Apple and repairs don't go well together. In favour of their Apple Care policies, the company has spent years stopping third-party businesses from committing repairs. Instead, your devices are required to go to an Apple Repair Centre to be worked on by an Apple Genius.
Behind the Wizard of Oz smokescreen at your Apple Store, there's always a factory. Those factories house the workers truly responsible for working the magic that fixes your phone. In the case of one factory in Houston, Texas, that magic is forced out in a brutalist nightmare.
Apple Repair Centre is like a sweatshop
Revealed in a report by Business Insider, Apple’s laptop repairs are mostly conducted in one facility. Outsources to Texas-based CSAT Constructions, the Houston factory has been described as a “sweatshop".
In a move that runs opposite Apple's high-tech, polished brand, the factory has been said to treat employees like “slaves". The Apple repair centre makes use of low-wage workers, stuffing them into a described “oppressive” environment.
The report claims that workers are forced to endure crushing heats and hit “gruelling" repair targets. The brutal work environment is exacerbated by poor sanitary conditions; workers have to wait ages to use the bathroom. When the bathroom is available, it's “smeared with feces". There aren’t enough bathrooms and the ones there “smell disgusting".
One worker said:
"'Sweatshop' would be the No. 1 way I would describe CSAT. People are running everywhere. People are being yelled at. It's a lot of chaos when you walk in."
Difficult repair quotas
Over the past few years, there's been an increase in unsatisfactory repairs from Apple Repair Centres. Through this report, it's clear why. Workers explain that they're pushed to finish a laptop repair in less than an hour.
Each worker is tied to thirteen-hour shifts; managers expect repair workers to fix more than thirteen devices a day. Despite the heavy workload, employees are paid “piecemeal pay". While Apple’s prestigious geniuses at the high-end stores are paid $24/hr to send devices to the factory, the workers that repair those devices are paid $14.
One employee explained that the pay is “far less than minimum wage.” They continued: Had I not been living with my parents when I worked there, I would have starved."
Not what they expected
The veneer of the Apple brand has worked a trick on some of CSAT’s employees. The posh, clean brand that dominates smaller smartphone brands led many to believe that conditions would be nicer. However, instead of the clean, white polished look, the Apple repair centre employees toil away in drab concrete workhouses.
Ex-repair technician Joseph Stefan revealed that he “expected something very fancy". A current manager at the facility said: “people might have the expectation that because we're going to work on Apple computers, that things are going to be nice and shiny and clean all the time. It's not the case."
With the sheer revenue that Apple pulls in, there's no doubt that the company would be able to fund their own repair facilities. Unfortunately, it would appear the company had no interest in doing so.