Apple Upgrade Program participants complain of no stock, scheduling problems

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in iPhone
The iPhone Upgrade program is intended to give people the ability to get Apple's new phone every year, shortly after release. Problems with the pre-order process overnight are leading people to question why they signed up for the program.




The pre-order process for Apple Upgrade Program members started at the same time as the regular reservation process did, participants nearly immediately took to social media to complain that the particular model desired was unavailable.

At this point, it is unclear exactly where the problem lies, and may be more tied to consumer demand than any flaw in execution by Apple.

Unlike ordering from a carrier directly, Apple Upgrade Program members had a special portal to pre-order and set a Genius Bar appointment to make the device swap. After selecting the desired store, users were presented with carrier choices, as well as model choices.

Just a few minutes after pre-orders commenced, the problems began. Supplies appeared to be nearly immediately drained - a nearby store may have a model, but not in a needed carrier, or desired capacity.

Screen shot taken by AppleInsider reader at 12:12 a.m. PT
Screen shot taken by AppleInsider reader at 12:12 a.m. PT


How the program works

The Apple Upgrade Program mandates that users have been in the program for at least six months, and have made at least 12 payments on a phone.
"Color, capacity, or model: pick two." -- Apple store manager
Instead of some carriers taking Internet trade ins, where a hold is placed on a credit card for the new phone until the old device is received, the Apple store is the venue for the exchange. At the store, employees will ask for two forms of ID, and the member's social security number for another "hard" credit check.

Since the Apple Upgrade Program includes AppleCare+, if a device is damaged, users have to pay the deductible on the spot for any damage.

Obviously, the Apple Store in question has to have the device wanted in-stock, or reserved. Apple has already set-aside a certain number of each iPhone SKU for the program's purchasers, independent of stock for the larger pre-order program.

"We've been told that we're getting stock in-store for [the Apple Upgrade Program] based on historical purchase data of model sizes and configurations here, plus attach rate of the program," AppleInsider was told by an Apple store manager. "Looking at the numbers today, I'm getting a lot of users who didn't buy from me, but are coming to see me anyhow."

All hope is not lost

AppleInsider has learned that some Apple retail store stock on release day will be reserved for Apple Upgrade Program members for a few days. Apple's suggestion on the order page to "check back on September 17 at 8 a.m." reflects this hold. Additionally, in-store reservations for non-program members will restart on the same day.

"We don't know how many we're going to even get in total for day one, we're going to get crushed," we were told by an iPhone specialist. "We won't know until the day how many we have to set aside, and even then, we're only holding for a few days."

Multiple stores were queried about the stock holds for Apple Upgrade Program members -- one store said that stock would be reserved for five days, with the vast majority saying only two or three days of retention.

Following the hold period, Apple Upgrade Program stock will be drawn from the stock pool at the store, on a first-come first-serve basis.

While none of the Apple store staffers we talked about had a handle on demand for models or colors as of yet, shipments of iPhones will arrive nearly every business day after launch.

"Team members are coming in with the express purpose of checking in the day's shipments," we were told by one store manager. "That's all they'll do all day. They'll be busy for weeks."

Advice from the trenches

For the iPhone 6 and 6s releases, Apple stores were shoppers' best option to get the particular device that users wanted, with many stores having full stock of all models when the stores opened in the morning, a month after initial release. This time around, it will likely be no different.

We asked our sources about what they thought the best course of action for Apple Upgrade Program members was, to secure the particular device they wanted. We were told that if one color and one specific capacity was demanded, that there may be a wait, at least at first.

"If you want a jet black iPhone 7 Plus we'll probably be able to do that a few days after launch, but you may need to get the 256GB one," we were told. "Color, capacity, or model: pick two."

AppleInsider has reached out to Apple for comment on the matter.
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Comments

  • Reply 1 of 82
    I don't think the purpose of the program was to hand deliver a new phone to participants, it's more about returning the old phone for a replacement with predetermined financing for the new one.
    edited September 2016 SoliRayz2016andrewj5790mike1pte apple
  • Reply 2 of 82
    I enrolled when I purchased my new 7 via my iPad Store app last night. Hope they iron out these problems by the time I'm ready to swap next year. My wife, on the other hand, got her 6S last year under the program, so is eligible to upgrade this month. Think we'll wait for the dust to settle before attempting a trade-up. 
    lostkiwi
  • Reply 3 of 82
    The process didn't go smoothly for me at all trying to order a new matte black iPhone 7 Plus w/256Gb via the Apple iPhone Upgrade Program. I woke up early and had zero problems with Apple's website or the Apple Store app; however, we have 3 stores in Wisconsin and only 2 of them would allow you to place reservations. One of the stores wasn't even listed as if it didn't exist. Unfortunately, the 2 stores that allowed reservations were immediately listed as "out of stock" not even minutes after the system went live to pre-order a new iPhone 7 Plus. When I woke up at 05:00 today, now all 3 stores were available in the drop down menu, but none of them had any stock. At this point, I can't even pre-order an iPhone because it wants to tie you to a reservation at an Apple Store which isn't available, but I could out right buy an iPhone 7 Plus and at least get in the queue and have a delivery date. I would have at least liked to have been able to pre-order a new iPhone and have them tell me when I can do in-store pick-up.
  • Reply 4 of 82
    jkichlinejkichline Posts: 1,328member
    First world problems.
    zroger73cwingravmike1pscooter63watto_cobra
  • Reply 5 of 82
    The user and all related content has been deleted.
  • Reply 6 of 82
    My situation was sort of bizarre. I ordered a new iPhone 7 under a new enrollment of the iPhone upgrade (another line). But when I got the email to make the reservation it turned into my current line being upgraded. So now I'm not sure what happens when I go to the Apple Store on the 16th. Hopefully they let me add it as another line and not make me turn in my phone. I want to give that to a family member and be done with payments in a year instead of upgrading that line. 
  • Reply 7 of 82
    NY1822NY1822 Posts: 579member
    like buying a VIP pass, then complaining having to wait on the VIP line bc there are too many people.
    edited September 2016 andrewj5790potatoleeksouplostkiwicwingravmike1pscooter63
  • Reply 8 of 82
    A brand new iPhone is unavailable on the day the pre-orders began? You don't say.
    SpamSandwichandrewj5790ai46cwingrav
  • Reply 9 of 82
    kpomkpom Posts: 615member
    I think it depended on location. I was able to place an order at 2:08am CDT and get an 8:00-8:30am reservation on 9/16 at the Michigan Avenue store for the Jet Black 128GB iPhone 7. I was a bit worried since I want the Verizon model and ordered the AT&T model last year. But I put my Verizon SIM into my AT&T iPhone 6S and the App both defaulted to Verizon and recognized that the phone was purchased through the Upgrade Program and it let me complete the reservation.
    edited September 2016 mixticius
  • Reply 10 of 82
    To represent an opposite perspective of the norm in this article, my experience went quite well. I enrolled in the program last October and was worried this one month offset would make me have to wait another month or two to actually upgrade. Instead, Apple's app allowed me to see I was in great shape to preorder early this morning. When the time came, I easily reserved a phone for pickup at my local store next Friday. Mind you, the colors I truly preferred were unavailable and sold out so, like last year, I'm stuck with gold again. But, the process couldn't have gone much better for me. Contrast that to me trying to buy another family member the same phone at the same time this morning. I went to TMobile when the clock struck 1am and TMobile's site wasn't live, was outdated in places, had loops where I'd go from my account to the iPhone 7 and back to my account's page with no option to buy. Even today I'm stuck. I'll try the Apple Store tonight but if you want to write an article about bad experiences, maybe provider sites is where the real stories are. (Verizon was no different as my wife couldn't order from the website due to it being down/slow and also outdated like TMobile's. In the end she waited on hold about an hour and got her phone.)
  • Reply 11 of 82
    I was eligible for trade in and the process went smoothly and quickly, but the Jet Black was shown as unavailable at my local store (this when the site first went live).  I ordered for pickup a Silver model and will check at the store if I can exchange for the Jet Black at the time of pickup (8 AM next Friday).   I did this last year and it all worked out well as they did have some extra stock in more color choices on opening day.

    I have always found Apple to be extremely accommodating, but I would be happy with either the Silver or the Jet Black iPhone 7.
  • Reply 12 of 82
    kpom said:
    I think it depended on location. I was able to place an order at 2:08am CDT and get an 8:00-8:30am reservation on 9/16 at the Michigan Avenue store for the Jet Black 128GB iPhone 7. I was a bit worried since I want the Verizon model and ordered the AT&T model last year. But I put my Verizon SIM into my AT&T iPhone 6S and the App both defaulted to Verizon and recognized that the phone was purchased through the Upgrade Program and it let me complete the reservation.
    The availability of the iPhone 7 seems to be more solid, but the 7 Plus seemed like a unicorn to many people I was interacting with on twitter last night. I wanted a Jet Black 7 Plus but the moment the site went live, T-Mobile was already not an option for the 7 Plus in any color whatsoever. I ended up reserving a Jet Black iPhone 7 that way I at least have something reserved. 
  • Reply 13 of 82
    SoliSoli Posts: 8,546member
    I enrolled when I purchased my new 7 via my iPad Store app last night. Hope they iron out these problems by the time I'm ready to swap next year. My wife, on the other hand, got her 6S last year under the program, so is eligible to upgrade this month. Think we'll wait for the dust to settle before attempting a trade-up. 
    I thought the point of the program is that you can choose to upgrade at any time  you want. For example, I could jump from a 16GB iPhone 6S after 4 months to a 128GB iPhone 6s Plus, if I feel the need, and I just pay the full taxes on the new device up front, and then the additional monthly charge for the higher-priced item.

    edit: http://www.apple.com/shop/iphone/iphone-upgrade-program
    edited September 2016
  • Reply 14 of 82

    mixticius said:
    To represent an opposite perspective of the norm in this article, my experience went quite well. I enrolled in the program last October and was worried this one month offset would make me have to wait another month or two to actually upgrade. Instead, Apple's app allowed me to see I was in great shape to preorder early this morning. When the time came, I easily reserved a phone for pickup at my local store next Friday. Mind you, the colors I truly preferred were unavailable and sold out so, like last year, I'm stuck with gold again. But, the process couldn't have gone much better for me. Contrast that to me trying to buy another family member the same phone at the same time this morning. I went to TMobile when the clock struck 1am and TMobile's site wasn't live, was outdated in places, had loops where I'd go from my account to the iPhone 7 and back to my account's page with no option to buy. Even today I'm stuck. I'll try the Apple Store tonight but if you want to write an article about bad experiences, maybe provider sites is where the real stories are. (Verizon was no different as my wife couldn't order from the website due to it being down/slow and also outdated like TMobile's. In the end she waited on hold about an hour and got her phone.)
    Did you reserve an iPhone 7 or 7 Plus? Also, which carrier are you on? Also T-Mobile? Which geographic region? The standard iPhone 7 seems to have been more readily available upon the preorder/reservation site going live. 

    IMO, the newsworthy aspect of this story regarding the iPhone Upgrade Program is that it's the first time the program's purpose is really being put to the test, and many early adopters of the program are having difficulty reconciling their experience last night with the one that was promised when they enrolled in the program last year. 
  • Reply 15 of 82
    jkichline said:
    First world problems.
    I don't make a lot of money, but I work hard to have enough to buy the new iPhone every year. It's easy to dismiss this as being a first world problem (because it truly is), but it's nothing more than a flippant response meant to discredit and devalue peoples' feelings and opinions. 
    Soliai46potatoleeksoupSpamSandwichpbruttoBasboyblair
  • Reply 16 of 82
    SoliSoli Posts: 8,546member
    I'm not sure what the issue is. When I woke up I noticed Apple's email about the Upgrade Program so I decided to see what the availability and dates would be out of curiosity (not an intent to buy). There is nothing available for the 16th except a 32GB Rose Gold, but I'm seeing others who are not in the program being able to purchase any color and capacity they want, just with a date that's pushed back, into October. I would have assumed that I also would have gotten my choice so long as I was already with a later date. 
    edited September 2016
  • Reply 17 of 82
    It's all good.  The iPhone is extremely popular.  
    Whether you have a subscription or buy it outright, the demand will outstrip the supply...  Nothing new here...

    I luckily upgraded to a gold iPhone 7 with 256GB this morning between 3:45a and 4:00a.
    I had a choice of 2 to 3 weeks for shipment or Store pickup on the 16th, so I went with the store pickup. :smiley: 
    Hopefully there is no long line at the store.

  • Reply 18 of 82
    Whether this was Apple's intention or not from what I'm seeing on social media a lot of iPhone Upgrade Program members feel like they should have first dibs on stock and are pissed that the phone they wanted is showing November availability. The whole point of the program is to be able to get a new phone after 12 months, not 14 or 15. Heck I just got an email from Apple this morning telling me I'm eligible for an upgrade. I'd like to see Apple communicate this better. If there's nothing special about this program and you might not be able to upgrade until after 13 or 14 months it would be nice to know,
    Basboyblair
  • Reply 19 of 82
    SoliSoli Posts: 8,546member
    The whole point of the program is to be able to get a new phone after 12 months, not 14 or 15.
    You seriously thought the point of the program was to magically make components appear out of thin air because you signed a contract? Did Dumbledore send this agreement to you via owl?
    edited September 2016 zroger73fastasleeppscooter63watto_cobra
  • Reply 20 of 82
    It's all good.  The iPhone is extremely popular.  
    Whether you have a subscription or buy it outright, the demand will outstrip the supply...  Nothing new here...

    I luckily upgraded to a gold iPhone 7 with 256GB this morning between 3:45a and 4:00a.
    I had a choice of 2 to 3 weeks for shipment or Store pickup on the 16th, so I went with the store pickup. :smiley: 
    Hopefully there is no long line at the store.

    Jet black was out of stock right away. This is a supply issue. So is there a manufacturing issue? Or did Apple not realize how popular these black models would be? Doesn't seem to be a shortage of gold and silver models.
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