Apple Ordering Woes

Recently, I have been looking into replacing my old (2006) MacBook with a new model, with an eye towards the new ivy-bridge MacBook Airs. Last Thursday, I finally decided to take the plunge and purchase a shiny, new 13" MBA from the Apple Store. When I finally went to check out, I noticed that "in store pickup" was an option and since there is an Apple Store not too far from me, I decided to choose that as the shipping option. Now, from most online stores, you would expect to get an order confirmation shortly after ordering. I got no such thing.

After several hours, I decided to check on the status of my order. Typing in my order number on their website showed me all of the information related to my order. Lo and behold, in the status field was the word, "canceled". Why was my order canceled? Why was I not notified via email that my order was canceled? Neither answer was readily apparent from the order information page. I checked my bank account, and there was a pending charge from Apple for the cost of the computer. I was quite confused at this point, so I decided to stop by the Apple Retail Store on my way back from work.

When I got to the store, I was greeted by a very genial and knowledgeable young man who inquired after the status of my order, which also yielded that the order had been canceled. Unfortunately, Apple does not provide the reason for cancellations to its floor employees, so I was at a dead end there as well. Since the charge against my account had not been rescinded and I lacked the capital to buy 2 MBAs, I could not just purchase another while waiting for the money to be refunded, despite that the item was in stock at the store. The employee and Apple's site both agreed that I should get my money back in several days.

Today marked the fourth day that my money has not been returned, so I decided to give Apple's support a try. Their web support, despite having indications to the contrary, informed me that they only deal with helping people purchase computers. Once you had bought one, you needed to contact Apple's support line. I called it on my lunch break, where I was able to get a real support tech on the phone in under two minutes. I was greeted by a computerized voice that informed me that it could parse full sentences and asked me what my problem was. It's speech recognition and sentence parsing seemed to be very good. When it eventually passed me off to a real operator (which it did as soon as I asked a non-standard question), she already had my order number ready, which was kind of surprising based on my experience with phone support. Once I explained the issue to her, she informed me as to why my order had been canceled.

As it turns out, my bank, PNC, did not fully authorize the transaction. I am not sure what the exact transaction procedure is, but the transaction was initially approved, since it let me place the order, but something happened later down the line. The support rep then informed me that she has issued a credit to my account and that I would have my money back in 2-3 days.

Needless to say, I was a little irritated by the whole process.

  1. My bank initially approved the transaction and later denied it.
  2. My bank did not notify me about a denied transaction.
  3. Despite having denied the transaction, the money was taken from my account.
  4. Apple did not notify me that my order had been canceled nor did they notify me of the reason for the cancellation.
  5. Apple did not issue a credit after the order was canceled. As such, I have been denied the use of a significant amount of funds for seven days.

These all contributed to perhaps the worst online purchasing experience that I have ever had. Hopefully this is not the typical experience that Apple presents to its customers. Mine is something of a unique case due to the bank issues, but it seems like a pretty big bug in their ordering system. I hope that Apple's testers write for more edge cases like mine in the future.