Former Apple Employees On What It's Really Like To Work There

We've already brought you true confessions from Starbucks and Sephora employees. Now, we're taking a look at what it's like to work at Apple. Do they get free unlimited iPhones? Is AppleCare a scam? Is there anything you can do to get a new phone for free when you shatter your screen?

Ahead, former Apple retail employees — speaking on the condition of anonymity — share tips, tricks, and just plain fascinating details about what it was really like to work at the world's most famous tech company, in their own words. Read on for answers to the above questions, and more.

Illustrated by Abbie Winters.
Don't be late for work.
"When I worked at Apple [several years ago], they had a very strict policy on employees being late for their shifts. You could be late up to three times in a year, and then you'd get a verbal warning. If you had a verbal, you could be ineligible for a promotion. After three verbals, you'd get a written warning. After three writtens, you were out. Suffice it to say that people did what they could to be on time."
Illustrated by Abbie Winters.
AppleCare was key.
"When I worked there, we were tasked with pushing one product harder than any other — and it wasn't the iPhone or MacBook. It was AppleCare. The philosophy was that the computers are gonna sell themselves, and the real profit was in the more intangible products like .Mac or AppleCare (which was literally packaged in an empty box). As with any insurance policy, there's a calculus being made that not everyone will cash in on the policy's total value, which can be hugely profitable — not that there's anything wrong with that. It is a business, after all."
Illustrated by Abbie Winters.
...That doesn't mean AppleCare is a waste.
"You should definitely invest in AppleCare, especially on more expensive devices (like your computer), but you should also use it. Meaning, if anything is wrong with your laptop — literally, anything — bring it in and get it fixed. Otherwise you are effectively paying for insurance without reaping the benefits of having it. Plus, if a small hardware defect or software issue gets worse after your AppleCare policy has expired, you'll have to pay to fix or replace it, which could be much more pricey.

"Also worth noting: If Apple has to fix your hard drive more than three times, it's may be cheaper for them to just give you a new computer."
Illustrated by Abbie Winters.
You can often get a free replacement device if you know what to say.
"You can usually get a broken or defective Apple device fixed or replaced for free if you know what to say when you bring it to the Genius Bar. Say you drop your iPhone at a party and shatter the screen. You want a new phone, but Apple's warranty doesn't cover that, since it was your negligence that caused it to break. But suppose there's another legitimate issue with your phone — maybe the battery is dying faster than it should. Then you have a solid case for getting a new phone. Bring it into the Genius Bar and just focus on the problem with the battery. Chances are they'll either fix the screen and the battery, or give you a new phone at no charge if it's still under the one-year warranty or covered by AppleCare."
Illustrated by Abbie Winters.
Inventory goes missing sometimes.
"A lot of merchandise disappears from Apple stores, and it's just chalked up to 'shrink' — i.e., inventory that gets damaged and can't be sold, or stuff that goes missing during shipping or distribution. Apple tries to keep their shrink at 0%, but in my experience, it was significantly higher. However, I'm not suggesting that employees were casually stealing merch; in fact, workers' bags were searched every time they left the store, even to go on break."
Illustrated by Abbie Winters.
Some Apple employees really love Apple.
"There are more people working in each Apple store than you might realize. In the one where I worked, located in a busy neighborhood in a major city, there were around 500 full- and part-time employees. For some of them, working at Apple is just a job; they may not even know a lot about computers or use Macs in their personal lives. But for others, it's practically a cult. In my time there, I saw more than a few Genius Bar employees who got the company logo tattooed on their bodies."
Illustrated by Abbie Winters.
Yes, the Apple Store has regulars.
"Most Apple stores have a cast of 'regulars' - i.e., people (sometimes slightly unsavory) who come in every day to use the display computers for hours on end, like it's a Starbucks or their own personal office. Most of the employees on the floor know who these people are. But Apple will never kick someone out for loitering. Inappropriate sites are blocked from the in-store devices, so it's not like people are coming in and watching porn. But you can spend all day looking at Google Earth, and no one will ever ask you to leave."
Illustrated by Abbie Winters.
Apple employees do get perks — but not advance info.
"When the first generation iPhone was released, all full-time employees got one for free. In my time there, everyone also received an annual 25% discount on one computer, and three 15% discounts for friends and family to use each year.

"But what you don't get is information about new products or features before the public. We learned about the big announcements at exactly the same time as everyone else, contrary to the popular belief that if you work at Apple, you have some sort of insider advance knowledge."