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Businesses The Almighty Buck Apple

Apple Store Employees Soak Up the Atmosphere, But Not Much Cash 654

raque writes "The NYTimes is reporting on just how badly Apple Retail employees are being paid. Apple is exploiting its fan base for cheap labor. This is one reason I don't go to Apple Stores if I can avoid it. Stores like NY's Tekserve offer a great shopping experience without so exploiting their workers." Would you rather start at an Apple store for $11.91 an hour (average starting base pay, according to the linked article) and an employee discount, or at Tiffany for $15.60?
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Apple Store Employees Soak Up the Atmosphere, But Not Much Cash

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  • You don't work at the Apple Store to make any sort of serious cash. There are many better conduits for people to travel down in both IT and sales if money is a concern. People work there for the *coolness* factor. It's about as hot as working for Google or Facebook, and employee discounts are never a bad thing. Its also an easy experience builder for people, especially given the floor traffic.

    And not to nitpick, but $10/hr ain't bad. Especially if you're earning tips.
  • by ThatsMyNick ( 2004126 ) on Saturday June 23, 2012 @07:42PM (#40424441)

    So how many employees usually last beyond the first few months? Or in other words, what the ratio of new employees to well established employees be, at any point of time, in the store?

  • by tkrotchko ( 124118 ) on Saturday June 23, 2012 @07:50PM (#40424477) Homepage

    At the risk of being redundant, these are retail clerk jobs, and don't require a whole lot of skill.

    People walk into the store ready to buy a computer. I've never seen a clerk in an Apple store actually sell someone a computer who didn't already want one.

  • by grif_91 ( 1674902 ) on Saturday June 23, 2012 @08:00PM (#40424537)
    I second this. I work as a corrections officer in Kansas, working with >800 inmates Minimum to Maximum security inmates five days a week, and I only make $12.98/hour, with very bleak outlook in the way of raises.
  • In many cases, Tiffany wouldn't hire them. I've never seen anyone with two-inch gauges and tattoos from wrist to shoulder working at Tiffany.

    I'm somewhat surprised that Apple hires them -- not that they don't do a good job, but few companies would hire such for public-facing positions. I think Apple has tapped a good employee resource there; bright, competent young people who've made personal appearance choices that generally disqualify them for customer-facing jobs better-paid than 7-11. And it probably does allow them to pay a little less.

  • by MacTO ( 1161105 ) on Saturday June 23, 2012 @08:10PM (#40424629)

    In a lot of respects, I agree with that assessment. Yet I'd add a caveat: the value of an employee depends upon how much they contribute to the company's bottom line. This favours Apple employees: fast food involves a lot of labour for a low cost product.

  • by slippyblade ( 962288 ) on Saturday June 23, 2012 @08:17PM (#40424677) Homepage

    Every one of the numbers tossed around in this article make me gag. Those wages, even pre-raise, are ridiculously high for an entry level retail job. And as for your $30 and hour for the "genius" bar?? Please. My sister is an RN - you know - the people in the hospital that save your life? - and she gets about $25 an hour. I've NEVER heard of an IT position, especially one attached to a retail operation, making that.

  • by NicBenjamin ( 2124018 ) on Saturday June 23, 2012 @08:18PM (#40424681)

    Minimum wage is the norm. I work for a pretty good employer (Home Depot), and I get a raise whenever minimum wage goes up. I do not get the opportunity to work inside in air conditioning. I am expected to help people load their cars with their purchases, which more then once have literally weighed a ton (50 40 lb bags). My option for advancement exist, but none would get me to $11.91/hr. I do not get an employee discount of any kind, on anything. I could have benefits, but they require premiums and on $8/hr premiums are impossible.

  • by Fjandr ( 66656 ) on Saturday June 23, 2012 @08:43PM (#40424875) Homepage Journal

    You can be forward-thinking and still be realistic about how companies typically select employees for public-facing positions.

    In addition, swillden's description was probably the most non-judgmental analysis of that particular employee issue I've read to date. The only real implicit judgment in the statement was actually in regard to his assumptions about Apple, not the people they hire for front-line retail positions.

  • by geoskd ( 321194 ) on Saturday June 23, 2012 @08:47PM (#40424905)

    I admit, I'm a bit of an Apple hater sometimes. It's their attitude, towards thinking they own basic concepts, but I digress. I did a quick check to see what competing retailers are paying.

    Best Buy sales associate $9.70: [] Fry's Electronics sales associate $9.19: []

    Not in New York City they're not, and that is what the New York Times is talking about. Yes, Much of the country starts people at ~$9 / hr, but in NYC, $9 / hr is starvation wage. $12 / hr will pay for food and possibly rent, but thats about it. Glassdoor uses the nationwide numbers, and the number of retails sales people in rural areas far outweighs the numbers in the major metropolitan areas. That is why the major met areas pay more, because each individual sales person does more volume by virtue of being in a target rich environment.


  • by CodeBuster ( 516420 ) on Saturday June 23, 2012 @09:37PM (#40425257)

    Living wages leave them unemployed unless they happen to be worth those wages.

    Precisely. What the living wage people either forget or ignore is that the alternative to a "living wage" job is not a lower paid one, but no job at all. So the real effect of a "living wage" law is to ensure that anyone whose labor cannot justify a wage that's at least as high as the "living wage" shall remain unemployed. To hire someone who's labor cannot justify the "living wage" is to engage in charity and many small business owners cannot afford to be that generous.

  • by maccodemonkey ( 1438585 ) on Saturday June 23, 2012 @10:05PM (#40425449)

    Are they contractors? If they don't get benefits and have to pay their own taxes, etc. then it's not quite that ridiculous.

    If they're benefits-getting employees, wow.

    From my understand, they're real employees with benefits.

    The benefits alone puts them a step above most people in this economy.

  • by SuperKendall ( 25149 ) on Saturday June 23, 2012 @11:31PM (#40425955)

    12/hour isn't a living wage in a lot of places.

    And why should it be?

    If you pay everyone at ANY job a living wage, how are teenagers supposed to find work? They do not NEED a living wage. They would rather you hire two of them instead of one on a living wage, so they both can work.

    It's no surprise teenage unemployment is skyrocketing, with a whole generation of kids unable to gain the valuable experience of working - and it's all thanks to people like you who REALLY do not understand the full job market and all the roles it plays throughout someones lifetime.

  • by Space cowboy ( 13680 ) on Saturday June 23, 2012 @11:37PM (#40425997) Journal

    One of us doesn't understand capitalism.

    "If you (1) work hard and (2) have the talent, you can achieve greatness."

    This sounds pretty much like the ideal statement of how to get on in a capitalistic society. You need to put the effort in, and you need to have intrinsic value. If you don't have *both* of those, you're screwed. That's how capitalism works - it's a re-definition of "selfishness" as applied to the working environment because the crux of the system is that the workforce is working for private owners, not the government. Those private owners do their best to exploit their employees to maximize their profit, because, well, they think the money ought to be in *their* hands rather than their employees.

    Your plea is that not everyone has intrinsic value, and so they are screwed; that's not fair to them and ought not be tolerated (which I agree with, for what it's worth). Unfortunately, what you're suggesting is that the US adopt a more-socialist outlook, and the raving loonies on the right, as well as a lingering distrust of communism (unfortunately conflated with socialism) from the US-vs-Russia days make that ... unlikely.

    Socialism isn't the worst thing in the world. Example: in the UK, when a car hit me on my motorbike, the police, fire brigade (the bike was in flames) and ambulance were there in minutes (these are all socialised services), I was taken to hospital, operated on, cared for and released a week or so later. Cost to me at the time: $0 - healthcare is socialised as well - everyone pays a little (much less than I pay for health insurance in the US now, for example) and no-one ever goes bankrupt because of medical fees... In addition, I obtained grants (from the government) to go to college, and the govt. paid me to do a PhD, not the other way around. This is more socialism.

    The UK is still a capitalistic society because capitalism is a fine way to harness the innate desire to better oneself. I'm happy about this - I was free to create a startup company, go bust, create another and sell it for a handsome profit - in a non-capitalistic society that would have been far harder to do. I do like the socialist safety nets that underpin UK society though, my theory goes like this: capitalism is like a fine blade - it's a lot better when it's tempered. The problem for a lot of Americans seems to be that one uses Socialism to temper Capitalism, then you get the best of both worlds by treading the middle-path rather than veering too far to the right or to the left. As it stands, the US is in danger of veering so far to the right that I'm not even sure it could come back without some major upheaval in US society. This is the major reason I haven't switched citizenship - I used to joke that retaining my UK citizenship (even though I'm married with a kid) was the fallback plan. It's not a joke any more, I doubt my long-term future is in the US - once I've made enough cash, we'll probably be off.


  • by Dan541 ( 1032000 ) on Sunday June 24, 2012 @02:08AM (#40426755) Homepage

    Apple store is a touch above that since it's either computer work (genius bar) or customer service. (people on the floor)

    Both positions are just retail sale jobs.
    The customer service people sell products and the "Genius" Bar get people to buy replacements.

  • by roman_mir ( 125474 ) on Sunday June 24, 2012 @09:24AM (#40428535) Homepage Journal

    Seriously? How many people should go to work and spend 4 years working with low pay and gain work experience but be free of government debt while getting more valuable as a worker over these 4 years instead of taking yet another sociology course with borrowed money?

    By the way, are you a proponent of minimum wage? Because if your question: "if you are not earning a living wage, seriously, why?" is truly a question, then the answer is obvious: people want to get experience, learn something on a job and eventually move on to better paying positions.

    Now can you answer this question for me: I have been working for myself for a few years, not paying myself any salary while building my software, according to your theory I shouldn't be doing it, right? I mean as a contractor I was making 15-22K per month, so I should have just kept doing it and instead I quit contracting and used the savings to build my own capital (capital, as in means of production), so what do you say to all the people who just do things without getting paid? Inventors, investors, writers, composers, musicians, etc? So what about people who work not even for a paycheck, but hoping/betting that their investment will pay off at some point? They can lose, it's easy to lose on an investment, it's easy to fail in business.

Disks travel in packs.