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Customer Reactions to Apple's G4 Order Cancellations
Published: 10/14/99 (Last Updated: 10/18/99 11:00 AM)
Later posted items first.


(Note: The original Oct. 1999 Apple, Cnet, Macweek, etc. linked pages are no longer online at their sites, so links have been changed to refer to archived copies of them.)

Apple To Honor G4 Orders: (Oct. 18th, 1999 Press Release) Apple has a press release that said they would honor G4 orders placed before Oct. 13th at the original price. Here's a snippet from the press release:

"CUPERTINO, CALIFORNIA-October 18, 1999-Apple® today announced it will honor all orders for its Power Macintosh® G4 computers placed before Wednesday, October 13, at the originally quoted prices, including those placed with the Company's resellers which were accompanied by a purchase order, or a cash or credit card deposit.

'We aim to delight our customers, and we clearly dropped the ball in this instance. We apologize to our customers for upsetting and disappointing them during this past week,' said Steve Jobs, Apple's interim CEO. 'Our actions today will hopefully set things right. As the old business proverb says: Good companies make mistakes. Great companies fix them.'

(here's the info on "revised" pricing (and no more 500MHz option) for those that didn't place an earlier order)
Customers who ordered the 400 MHz and 450 MHz models will receive their Power Mac™ G4 systems as ordered at the originally quoted prices. Customers who ordered the 500 MHz model, which has been delayed until early next year, will be offered a 450 MHz model at its originally quoted price. Since Wednesday, October 13, Apple has only taken orders for its reconfigured Power Mac G4 line which includes processors running at 350 MHz, 400 MHz and 450 MHz, priced at US$1,599, US$2,499 and US$3,499, respectively. "

This is good news for those that had their early order cancelled (it will now be honored), although there's no longer a 500MHz model option. (Note: The reason for the removal of the 500MHz G4 chip option, higher prices/shortages was later thought to be due to errata in early steppings of the 7400 CPU related to cache corruption on higher speed chips.) I welcome reader comments on their orders from mail-order Apple authorized dealers.


[Oct. 15th, 1999 Update:] While checking my email several readers sent a note that MacWeek is reporting that despite previous reports to the contrary (including this news.com 3:00 PM article), Apple told them that they will "cancel almost all advance orders" out of necessity. At this point I'm not sure what to believe. See this morning's news post below for a copy of an email I got from Apple indicating although my Sept. 10th order for a G4/500 was cancelled, they had reconsidered and would allow me to order a G4/450 at the old price. Several readers also reported similar mails and that in some cases (early orders), their G4/450's were shipping soon. I'd tend to believe direct contacts/communications from Apple over this report, but if anyone gets a reversal notice on their order, please let me know.

Update: Apple G4 Order Reinstatement/Offer: here is the mail I received last night from Apple:

"Dear Valued Apple Store Customer,

Yesterday the Apple Store decided to cancel all G4 orders placed before October 13. After a good night's sleep and digesting emails from many upset customers, we have decided to reverse this decision. Please give us an opportunity to reinstate your order.

If you ordered a Power Mac G4 configured with a 400 MHz or 450 MHz processor prior to October 13, we will honor the original price quoted for your order.

If you ordered a Power Mac G4 configured with a 500 MHz processor prior to October 13, you can choose either the same configuration with a 450 MHz processor at $350 less than your original order price, or you may substitute any other configuration with a 450 MHz processor at the original prices in effect before October 13.

Please call us at the Apple Store at 800-MY-APPLE for assistance in reinstating your original order. We apologize for any inconvenience we may have caused you.
Sincerely,
The Apple Store"

A previous reader mail on the reinstatements:

"Mike,
Good news. Its not a rumor. I was on hold for about 30 minutes waiting for a representative. Seems Apple has taken a bashing and is planning on doing the right thing. They are going to offer what they should of did originally to the G4/500 ordering folks. You can get a G4/450 at the original selling price.
What is still in question though is where in the queue your new order is going to be placed. My guy said management was in a meeting and more info concerning that would be fore coming from that meeting. He said he was going to enter my new order and would be getting back to me later tonight with a delivery date. I am still pissed but at least this is making things a little more palpable.
-walt."

As noted last night and earlier today at the front page news, some cancellations may have been sent in error:

"This is the response that Robert got from Apple after sitting on hold for 40 minutes....

Anything that went into production before 5pm Central Time today was not cancelled and will ship out. All other orders have been cancelled and have to be placed again. Our G4-450 was not cancelled and will ship out tonight. Apple did a mass emailing to anyone that had ordered a G4; even people who had already received G4s got the email. They didn't have time to separate things, so they just did a mass email to everyone." "


As readers of the front page news already know, Apple has sent order cancellations to customers who had not only 500MHz G4 systems on order, but also 450MHz backorders (and even 400MHz orders according to one reader). In one case a reader said they cancelled an order after charging the credit card and sending a delivery date (see below) - but later noted that the order may still ship, so there is hope for some people whose orders were close to shipping.

I could understand canceling 500MHz orders (500MHz chips reported not available due to errata) and raising prices due to increased RAM costs on new orders, but to cancel backorders to customers for G4/400 and 450 systems is just plain wrong and unethical in my opinion.

For those that think canceling backorders is OK, ask yourself how you'd react if Microsoft or Dell, or a mail order company had done this. What especially hurts is that some of these backorders were from first-time Mac buyers and companies. They may never give Apple a 2nd chance after this treatment.

This is one of the brightest times in Apple history and now Apple has not only offended loyal customers, but also handed a stone for the anti-Mac crowd to throw back at us. I'm still hoping Apple does the right thing on 400 and 450MHz backorders. Certainly it's not ethical to force backordered customers to reorder at a higher price AND then go to the end of the line on the waiting list.

Some customers were so outraged that I can't print their mails due to language, but here are some of the tamer reader comments (most recent first):


" FYI, here's my message to Apple. The message they sent to us Mac users yesterday with the idiotic G4 downgrade policy was loud and clear; they deserve a response in kind.

Charles Miller

-----Original Message-----
From: Charles Miller
Sent: Thursday, October 14, 1999 2:07 PM
To: 'leadership@apple.com'
Subject: G4 system downgrades

Dear Apple,

Here's the bottom line: I was prepared to buy a new Mac in the next 7-10 days. Thanks to your new downgrade policy, I am now postponing my purchase decision until the entire G4 line is restructured at substantially higher processor speeds and lower prices. And I'm mad as hell.

For several weeks, I had been weighing price/performance/expansion issues relating to the new iMac and the Yikes and Sawtooth G4s and was leaning toward buying a 400 MHz Yikes G4 now, rather than waiting a few months for a Sawtooth model at 400 MHz or higher. Given that today's excellent performance of the now-discontinued 400 MHz Yikes G4 was likely to soar under the optimized code of OS 10, the issue of G4 vs iMac was moot: I wanted high performance now and the guarantee of high performance in 2000 under OS 10. So, the iMac was out.

With the bottom-of-the-line G4 now at 350 MHz under your first-of-its-kind, industry-leading, hardware downgrade policy, the performance differential of the current Yikes G4 (under OS 8.6/9 and using nongraphics-intensive apps) vs the new iMac is likely to be minimal. So yesterday evening, the equation tipped: the smart money now goes to the iMac, opportunities for expansion be damned.

If I were merely an economic animal, I wouldn't sweat the consequences of this idiotic policy and buy an iMac this weekend (assuming I can find one locally, even though they have been "available" for several weeks now) because I really need a new machine. On the other hand, if I really were an exclusively economic animal, I'd probably buy Wintel.

But now I'm merely mad -- this move smacks of both greed and unvarnished arrogance toward your customers. I've been a Mac loyalist for a long time: my first machine was a 512e, purchased in 1986. I've seen Apple make bad moves (remember the MacTV and that dead-end Mac II model?), but those lapses could be reasonably attributed to changing fashions in computer design. This downgrade policy is different -- it is the first time that you have callously, grossly, and willfully screwed your customers.

Things could be worse: I could have been one of the thousands who preordered the original 400 or 450 MHz configurations at the original prices only to receive cancellation notices by email. However, I'd then have the satisfaction of entering a class-action lawsuit against Apple for breach of contract. As it stands, I'm abiding a moratorium against all Apple products and will advise anyone who asks me about Macs (I get a few inquiries every week) to do the same.

The answer is simple: reverse the downgrade policy immediately. And don't ever, ever do anything like it again.

Charles Miller "


"Mike,
I received the same message from Apple you did. We need to fight this unjustified policy by Apple by mobilizing the forces. When I recalculate my order with the same options using the 450 MHz model instead of the 500MHZ one, there is still a $100 increase in price with a 50 MHz cut in processor speed. This is in effect about a $500 increase in price any way you look at it because of the difference in the cost of the G-4 CPU itself.

Apple should have:

1. Announced a delay and given 500 MHz orders the option of waiting for later availability at the original confirmed price.
2. Offered 500MHZ orders the option of the 450 MHz model at the original 450 MHz price.

Canceling all orders was just a thinly guised means of raising prices. I do not feel it was legal for Apple to raise prices for those with confirmed orders. We need to fight this using the Internet. Apple will have to back down.

Lynn R. Trusal, Ph.D."


" I just had my G4/*400* order cancelled (placed three days ago). Doesn't seem right that they can "pull the rug" out from under existing orders like this. My attempts to return my feelings to the e-mail address from which I got the cancellation were met with the expected bounce.
Joe C
"


"I do not believe in using profanity, but Apple's ****** me over on this whole G4/500 deal. I heard about the fiasco on your site, and having had a 500 on order since 9/2/99 I called Apple about it. I was promptly told by the salesperson that it has been canceled. I asked what my next option was, and he said I could order a G4/450 FOR THE SAME PRICE!!! Not only that, but since it was a new order, there was a line ahead of me (even though I had an order in since day 1...)

Is there any legal recourse in getting a G4/450 at the same price as the original order? Is there a class action suit waiting to happen? Any help???

Boy...I can't say how pissed off I am right now... I've been using Macs since 1984, but this feels like too much... If only Windoze didn't suck so much I'd be on Gateway's site ordering a PIII...
Just venting and looking for suggestions....
Bob V.
"


"Well, I am a purchasing agent for a computer lab at Colorado State University, and after months of persuasion, I convinced the managers of this Windows NT-centric lab to buy a Mac for the students to use. One of my selling points was the low price we were quoted for the 450MHz G4 right after the introduction. The order was placed last month, but the hold up on the SCSI card that we needed delayed shipping of the machine. Now after the 'reconfiguration' by Apple, we will not only be missing a machine, but it seems we will be paying $315 extra for the machine. Did prices for RAM really go up that much? I didn't think Apple had too much trouble fulfilling the 450MHz chips, and even if the prices go up on the CPU part, $315 is still a ridiculous price to pay after we've had the machine on backorder for so long. Too bad Apple has to go and make waste of efforts by their loyalists to increase their user base. Now I doubt the lab will reinstate the purchase after this fiasco...
Danny W.
"


"Apple is disappointing me once again.
I had the unique opportunity to recently recommended a G4/450 in a high-end video/graphics environment that has been otherwise dominated by non-Mac hardware & TV broadcast equipment (big $$$). While I am not at all affiliated with Apple, I do make a point of promoting their products when I can, and have been a loyal upgrader (with the exception of holding out on BeOS-incapable Macs), and was even thinking of making the G4/450 jump myself. When my boss comes back to me, I'll have to say, "You can't get that model now and the G4/400 will cost you more."

Quite frankly, they'll likely look at a Wintel solution instead. This is too bad, as this would have been the first time in 15 years that I would have seen a Mac at work.

Apple, if you want to win customers, this is not the way to do it. At least don't increase the prices!
Bruce P.
"


"Hello Mike,
Let me say up front I do not have a G4 on order, even so, I find Apple's actions in this case outrageous, wrong and probably-- illegal. Someone who had previously ordered a G4 400MHz machine for $1599, now has to reorder their 400MHz machine and pay $2499! This is absurd. Apple should honor ALL of their current orders. Those who ordered a 400MHz G4 should get their machine at the price they were promised when they placed their order. Likewise with those who ordered a G4 450MHz. And those who had ordered a G4 500MHz machine should have the option to accept a 450MHz instead, or continue waiting, or cancel their order.

I'm not a lawyer, but I seriously question whether Apple can legally cancel orders on machines which they are still planning to sell, i.e. the 400MHz and 450MHz G4s. Even if they do have a legal leg to stand on, this move does nothing but create ill-will between Apple and a large group of their most loyal customers. That alone should make them want to correct this brain-dead move as soon as possible.
Cordially,
Hiram
"


"Mike
...First, I agree--this is a fiasco. Apple should at least give some sop to people who expected 500MHz machines at one price point and now must accept slower models that cost the same. Rising RAM my ass--all OEM RAM is long-term contract anyway. As a stockholder, I don't like to see Apple spending its goodwill like a drunkard.

But, on one point I disagree with you. Apple can't sell the current top of the line machine at the old 450MHz price. There's more there than the processor. The top of the line machine comes with DVD RAM, not DVD ROM like the second tier Sawtooth, as well as bigger hard drives and maybe something else I forgot. Even with the same processor speed, it's a better machine than #2. DVD RAM is an expensive option in the BTO part of the Apple Store. I hope you're aware of the configuration difference you're going to see with the pre-announcement 450MHz you located.
Aside from that quibble, I agree--this sucks.
Cheers,
Ken E.
"

Again, my main complaint is the canceling of backorders for 450's - not price hikes on new systems. (Although apparently there the 'new price' of the exact same 450MHz configuration was also increased - see reader comments below.)


"Hi Mike,
I know you have tons of email but I thought I'd pass along my $.02 on how to respond to the G4 CPU speed rollback, price increase and 450 order cancellations.

I think it would be useful for an many Mac loyalists as possible to declare a moratorium on purchase of all Apple products for 6 months (or until the current "rolled back" line of G4s is superceded or lowered in price).

By doing this we would in effect be saying to Apple, "You may think this way is the cheapest, but we're going to make it expensive for Apple by refusing to purchase machines with the current specs and at the current prices."

I'll be proposing this moratorium in my "Mac Curmudgeon" MacOpinion column for Thurs 10/14. If you feel it's a reasonable proposal, you might want to link to it.

As always, thanks for your precious time and for a great site.
Best,
Matt Ruben
"

Raising prices on new orders is their right (to cover for increased Chip or RAM costs, etc.), but to cancel backorders is unethical in my opinion and my main gripe.


"Good news, at least for me and probably a few other 450 purchasers. I just got through to Apple, and the person who checked my order said that since my 450 had already entered the final stages of construction before today's changes, it will ship to me and I'll pay the original price. You might want to pass this on to your readers, since I'm sure that others will be in the same situation. They should definitely call the Apple store to be sure of their order status.
-Ben
"

"Mike,
What a mess Apple has created with the G4. I worked on my boss for months to buy me a Mac. I spend 50% of my time keeping our _1_ PC in working order (3 other Unix machines need little care). Not only did I finally convince him, he then OK'd the purchase of a Cinema Display to go with it, and went ahead and ordered the Mac version of a $50,000 digital camera/microscope.

I wrote you a few weeks ago asking about digital outputs on the Rage 128 because we couldn't purchase the Cinema Display with a purchase order (so I thought I would purchase the computer now and wait until the display became available on the educational site). However, as owners said there was only a regular VGA output, I ordered the entire package through the Apple store with my bosse's personal credit card.

Now they've canceled our entire order (G4/500 & Cinema Display) and directed me back to the online store where they've raised prices across the entire line. Fred Anderson is quoted as saying that they had to raise prices because DRAM has gone up. What a load of crap! DRAM prices haven't moved since they set the G4 prices in September.

Can you believe this? Their best computer ever and look how they're souring it.
Al
"


"Mike
I'm a PC user that has been reading your site for several months since it has a balanced view of the computing world and seems to be objective on the pros and cons of each platform. In fact I was about to order an Apple G4 and an iMac DV based on your comments and the incredibly helpful spirit of the mac community that I see on your pages every day.

However after reading about Apple's canceling/raising prices of backorders of the G4/450, which as you said they still sell, I'm not so sure. If this is how Apple treats their customers, I'll still with Dell or Micron. They don't seem to have the arrogance of Apple and indifference to their customers. However they are in a competitive market. I guess Apple feels like they can get away with anything. I'm just writing to let them know they lost a PC convert. I'm sure there are many like me that will see this for latest Apple act as shoddy and unethical treatment of customers. I'm still baffled at their ethics. Raising prices to cover the increasing cost of RAM is one thing, but never have I heard of any company treating customers with existing backorders this way. I think I'll stick with Dell, they seem to appreciate their customers.
Brian M.
"


"Normally, I'm the biggest Apple fan in the world. You should see my room here at UC Berkeley. It's covered with all the Think Different posters. Unfortunately, today, Apple pulled off the worst example of bullcrap I have ever seen from them by downgrading all the models by 50 MHz. There's no way in hell I'm going to pay $2749 for the system I wanted when I know it was advertised at $2399 just a day earlier. NO WAY IN HELL. I can't even describe how angry I am. I feel like starting some kind of movement to reverse this, but I know it won't do any good. Ugh, I'm peeved.
Eugene
"


"Mike,
I'm sure you got one of those dubious e-mails from Apple today stating that your G4/500 has been cancelled. My order placed 9/8/99 was basically what you did in that I took a stock G4/450 and just change the processor to 500. The base of this new configuration was $2749 before tax and shipping. What really irks me now is they want me to settle for a 450 at the same price!

That by taking a stock 400 and uping the processor to 450. Something here smells big time. It seems to me maybe Apple is trying to recoup some of their memory price increases at our expense. Now they also expect me to go to the front of the queue again. Hmm I think not. Personally IMO this is a major marketing problem for Apple.

On your 5PM update you stated that the fellow who ordered an early 450 should file a complaint with the BBB Online but I think we all should file a class action.
-Walt.
"


"Mike,
I am absolutely stunned about how Apple handled this availability chip thing....They have made some marketing blunders before , but this one is blatantly rude. At the very least they should have priced your machine differently being that you had preordered..I am sure you are very pissed. Apple has always survived because it is clearly a better machine and Apple people know this, but this is going to have a lot of people rethink.

It probably doesn't impact big numbers of folks but the ones it did are hopping mad right now....
John
"


"mike,
i think you have a contract with apple for that 500 mhz machine, though it's people who've ordered the 450 who have the strongest case: they've had the price jacked up on the exact machine they were offered by apple!
Z
"


"I also placed an order for a G4/450, about a month ago, and today I received email that the order was cancelled. I'm on hold with Apple now, hoping to find out more information. If I hear anything new, I'll pass the word along.
Needless to say, I am not happy about this at all.
-Ben Levin
"


"Mike,
I agree with your take on this G4 thing. I can't believe they're doing this.

Even if they weren't royally screwing people who pre-ordered machines, its really terrible that the best machine Apple will be shipping this quarter is 250 MHz slower than the top of the line AMD and Intel offerings.

I had been planning on buying a 500 MHz G4 in January with the hope that by then the line would have been speed bumped to the 450-550 range. But with this reverse speed-bump I may have to postpone my purchase indefinitely.

I hate to say this, but I'm starting to really question whether my next computer will be a Mac. I figure my G3 upgraded 7500 will keep me happy into the middle of next year. If July rolls around and Apple's fastest machine is still 45% slower than the fastest x86 offering (in terms of MHz) and Mac OS X is still "just around the corner," I might have to bolt to Windows 2000 on a K7. Yikes that's a scary thought :(
John
"


The original posts from my Wednesday news page:

Apple Canceling G4/450 Orders? Bill Buchanan wrote with a copy of his cancellation email on a backordered 450 system (see below for 500MHz order cancellations).

"This order (for a 450!!) was actually placed the first week g4s were available. on 10/13 I just modified the video card "

I felt bad over the 500, but Apple really should think again about canceling backorders on 450 systems. First the Trojan Horse ROM check bad PR and now this. I can't believe they are treating customers with existing 450 orders this way. It reeks of greed and complete disregard for loyal customers. Never have I heard of a company increasing prices on existing backorders, which is basically what they are doing by canceling 450MHz G4 orders (since new orders have the higher pricing). If a phone call to Apple does not solve the problem, I suggest those that had G4/450 orders cancelled file a complaint with the BBB Online.

Update: Many readers said that these cancellations may not be legal, as you have a contract with Apple. Especially on orders of G4/450s - which is a product they still sell. This is like forcing a retroactive price increase and then putting you at the back of the waiting list again. George Cole wrote that Apple also cancelled an order after they had charged a credit card on Oct. 4th for a G4/450.

"Check this out Mike! Apple "charged our credit card" on Oct. 4th and said our 450/1MB Sawtooth would be shipping on 10/12. Then we get this eMail [he sent the cancellation email notice] today! "

Another reader is on the phone with Apple now over his G4/450 order and is to let me know what the outcome is. This is going to get ugly and I hope Apple thinks this PR disaster is worth the added profits from the price increase they might gain from backordered 450 buyers reordering 450 systems. Considering the big picture - this is an insane move in my opinion. How can they cancel backorders and raise prices for a model they still sell? I've gotten dozens of reader mails from customers that are furious over this. I don't blame them.

Apple Cancels G4/500 Orders/Raises Prices: I received an email just now that Apple has cancelled my G4/500 order due to processor availability:

"To Our Valued Apple Customer:

We appreciate your recent order for an Apple G4 computer and want to take this opportunity to update you on Apple's G4 product line changes. As you may know, Apple today announced that it has reconfigured the processor speeds in its Power Mac G4 line to better match chip availability. You can review the full press release at at http://www.apple.com.

The changes being announced today mean that we are unable to fulfill your outstanding G4 order as originally configured and priced. As a result, we are obligated to cancel the G4 products on your order. Only the G4 products are affected and have been canceled from your order; the remaining products will ship when available. We regret the inconvenience this change will cause.

We do want to make you aware that the new options and configurations are immediately available for reorder. We invite you to visit our web site at www.apple.com/store to review the new offerings to see if one of them will suit your needs. You can place a new order directly at the online Apple Store, or call our Sales Team at 1-800-MYAPPLE for assistance in choosing the best machine for you. "

To add insult to injury - Apple apparently has raised prices on the line. A 400MHz G4 Sawtooth now costs as much as the 450 did when I ordered and there is no 500MHz option. What a slap in the face for those of us that ordered 500MHz models and waited over a month only to have this happen. Not even an offer to honor their old 450 G4 prices which we could have chosen instead of the 500. I'm very disappointed.

Apple also said that IBM will manufacture G4 processors for Apple products in the first half of 2000.

For a copy (archive) of Apple's official press release on the matter click here.


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