Apple Japan goes the extra mile in earthquake’s aftermath

Kevin Rose blogs, “Wow, this email is from a friend of mine that works for Apple in Japan… makes me happy Apple went the extra mile here.”

A portion:

A quick list of kind things Apple did after we closed:

1. Because the trains and phones were down, almost everyone who worked in Tokyo was stranded deep in the city. All the hotels were booked, the roads were jammed, so hundreds of people were instantly homeless. Apple told all of their staff – Retail AND Corporate – that they could go sleep at the Apple stores. The Senior managers at the stores had been notified earlier and unbeknownst to us, had gone out to stock up on food and drinks after the very first quake hit.

This was a godsend because by 11pm (118 aftershocks later) all food and drinks were sold out at every store within walking distance. And when I say walking distance, I mean 3-4 hours of walking distance. (Tokyo is a big city.)

Letting not just Retail but corporate staff sleep at the Apple stores was genius because:

1a. The corporate offices are in skyscrapers with over 50 flights of stairs. With all elevators in Japan shutdown, this was a nightmare.

1b. The Retail stores were the only areas where WE controlled the buildings, from top to bottom, so we could monitor, fix, and maintain the back-up power, networks, and heating ourselves.

1c. Ubiquitous wifi and Facetime devices gave us a lifeline to our families and the rest of the world. Facetime turned out to be MUCH more stable than Skype (And I’m a Skype fanboy!)

1d. With theater rooms and breakrooms designed for 150+ people, the Apple stores were the most comfortable places to be and to sleep. Much more comfortable than sleeping on the street on a cold March night.

2. Once staff let their families know that they were not only safe but how comfortable we were (break room refridgerators stocked with food and drink, etc), family members began asking if they could stay at the Apple stores as well. Of course Apple said yes. One business team member’s stranded mother walked 3.5 hours to be with her daughter at the store. When she arrived, the Apple store staff gave her a standing ovation (“Warm Welcome”) like they do for customers during a new launch.

3. The head of Apple International HR and of Japan Retail happened to be in Japan that week. Both came and spent the night with us in the stores and told everyone that if anyone wanted to try their luck getting home on their own, Apple would pay for any food, drink, or transportation fees that that person incurred on the way. “Your safety is most important.”

If, on their way home the staff member realized they couldn’t make it, but they found an open hotel, Apple would pay for it. Since many people lived 2-3 hours away [by transport], this ended up meaning 11 hour walks home, [or] $300 taxi fares, and $800 hotel rooms (only the luxury hotels had vacancies). Executives from Cupertino and London Facetimed with us, letting us know not to worry, they supported us, and that they would write off on it all.

4. We continued to open our doors to stranded people on the street fixing iphones, selling battery packs, or simply teaching people how to get streaming news on their smart-phones until 3am in the morning. 😉

There’s much more in Rose’s full blog post – highly recommended – here.

[Thanks to MacDailyNews Reader “MacRadDoc” for the heads up.]

31 Comments

    1. Very cool and probably true. A lot of credit has to be toward the Japanese management. The Japanese are very community oriented and employers feel a much deeper responsibility for the welfare of their employees.

      I’m hope we will hear more inspiring stories translated into English as time goes on.

  1. And Google and Microsoft promissed their Japanese employees shelter “in the 4th quarter of this year.” “We’re really excited about our ‘new shelters’ and can’t wait to share them with our ‘extended family.'”

  2. I am reminded of the gallant band of the RMS Titanic, who continued to play on as the doomed ship sank, to give some measure of comfort to the passengers. The actions of Apple in Japan are in that great tradition of pulling together in the face of terrible disaster. I am very proud to be a Mac guy today. Very proud. And the next time some no-nothing grey box user snidely comment to me something about an “Apple tax” I’m going to punch him right in the face.

  3. I’ve been fantasizing these last few days about Steve Jobs going, “Oh, what the heck!” and donating a billion in aid to Japan. Now THAT would be classy and I guess even make Apple the most respected brand in Japan. (and whether he does something like that or not, may he enjoy good health for a long time).
    Oh, a Mac user can dream…

  4. Great companies always work this way in a crisis. Glad to see Apple handling it this way.

    In the 1913 flood that nearly wiped out Dayton, Ohio, which was where all the NCR cash registers were made, the owner of NCR, watching the town start to flood, transformed his factories to start to manufacture boats. Within hours the assembly lines started putting boats in the water to rescue people from the rising waters.

    One example of many… great companies always care for the people first.

    1. Nah, MS is giving out free Zunes!

      The Zune Shaker Extreme Quake Edition – Signature Series signed by Balmer

      With a bunch of Stock just sitting there that no one will buy it makes perfect sense!

    2. Which, in addition to being cheap, would be a sign of their ignorance of the locals. Peanut butter sandwich is predominantly American, and isn’t much appreciated elsewhere in the world (with the exception of, perhaps, the Netherlands and UK). in fact, peanut butter is rather difficult to find in regular supermarkets outside America.

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