Not So Special Apple Special Offer

| posted in: apple  life 

Ever since the 13-inch M2 MacBook Air was released, I’ve wanted a new laptop. When the 24-inch iMac was released both my with and I bought one for ourselves. The iMac is a stunningly beautiful machine, thin, elegant, colorful. A home run. Except that it is a desktop, and I do a majority of my personal computer from the living room couch, or dining room table, or on the treadmill desk. In order to use the iMac I had to go into my home office (a pleasant, comfortable space) and be apart from the rest of the house.

The new MacBook Air looked like the perfect replacement for the iMac. Then rumors of a new 15-inch MacBook Air started to circulate. I decided to wait until WWDC to see what Apple might announce then. As anticipated they announced a new M2 powered 15-inch MacBook Air. I was sold.

Working at a university allows me to take advantage of the educational discount. Trading in my 24-inch iMac knocked another $490 from the price. When I went to review the bag, there was a “special offer.” A $150 Apple Gift card. This lowered the monthly installment for the laptop from $135.75 to $123.25 - a $12.50 savings per month. I pressed the buy button and started counting the days until delivery.

I’ve had my new MacBook Air for a couple of weeks now. It is everything I hoped it would be. I am extremely pleased with it.

Today is July 1st, so any Apple purchases using my Apple Card, and the free installment plans Apple offers are due on the 1st each month. Opening my wallet I saw the installment for my iPhone, the new installment for my MacBook Air, and a $12.50 installment, 1 of 12, for the Apple Gift Card.

While Apple lowered the cost of the laptop $150, they didn’t lower my monthly installment cost at all. In my excitement to order the new laptop I didn’t pay close enough attention to the invoice. I verified that the laptop specification were what I wanted, and accepted that Apple was knocking another $150 from the price.

I would rather they had given me a pair of AirPods–at least those I could sell. After calling Apple Support, I learned there really wasn’t anything that could be done. Between the time I got the gift card email, and today, I renewed an app subscription and that cost was deducted from the gift card. Had that even not occurred they would have credited the $150 toward the laptop, actually bringing my monthly installment cost down to $123.25. Since there was already activity, even inadvertent activity, on the gift card, they were unable to do anything except listen to my complaint. To the representative’s credit, she did hear my complaint, acknowledged that I wasn’t the only person who was unhappy about this outcome, and agreed to pass it up the line.

I opened up the Apple store and recreated my order. When I got to the “review your bag” step of the process, I looked more carefully at everything there. The special offer did show that it would be a $12.50 installment for 12 months. Apple didn’t bait-and-switch me, but they also didn’t call out that you were not saving any money, you were just getting the chance to spend some of the money on other purchases.

I’ve been buying Apple products for over twenty years. I still have my PowerBook G4, and a 17-inch iMac G4. I am an Apple fan. I wish the checkout process had thrown up a separate page that detailed the special offer and its terms. Having it on the same page as the shiny new laptop is a bit of a dark pattern. I still would have purchased the laptop, but I would have avoided the surprise today of seeing two new installment payments, rather than the one new one I expected.

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Mark H. Nichols

I am a husband, cellist, code prole, nerd, technologist, and all around good guy living and working in fly-over country. You should follow me on Mastodon.