I told my managers thanks for their “help” with the transfer, but told them to plan to terminate me after I moved and that I would be taking my abilities elsewhere.
I updated my resume, tossed it around a few places near where I would be moving, and very quickly I was given a job based on my “excellent work experience.” Fortunately for me, I also took it upon myself to teach myself networking and OSX Server administration while I was at Apple. Note I said teach myself. There is absolutely no effective method of training for anything useful at work aside from figuring out which of the 5 parts of a computer is broken, how to replace that part, and how to be a grief councilor for sad customers. I purchased my own server and license and Administrators guide, and consulted my fellow GOOD geniuses for help. Best decision I ever made.
Anyway, with my work experience and advanced knowledge, I got a job very quickly as a OSX Server Admin / Network Engineer that pays more, has better hours, provides a path to advancement, allows me to work with more professionals, allows me to wear something different than a blue shirt with a lame slogan on it, and allows me to advance my knowledge. I can also now take my lunch break at my discretion without either being bothered by my co-workers during my break, or by mall patrons. I don’t have to stand all day, deal with stupid questions from customers AND employees all day, and I no longer get lied to by my boss(es). I am also respected again.

The point of this is, if you are one of the few remaining good geniuses, you owe it to yourself to get out while you can. You still have some job skills, and other companies still see the genius role as an admirable job experience. This will not be the case soon. Apple’s genius support quality is going down the toilet and that will be noticed by customers, employees, and future employers. The genius role will soon be about as exciting as the geek squad, and about as admired. Soon, you won’t even be able to respect yourself if no one else does anymore.

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Joshua - former genus July 17, 2010 at 0903

All the comments were pretty fair and reflect my own experience, unhappily.

The sad part is the problem could be solved so easily: 5 bucks an appointment.

It would reduce the number of appointments, fund additional staff, and encourage respect from customers. No one respects a free service. If people had to pay they’d think they were getting something valuable.

That’s my sense of it.

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Ivan July 17, 2010 at 0907

With asshats like Marty running the show it’s no wonder the service business has turned into a shirt-folding Old Navy-like hell hole. He has surrounded himself with a team of yes men that for all their rhetoric of empathy lack such an ability themselves. The leadership is a direct breed of Ron Johnson himself who would never get of his high-horse, or mazaradi, to actually listen and effect change. Customers could ask a million times for a clear place in each store to pay for products but that would never happen because ron knows best what customers want. Want clear signage about how to use the services of the store? It’ll never happen so long as he’s around, signs aren’t ‘Apple-y’. If you still work as a Genius or otherwise at a store get out and find your true passion. It’s okay to just be a fan and it feels great once you’re no longer shouldering their success. It’s Ron who gets the multi-million dollar stock options not you in the trenches.

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Fred Medic July 17, 2010 at 1020

The goals are clear. A short sighted more for less scheme.

Smoke and mirrors. Store management is tasked with do or die.

The employees get tossed under the bus.

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Aaron July 17, 2010 at 1309

All these comments are extremely true to the point that it hurts. I quit my job as a Genius back in March and over 150 applications later, am still unemployed because I “only seem to know about Apple”. My last three jobs were with Apple or Apple related. They refuse to re-hire me because I chose to resign after being told to “sleep in my car” when I asked for information about a transfer (I was commuting 55-60 miles both ways, five days a week).

In any case, for the time I spent as a Genius, it was like these planned changes and more. Now they’re just coming out and saying it in the open. We were always told, “just hunker down and in 6 weeks we’ll get one more Genius”, uh sure. Eventually more people did come in but the sheer amount of customers is just too overwhelming to do an effective job. I also agree with charging for appointments. It actually gives a value to what they come in for.

As much as Apple was a pain in the ass to work for, the pay and benefits are definitely things I miss now but it’s a very dangerous precedent when a multi-billion dollar company is making people choose between their sanity and their livelihoods.

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FormerFRS July 29, 2010 at 1206

Amen Aaron!

My sanity won the battle after I started suffering panic attacks due to the 5-hour sleep schedule my long commute had forced me into.

And despite being able to prove to employers that I can teach myself software in a matter of an hour (my FRS goal was to be a Creative, and I had finished GYO training for it in addition to teaching myself Motion, Photoshop, and moving on to Color in my spare time), I can’t say I’m proficient in Microsoft Outlook (since Microsoft has only just saw it fit to think about putting Outlook on Macs), and thus no one thinks I know how to work a computer. It’s absolute insanity!

I was told similar things about Creative – meet the goals and we’ll get a new spot. Well, I watched one hopeful Creative get promoted to the position about 2 years ago, and since then have watched current Creatives be shuffled between stores rather than promoting someone who wanted the position, and was qualified for it several times over, into the position.

My fellow coworkers were amazing, and I loved working with them even if we were all miserable at the end of a shift. But I simply couldn’t keep working when Corporate kept ignoring the reality of what their employees needed.

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Genius'wife July 19, 2010 at 1156

My husband is a genius and is experiencing all the same things as mentioned above. Longer hours, understaffed, no help from management. He and I are die hard Apple fans, so when they approached him to work for them, he was to the moon excited. BUT with the retail hours, I rarely get to see him. He’s been there for a few years now and loves his job, but between the new late hours and the upper management not supporting them, he is the most stressed he has ever been in his life, its not fun anymore. They are losing techs left and right, they lost lead genius after lead genius, each time he goes out for it since he helps do the role in the meantime, only to get told that he isn’t qualified. The manager even told him they want to save money by not hiring a replacement when one of the employees can do it without the pay increase. He is now the only original tech hired before that store opened. Its sad really. Apple has loyal fans and loyal employees. They are going to screw over too many employees to “better help the customers”, but they aren’t going to be getting the service they used to because all the knowledgeable techs are leaving to do other less stressful jobs. Its got to be looked at. He won’t give up on the company, I just hope they can open their eyes and see what they are doing to their own employees!

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used to be a genii July 19, 2010 at 1901

i used to be a genius. pretty good one. I could handle several people at once and sell attachments. The store I worked at had one of the top staff (for a non flagship store) and only 1 is left at the store (now a manager) the others went to work for other local aasps’ or a big mac friendly business. Why did we leave ? We wanted a m-f (and almost all of us got a raise in moving jobs) and just consistency. Apple is a great company I was their for more than 8 years and worked 6 christmas’s in retail. I do miss it sometimes but everytime I think about going back I remember the retail side (like christmas , iphone launches) while fun they are stressful and you are faced with having a life with your family or working.

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girl genius July 24, 2010 at 2130

I used to be a genius in one of the flagship stores. Watched colleague after colleague get lied to, offered promotions that never materialized. We were worked to the bone. I was one of the most senior and knowledgable geniuses, after 4 years with the company and my colleagues looked up to me.I got no respect from management, got frequently sexually harassed by customers, and was offered almost no accommodation for an injury suffered at the job. Quit back in June and have never been happier.

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BOHMaN July 30, 2010 at 2117

All comments made by former and currents employees are very true. I’m not a genius, but I feel all apple retail emploees are over worked and underpaid. Sure it’s retail, but the crap we have to put up with all day sucks. There are times I want to call a fire Marshall because I am sure we have exceeded our smaller stores capacity. Sadly I would love to see my store get shut down because there was too many people in the store. I hope apple gets it in thre head to stop walking all over their retail employees.

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current Genius August 3, 2010 at 0102

Everything you guys said was true. There is no need for me to add to the BS list of complaints that swirl in my head. I literally am so over the 3-12 shifts that I could shoot myself. My wife and I are having problems now in our relationship and the work load is really in-fucking-sane. I love Apple products but the way they run the retail side of things is a fucking joke. I love my co-workers but the asses up at Cupertino who run the retail division of Apple need a fucking reality check…its utter BS what we have to put up with everyday without much compensation. I am not planning on getting rich at this job but Apple please pay your Genii more you greedy bastards..Raises are coming up soon and I can’t wait to see what excuse they come up with in regards to getting a fucking 3% raise..hahaha Considering Apple is making bucket loads of money they sure don’t fucking share it…

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Another Anonymous Genius August 7, 2010 at 1719

We are just about to hit 100 repairs Part Allocated in our store. We also just hit a new record of being over 80 minutes behind at the Genius Bar.

Before this new system the most repairs I saw waiting to be worked on was probably about 25 and this was an extreme rarity.

ITS JUST NOT WORKING.

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BOHMaN August 7, 2010 at 2126

I agree the new system is not working. All I have seen is mass pandemonium in our store. We also have gotten way behind on the genius bar. Not as bad as 80 minutes. But 30 is enough to drive you crazy. Sad thing is we get behind 30 minutes and can’t catch up at all without cutting our customer service short. Hell we have people swapping small devices that arnt certified. That’s how bad it’s getting.

Repairs usually took 2 days at most. Now we are quoting 4-5 just to give us room to breath. It’s a joke and we can’t do this much longer. Some of us are threatening to quite just because of the stress it is causing. Apple might be trying to provide better customer service, but they are alienating their faithful employees!! It keeps going like this they will only hurt the brand called Apple.

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Long Time Genius August 23, 2010 at 0520

First of all a correction to the article. There are no “early morning” repair shifts. Repairs can only be done between 8pm and midnight or while the customer waits. We’ve asked repeatedly to be able to shift that to a 6am to 10am repair shift and corporate has said no with various bullshit reasons why.

My store has gone from one of the top stores in company to crap in short time this “new family room” nonsense has been in effect. Our repair times have more than doubled. I have nearly 100 machines with parts allocated waiting to be repaired. Just as a point of reference, before these changes we would start feeling cramped if we had 30 machine with parts allocated. We have machine stacked 15 high. I feel sorry for who’s ever macbook is on the bottom of these piles.

We have no other choice. We simply have no room for the number of machines we have in our cage. In fact machines are pretty much everywhere in the BOH (back of house). Before these changes we use to get nearly two repairs done per hour of repair time. Now we are lucky if we get one repair done. Repairs are getting so far behind we are thinking about closing the genius bar for a couple of days just to get caught back up.

All my fellow genii now hate coming to work. We went from one of the most motivated, couldn’t wait to get to work teams to a group of people who feel like they have been betrayed. Someone has has sold Marty a bill of goods. Who ever came up with this needs to be fired and Ron Johnson needs to apologize to all the genii and promise nothing like this will ever happen again. Short of that, it’s time for a Union folks. I have never thought a Union was a good idea until now. They need to stop thinking of as lines in family room scheduler and start thinking of us a people again. Real people with lives and families.

Work/Life balance use to be something Apple was truly concerned with, at least at my store. Not anymore. Conference calls have gotten to be a joke. On the last one someone from corporate actually congratulated us on some of the crappiest numbers we have ever seen company wide. They are just trying to cheer us on from the sidelines. They have to see how bad things are. The numbers don’t lie. I know they are hearing all the complaints. But they are still pushing this nightmare forward like it’s best idea we’ve had since the iPod. Someone’s corporate job is riding on this.

They need to stop promoting store managers to family room corporate gigs and find some genii. I know only one guy on Marty’s team that was a genius. And he hasn’t been a genius in over 5 years. The job has changed so much in that time. The stores are ridiculously crowded. Apple keeps trying to do everything on the cheap. This never use to be the case. If there was a problem I honestly felt like they would spare no expense to solve it. Here’s what I mean. They see a problem in our stores with access. We have more customers needing the genius bar than we have ever seen before.

So what is Apple’s response to this problem? More Genii? Bigger and more stores? Nope. Apple thinks the problem is genii aren’t working hard enough. Thus the “Active Queue Management” idiocy. So when we run out of appointments they are just going to open more queues, even though we have no one to run those queues. Again this is a creation of someone with no real world experience.

Genius bar appointments are 15 or 20 minutes depending on which store you go to. On average that works. But customer’s aren’t averages, they are people. Sometimes their problems take longer to fix than 15 minutes. But the good news is that we get our fair share of 5 and 10 minutes problems. So we have time to help the ones that take longer to fix. Well, forget all that now nice customer, move along. Because I have to help three people in the same time I was expected to help one. That right folks. Apple thinks we should be able to help three customers in the same amount of time we use to help one.

So if your problem is a little more involved, sorry. I have an iPod shuffle that needs to be swapped and some latte drenched MacBook that the customer insists should be covered under warranty that I need to help at the same time as I’m helping you. All in all this is the worst mistake Apple has ever made. This very well could be the downfall of Apple Retail.

We have lost our core. We use to say our number one resource, our soul, is our people. Well now our number one resource, our soul is our staffed bar hours and nothing else matters.

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UK Genius August 24, 2010 at 1614

The new family room schedule is a joke, so you think that if we can’t see everyone we just open up more ques! I have the solution to that, it creates stress for the employee and the feeling of poor customer service to the customer who is now not getting a 121 personal service but is juggled between another customer.

Then let’s make geniuses work later with out asking them or paying them any more, we will make you work on the bar for 6 hours as glorified sales assistants multi tasking your ass off till your brain is fried then rush you upstairs to do as much repairs as you can in a shorter space of time than you previously had, some days you would get 4 hours repair time before, now you get 3 if your lucky, but guess what according to corporate this will increase the amount of repairs, for fuck sake do the maths, less repair time and tired geniuses and more bar time equals longer waits, longer waits to get things repaired, pissed off customers and fed up geniuses, apple have got it so wrong, for a forward thinking company they have just totally missed the point, won’t be long before a genius jumps of the roof or hangs himself in the GR. And that’s the truth.

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un-geniied August 28, 2010 at 1616

My store was part of the pilot program for this. We raised every concern listed here by all of you. When Apple began rolling out the “New Family Room” early this summer. I forwarded the pdf to myself and was fired. I went though the Apple appeal process, it’s a joke. I was fired because I didn’t fit the new genius mold. I had been a Genius for 5 years. Everyone one of my reviews in 5 years resulted in a rating of a “Solid Contributor”. I had one write up in my file from the days of the “pilot program”. I love Apple, I love my coworkers. I despise Apple Retail. They do not care about employees. Stop drinking that retail kool-aid Genii. Its not worth it and your worth more. Ask for advancement, ask for a raise and watch your store leaders stumble over their words. I admit I made a mistake, but not to the point of termination. Walk away now. Unless your young, single and making less then 30k. Because thats what Apple wants for Genii now.

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Not Alone! August 28, 2010 at 2218

I’m very, VERY glad to see that I’m not alone in feeling this way. The new “Family Room” has struck me as bullsh*t since day one. There are some nice points to it (though I’m currently struggling to think of even one…..), but as a whole, I feel like Apple is killing retail. New hires are being offered 20% less than I was when I was hired in over 3 years ago. But wait, RECORD SALES! RECORD PROFITS! Glad someone’s pockets are getting lined, just wish they’d send the wealth on down the line. There was a time at which I would be very concerned if we had repairs with parts allocated in our store for more than 2 days. Now, we’ve hit over 70, with many of those people waiting 8-9+ days for their computers, employee stress at an all time high, and people declining job offers due to crappy pay. I really can’t wait for the system to fail (as I sincerely hope it does…) and Apple to realize that what they’re doing will severely tarnish their reputation as a company.

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Current Genii August 29, 2010 at 0159

I have to completely agree with the other genii posts in this thread. I’ve got years of genii experience, and boy have things changed, for the worse. We finally got hour PA down to zero recently, but that’s because our store broke the rules and told corporate to fuck off. We were repairing during normal store hours and into 8-12 (not just those 4 hours, ahem 3 hours). Our PA was over 100, and it was the ONLY way to get caught back up, and we were working like madmen at that. The fact that they introduced this new program during Back to School is the most idiotic business decision I have ever been witness to. Who the hell is running this in Cupertino? GOOD GOD. Every single person in my store thought the new program rollout was a complete joke, from genii, FRS, and even got some “indirect opinions” from management. The math doesn’t even add up.

Here’s the breakdown for the new genii schedule. Add lots more appointments, cut repair time in half, reduce quality of life for all geniuses, later hours, no raises, do 2-3 times more in the same amount of time (which is nearly impossible). But hey, Apple just made 50 Billion Dollars. WHAT THE FUCK!

Our quality of life sucks now, genii come in talking about their marriages and relationships falling apart because of it, and we’re now being worked harder than ever, yet profits are at record all time highs. Apple is not a unicorn, and they don’t care about their employees, which I’ve personally seen on multiple fronts, from corporate. They’re a corporation that wants to make a shitload of money like any other, but put on an enchanted magical unicorn face covered in glitter.

All I can say is I sincerely hope this new program fails hard…like a total disaster, so whoever implemented it gets canned, the 3-12AM shifts disappear, and we can all attempt to return to part of what was our social lives. I used to enjoy my job, but now working at Apple has sucked more than ever.

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current employee September 2, 2010 at 1908

it’s aaaallllll about the fake appointments, in fact, i should book some now.

i ashamed of myself that i am a genius, it’s the worst decision i have ever made in my entire life.

crapplestore.blogspot.com

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Brad M September 5, 2010 at 2139

Maybe we should all show more of our customers just how miserable we are so it affects their NetPromoter score of the stores in a big way. Then corporate will lose their sh*t and try something different.

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current genius October 14, 2010 at 0719

as a current genius, i have to echo all the things said here. it does not really bear repeating, it’s just kind of a relief to know that i am not alone. the company doesn’t give a shit about us. i’ve even taken my concert to hr, only to be told that there is nothing they can do.

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Snowman January 5, 2012 at 1204

Just think Mr. Cook gets a 100,000,000 dollars while you losers do all the work. If he works 48 weeks a year (4 weeks of vacation) he makes about $52,083 a hour. How much do you make a hour? Doesn’t seem right does it? Its not! And that not all the money he will get, this article suggest it to be over $400,000,000 million if he stays till 2021 so basically in his time with apple he will make $208,000 an hour!!!

http://www.macrumors.com/2012/01/05/apple-ceo-tim-cook-set-to-reap-nearly-100-million-in-vesting-stock-this-quarter/

Actually he is the loser and you guys rock! I feel bad for you and as I customer I am pissed as well. I am tired of corporate american treating people like dirt. I wish I could just drop Apple like I did Walmart.

Here’s a thought and this is just my opinion … starting working together and play hard ball, compare wages, form a union, stop drinking the cool aid and demand something for your proven success and hard work. Strike! It is your legal right to do this. Don’t be afraid of them. Its your job to make your job and better place for you and everyone you work with. As one of the biggest and most successful companies in the world its in everyone best interest to take them on. It is your time to shine and take on the evil empire before they build the death star!

Go after management, hold the company responsible to any of the illegal violations they are probably doing everyday. Keep getting the world out and go after the reputation. Apple does not want to be perceived in any bad light. They don’t want the public to think they don’t take care of the retail employees

Your doing so much as should be rewarded for all of your tremendous efforts. The stock is going to soar and all that will happen is your going to make the management richer & richer. You will never get ahead regardless of your position.

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