As we all know (and Wall Street knows), Apple is a well-oiled machine these days. Unfortunately, there seems to be a screw loose down in the shipping dept.
This is the story of my friend Sam in Tucson, who was anxiously awaiting the scheduled March 16th delivery of his gorgeous new personalized iPad.
On March 14th, just two days before his delivery date, Sam received the above email from Apple. Even after he read it a few times, he was scratching his head.
For starters, it was riddled with typos. Not one or two, but six. Given Apple’s perfectionist standards, surely someone’s head would roll as a result. (Just three hours later, Sam received another email owning up to the errors. See that one below.)
But the content of the message was equally surprising. Apple was informing him that his personalized iPad would arrive on March 20th instead of March 16th — a four-day delay. But to make sure he was happy, they were offering an alternate arrangement.
If he could respond to the email in four hours, they would send him a non-personalized iPad right on schedule. They would also send him a prepaid FedEx label so that when his personalized iPad arrived four days later, he could send it back to Apple.
On the 20th, Sam would have two iPads in his possession: one personalized and one not. He would then have to send the personalized iPad — the one he really wanted —back to Apple.
Obviously, someone was trying to be nice. But it ceases to be nice when the offer (and the quality of the email containing the offer) makes you wonder if there was an adult in the room when this brilliant idea was hatched.
For a mere four-day delay, Sam would have been happy with a simple apology. If Apple insisted on a public display of affection, it would have been vastly better off saying “Sorry, your order is delayed for four days. As a thanks for your patience, please accept this $20 gift coupon for the Apple Store.”
Even if that cost Apple $10 in real money (which it probably wouldn’t), that’s still much cheaper than two FedEx charges, removing and replacing the engraved back and turning a new device into a refurbished device that would have to be sold at a discount. (The rules forbid Apple from selling any product as “new” once it has been returned for any reason.)
Sam decided not to take Apple up on their offer. He would wait the extra four days for the personalized iPad he ordered. And then yesterday his story became just a little more absurd. His UPS tracking info changed to indicate that the personalized iPad would actually arrive today, right on schedule. Then, early this morning, it changed again, indicating a stop in Alaska and delivery on Monday. (Just three days after his originally scheduled date.)
You know what this story means, right? Sell your stock! Apple is imploding!
Well, no. Remain calm. In the scope of things, this is but a tiny ripple in the pond.
I always advise people not to judge any company by one person’s tale of woe. Far more meaningful are the customer satisfaction surveys that poll tens of thousands of people, comparing all the technology companies. And in those measures, Apple is consistently #1. Remember, Apple is only human — which happens to be one of its best qualities.
If I were to put money on it, I’d bet that Apple has already made sure that this type of silliness never repeats. I’m also sure that the moment Sam receives his iPad (whenever!), he’ll forget this ever happened.