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My iLife: Ex-Apple Employee Tells All
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My iLife: Ex-Apple Employee Tells All

I worked in an Apple call centre for three months just before the first iPhone was released (yes, I got to hold one...

My iLife: Ex-Apple Employee Tells All

I worked in an Apple call centre for three months just before the first iPhone was released (yes, I got to hold one and play around with it before it came out). My contract was temporary, and it was the first job I had after completing university as a mature student. I’d just finished a four-month application process for a copywriter position at IKEA HQ in Sweden, only to be turned down in the end. Four months of encouragement culminating in an eventual let down did not make me enthusiastic about looking for a similar job in the same country, so I set my sights abroad. I was hired by Apple over the phone only a few days after applying.

 

Apple has call centres around the world, many of which are subcontracted to other companies. I was fortunate enough to work at the European Headquarters in Cork, Ireland, a place so important that Steve Jobs never visited. That was the rumour, anyway. A Fortune article claims he was there to open it in 1980. Still, in 2007 that was as good as never. Not that Mr Jobs needed much defending in that particular workplace — I found Apple’s offices to be well stocked with fanboys and fangirls.

 

Cork, Republic of Ireland:

 

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Why is Apple Europe based in Ireland? The Emerald Isle has a 12.5% corporate tax rate, that’s why. IBM, Amazon, Dell, and EMC all agree with Apple on that count. This may have had something to do with Ireland having the largest amount of private helicopter pads per capita, but not much in the way of good public services like transport and libraries.

 

Though Cork’s HQ can’t compete with Cupertino, with its massive planned spaceship building, Apple Europe is not a little backwater, despite what the horses wandering around the car park may tell you. It houses some 3,300 staff from all over Europe and beyond. Cork is, in fact, home to several of Apple’s global subsidiaries, including Apple Sales International, Apple Operations International, and Apple Distribution International. It’s also got a great salad bar in its partially subsidised cafeteria, where I wolfed down too many calories in too little time (25-minute lunches are not a perk).

 

A common sight on the way to work:

 

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What are considered “secrets” on the Internet are often anything but. For example, the fact that Apple exploits cheap labour in China is not exactly classified information. Every big tech firm does it, often at the very same factories that Apple uses. It may seem like a secret to people who don’t bother to read about such things. Yes, they are secretive about their tech, and there is more than one website dedicated to this subject.

 

As someone who answered the phone and tried to satisfy customers after tech solutions failed to do so, I didn’t have access to a lot of Apple secrets, but I can tell you that as far as trying to please the consumer, Apple goes above and beyond what the law requires of them. The only exception to this rule is with customers in Norway, where consumer law is stricter and more generous than the policies of any company. So most calls from Norway were resolved without any fuss and left customers happy.

 

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I left Apple because I don’t like dealing with angry customers on the phone (they weren’t all angry, but many were). I especially don’t like doing it in a foreign language. But if I’d had another job at Apple I’d have probably renewed my contract and stayed on for at least a couple of years. All things considered,  it was a pretty good place to work, full of relaxed and friendly people. I’d have even accepted another customer service position where I’d only had to answer emails without taking any calls, like they did in the iTunes department. The iTunes room was clean and serene, while ours was a mixture of bedlam and babel; a discordant din of dialects I was all too anxious to leave behind. I miss the horses, though.

 

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