Apple Has A “Lifetime Limit” On iPad Buying?

This is a very strange story.

And the site is being hammered right now, so use this text-only Google cached version.

Basically, he went in and bought a bunch of iPads on separate days, adhering to the “two to a customer” limit, never realizing that limit was … um, some sort of real limit.

He’s still staring at his monitor and a few seconds pass before Guy #2 carefully says, “There is a limit to the number of iPads that customers can buy.”

Me (playing dumb) — “Oh, is that right? What’s the limit?”

Guy #2 — “Only 2 per customer.”

Apple ipad tablet slate shopping genius bar store

Ok, so the gig is up. I stand around waiting for a bit and was preparing to leave when Guy #1 returns.

Guy #1 — “I’m sorry sir, but you have reached your lifetime limit of iPad purchases and will not be allowed to buy any more.”

Me (anticipating that statement) — “Is the iPad limit per person? Per credit card? Per household?”

Guy #1 — “All I can say is that you have reached your lifetime limit.”

Me — “What does that mean? Can I use a different credit card to buy it? I’m buying this for a friend.”

Guy #1 — “You are not allowed to buy this iPad.”

Me — “Uhh… is it ok if I have a family member or friend come to buy it for me? My reservation doesn’t expire until 6:00 PM.”

Guy #1 — “All I can say is that you have reached your lifetime limit.”

Me (suddenly realizing what he’s saying)– “Wait, what? Lifetime? What does that mean?”

Guy #1 — “All I can say is that you have reached your lifetime limit of iPads and will not be allowed to buy any more.”

Me — “I’m banned from buying iPads? I know there’s a shortage right now, but I can’t buy any more once there’s plenty of stock?”

Guy #1 — “All I can say is that you have reached your lifetime limit.”

What I think made the problem “serious” in Apple’s eyes was that this guy was shipping them out of the country, in effect being a gray marketeer. I suspect what Guy #2 was looking at was some sort of notice from Apple that showed his iPads being activated or registered outside of the United States. And that got the banhammer dropped on him.

It’s a very strange story. From one point of view, I think, what does it matter to Apple if these iPads are in stock? And then I wonder if there is some sort of certification issue involved where the countries these have been shipped to could put Apple in trouble (recall how Israel has been banning and confiscating iPads!).

Anyway, keep this story in mind if you ever want to be some sort of “samaritan” via the Apple Store!

2 responses to “Apple Has A “Lifetime Limit” On iPad Buying?

  1. Apple has a similar policy in place for iPhones. x amount per day, x amount lifetime. People seem to get really freaked out about this for some reason — “how dare Apple not sell me something if I want to pay for it” and such. The guy admitted he was reselling, Apple has an authorized reseller program, and he’s not in it.

    Apple’s products are highly desirable and there’s a significant grey market in reselling units, especially when new products are released. They’re completely within their rights to wish to control initial sales. The employees were terse because they were instructed to be; any further assistance they gave him could be construed as helping him get around the limit. They were incorrect in stating that his lifetime limit is 2, though. Telling him how many the actual limit is would be used to assist others in abusing it.

    Being an Apple retail employee isn’t easy. The company is incredibly high profile, especially amongst those who have blogs and post about their exchanges word-for-word like this guy did. So the employees are heavily coached on positioning policy and are supposed to be polite but offer no more info than needed.

    Their system doesn’t track activations, merely sales tied to reservations and/or credit card numbers. Businesses and other organizations wishing to make bulk purchases go through business sales and are exempt. If someone has a large family or whatever other special circumstance can speak with a store manager, who can override the limit if they feel the circumstances warrant it.

  2. The saddest thing about the entire affair is the comments on the above site. A bunch of juvenile delinquents saying “it’s a good thing I wasn’t there – I would have punched the sales clerk in the face”.

    What ever happened to following the rules and civility?