The iconic Apple store on Manhattan's Fifth Avenue has long been one of the most heavily trafficked in the world. But a group of disgruntled. employees recently complained to the New York Post that the store's management exposed staff and customers to bed bug infestation without warning.
The bed bug sightings, which began about a month ago, culminated in a furor on Friday when a bed bug was spotted inside a manager's office. Employees described a "mass exodus" of employees who fled the store. Frustrated employees said management had been giving. them "the runaround" about the bed bug risk until they finally caved on Friday and brought in a bed bug sniffing dog, which confirmed that bed bugs had been present in a staff locker room.
That was the first time management acknowledged that the threat was real. But that didn't stop the store from dragging its feet on the issue.
"It was just mayhem," an employee told The Post.
"There was a mass exodus... employees were freaking out they felt really unsafe and management kept giving them the runaround."
Staff were asked to double-bag their belongings while a "bed bug beagle" came to search the store. However, the issue had started three to four weeks earlier during the overnight shift, which draws many homeless visitors looking for shelter. After a bed bug was discovered on a table, management roped the area off without explanation, but didn't alert customers or staff to the threat.
The improper handling of the situation exposed both customers and staff to the bed bugs.
The table was left cordoned off while employees and customers were allowed in the store and around the table with no warning of the bed bug threat, an employee said.
"No one could go to that table but it was still on the floor, if a customer leaned on it and they didn’t know" a bug could’ve crawled on them, the worker said.
Employees complained that the issue, and the store's reluctance in handling it, made them feel "unsafe at work" and like they didn't matter to the company.
"I shouldn’t have to go to work feeling unsafe and unprotected," one worker told The Post.
"We felt very anxious, used and unimportant, like we were just another number."
Even after the store brought in an exterminator, the bed bug sightings continued. One employee picked a bug off their sweater and took a video of it, which was circulated among hundreds of staff.
When management brought an exterminator in for another go, they again failed to inform their employees. Instead, the store mysteriously closed for six hours in the middle of the night. They said the closure was due to a 'water leak'.
Management brought an exterminator in and told employees there was no cause for concern until about a week and a half later, an overnight employee found a bed bug crawling on their sweater and took a video of it.
That video circulated across hundreds of staff members and once again, management brought in an exterminator who did some “preventative spraying,” employees said.
They remained in the dark until last week when the store, which is open 365 days a year and rarely shuts its doors, mysteriously closed for six hours during the overnight hours on a weekday for a “water leak,” an employee said.
"People came to work and didn’t even know the store was closed, there was no notice,” the worker said.
Since Friday’s incident, staff said they received calls from management over the weekend saying the threat was over and had been “isolated."
But did the infestation spread to any customers or staff? It's impossible to know for sure - but given the heavy foot traffic through the store, and the fact that the infestation went unaddressed for nearly a month, it's certainly possible.