Apple stores: Crazy customers and homeless webcasters

An Apple employee spills the secrets of Apple store life to Popular Mechanics.

What happens in the secret world of Apple stores? Apparently a lot of things: evil customers, homeless webcasts, and drug dealers--at least, according to an anonymous Apple store employee who recently dished to Popular Mechanics .

Some of the employee's experiences are pretty much what we expect to hear about an Apple work experience. For example, the employee says store employees are kept in the dark before product launches--well, duh, Apple is known for its secrecy. I didn't know employees could be fired for speculating on future products, but this does fall in line with my experiences.

Also, Apple "feeling like a cult" is no big shocker, either. After all, the Apple cult isn't called a cult for, well, nothing. As for answering the phones being a nightmare, I don't think this is exclusive to the Apple phone room--I've worked at companies where I've had to answer phones, and I've gotten my share of customers looking for a therapist.

A few of the employee's work experiences, however, seem suspect. Namely, this one:

"We get a lot of drug dealers who try to buy iPhones with fake IDs. You can tell them instantly just by how shady they act, and they know you know, but you obviously can't start accusing them of being drug dealers-they are customers, after all. But when they try to check out, they'll use what are obviously fake IDs or fake credit cards, and it often turns out they're using a dead person's Social Security number or something. And when you call them out on that-then, they run."

Is it just me, or does that story seem a little made up? As Gawker points out, how do the employees know they're drug dealers, as opposed to other sketchy people? Why drugs, specifically? Lots of people are shady, but aren't necessarily drug dealers. Also, the dead person's Social Security number scam? The last time I purchased an Apple product (in November 2010), nobody asked me for my Social.

I highly doubt Apple employees are running SSN background checks on "sketchy" looking people purchasing products. In fact, another anecdotal incidence--my husband, who prides himself on looking like some wrong-side-of-the-tracks drug dealer (think long hair, tattoos, all that stuff), likes to buy Apple products using all cash. He purchased a MacBook Pro just last year and nobody asked for any identifying information, save for his email address.

Just sounds a bit romanticized to me--like when you see someone who might be a drug dealer and then you go around telling everyone you know that you, like, totally sold an iPhone to a drug dealer the other day. Yeah, right.

A few other accounts stand out as, well, exaggerated--"evil customers," for example, as well as homeless people using public computers to give live webcasts. I live across the street from an Apple store, and the hundreds of customers I've seen are polite and, frankly, boring. I'm probably the most outspoken one there, and that's because I work for PCWorld so I'm always trying to get the inside scoop (though they'll never give it to me, because they don't know and speculation will get them fired).

Gizmodo's Kat Hannaford seems to have had the same experience--it's too bad we don't live in the rougher section of town where customers go insane and drug dealers stalk the streets in search of iPhones. Though, admittedly, there are some crazy customers out there--but Apple, as I said before, doesn't have the market cornered on that.

As for the homeless-person-webcast, I'd love, love, love a link to this webcast. That would simply be awesome.

But these are just my experiences, and I want to hear yours. So, who's seen a customer go crazy? A homeless person livecast? A drug dealer get the smackdown from undercover security agents? Stories, people!

Follow Sarah on Twitter (@geeklil) or on Facebook

This story, "Apple stores: Crazy customers and homeless webcasters" was originally published by PCWorld.

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