Oct 30, 2022

Experiencing How Big Corporations Work for 240€

A couple of weeks ago, I ordered the Pro Apps Bundle for Education from the Apple Store. What I didn’t expect was insight into the processes of the biggest corporations. For now, let’s step back and follow the events!

Initially, I was interested in getting a copy of Final Cut Pro for editing videos related to guides for Anzu, the product I’m building. As Final Cut Pro retails for around 349€, I decided that it would make sense to get Logic Pro, a music production software, as well as some other tools in the education bundle for 240€. As a student, I’m quite lucky to access these discounts, which again are a way of discriminating in favor of a group with traditionally low purchasing power, so I’m here for it.

Economics aside, I completed the order and checked the confirmation mail for my content codes to be redeemed in the App Store. The first surprise was that I had to wait three business days for my codes. As the order was placed in the Apple Store, I imagine a real person had to kick off a job in some internal tool to generate the product codes and send a mail my way, which, apart from being an inefficiency only a rich company can tolerate, wasn’t a problem for me.

Fast-forward three days, and I finally receive two emails. Not a single mail containing all activation codes, but one with a password and another with a protected, generated PDF containing the codes. Except, one code was missing. Logic Pro was listed as a line item in the order but not contained in the description.

Oh well, I figured it might be on the second page, but apart from a copyright notice dated back to 2017, the page only contained legal fine print. Here I was, having received only parts of my order, with no immediate support category available.

As a quick aside, in §437 BGB in connection with §434 V BGB, German law entitles buyers to a subsequent delivery or removal of the issue at hand, which is a complicated way of saying that you can request your order to be fulfilled in total or get a refund.

So I did what most people with unsolvable Apple-related problems do and called up the support hotline. As always, all support agents were extremely nice and helpful along the way, being restricted only by the fact that each agent can only cover their department, so I was forward approximately five times until I reached the (after-)sales support team, which offered to re-send the activation codes including the missing one. The ETA for the re-delivery was another 1-3 business days. Sure, why not.

An hour later, I get two emails, one with the password, and another one with the activation codes. Guess what? The Logic Pro code was still missing. At that point, it dawned on me that someone had to build this weird link between the Apple Store and App Store, and some bug was introduced along the way, but perhaps, the original engineer was moved to another team in the meantime. Either way, the outdated copyright notice wasn’t reassuring here.

So I called support again, got to enjoy Apple Music at full high-fidelity phone call quality, and reached the same team as last time after a couple of forwards. Now, the answer was different. I had two options, either request a refund of the individual product in question, which I couldn’t buy at the same price as the education price was only applied to the bundle, or wait until the issue got resolved.

Having been a developer using Apple platforms for some time, the second option sounded like a nice way to say “if all stars align, you have the chance of receiving your product codes”, so naturally, I went with this choice.

Against all odds, I received yet another mail with activation codes in the same PDF template, but Logic Pro was finally included. The copyright notice was still set to 2017, though, so make of that what you want.

Throughout all of this, I slowly came to realize the immense scale of large companies, where interactions and collaboration across teams become incredibly difficult, leading to inconsistencies like my case. It’s really hard to have dedicated teams for managing the Mac platform, App Stores, and the Apple Store itself with Sales, After-Sales, and other departments communicating without friction while retaining clear boundaries.

Ultimately, everything worked out, and perhaps some other people who ran into the same issue also received their activation codes, but I got more than just the app bundle out of this story: The affirmation that even $2.5T companies struggle, at times, to keep the chaos in check.