“I’ve been hanging a sign on the outside of my office cubical for weeks now that says, ‘PowerBook owner held hostage: Day 32,'” said Kevin Baker, a graphics designer at Harris Graphics outside Miami. “Everybody thinks it’s funny, but I’m getting frustrated by the promises that keep getting broken.”
Baker ordered his new PowerBook the same day Apple CEO Steve Jobs introduced the sleek, slim, silver laptop during his Macworld Expo keynote address. At the time, Jobs promised the new PowerBook would be shipping by the end of January. True to their word, initial orders began shipping on Monday, January 29. But since then, Baker and others have had to endure form letters via e-mail from Apple, wrong tracking numbers, and stories from FedEx that Bakers swears are right out of the files of ‘Keystone Cops’ just to receive the much-anticipated portable.
Baker first got an e-mail telling him his order was being processed just days after his order was placed, followed by numerous other e-mails informing him of delays. He then received an Apple e-mail telling him to expect his PowerBook last Wednesday and giving him a FedEx tracking number. No PowerBook. Another correspondence said to count on it this past Tuesday. No PowerBook. A call to FedEx on Wednesday reveals his product is tied up in customs red tape in Alaska and the comment, “We have no idea when you’ll get it now,” Baker said.
Thirty-two days later and Baker still has an empty space on his desk where his new PowerBook is suppose to go. “A colleague cut out a color picture of the PowerBook and taped it to my desk where it belongs,” Baker said. “It’s gotten to be pretty funny.”
But many buyers aren’t laughing as they wait and wait for their investment of $2,599 or more to arrive. MacCentral readers have been writing with numerous stories of their wait and frustration.
Tales of frustration
MacCentral reader Karen Morrill-McClure placed an order on January 9 and was told by e-mail Thursday to expect her laptop “to ship by February 24,” three weeks from now.
“This delay is the result of the high demand for the product,” an e-mail that McClure got this week from Apple states. “We apologize for the delay, and we appreciate your patience in waiting for your PowerBook to arrive.”
“Kind of depressing, but at least I have a date now,” McClure said.
“I was given a delivery time of 21 days,” said Dr. John Brooks, an assistant professor of Psychiatry at the Stanford University School of Medicine in Palo Alto, CA. “This changed to 35 days, and as of yesterday, a whopping 46 days. The computer I ordered on January 9 that would be in my hands by ‘the end of the month’ is now slated to ship at the end of February. I got free shipping after the first delay, but now I’m just frustrated.”
Joseph Grace received a similar letter from Apple to expect delivery by February 24. “To think I actually believed Apple would get me my computer next week! The boilerplate, ‘This delay is the result of the high demand for the product’, is a little annoying considering I ordered in the initial orders, so my order should precede the demand. Garbage boilerplate,” Grace said.
Why the delays?
While Apple is telling customers that the delays are due to high demand, many customers feel shipping units individually from Taiwan where they are manufactured, and apparent custom problems at the U.S. border compound the delays.
Marc Hawkins, of Pittsburgh watched the shipping of his G4 PowerBook very closely and confirmed that it came directly from Taiwan, as did a number of other buyers who have contacted MacCentral. “I ordered a 400Mhz PowerBook G4 on Jan. 10, and it shipped on Feb. 5 at 7:00pm, Taiwan time,” Hawkins told MacCentral. “At 11:00am on the 5th, it arrived in Alaska and has been there for 2-plus days now.”
Hawkins said FedEx informed him Wednesday that his shipment, along with a “decent amount” of other individual PowerBook orders destined for the U.S., were “held up” in U.S. customs in Alaska. In addition, FedEx confirmed that the U.S. Food and Drug Administration was now involved in the custom battle to import the units because of jurisdiction over electronic products using lasers, which are part of the components of the DVD player used in G4 PowerBooks.
“I called Apple to see if they could help push it through,” Hawkins commented. “The Apple representative said it (the units stuck in Alaska) is a large shipment of PowerBooks and that it will probably be a problem for a lot of people waiting on the ‘2-day’ shipping, which will end up being a lot longer than that.”
Hawkins confirmed that he received his PowerBooks on Thursday, apparently ending the recent logjam of units being imported to the United States.
An Apple press spokesperson was not available for comment on the delays in G4 PowerBook shipments.