Bizarre apple.com payment / refund processing

I mentioned in the Dustin Curtis article comments about the issues I had with a recent apple.com online hardware order. I didn’t want to clutter that topic so a new topic because I am honestly perplexed by what goes on in Apple’s payment processing system.

My wife and I decided it was time for new iPads for both us. Apple offers employees of my employer a corporate discount so placed the order through that site - 2 iPads (not discounted) and 2 each of two different accessories (discounted). Payment was seven $100 Apple gift cards (from my wife’s employer incentive program for hitting a service milestone) with the balance by credit card.

1st accessory was shipped immediately and charged to one of the gift cards. $17.66 leaving $682.34 total on the cards.

2nd accessory was shipped the next day and charged to the credit cards even though there was more than enough still on the gift cards to cover it.

And then things turned really bizarre. One afternoon, I got alerts about large charges to my credit card. One is the full price of one of the iPads (so that’s OK), the other is for a smaller amount but it is $124.34 more than it should be considering the amount remaining on the gift cards. Then that evening, I checked the order status on-line to see " Your order is on hold. Thereʼs an issue with your payment and you have not been charged for your order yet. Please call the number on the back of the card you used, or try paying with a different payment method." Say what? They most certainly had charged my card. Further digging showed only $100 of the gift cards had been applied. I called, representative could see there was a problem, but could not tell why. A higher-level support ticket was opened.

The next day, it all seemed to clear up (almost). And a few days later, the charges finalized for $99.00 less that the authorization (but that still left $25.34 unused on the gift cards - more on that below). But looking at the detailed “Invoice Receipt” for the order, the credits from the gift cards were for weird amounts - rather than seven credits (6 @ $100.00 and 1 for the remaining $82.34 on the seventh card), there were nine - $82.34 (from the card having $82.34 left on it), $100.00, $100.00, $17.66 and $57.00 from one card leaving that $25.34 mentioned above on it, $100.00, $100.00, and finally $17.66 and $82.34 from the final card. What is with these random split amounts rather than just the full amount from each card?

As for that $25.34 that wasn’t used, I determined that it was exactly equal to the corporate discount I was receiving on the accessories. It’s as is the their system calculated the full retail price of the order and then determined the amount to charge the credit card by subtracting $700 in gift cards, then discounted the order leaving the discount on a gift card rather than reducing the amount of the credit card charge.

So all is (almost) good? Nope. As we were also trading in old iPads. First mistake was not realizing since the order was partially paid for with gift cards, they’d refund to them first. But I can live with that although it now means I now have over six years worth of my monthly iCloud charges on my Apple Account (but a new Macintosh is probably coming in the next year or so).

Two iPads were returned and after they were received, refund amounts of $185 and $45 were confirmed. Based on the emails I received, they were initially refunded to my original gift cards which then overnight were used to purchase new gift cards. But the amount was short and bizarrely divided. I ended getting four new gift cards - $100.00, $52.19, $47.81, and $14.22. Two things to notice: 1) It only totals $214.22 (where’s the last $15.78?) and 2) the middle two amounts total $100.00 - why was $100.00 split so bizarrely - I’d get it if the split was due to the separate $185.00 and $45.00 refund amounts but these number make no sense.

Anyway, when I had time, I spent time on Chat with an Apple rep - all rep could say “I see you received a credit for $185 and another for $45.” Whatever was going on behind the scenes was completely hidden to the rep. To tie this back to what was said in the other thread about not wanting the first line reps to see financial data, I could understand not giving them access to card numbers but they should be able to see some stuff like $214.22 was credited to Apple gift cards and $15.78 went who knows where.

Finally, I guess this is now closed although without explanation when just as mysteriously, yet another gift card showed up in email and not just for the missing $15.78 but for $30.15. So thank you Apple for the extra but again, a random amount that appears to have been drawn out of a hat.

If anyone can explain why Apple’s payment processing system does this bizarre stuff, I’d love to hear it. It is not confidence inspiring to me and I want nothing to do with Apple gift cards going forward nor (again tying it back to the Dustin Curtis thread) will I ever consider Apple Card as Apple with this order has proven themselves unfit to manage financial products nor do I want any risk of opaqueness in my everyday financial affairs.

Sorry for the length of this but I suspect a lot of these seemingly separate issues all tie together.

It sounds like they are treating all the gift cards as if they were credit cards. When you buy an item on multiple credit cards, refunds are typically credited to each card in proportion to how much of the original purchase was charged to each card.

Of course, this makes absolutely no sense with gift cards, but that’s my guess about what happened.

I wonder what would have happened if you had first redeemed all the gift cards to your Apple ID (producing a $700 store credit balance) and then used that credit to buy the iPads.

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