Apple's stingy employee discount

Instead of $83 off an iPad, Apple could have given each employee a solid gold iPad -- worth around $36,000 -- and barely made a dent into profits. Or maybe a brand new 2012 Mercedes Benz C-class perhaps?
Written by Jason D. O'Grady, Contributor

Apple announced record earnings again last quarter, surpassing all previous records and making Apple the envy of technology companies and Wall Street. Although $AAPL's reported revenue topped $100 billion (yes, with a 'b') for the year, it continues to stiff its employees.

Exhibit A comes from CEO Tim Cook's town hall meeting with his rank and file employees yesterday. Word leaked out that Apple will be offering a new discount to its employees.

So far, so good. Everyone likes a good discount.

According to 9to5Mac, Cook told employees that Apple would be offering employees a new discount of $500 off a Mac and $250 off an iPad.

Sounds good, right?

(I have to confess to immediately flipping through my mental Rolodex to the letter A as I started thinking about contacts I could reach out to about the discount.)

The problem is that Cook's "discount" is a charade that amount to nothing more than a soundbite.

For starters, the deal -- as told by 9to5 -- comes with a lot of strings attached:

  1. It's for full-time employees only -- No surprises there, contractors are usually commoditized at most big employers.
  2. You have to have worked at Apple for at least 90 days -- This is the "bozo clause" that eliminates the incentive to get a job at Apple, you know, just for the $500 off.
  3. The program begins in June -- Typical corporate bureaucracy in full effect.
  4. The Mac mini isn't included -- No $99 Mac for you!
  5. Employees can only take advantage once every three years -- This was the impetus for this post and is offensive on several levels.

So, when you weight all the heavy prerequisites above and factor in the three-year clause, the employee nets a $166 discount per year for a Mac or a $83 discount per year for an iPad.

$166 or $83!

Geez. Apple could have at least made it annual.

Odds are that the employee's discounted MacBook Air or iPad will be in a landfill (or hopefully recycled) by the time they're eligible again for the discount. Some incentive.

(If it were closer to the holidays I'd be tempted to photoshop Cook's head onto the body of The Grinch.)

Did I mention that Apple earned an average of $400,000 in profit per employee last year?

"For that, dear employees, I will grant you a $166 discount on a Mac -- just not a Mac mini."

Here's a thought: how about a dividend.

Photo: IntoMobile

Editorial standards