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An Apple Store Experience
I ordered a computer through the Apple Store. I feel like sharing the experience of using Apple's online build-to-order system for the readers who may have kept away from it so far and who would wonder how good the service is.
Disclaimer: this is only the experience of one person at a particular time. It would be hard to generalize the occurrence with any other, though it one can assume that there were hundreds of customers in the same position if they ordered similar products at the same time.
It all started before Macworld Expo this last July. I sold my G3 and I had planned to buy a G4 through the Apple Store. Knowing that Apple would probably revise the product, I waited to buy immediately after the keynote.
Once Steve Jobs announced the crop of new Macs, I went to the Javits Center's press room and it was nearly impossible to access www.apple.com for the rest of the day. Browsing through a couple of links was impossible without strong patience. Thus, I had to wait. The point? The odds of ordering on keynote day are not on your side.
On July 20
I went to the press room again during a quiet hour and the site responded better. I proceeded. I filled the forms with my Apple ID, chose the computer specs, entered my credit card number and checked out.
The system reported an estimated availability time of 7 days. After confirming the order, the online store sent me an e-mail confirmation or my order, its price and my shipping information. All was set and all I had to do was to wait.
The steps of an order are:
I received an e-mail notification that my order was being reviewed. Everything goes according to schedule.
In comes the surprise. I receive e-mail from the Apple Store, telling me that there will be a delay:
To Our Valued Apple Customer:
Thank you for placing your Apple Power Mac G4 order with the Apple Store!
Due to overwhelming demand, we are experiencing unanticipated delays in our ability to fulfill your order within the lead time originally quoted. However, our factory is working 7 days a week, around the clock, and we expect to ship your order within the next 7-10 business days.
We apologize for this inconvenience and appreciate your patience.
From that moment on, I checked e-mail almost daily to get any kind of news but there were no status update in any way, nor were there any further estimates or updates about the delay imposed.
I called 1-800-MY APPLE on August 8. The representative told me that the order should ship by the end of the same week. I heard that I should call back on Friday. The rep apologized several times for the delay.
The lady told me that it would take 3 to 6 business days after shipping. This surprised me since I had taken the 2-day shipping, paying a few dollars to get it quickly by FedEx instead of UPS ground shipping. I asked questions and the representative apologized since it had been changed without authorization and she took the additional shipping charge off.
I checked the order status on Thursday August 10 and nada. I called the 1-800 number on Friday the 11 and I heard that it shipped between Thursday night and Friday morning. Indeed. Upon the next e-mail check, there was an e-mail notification telling me that my computer shipped at 1:26am on August 11. Apple billed my credit card just after shipping.
FedEx picked it up at 5:21pm that Friday. It made its way to Montreal overnight, in the small hours on Saturday the 12 and the processing started on that day, despite the fact that it was the weekend. It had to go through the "Regulatory Clearance Delay" - this is really what they wrote in the tracking - for 3 days, which I would call "Stuck At The Customs For 3 Days."
The customs finally released it on August 15 at 10:08am and the computer arrived at 2:32pm the same day. The box and computer were in perfect condition when unpacked, and the hardware shipped was exactly what was ordered.
The computer itself works flawlessly.
A couple of days later, I received a letter by mail, which was an invoice from Apple, confirming the computer purchase and the payment made with credit card.
How good was this? Keep in mind that Apple did NOT respect its original estimated shipping time. It said 7 days. It took 18 business days, which can be translated into 26 real-time days. That is almost a month...
At least, Apple was able to respect the delay that it announced in e-mail.
I would recommend buying through the Apple Store for the build-to-order system and the fact that the unit shipped in great condition. If you cannot wait to get your unit, though, make sure that Apple is not experiencing problems shipping its products when you hit the Web site.
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