- Several Walmart shoppers claim the retailer unexpectedly delayed or canceled their orders of the iPhone as part of Black Friday and Cyber Monday deals. The complaints come days after reports of similar issues involving the Apple Watch.
- Frustrated customers told Business Insider that the retailer has not provided any information about whether it will honor the deals at a future date, when the devices are back in stock.
- “It doesn’t sit right,” Denver resident Laurel Lennon said.
- According to a Walmart spokesperson, the cancellations were part of a “technical error” that incorrectly notified shoppers that orders had been revoked rather than delayed. The spokesperson added that the retailer expects to fulfill the orders before Christmas.
- Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.
After unexpected Black Friday cancellations of Apple Watch orders left some frustrated Walmart shoppers empty-handed last week, the controversy has continued with yet another holiday deal: the iPhone.
As part of its Black Friday and Cyber Monday deal, Walmart offered $400 gift cards for the purchase of an iPhone XS Max or iPhone XR, as well as a $300 gift card with a purchase of any iPhone 11 model, including the Pro and the Pro Max. However, over the days that followed, several customers told Business Insider they received emails saying their orders would be delayed and likely canceled with no additional information on how to reclaim holiday deals.
Denver resident Laurel Lennon told Business Insider she placed an order on Thanksgiving Day as a Christmas gift for her son and received a confirmation email shortly afterward. She noticed she hadn’t received shipping information, but was unconcerned until she received an email from Walmart on Tuesday that her order was delayed.
According to the email, which was viewed by Business Insider, if Lennon didn’t receive the phone by December 4, Walmart would cancel the order and she would be refunded. There was no additional information about whether she could reclaim her $300 gift card at a future time.
Lennon said that when she consulted with customer service, she received vague explanations about the source of the issue.
“I was basically told it had been an overwhelmingly popular promotion and that the inventory on what was noted as in stock on the website didn’t reflect real-time inventory,” she said.
In her exchange with customer service, which was also obtained by Business Insider, the representative cited “operational and system issues” and urged her to cancel the order and reorder when they were back in stock, then apologized for the “inconvenience.”
“It doesn’t sit right,” she said. “If they’re telling me the phone would be back in stock, why wouldn’t they give customers the option to wait instead of unilaterally canceling all [the orders]? It smells like getting out of the gift card promotion.”
According to a Walmart spokesperson, the cancellations were part of a “technical error” that incorrectly notified shoppers that orders had been revoked rather than delayed. The spokesperson added that all orders will be complete in time for Christmas and will still include the gift card.
“Due to a technical error, some Walmart customers may have received an email stating their orders for smart phones and a promotional e-gift card will be cancelled. That is incorrect,” the spokesperson said. “Their orders may be slightly delayed but have not been canceled. We expect to fulfill the orders before Christmas and customers will receive their gift cards a few weeks later, as promised. We apologize for any inconvenience.”
Heather Kinion, a stay-at-home mom in Chicago, said she purchased an iPhone from Walmart because she and her husband planned to use the $300 gift card on goods like groceries for their family. However, like Lennon, she also received an email saying her order was delayed and would be canceled if it had not arrived by December 4. As of the morning of December 4, her order had not yet arrived.
“My phone is really old, but it hasn’t been a high priority for us to get a new one because it’s very expensive,” Kinion said. “I was excited for a new phone that I didn’t have to plug in four times a day and I guess it will be awhile before I get another one.”
Kinion, who said she had already purchased a case for her new phone, said she decided against contacting customer service and just accepted her fate.
“The wait was long and I have a three-year-old,” she said. “I figured since I’m probably never getting this phone, I’m not going to sit on hold.”
The messages received by Lennon and Kinion mirror those sent to several shoppers, including Chicago resident Matt Seelig, who last week purchased the Apple Watch Series 3 as part of Walmart’s Black Friday promotion. Though Seelig has since been able to successfully purchase the product, after Walmart initially canceled his order, he expressed irritation at the snafu.
“I did find it frustrating, because I thought this was a way around going to the store and avoiding the crowds,” Seelig said last week. “I’m disappointed to see that they just sort of canceled the order, and I’m not really sure why.”