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If you’re ever unlucky enough to spill a latte between the keys of your $1,300 MacBook Pro or shatter its screen, your first stop would probably be Apple’s website, where you could schedule an appointment to take it to a nearby Apple Store.
Surrounded by pristine white walls, floor-to-ceiling windows, and blond wood tables, you would wait for help at Apple’s Genius Bar. A friendly, casually dressed employee would say hello and listen to your problem. Then you’d surrender your expensive aluminum brick and watch it disappear behind closed doors for repair.
But behind that gleaming white facade, your laptop would likely begin a journey to a very different place.
Apple contracts out many of its laptop repairs to a Texas company called CSAT Solutions, a major piece of the technology giant’s third-party repair network. It was founded in 1992 and also counts Dell and Lenovo as clients.
There, people with knowledge of the facility said, low-wage workers toil, often in oppressive heat with grueling targets. They are cut off from the outside world during their shifts and sometimes wait in long lines to use toilets smeared with feces.
In recent interviews with Insider, workers said that CSAT Solutions is a “sweatshop,” with one even likening the technicians who labor in its Houston facility to “slaves.” These experiences appear to run counter to the image of Apple’s trillion-dollar brand: sophistication, high prices, and top-notch products. The world’s most valuable company — built on a carefully constructed reputation that has transformed its product launches into global spectacles and its gadgets into markers for wealth and status — relies for repairs on a company where technicians work in a hot Texas warehouse in what they say are poor conditions.