Always Check. ALWAYS. (10/20/99)

Yes, Virginia, there are iBooks available for the patient-- and they're even more available for the not-so-patient. We at AtAT can now say that a blood-relative has taken delivery of her brand-spanking-new Blueberry iBook, though if she hadn't gone down to CompUSA and rattled a few cages, she'd still be waiting. Here's the story in a nutshell: after countless crashes, excessive downtime, and other frustrating Wintel-style behavior on both her Compaq Presario at work and her husband's Packard Bell system at home, a couple of months ago my cousin actually put down a deposit on an iBook at CompUSA, sight unseen. (Actually, she'd seen one of the iBook brochures we picked up at Macworld Expo, but that's all-- and she's never used a Mac in her life.) The entire pre-order process was reportedly completely flummoxing to the sales staff, who had difficulty answering any questions about the amount of the deposit, whether the deposit guaranteed an iBook by a certain date, what kind of financing was available, etc. But after much consultation, head-scratching, and general befuddlement, the CompUSA staff was apparently able to book the pre-order and take my cousin's money.

Last Thursday night she gave us a call and vented her anger at CompUSA, since they had originally quoted her a late September delivery time and yet, as of the middle of October, she was still iBookless. I explained to her that the earthquake in Taiwan had shaken up an already rather late production schedule, but finding that the local Sears had two iBooks on the shelf wasn't helping matters any-- CompUSA already had her nonrefundable deposit. So on Friday she walked into CompUSA to check on her order status in person, since her deposit guaranteed her a place in line as iBooks trickled in to fill pre-orders. Imagine her dismay to be told that, despite her $250 deposit, CompUSA could find no record of her pre-order. So while she'd been told she was one of the very first on the list when she placed the order, if she hadn't gone in to investigate, she wouldn't have gotten an iBook at all. Let's hear it for CompUSA's stunning level of competency, folks! (Yes, we know there are good CompUSAs out there-- and even some Mac-friendly ones. But stories like this "mysterious disappearing order" seem to be the rule, not the exception.)

Anyway, she got hold of the manager, who, to be fair, was entirely apologetic, admitted that the store screwed up, and even offered to sell my cousin the demo iBook right then and there. She declined, instead opting for her other choice-- a boost to the very top of the pre-order list and a phone call when the next iBook became available. And so, five days later, she brought home the bright Blueberry addition to the family. It's a happy ending, overall (or a happy beginning, really, for a self-confessed computer illiterate just starting on the road to Macdom), though her one suggestion to Apple is to "get out of CompUSA because they don't know what the hell they're doing." Food for thought.

SceneLink (1859)
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The above scene was taken from the 10/20/99 episode:

October 20, 1999: The Cancellation Saga continues, as Apple iteratively agrees to reinstate more and more of the deep-sixed G4 pre-orders. Meanwhile, the mind reels amid a Mac the Knife report that the man behind the G4 slowdown with no price break was not Steve Jobs, and a personal anecdote illustrates the importance of being very careful when dealing with stores like CompUSA...

Other scenes from that episode:

  • 1857: Full Bloody Circle (10/20/99)   Bet you thought Apple's G4 cancellation fiasco ended last Monday with Steve Jobs' public apology, right? Wrong. This debacle is longer than a Meatloaf song and has just as many false stops. Let's recap: a week ago on Wednesday, Apple, fearing that too much good news might send its stock price into the low teens, tempered their better-than-expected earnings with the announcement that the whole Power Mac G4 line was being downgraded 50 MHz while the prices were remaining the same...

  • 1858: Whose Bad Acid IS This? (10/20/99)   Now that the whole "G4 pre-order cancellation" thingy has finally been resolved, people in the market for a professional Macintosh are still feeling pinched by Apple's bizarre plan to alleviate G4 availability problems by selling slower systems at the same price...

Or view the entire episode as originally broadcast...

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