iPad 2 Launch Order – Weirdness, Part Deux

Just when I thought that my debacle with the iPad 2 order process couldn’t get any worse – the early opening, the 3-5 day timeframe from the get go, the stupid lack of a real preorder….

At the time of my last post, I had ordered my new iPad – officially placed about 15 minutes prior to 4:00AM EST.  From staying up so late I had gotten my second wind, so despite laying down to sleep – I couldn’t.  I tossed and turned for a little bit, and then I said heck with it, I’d check to see if the order status had magically changed around 5:30AM.

Now, when I ordered – I decided to use a gift card.  Apple’s website has a great feature that I wish more sites had that allows you to split your payment across multiple credit cards.  Since most “real” gift cards nowdays are just credit cards – this gives you a chance to use a gift card to pay for part of your order.   I had a $200 AmEx gift card (courtesy of American Express’ Rewards program) – so I was going to split $200 of my order onto the gift card and the remainder of the order would go on my standard AmEx green card.

Ordering was uneventful.  I told the order process to use two cards, I entered my Gift card number on the first card and entered $200 as the amount to put on this card.  When you enter a fixed amount on the first card, Apple’s site automatically calculates the amount to go on the second card.  Perfect – all was well – or so I thought.

When I logged back into Apple’s site at 5:30AM, I noticed that my order was flagged in yellow and said that it required attention.  Clicking the order, I waited for Apple’s overloaded system to churn and churn and show my order detail – only to see it read “We are unable to process your credit card”.

Now, for those of you familiar with AmEx Green cards – they have no limit – so I instantly knew the problem was the gift card.   I logged into AmEx’s gift card website to check my balance and look at the activity.  I had already done this in the morning and KNEW that the card was never used and had $200 available – so what’s the problem??

My order contained an iPad, a case, and the HDMI adapter.  When I looked at the gift card site, I noticed two charges for $41 and some change (which is the partial order cost of the case and the HDMI adapter.  Whats this, though – I see a third charge for $1?  WTF?  Are you kidding me – despite giving a hard $200 limit on the gift card – it appears that Apple had performed a pre-auth for $1 (most likely to validate that the card number is good).  On a normal credit card, this wouldn’t be a problem because most credit card companies will allow you to over-auth a card (although with the new credit card regulations, this is changing).  Now – when they were trying to capture the remaining balance of the $200 – they would be authorizing a total of $201 on my gift card, which, of course, would cause it to decline.

I was more than pissed.  I picked up the phone to call Apple – guess what, the ordering started at 4AM (1AM PST), but there is no PHONE SUPPORT until 8AM (5AM PST).   Not only did I wait up all night to get a nice early order in – I was assured that this would completely hose my order and cause it to miss the first round of shipments.

8AM comes – I call Apple.  The gentleman I spoke to was nice, but he was asking me if I could “just add some extra funds to the card to make it go through”.  I was like “Um, no.  This isn’t a gas station, sir – I gave you a prescribed amount to put on the card – how is it my issue if your system wants to authorize $201 on a $200 hard limit?”.

So then he was like, “Well – you could always cancel and reorder”.  Of course, working in eCommerce in the past, I knew this meant that they would simply cancel the order and allow the authorizations on my credit card to expire on their own.  This means that the authorizations Apple had placed on my gift card would remain for up to 7 days – clearly not a solution, either, especially since the lead time on new orders was now showing 2-3 weeks.

Long story short – by around 10:00 AM the order was in process.  I spent over an hour on the phone, and the gentleman had to call a manager at Apple.  I assume Apple uses an off-site call-center that really doesn’t have the ability to change anything other than small order details, so he had to track down someone who could actually *really* fix this on Apple’s campus.

This sucks.

First lesson learned – If you need to use a gift card on Apple’s split-tender system, make sure you shave off a few bucks to ensure the frickin charge goes through when they overauth your card.

Second lesson learned – When you call Apple’s Order Help number and the stupid ass computer answers the phone and says “Oh hai, I can understand full sentences, how can I help you?” there’s an easy way to get to a representative – just say “Go F*ck Yourself” – it worked for me twice.  🙂

Now to end the story – I wish I could say my iPad was now in transit to me.  It still shows 3-5 days until shipment with an estimated delivery day of 3/18-3/25.  Here’s the shitter, though – one of my coworkers, who ordered his 1/2 hour after I did already shows “Prepared for Shipment”.  Basically, despite staying up all night, despite getting my order in early – Apple’s half-wit credit card handling process has now screwed the order priority I sought to attain.


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