iPhone Upgrade Program experience

I pre-ordered two iPhone Pros through the online Apple Store on September 17th, which was the first date of preorders, one for me and one for my wife. Because of the problems at Apple regarding purchases with the Apple Card, etc, this took about 2 hours but was successful in the end. (finally had to use my wife’s in-good-standing Apple Card instead of my in-good-standing Apple Card. Whatever! …as the kids say). We received our iPhones on the release day, September 24th. On the following Wednesday, my wife brought the 2 old iPhone 12 Pros, each packaged separately in the prelabeled-Apple-supplied boxes to the local Fed Ex store and obtained a receipt.

Fast forward to this past Saturday, November 6th: While cleaning out my desk I came across the Fed Ex receipt for the 2 iPhones. Because I remembered seeing an email stating that I had successfully completed a trade-in for an iPhone and that my Citizens One loan for that phone had been closed out, I dutifully tore up the receipt and deposited it in the trash.

Well, this morning (November 8, 2021) I received this (see above) in an email from Apple. Because I remembered that I had discarded the receipt, I was going to search through my trash, but instead, decided to call Apple Support first. The first support person transferred me to someone else. His suggestion was that I contact Fed Ex. I explained about that I didn’t have the tracking number and I asked if he would give me the tracking number. His response was that they don’t have the tracking number. I realize that the trade-ins are contracted out to a third party (Phobio?) and that the prelabeled-Apple-supplied boxes actually don’t come from Apple, but still, I think they should be able to get this info. Finally, he said that he would start a shipping investigation and that I should hear back from Apple within 48 hours.

I decided to search my trash for the receipt, and with gloved hands I managed to find the receipt albeit in 6 pieces but still readable. I searched Fed Ex tracking and saw that my wife’s iPhone had been delivered to Apple (Phobio?) on October 5th at 3:12 pm and that mine was delivered on the same date at 3:14 pm. Armed with this new information I called Apple Support again. The first person was supposed to transfer me to post-sales support but instead transferred to the Apple Card support. He transferred me to the main number at Apple. Apple’s computerized support asked what I needed help with and I stated “iPhone Upgrade Program”. Did you say you wanted help with “Writing Accessories”?. “No, iPhone Upgrade Program”. Did you say you wanted help with “iPhone 8?”. “No”. “Let me put you through to a live, living human being”. Which they did and who transferred me to the final guy. He stayed on the phone with me for about 45 minutes and he was thorough. He looked up my wife’s account to make sure it was fine. He looked at the Fed Ex tracking to confirm that it was received. Etc, etc, etc. Finally, he completed a report that he escalated up to the next level. I should hear back from Apple within 48-72 hrs. Not sure if they are going to hold up on reinstating the Citizens One loan during this time.

My errors:

  • I didn’t scan the labels on the boxes nor did I scan the receipt from Fed Ex. I usually do this. Not sure why I didn’t this time.

  • I assumed the email stating that I had successfully completed a trade-in for an iPhone and that my Citizens One loan for that phone had been closed out, was for my iPhone. Actually it was for my wife’s iPhone. Had I paid more attention to this I wouldn’t have discarded the receipt. (also, I should have realized that I needed 2 confirmations)

Next year, we’ll most probably upgrade at the Apple Store, which is about an hour away. But then again, what are the chances of this happening to me two years in a row? (well, actually, the same as the chance of it happening this year, barring no changes to their system).

tl;dr: iPhone Upgrade Program - If you ship your phones to Apple, keep your receipt with the tracking numbers. Consider using the brick and mortar Apple Store.


Update: Last week I received an email from Apple asking me to send in my old iPhone for the Upgrade Program. I called Apple Support and explained that they already received my old iPhone. After a discussion and a review of the notes from my previous calls, we figured out that since my initial upgrade was cancelled by Apple, they had to reinstate it before they could fix the problem. Sure enough, the next day when I looked at my order at the online Apple Store, it showed that the upgrade was successfully completed. About 5 days later I got an email from Citizens stating that the loan was paid off.

I am thankful that Apple did receive my iPhone from FedEx. I am not sure what happens or how long it takes if FedEx fails to deliver the iPhone. I assume what happened to me is a rare event or we would would hear more stories, but when it happens, it can be very frustrating.