Ex-Apple store employees reveal how customers try to fool them

Technically Incorrect: In an entertaining exposé, three former Apple store workers explain what customers fail to mention about their malfunctioning iPhones.

Chris Matyszczyk
3 min read

Technically Incorrect offers a slightly twisted take on the tech that's taken over our lives.

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Sometimes, Apple store employees must wonder if their customers have come over all Pinocchio.

Josh Miller/CNET

Complaints, complaints, complaints.

That's all we often hear about famous brands and their customer service, or lack of it.

Sometimes, though, we forget that customers aren't exactly the most trustworthy, glorious beings they claim to be.

They can be irascible. They can be tiresome. And, be honest now, they can be outright mendacious.

Three former Apple store employees (all under assumed names, naturally) revealed to Thrillist some of the entertaining lies that customers have tried to get away with.

It might provide a certain balance to the tales of Apple store geniuses who aren't and customer service staff who might be haughty or even indifferent.

One former employee told Thrillist that it's unwise to try to hoodwink store employees. They know more about the products than you do.

Still, here's one explanation allegedly offered by an Apple customer for his malfunctioning phone: "I had a guy try to convince me that the liquid damage was some kind of E.T. fluid from when he was abducted [by aliens]."

Personally, I think there's definitely some E.T. fluid around in our water these days. There must be some explanation for all the madness. There's also something almost courageous about a customer trying to get away with an otherworldly story.

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Another of the former employees offered a tale of man who brought in an iPhone that was barely recognizable.

"He told us it wasn't working right," said the former employee. "So he took it out behind his house and shot it with a rifle because he was so fed up with the thing."


But still he expected Apple to replace it? It appears so. The former store employee said he declined to do so.

The last tale was of a man who also brought in a malfunctioning, mutilated iPhone.

"He explained that he had been talking on it," the former Apple store man told Thrillist, "when suddenly the phone got very hot and started to burn his hand, so he threw it on the counter and it erupted into flames."

Such things do happen.

In this case, however, when the phone was taken back to the Genius Bar, it was apparently clear that it had received liquid.

The ex-Apple store employee came back to the customer.

"He responds with, 'Well yeah, it caught on fire, so I threw it in the sink and ran water over it," he said.

Apple store employees have to work out what really might have happened. In this case: "I am quite certain that he dropped his phone in water and thought that the best idea was to dry it in the microwave."

Sometimes, the truth of such stories can lie somewhere in between. Sometimes, though, customers simply act impulsively and then expect Apple to pick up the pieces -- and the cost.

Apple didn't immediately respond to a request for comment.

These former employees admitted it was hard after a couple of years having to listen to customers talking about the same things over and over again.

They did, though, offer other amusing revelations about working in Apple stores. But the most important is surely that Apple is not a cult.

What a relief.