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Apple quietly nixes “Free iPod touch” promo for new iPods

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By Jeremy Horwitz

Editor-in-Chief, iLounge
Published: Thursday, September 2, 2010
News Categories: Apple

In an unexpected change to its “Buy a Mac, get a free iPod” promotion for educational customers, which runs through September 7 of this year, Apple will not offer students rebates on iPod models announced yesterday, a limitation snuck into a just-updated Terms and Conditions PDF on its Apple Store web site. Since late May, Apple’s web site has promised students and educators a free 8GB iPod touch or less expensive iPod model with the purchase of a new Mac computer, issuing up to $199 as a rebate after the combined purchase. Now, however, the new Terms and Conditions claim that the “new models are NOT ELIGIBLE for the Back to School promotion, and rebate “claims submitted in conjunction with these new products will not be honored.”

As noted by Macworld UK, neither the change in terms nor the way to take advantage of the promotion to order old models is obvious when viewing Apple’s web site. “Because the promotion says that you have to pay for the iPod first, then reclaim the money later,” a reader pointed out, “I suspect there might be quite a lot of disgruntled students in a few weeks time, when they discover that they’ve bought an iPod they really couldn’t afford and that they’re now not going to get the money back for it.”

iLounge has confirmed that this change is impacting U.S. customers who placed orders yesterday for new Macs and iPods, as the company’s telephone representatives are claiming that rebates—despite the lack of conspicuous notice during the ordering process yesterday—will be denied.

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Comments

1

I am pretty sure this has always been the case as in years past. While the PDF may have been updated yesterday to say ‘the new ones are not included’, it has always stated which model numbers _were_ included.

I can’t think of a time that Apple allowed you to get the ‘new’ ones with this promotion. The only thing I can think of that could be different is in previous years the promo may end before new iPods are out. In this case actually, the promo will end before the new ones are shipped.

I am sure this causes a lot of confusion to users though, on why they can’t get the new ones for free - as I am sure it does every year.

Posted by Jon on September 2, 2010 at 10:34 AM (PDT)

2

On Monday of this week my daughter bought a Macbook and Touch, and the offer specifically stated the Touch model numbers (which were the former model numbers). So this change is not so much a change but a clarification about the policy. While the (2G) 8GB Touch can be returned, she would not get the $199 rebate for the 4G Touch. This is what we expected, but some are a little clueless about how this program works (and why it exists).

Posted by rockmyplimsoul on September 2, 2010 at 11:18 AM (PDT)

3

1/2: The promotion running past the date of new iPod model introductions and the less than totally clear updates to the promotion page are contributing to the issue here. When the page says ‘buy Mac get free 8GB iPod touch or lesser model,” and people order current-gen touches etc without receiving a warning that they don’t qualify for the deal, there’s a problem that a very simple software fix on the Store’s part could eliminate.

Many people have no consciousness of part numbers and generations… A situation Apple encourages by rarely giving products distinct names after annual refreshes. For reference, Apple didn’t even start calling the 2009 iPod touch third-generation for a while, and a customer would need to be really detail-focused to go to pages and hunt down Maxxx/lla part numbers. Simply structuring the rebate system to allow certain educational purchasing combos and warn on others would make things better for everyone.

Posted by Jeremy Horwitz in East Amherst, NY, USA on September 2, 2010 at 11:46 AM (PDT)

4

Mr. Horowitz, I’ve been looking at this offer for a few weeks prior to yesterday. The offer always stated, “8GB iPod touch is second generation.” Furthermore, if you actually went to Apple’s website and clicked into this offer, after you selected your Mac computer you were automatically taken to an iPod selection screen, with the applicable second generation 8GB iPod touch pre-selected, and the means to select other models applicable to the offer.

So if one simply picked the offer and went through the steps of selecting items, there was no chance of getting something to which the offer did not apply.

I agree that Apple did not paste a 600x800 banner across the middle of the page that explained the offer in terms that a retarded five-year-old could understand. Should they have? I think not. Apple did put asterisks in the appropriate places with footnotes containing additional details, and links to the full terms and conditions. If people do not read that stuff before laying out money they hope to get back, then hopefully they will learn a lesson. I’m glad Apple does not contribute to stupidity by catering to it.

Posted by JJR512 on September 2, 2010 at 2:13 PM (PDT)

5

#4: A couple of points. First, I went back and checked the pages myself based on your comment, and found that there is indeed a pathway through the educational page that’s fully guided towards the ‘correct’ purchases. So on that issue, I’m going to almost completely retract my prior comment. My apologies for not seeing that there was such a pathway, and I am glad that it’s there.

The second point, however, is that there are still different ways that customers approach the promotional pricing, including seeing the ‘buy Mac, get iPod’ banner and then making a purchase without following the aforementioned pathway. I personally know of people with graduate degrees who took that other purchasing route yesterday without even knowing that there was a guided method to get only qualifying iPods; obviously the Macworld UK quote above indicates that there are other people who aren’t (to avoid your derogatory language) stupid, yet are having the same problem.

It is not intuitive from the promotional graphic, unless you start reading the new small print qualifications, that new iPod models (not just touch but also shuffle and nano) are not covered. Should someone follow the guided purchase pathway and understand what they’re getting, agreed that there will be no issue, but there will be people who have problems because of this. Better to post this notice as a warning to help some of them avoid the mistake and the subsequent frustration, recounted to us by people today, of calling Apple and having to cancel orders because of it.

Posted by Jeremy Horwitz in East Amherst, NY, USA on September 2, 2010 at 3:22 PM (PDT)

6

This deal is a ripoff anyway. I live in CA and the tax I would have to pay on a MacBook pro at the Apple Store is usually the price of the iPod Touch. It’s cheaper to just buy it from a tax free place like macconnection and get the Touch later if I want it, which I don’t.

Posted by Dieburnbot on September 2, 2010 at 6:48 PM (PDT)

7

I’ve NEVER seen a promotion, even those involving a few bucks worth of fast food, that didn’t require more reading and thought than the promotion’s tagline says at face value.

This particular promotion goes back several years and it’s obvious to all but those without the ability to remember what happened a single year ago that Apple uses the promotion to clear out stock on soon to be discontinued iPods. Every year a couple of months before school starts, Apple starts the promotion. Every year, it’s limited to current models at the time the promotion starts. Every year it ends right about the same time as new iPods come out to avoid confusion.

The only thing notably different this year is that Apple decided to hold their fall iPod announcement about a week earlier than they usually do and a week earlier than the iPods will be in stores - the promotion actually does end before these new iPods will be on shelves in most places, Apple just announced and started taking pre-orders for new models during the last week of the promotion, that’s it.

Posted by Code Monkey in Midstate New York on September 3, 2010 at 5:46 AM (PDT)

8

According to Apple, 50% of Mac buyers are first-timers, so whatever was on Apple’s web site one or three years ago doesn’t really matter.

Posted by Jeremy Horwitz in East Amherst, NY, USA on September 3, 2010 at 5:59 AM (PDT)

9

@Jeremy, come on, just because I haven’t bought a Mac in 14 years doesn’t mean I magically know nothing about what Apple’s been doing with the product line for those 14 years. So 50% being first time buyers is like saying 90+% of them are bread eaters or that 50% of them are genetically female, it means nothing. This promo runs every year, it’s run every year for so many years that even those who are now entering college have probably seen and remembered the promo multiple times if they EVER considered either an iPod or a Mac. If 50% of those first time buyers have never considered either of those products then Apple has not been the media savvy advertising giant I’ve been watching these past six+ years turn a modestly better product into a rebirth for the entire company.

As an aside since you brought it up wink , I love how Apple boasts about their percentage of first time buyers as if that stat is a good thing (they’ve done this multiple times in the past as well). Apple’s market share has remained remarkably stable since they dove to 3%-5% of the market in the mid 90s, it just hasn’t changed in spite of whatever cherry picking of sales demographics Apple chooses (e.g. last year or so when they boasted how large a percentage of the laptop market they controlled… even though the asterisk pointed out they were selling 20% of the laptops $2000 and over, which amounted to 20% of some single digit percentage of just laptop sales). The same statistic, 50% of Mac buyers are new buyers, while spun by Steve sounds like a good thing, actually means Apple has awful second time buyer statistics. They draw lots of first timers, sure, but a couple of turns on the Apple merry go round and roughly half (or more) move onto (or back to) the PC platform.

Posted by Code Monkey in Midstate New York on September 3, 2010 at 7:19 AM (PDT)

10

#9: You consistently post some of the smartest comments on this site, and it’s obvious that you wouldn’t have been impacted by any small print, go to another page sort of issue that might impact other customers. That said, there are lots of different customers out there who bring different levels of intellect, experience, and even just luck to their purchasing experiences, some of whom need more than an asterisk to avoid making a mistake. We speak with first-time Apple customers all the time - they’re really out there, even today - and even some savvy past customers got fooled on the changed promo. Believe it or not…

Posted by Jeremy Horwitz in East Amherst, NY, USA on September 3, 2010 at 9:33 AM (PDT)

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