Thursday, May 20, 2010

All's well that ends well: Apple reverses no-cash policy; delivers free iPad to woman denied purchase

You had to figure Apple didn't like all the bad publicity that had been generated when they refused to sell a Palo Alto customer an iPad because she wanted to pay with cash. Now Apple has reversed their no-cash policy and also hand-delivered Diane Campbell a free iPad for all her troubles.

Michael Finney of the local ABC affiliate broke the story a couple of days ago of a customer, Campbell, who saved up her money so she could buy one of Apple's new tablets. But when went to her local Palo Alto Apple store, not far from Apple headquarters in Cupertino, she was refused by an Apple employee.

"They said, 'Sorry, we don't take cash.' And, so I looked at her and I said OK she's kidding," Campbell recalled, according to Finney's original story on Monday.

Diane Campbell gets her iPad
thanks to local ABC affiliate.

The Apple employee, it turns out, was simply following company orders: no credit card, no iPad. The policy was put in place to prevent buyers from purchasing the hot new tablets then turning around and reselling them for a higher price. Since all Apple purchases can be tracked with credit cards, a no-cash policy would -- in theory -- prevent a black market in Apple products. Of course, it is also discriminatory as it prevents those with poor credit, or who simply shy away from credit card use, from purchasing Apple products.

The customer, though, contacted 7 On Your Side, the local affiliates consumer complaints program. The station then contacted Apple headquarters. But Apple, being notoriously press-shy did not immediately respond, and so the story broke nationally.

But yesterday ABC 7's Finney was able to report a happy ending. Not only would Apple reverse its no cash policy, but it hand-delivered a free tablet to Campbell.

While this may appear to be a win for the customer, and it certainly a good decision by Apple to reverse the policy, it is also a win for ABC 7, and for all those local stations that still have consumer advocates such as 7 On Your Side.