If you follow Apple news, you’d know that in addition to announcing new iPhones a couple weeks ago, Apple also announced a new way to purchase them — an Apple-branded upgrade program where you can upgrade your phone every year and never have to pay full price for one. The program is similar to programs that the carriers offer, where you pay a monthly installment for your phone, and after a certain amount of time, you can simply trade in your current phone for a new one, even if you haven’t paid it off yet.
The Apple plan doesn’t really save you that much money on a month-to-month basis, but it does offer other perks — Applecare is included and the phone is unlocked (so it’ll work with just about any carrier anywhere). Those were enough of an incentive for me to give it a try, so I made an appointment for Friday at 8am at the Apple store nearest me, so I could get a phone with the plan (the upgrade program isn’t offered online).
I encountered just one problem: Apple really didn’t want me to use the program.
Did I fail the credit check? I don’t know. I never even got that far.
When I made the reservation to buy the phone in person, the confirmation email made sure to say that I needed to bring my carrier info, two forms of ID with the same full name on both (credit card could be one), and my old phone (if I wanted to trade it in). That’s all it told me I need to have.
I showed up with all items in hand, only having to wait in line for a few minutes (seriously, if you ever want to buy an Apple product in person, use their reservation system).
I entered the store and met my sales rep. He already knew the model I had reserved and just wanted to know how I would pay for it — through my carrier, through the upgrade program, or just buy it outright.
“Through the Apple upgrade program please,” I said.
And after spending the next twenty minutes trying to enter my info to get me approved for the program, it never came close to happening.
The problem? The address on my driver’s license didn’t match the address on my credit card, and I kept getting kicked out of the system.
I get it. Apple is super-concerned about fraud. But there are plenty of legit reasons for those two addresses not to match. You could’ve moved recently. You could prefer your bills get sent not to your home. You could have a PO Box or a mailbox at a neighborhood postal center (which are way more secure than most home mailboxes). You could be using a business credit card that, naturally, won’t bill to your home address.
What’s weird is that this appears to be an Apple-only rule. Apple partners with a third-party bank to offer the “interest-free loan” for the phone (which is basically what the program is), and I could see the software that the Apple sales rep used to submit the loan application. The app never actually asks for the address off the driver’s license. In fact, the software specifically asks for the address from the credit card, but the sales rep was instructed that he had to use the address off the license. For many people who’d want to use the upgrade program — people Apple would love to retain as customers — this technicality makes the program a non-starter.
Oh well. I wound up using the upgrade program offered by my carrier. And you know what “perk” they offer that Apple can’t? For my next phone, I don’t have to upgrade to an iPhone.
Your move, Apple. The iPhone 7S had better be something special, because your internal policies have kept the door wide open for me to consider other platforms.