How Apple ticked me off

I decided to get my Secret Santa a $10 iTunes gift card to go along with a 6-pack of Magic Hat.  This turned out to be a harder gift to get a hold of than I would have thought.  I found $10 cards at a few stores, sold in 3 or 4 packs. I checked a lot of  stores and found $15 iTunes gift cards at many of them.  I eventually went on the web and did a search and realized $10 cards are no longer sold singly in retail stores.  I’m sure many people just decide to get the $15 card instead when they can’t find the $10 card. I wasn’t going to cave to Apple and spend the extra $5.  That’s what Apple wants us to do.  Time for Plan B.

I found out that I could buy an iTunes certificate online which I could print to include in my gift bag.  I happened to be at my parents’ house when I went to purchase the certificate.  I thought it would be as easy as going to the Apple Online Store to buy one.  I was wrong.  I found out I had to download the entire Apple iTunes software application onto my parent’s computer in order for me to get the certificate.  iTunes is a free application that organizes and plays your digital music and video on your computer.  This really annoyed me.

I only wanted to purchase a certificate.  I had no interest in using the software.  I don’t understand why Apple felt that just because I was purchasing a certificate that I was interested in the iTunes software.  I thought hard about making that purchase.

I’m generally a reasonable person.   I’m not an Apple Hater.   I think Apple was unreasonable in making me download megabytes of software just so I could purchase that certificate.  What do you think?  In the end I went through with the download and purchase, but Apple fell down a notch on my respect meter.

10 thoughts on “How Apple ticked me off

  1. Michele it is my fault. I am an Apple share holder and the officers of the company are obligated by law to maximize shareholder value. I think they should offer the $10 card at retail: they may actually sell more units
    thus maximizing my stock value and not alienating Apple customers. Which is the long term way of maximizing shareholder value

    • Julio
      I understand why they’re selling the $15 cards only. They’d be stupid not to, from a marketing standpoint (and you should know being the Marketing MacGuyver), though I agree with you that they might sell more if they had some $10 cards out there. I had more of an issue with them “forcing” the software download on me. Overall I think Apple has quality products, and thus their good reputation. I wasn’t expecting something like this from them.

  2. (I’m not an Apple hater nor fanboy. There are at least a half-dozen iPods and one iPhone in my house.)

    Much of how Apple operates is all about control. They want to control your entire Apple experience — to their advantage, not yours.

    Bear with me while I rant a bit about three other anti-consumer Apple practices (though I have more.)

    • Lack of consumer-enabled flash memory expansion. Apple sells the exact same device with differing amounts of flash memory, and charge a super-premium for each incremental increase of flash. IMHO, if Apple were really interested in serving their consumers, Apple would follow the memory expansion model used successfully by every digital camera manufacturer: provide minimal built-in flash and let the consumer pop-in an SD card which meets their needs and budget. If they need more flash, simply backup the device, remove the old SD card, pop-in a larger one, and restore.
    • Batteries which cannot be replaced by consumers. If the battery on your Apple device, including many of their more recent laptops, goes bad in a few years, you must send it to Apple or a 3rd-party to open the device to replace the battery. Also, if your battery is running low, you cannot swap it out with a backup. The hassle and ~2 week loss of your device entices owners of 1-2 generation old devices to buy a new one. Again look to digital cameras plus the vast majority of mobile phones, and most laptops for designs which work for consumers, not against.
    • The iTunes Store is the only place you can get iOS apps, and Apple decides what is made available to purchase. Android device owners have several sources for apps, creating a competitive marketplace.

    Some will argue this is to make it dead simple for consumers. Yes, it does, but I don’t believe this is the root of their philosophy.


    • Rick

      I agree with all of your points. However Apple is not the only one to have devices which do not have replaceable batteries. I have a 30Gb Zune, 1st gen, that has a not easily replaceable battery. We have had SanDisk and Zune mp3 players because I see them as a better value for the money and except for the very early players, none of them have easily replaced batteries. Based on searches I did on the internet it looks like you can buy battery replacement kits for both Apple and Zune devices. (I did cave and buy my daughter an iPod Touch for Christmas this year.) Some of the mp3 players we own do have the flash memory expansion capability.


  3. Seems like this is either or both of: a) poor requirements, or b) poor marketing.

    You make a good point that any web browser and an internet connection should be the base requirements for purchasing a gift certificate.

    I don’t know enough of their (& retail stores’) business to say that $10 gift cards sold singly at retail are or aren’t a good idea – but maybe.

    Usually I think of customer service as something where the customer, or potential customer, could be helped almost immediately. In this case, however, it is quite a bit of work to put a product out on a web site, or a new SKU in retail: not something that Apple could do in a few hours.

    • Howard

      I believe poor marketing is to blame for some of this. Apple used to sell $10 gift cards at retail stores, but somewhere along the way they replaced them with $15 cards. They do still have the $10 cards but they’re only sold in multi-packs meaning you have to spend $30-50 depending upon how many are in the pack.

      As far as buying the certificate goes, I’m sure quite a few people balk at downloading the software. I have iTunes software on my laptop but didn’t happen to have it with me the night I made my purchase, so I wouldn’t have been quite so aware of what was going on. Besides, it took 10 minutes to download and install the software, when I just wanted to make my purchase and be on my way. For me, not a good customer experience.


  4. Hey Michelle,

    If I’m not mistaken, you couldn’t buy an album with a $10 gift card when you include the tax. True you could buy a bunch of single songs or apps.

    It’s funny but I steered away from the $10 cards when buying them for the kids just because they couldn’t by a whole CD/album.

    Besides, don’t you know that Steve Jobs knows what is best for you anyway?

    • Mark

      I agree that the $10 card won’t buy you an album generally because a lot of them run right around the $10 mark and with tax you’re going to have to shell out just a little bit extra. I had a set amount I was trying to stay within and the extra $5 was more than I was willing to cough up. I think this was my second Apple purchase and it left a sour taste in my mouth.


  5. Michele, I’m not an Apple hater but I don’t own anything Apple. I use to download and buy music and or book including e-books. It is a much better way to handle music and you don’t have to download anything and if the Secret Santa person gets the apple card and can’t use it then what? Anyway I am an Amazon lover! Dave

    • Dave

      I had an inside line on what my Secret Santa liked so that’s why I was got the iTunes card.

      I have iTunes on my laptop because I like to try out the free music they offer once a week. The music I download through iTunes works just fine on my Microsoft Zune. I still buy my music the old-fashioned way…on CD, so I very rarely buy music online. I have downloaded a few free tunes on Amazon as well.


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