Apple’s iPhone Upgrade Program Nightmare

The following is @kalaeeg‘s experience with the not-so-wonderful Apple iPhone Upgrade Program:

If you have gotten your new iPhone 7 or iPhone 7 Plus this morning, consider yourself very lucky. I unfortunately fell into the category of “suckers who signed up for Apple’s iPhone Upgrade Program in 2015” and got effectively blocked from pre-ordering within the first five minutes of the sale going live.  I did not manage to reserve an iPhone and instead was told to check back on Sept. 17 at 8am.  

Since that debacle, many have complained to Apple and the internets, and even a class action lawsuit has been filed to appease the upgrade rage.  To their credit, Apple immediately created an iPhone Upgrade Program customer service team.  I took advantage of this and got in touch with them the next day after pre-ordering went live.  The representative on the line was nothing but courteous and very upbeat. I was told that she was going to “make magic happen”.  I was reassured numerous times that I, as someone who was already part of the upgrade program, was their number one priority (in fact, she repeated that IUP customers are their number one priority about 5 times… Apple must be really nervous about this?).  She took down my information and asked what my ideal iPhone was.  I responded that an AT&T iPhone 7 Plus 128GB (matte) Black was my ideal phone.  After a moment of silence, she asked what my second color option would be, which I decided was Rose Gold.  After filling out the proper paperwork and documenting everything, she submitted an order stated  that “magic was going to happen” and I will hear back from them within 48-72 hours.

Surely enough, about 48 hours later I received an email from the Apple Support team letting me know that they have found me an iPhone 7.  But that was it, no further details.  I decided to respond to this email and let them know that I was expecting an iPhone 7 Plus, and whether they could confirm this was indeed what I might be receiving.  No one responded to that email.  I waited patiently and by Friday (launch day)  morning I received a second email from Apple Support letting me know that my new iPhone 7 with 32GB was being shipped to my desired Apple store location.  What(?).  This was not at all what I had discussed when opening my support ticket.  This was not “magic”… this was a mistake.  I respond a second time to this new email thanking the support team for the effort they had put in for locating an iPhone, but since the phone they found was not at all what I requested, I was wondering what my options where. This time they respond back with essentially: it’s too late to do anything now because the phone has already been shipped to the indicated Apple store location and If I was not interested in the phone I should contact the store directly.  Well, shit.

I once again call Apple customer service, wait on the phone, and ask again to be connected to the Apple iPhone Upgrade Program team.  I spoke with a representative and explained the situation.  She could not account for why the confusion happened since she could see my original request.  After being placed on hold for over half an hour, the rep told me that she had no idea what to do, other than to put in another order and start over – something I would have done myself, had Apple allowed us “Upgrade Customers” to do when pre-orders went live.  Instead, they forced all of us Upgrade Program customers to use the broken and stock-limited in-store appointment option (that is, if it even worked for you), and now here we are.

It is Friday Sept. 16, launch day, and I am still no closer to getting the new iPhone 7 Plus.  As a customer who bought into Apple’s promise of the “Upgrade Program” being the “best way to obtain the new iPhone”, this is beyond frustrating. You do exactly what Apple directs you to do and in the end in you get screwed.

TLDR: I signed up for the upgrade plan, but got shut out of being able to pre-order any phone.  I contacted Apple’s customer service and put in a request to get a phone, and they wind up sending the wrong phone out.  I contact them a second time and I get no real answer of why the confusion occurred and nothing more is offered beyond putting in a second order.  At this point all I can say is thanks a lot Apple, and where do I sign up for that class action lawsuit??  At this stage I am not sure when I will get the new iPhone while all along making monthly payments into this not-so-magical “Upgrade Program.”

ps – The lawsuit sounds like 1st world problems gone wild, however you have to understand that people are making monthly payments on a phone that isn’t upgraded on-time, which could push your payment quota on the next upgrade cycle back (you have to make 12 payments in order to qualify for an upgrade)… unless Apple somehow acknowledges the delay and makes adjustments, which is what the lawsuit is seeking to guarantee.

Annoying iOS 8 bugs

Here are some things that bug me about iOS 8:

Spotlight crashes.  Ever drag the screen down so you can start searching for an app, or an email, etc.?  iOS Spotlight is a tremendously useful feature.  If you have pages and pages of apps, you can’t live without it.  But often, you are forced to, because it crashes.  A lot:

Spotlight... crashed.  Dead. Useless.
Spotlight… crashed. Dead. Useless.

You have little recourse when this happens.  You can restart your phone, or alternatively, you can just wait a few moments for Spotlight to ‘restart’ itself and start working again.  When you are in a hurry, it’s painful.

Inconsistent Reachability.  Speaking of Spotlight (and numerous other areas in iOS 8), when you double tap the home button (not pressing, just tapping), the whole interface slides down so that you can reach items at the top of the screen with one hand (that you normally would not be able to reach one-handed).  Again, another great and useful feature that I use quite a bit on-the-go.  Problem is, it doesn’t work in all areas consistently in the way you think it would.  Returning to Spotlight as an example:

Only certain things are reachable.
Only certain things are reachable.

Searching in Spotlight (if it isn’t crashed-out), brings up a handy list of items.  Double-tapping home slides them down for easy one-hand tapping, but what if you want to alter your search terms?  Break out that other hand.  In other apps, the entire top interface slides down, including the info bar:

properReachability
proper reachability

I’m not hating, but why the inconsistency?

That damn U2 album.  Do not get me wrong, I actually appreciate the U2 album, and I think it was a nice gesture.  Unlike the rest of the internet, the fact that the album showed up in my purchase history didn’t twist my panties.  But what did is the subsequent error I am still constantly assailed by every few minutes (or every few hours… it’s random!):

This.  Constantly.  Modal.
This. Constantly. Modal.

Ever since that album was ‘given’ out, my phone has constantly been barraged with this lovely piece of buggary. This message pops up at random intervals throughout the day, and it completely interrupts whatever you are doing until you tap ‘Done’, only for it to come back at a random interval sometime later.  No, ‘Retry’ doesn’t do shit, other than make it pop back up faster.

Let me tell you, when you are trying to quickly snap a photo of something cool, and this shit pops up, it makes you want to break your phone in half.

The best that I can trace this problem to is the U2 album.  Not the music tracks themselves, but the ‘Digital Booklet’ that came with the tracks.  iTunes (on the phone) doesn’t know how to download the booklet, so it tries over and over to get it, failing each time, prompting this message.  Some people have tried launching iTunes on their desktop machines, going to ‘Account’, logging in, and then bringing up the Account screen.  From there, a prompt will show up for any un-downloaded purchased items.  For me, the booklet was listed as the sole item that I had not yet downloaded (yet purchased…. even though I really didn’t, of course).  I clicked ‘download’, and the booklet is now on my iMac, and hence cleared from my account screen, but this shitty error still pops up on my phone from time to time.  I give up.

At least now I understand why the rest of the internet is pissed about ‘purchasing’ this album (for free), even if my reasons are slightly (and much more annoyingly) different.

There are other aspects of iOS 8 I find annoying, such as Continuity having all 500 of my Apple devices ring or ding at once anytime I get a call or message, flaky Airdrop, with its hit-or-miss file transfers, but those types of things will be ironed out in time, along with these I hope.

Until then, iOS 8.2 can’t come fast enough.

OS X 10.10 Yosemite DNS and Bonjour not working? Here is a fix!

OS X 10.10 Yosemite DNS and Bonjour not working? Here is a fix!

Ever since I upgraded from the Yosemite Beta to the final release, certain things have not been working.  In particular, I could not browse to any network printers, NAS devices, or even see my Aiport Extreme from the Airport Utility.  My wifi and internet were working, just nothing on my local network.  I knew something was up with Bonjour, and by extension, my internal DNS (discoveryd service, new for 10.10 Yosemite) for my particular machine.

After 2 days of frustration, I’m happy to report that I fixed this.  Here’s how:

Launch the ‘Console’ app, and look in the logs and hopefully you’ll see many entries for variations of this error:

discoveryd Basic DNSResolver  dropping message because it doesn’t match the one sent

specifically (for my machine in this moment of time):

11/4/14 12:54:06.002 AM discoveryd[2158]: Basic DNSResolver  dropping message because it doesn’t match the one sent Port:0 MsgID:0

After much searching on the internet, and many plist deletions, etc. nothing worked.  So then I tried this:

System Preferences -> Network

At the top of that preference pane, there is a ‘Location‘ dropdown.  It was set to ‘automatic‘.  I clicked on that, and created a new location called ‘Home‘ (you can call it whatever you want, really).  Then my wifi connection reset itself, and EVERYTHING started working again.

2014-11-04_01-14-58_01

Creating a new network location must have fixed some errant config file somewhere that was causing DNS and/or Bonjour lookups on my internal network to fail.  All is good now.

I can now browse for all bonjour devices, see my airport extreme, etc.  Everything works.  How lame and frustrating is that???

I hope this helps somebody!

eBay’s greatest scam – duping sellers out of fees caused by fake eBay buyers

Let’s say you want to sell an item on eBay… such as that old iPhone 3G that you just replaced by another phone.  You list it on eBay, maybe pick a reserve price (just to be sure it doesn’t sell for pennies on the dollar), and a few days later, viola!  The phone sells.  Great!

But then you realize that the buyer who just bought your item has zero feedback, and created the account less than a month ago.  Red flag.  But let’s be optimistic… surely they created an account because they wanted your old iPhone so badly…  Surely they will pay!

Nope.  They don’t pay.  So you want to re-list your item as quickly as possible to get past all this, yet eBay makes you wait about 4 days before they consider the item ‘unpaid’.  Fine, we wait.

A week rolls around, and finally the item falls into an ‘unpaid’ status, where you can use the ‘unpaid item assistant’ to file a claim on your behalf.  Why do you need to file a claim?  You need to because you now owe eBay the commission on your item that ‘sold’, even though it is now unpaid.

Makes sense?  No, it doesn’t make sense to me either.  This is eBay’s scam #1.  Now, on to scam #2:  This claim won’t be filed until the next month, so you are stuck ‘owing’ eBay money until the next billing cycle.  I can live with that part, but guess what?  They will only refund you the commission and the listing fee… They WILL NOT refund you the reserve auction fee!

That’s right, eBay’s scam #2 is that they do not issue a full refund on unpaid items, because they consider certain options (such as reserve price) a ‘service’ to be used at the time of auction, to help your item get sold in a manner that you want.

The only problem with this logic is that your item never actually sells because the auction was rigged by a fake and scummy buyer who never had the intention of paying in the first place.  However, eBay doesn’t care what the end result is… they just want their fees.  So in the end, the breakdown is something like this:

Insertion fee: $2.40 (this will be refunded, in a month)
Reserve auction fee: $2.40 (fuck you, pay me)
Final Value Fee: $30.00  (this will be refunded, in a month)

The best part?  I get to pay another $2.40 to re-list my item as I wait for this claim to go through.

What a fucking scam.  And just in case you were wondering, I’ve been an eBay seller for over a decade, with many sold items under my belt.  I’m a veteran eBayer, and as such, I have every single seller protection tool enabled that I can possibly enable, including blocking all buyers that:

  • Don’t have a PayPal account
  • Have received 2 Unpaid Item strike(s) within 1 Month(s)
  • Have a primary shipping address in a location I don’t ship to
  • Have 4 Policy Violation report(s) within 1 Month(s)
  • Have a feedback score of -1 or lower
  • Are currently winning or have bought 1 of my items in the last 10 days and have a feedback score of 1 or lower

These are the most aggressive settings that eBay allows, yet they are missing one critical setting:  The ability to block bids from ‘new’ or zero feedback accounts.  You can only block bids from shoppers with a known sketchy history.

I understand why they don’t allow this setting… after all, how could any new eBay shopper be able to shop if all sellers enabled this setting?  Fair enough.  Maybe it wouldn’t be a good idea to have this kind of restriction available to sellers.  But as it stands now, sellers on eBay can be effectively bled dry of money simply by being scammed over and over by these fake eBay shoppers, all while eBay collects the juice.

Fuck that.  If this happens to you, call eBay and scream bloody murder until they give you a FULL REFUND on your original auction, including all ‘service’ fees.  That’s what I did, and I’ll do it every single time this happens to me until eBay addresses this issue properly.

How should they address it?  Howabout automatic refunds on unpaid items for ALL FEES, and a discount on re-listing your auction (as a nice gesture for your lost time and hassle)?

That would be a great start.

No early upgrade pricing from AT&T for the iPhone 4S*

*unless you are within 6 months of the end of your current contract.  Read on:

Looks like I won’t be qualifying for early upgrade pricing from AT&T until at least a month after the new iPhone 4S launches.  This is due to AT&T’s policy of not allowing special (and by ‘special’ I mean slightly less ass-rape-free-money-for-at&t-fee) pricing until you are within 6 months of the end of your contract.

Even though the iPhone 4S took a little longer to bake in the oven (putting us closer to end-of-term for the iPhone 4’s 2 year contract), all of us original iPhone 4 adopters still aren’t eligible for the cheaper upgrade price until November 25th (and that’s if you bought the iPhone 4 on launch day):

$250 extra if you want the iPhone 4S on launch day.  Well, that sucks.  And, it’s a total bonehead move from AT&T.  You can never capitalize on launch day fever if you make people wait an extra month to buy a product.  Why make us wait AT&T?  All you are going to do is make people salivate over other carriers, or worse, your customers cool off so much they decide they don’t need to upgrade at all… and then in 6 months they are free from your artificial shackles.

If AT&T were smart, they’d move that early upgrade date to October 7… the day the iPhone 4S is up for pre-order.  There is only upside in doing that, and you don’t need an MBA to know why.  You lock in your customers for another 2 years, you kill any chance of buyers remorse, and you don’t give customers the opportunity to think about early termination.

But as it stands right now, all AT&T can do is lose customers.  And with Sprint and Verizon waiting for AT&T refugees (especially now that the iPhone 4S is a world phone), it really makes you wonder what genius is guiding AT&T’s decisions.

Lookout Groupon, Google Offers just might eat your lunch.

Looks like Google is positioning itself to offer deals straight to Gmail user inboxes, or to anybody else who signs up for the new Google Offers service.  Cities are limited right now, but the service is expanding rapidly.  Considering Groupon’s inability to turn a profit in the shadow of their enormous burn rate, coupled with their absolutely inflexible management and board, Google Offers could be the iceberg that finally sinks the titanic Groupon.

If the rumors were true, Groupon should have just sold to Google in the first place.  Hindsight 20/20 for Groupon’s board.

Stop eulogizing Steve Jobs.

I’m going to miss CEO Steve as much as the next guy, but what’s been happening in the news recently is a bit out of control.  If this were ANY other CEO, it would not get this much attention.

Of course, we all know Steve Jobs isn’t just any other CEO.  He is the CEO.  He took a company that Michael Dell would have shut down and turned it into the largest corporation ever known to mankind.  So yeah, Steve deserves a little attention… but the attention he is getting disturbs me.

Ask yourself, if Steve Jobs’s health was never in question, would he still be getting the kind of press he is getting today?  Definitely not.  And to be honest, this makes me sad.  I’ve been reading article after article about Jobs’s decision to step down, and I have to re-read most of them to make sure they don’t include funeral plans at the end.  The world’s greatest CEO deserves some attention for stepping down, but let’s stop eulogizing him.

Steve isn’t dead.