Apple Website Restricts Features During iPhone Pre-Order Launch


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In what has become an annual ritual for Apple iPhone enthusiasts around the globe, California-based Apple Inc. began taking pre-orders for their flagship iPhone products on Friday at 7:00 a.m. Pacific Standard Time. The tech behemoth took its website offline a couple hours in advance of the launch time in order to prepare its website for the onslaught of users vying to be one of the first to get the latest devices. We did not anticipate that the Apple website would restrict features after the launch point; hence, we are sharing the pre-order experience of our writers.

Being one of the faithful and following the pre-launch since the announcement on Tuesday, Retail Insider was one of the enthusiasts waiting at 4:50 a.m. PDT for the dinner bell to ring with an early morning coffee in hand.

Apple “You’re … early” messaging on its website and “Apple Store” app leading up to the 2021 pre-order event. Photo: Apple website.

The overall process of pre-ordering the iPhone Pro Max 256GB in Gold took 7 minutes in totality from start to finish and we would have been tucked back into our beds at 5:15 a.m. PST if it wasn’t for some functionality restrictions or glitches observed during the process.

To be fair, the process to purchase the iPhone itself was smooth like butter and Apple likely had an army of testing routines to stress test the ‘customer purchase journey’ to an inch of its life to get as many pre-orders completed within the initial hours.

Veering off of Apple’s tested customer purchase journey

Whether it’s “Murphy’s Law” or excited fingers, the number of times a newly received iPhone tumbling to the floor within the first 72 hours has come to fruition more times that this writer can count.

With the main event of the iPhone purchase out of the way, we veered off to purchase a protective case. As this likely was not a common ‘purchase journey’ during Apple’s pre-order event testing, gaps in the Apple website functionality began to emerge in the early pre-order hours.

After adding a clear iPhone case to the shopping cart and completing the purchase, we received a generic error stating there was trouble completing the order. While we hadn’t taken a screenshot of the error, it was the first sign of trouble which caught us off-guard.

Apple Recent Order Functionality Offline

An attempt to access “Recent Orders” was unsuccessful through both the Apple website and “Apple Store” app.

“Recent Order” errors experienced by the Apple website and “Apple Store” app on September 17, 2021. Photo: Lee Rivett.

The error occurred around 5:10 a.m. PST at the height of the initial pre-orders, likely while Apple was experiencing a significant load on their servers. With no confirmation emails received for the iPhone pre-order or the iPhone case, we went ahead and tried purchasing the iPhone case again with a ‘success’ message.

Apple Suspends Order Cancellation Functionality

Secure with a pre-ordered iPhone and case for delivery on Monday, September 27, we checked the ‘Recent Order’ functionality once more. The ‘Recent Order’ functionality was working once again. Unfortunately, we now had two iPhone cases ordered.

Double iPhone case orders during September 2021 pre-order event. Photo: Lee Rivett.

Being a pre-order, we went into one of the ‘iPhone case’ orders to cancel it. We were greeted by a “Your order can’t be changed at this time. If you’d like to make changes to this order, please try again in a few hours”.

Apple ‘change order’ functionality suspended during September 2021 iPhone pre-order launch. Photo: Lee Rivett.

By 8:30 a.m. PST, the order change functionality had not been restored.

Apple Functionality Prioritized

In the end, Apple is prioritizing the website and app resources to allow pre-orders leaving plenty of time for customers to change orders (and/or their minds) before delivery by September 27, 2021. We will keep everyone updated if further troubles unfold for the cancellation process.

**Update: Order Update functionality was restored at 12:00pm PST on September 17, 2021.

Lee Rivett
Lee Rivett
Lee Rivett, based in Vancouver, supports the digital distribution and technical backend operations of Retail Insider. This includes providing technical support for the editors during the digital publication cycle, streamlining virtual tools for the cross-country team and a variety of other duties which keeps the publication running smoothly.


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