Apple Realizes Puerto Ricans Are U.S. Citizens, Starts Shipping Free iPhone 4 Cases

Over the weekend, we wrote about how Apple had decided to cancel all shipments of free iPhone 4 cases to Puerto Rico because they were “unable to ship to an international address.” Well it looks like someone at Apple checked out Wikipedia and found out that Puerto Ricans are U.S. citizens and shipping to the island doesn’t cross any national borders.

Consumerist reader Hector wrote in with the good news that he, a resident of Puerto Rico, had been sent a follow-up e-mail from Apple admitting their goof and telling him the case for his iPhone 4 was on the way.

Here’s Hector’s translation of the e-mail he received from Apple:

To Our Valued Apple Customer:

Your Apple iPhone 4 Case Program order was cancelled erroneously.

Your order has been reopened.

You will receive a shipment notification with further details once your order has been shipped.

We apologize for the inconvenience.

Sincerely,
The Online Apple Store Team.

Customers in Puerto Rico who had requested their free case from Apple had originally been notified by e-mail that their order had been automatically canceled by the company’s online store because it did not ship to international addresses. It advised customers to “visit the Apple Store Worldwide for the Apple Store Store in your country of residence.”

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  1. grumpskeez says:

    Steve-o is shaking his fist: ‘Damn you consumerist, Damn you!!!’

  2. Loias supports harsher punishments against corporations says:

    What a fucking joke of a company. I’m sorry, Apple fanboys/girls, but how stupid do you have to be to deny U.S. citizen living in a territory considered U.S. soil and charged domestic mail prices.

    The writing is on the wall if they choose to read it.

    • goodcow says:

      Their online store uses UPS/FedEx for order fulfillment. UPS/FedEx consider Puerto Rico to be international so those orders are rejected. Unfortunately, the system is automated and nobody thought about Puerto Rico specifically in regards to the free case program. It’s not like Apple specifically hates Puerto Rico, it was an oversight.

      • Loias supports harsher punishments against corporations says:

        Didn’t say they hated PR, I was commenting on their…. oversight, as you put it.

        I could see the UPS/FedEx argument. Except that it means they deny customers the ability to ship via USPS, which denies a customer (cheaper) options, as well as provides insight as to why the USPS is failing. This, however, can be said of a great many companies.

        • user765 says:

          They do not use USPS and they do not charge for shipping.

          • Loias supports harsher punishments against corporations says:

            They (Apple) must still pay for the shipping costs, which gets distributed to the customer (you). So, yes, you are paying for the more expensive UPS/FedEx shipping even if it is not itemized on your purchase price of your Apple product.

            • user765 says:

              The cases were free and so was the shipping, I guess that is hard to comprehend.

              • Loias supports harsher punishments against corporations says:

                As of today, yes. Before, Puerto Ricans could not received the free cases. That is the debate. Not was in now corrected, but that they couldn’t get it right to begin with.

              • YouDidWhatNow? says:

                Anyone defending and/or apologizing for Apple…ever…is difficult to comprehend.

              • sqlrob says:

                So you’re saying Apple didn’t pay anything to ship the cases?

      • grumpskeez says:

        Wow it took a whole 2 minutes for the fanboi apologists to take you to task on that one Loias. Methinks they’re starting to slip.

        • Loias supports harsher punishments against corporations says:

          Hehe – maybe it was too logical an argument and they had to frantically come up with some sort of rebuttal?

      • ChuckECheese says:

        You know what Apple’s other oversight was? Designing a cell phone that loses reception when you hold it in your hand.

      • Fair&Balanced says:

        Apple tried to save some money and they caved in after the media attention.
        That is it.

        They sold millions of these improperly designed phones all over the world.
        Even if they can get it down to about $1 per customer to manufacturing and ship the phone condoms that is alot of money.
        Any large groups of people they can block from the phone condoms saves them a lot of money.

    • edicius is an acquired taste says:

      You’re citizenshipping it wrong.

      Shoot, I think I just killed the meme with that one.

    • satoru says:

      Because almost every other online company also has differing policies on how to deal with US territories and such. Many companies only offer free shipping to the contiguous United States. Some include Alaska/Hawaii but explicitly have different rates for US territories and US Military addresses.

      Ironically they’re making an exception for the free cases in this scenario. You cannot order Apple products and get them shipped to any US territory via the Apple store. So it’s not really any different than what they’ve been doing for years.

      • Loias supports harsher punishments against corporations says:

        The problem, then (as being commented by others) is that they don’t ship USPS. A terrible oversight on Apple’s – and many other companies’ – part.

        From a “Support America” viewpoint this could be why the USPS is failing. FedEx/UPS demand exclusivity agreements with companies in exchange for cheaper contracted rates.

        • paul says:

          USPS will also give you lower rates if you agree to ship a certain amount with them. They’ve gotten very aggressive with their corporate pricing lately, despite the public postage rates going up.

    • NeverLetMeDown says:

      Far from an Apple fanboy, but don’t you think this is just a smidge of an overreaction? They screwed up (for reasons that, when explained, seem very plausible). They fixed it.

      The whole “US citizen” thing has nothing to do with it. You could be an Albanian citizen, it’s only a question of where you _live_.

      • common_sense84 says:

        That is not believable in a second. Puerto Rico has been a part of the US since 1917. This is not an honest mistake.

        • Conformist138 says:

          Seriously. I’ve been hearing the “Should they be a state…” arguments my whole life, it never would have occured to me to consider them anything but citizens. I know that being a territory does change some legal stuff, but citizens of a territory are citizens of the country.

          We wouldn’t just shrug if a company claimed everyone in Yukon didn’t count as Canadian. We’d rightly call them retards.

          • Mysterry says:

            Of course they don’t want to be an actual state! If they do, that means they actually have to pay for taxes!

            • robertrex says:

              Right. We get such a good deal here. Paying a higher local tax than what any other US citizen pays in federal+state+local.

              Give me federal + lower local anyday.

  3. Watcher95 says:

    How about the US military serviced by APO addresses?

    • 44 in a Row says:

      If I had to guess, it’d be no different; the USPS has a much broader version of what’s considered flat-rate “domestic”, including Alaska/Hawaii, APO/FPO addresses, the U.S. Virgin Islands, Puerto Rico, and pretty much any American territory. Whereas I believe FedEx/UPS charge higher rates for all of those.

      • paul says:

        While APO/FPO are considered domestic in terms of postage rates, the USPS does still require customs forms for military addresses outside of the US.

      • erinpac says:

        I greatly dislike Apple, but I still don’t see how an automated denial from a store based on its usual shipping policy is ignorant or claiming that Puerto Ricans are not citizens.
        It even points out in the policy that the territories can be billed to if the shipping is elsewhere, so while inconvenient that does seem to acknowledge them.

        This is the same sort of shipping problem that makes it difficult to send to people on a base, APO overseas, PO Boxes, etc. A lot of the commercial shipping is UPS/ Fedex – and not surprising. Everytime I’ve actually compared when shipping an item the USPS cost the most, though they are often more convenient. They have gov. advantages and still don’t compete well, but we’re stuck with the results of that.

        It’s great Apple made this exception; it just isn’t a problem limited at all to Apple. I can’t recall the last time I saw an item I purchased online shipped USPS, and all the ones that don’t will have this issue.

    • mvillafana says:

      The APO thingy is slightly different because it involves shipping to the military folks. And as I understand it, the USPS, UPS and Fedex all cut SOME slack to those sending items to the soldiers fighting overseas…

  4. SanDiegoDude says:

    Good for Apple. They have garnered enough bad attention with this whole antenna fiasco.

  5. jurisenpai says:

    Shipping to Puerto Rico via FedEx/UPS requires more customs forms than shipping to Canada. I have no idea why this is, but it makes shipping very, very complicated for no good reason.

    • Clyde Barrow says:

      Yep, and that includes the time it takes for the UPS man to drive his truck to PR. That’s a bitch of a drive, man.

      • jurisenpai says:

        I know you said that in jest, but you can ship via UPS Ground to PR. It takes 6 days, but it gets there.

      • robertrex says:

        lol. Ground to Puerto Rico is truck to port, boat to PR, and truck within PR.

        I remember winning a camera case on ebay, I asked if he’d ship it Priority Mail, I’d pay the difference in cost. No can do. Ground only.

        5 freaking weeks for a package to go from Little Rock, AR to San Juan, PR.

    • robertrex says:

      The forms in question are actually no longer necessary for the vast majority of shipments. They were required due to an excise tax on all goods shipped to the island. However, that has since been replaced with a (despised) sales tax.

      In short… someone needs to send Fedex and UPS a memo.

      • nybiker says:

        A despised sales tax. Is there any other kind? LIke the Stampt Act of March 22, 1765? We saw what happened after that one.

        BTW, what is the percentage rate? Is there a ‘national sales tax rate’ and then local rates too, like here in NYC (state, NYC, & the Metropolitan Commuter Transportation District)? Here in NYC, your basic sales tax rate is 8.875% and from what I’ve heard it’s even higher elsewhere.
        Of course, food is not taxable. And that in and of itself makes for interesting reading when you try to determine what is food and what is not food.

  6. smo0 says:

    Backlash, it’s all backlash…. (insert ethnicity here) rights group got involved… or were at least threatening to on some news circuit and behold!

    I need links I know… sometimes I hear things in passing, sorry.

    • robertrex says:

      No rights group got involved. The internet got involved, called BS on this policy, and the internet won. For now.

      Meanwhile here in Puerto Rico, the consumer protection agency is claiming responsibility for this. That’s something I’d like to call BS on.

  7. c!tizen says:

    Steve Jobs: ‘What the hell is a porto-riken?”

  8. mvillafana says:

    Boriqua!

  9. nybiker says:

    A despised sales tax. Is there any other kind? LIke the Stampt Act of March 22, 1765? We saw what happened after that one.

    BTW, what is the percentage rate? Is there a ‘national sales tax rate’ and then local rates too, like here in NYC (state, NYC, & the Metropolitan Commuter Transportation District)? Here in NYC, your basic sales tax rate is 8.875% and from what I’ve heard it’s even higher elsewhere.
    Of course, food is not taxable. And that in and of itself makes for interesting reading when you try to determine what is food and what is not food.

  10. sayahh says:

    It’s bad PR to diss PR.

  11. stanfrombrooklyn says:

    Apple succumbed to political correctness.

  12. Mysterry says:

    I don’t know about this one. Most people don’t even know how unique territories work so I’m sure any person you go up to and ask, “Do you think Peurto Ricans are US Citizens?” they will answering with a, “Uhh… no.”

    I don’t fault Apple for being ignorant (they at least admitted to it), as the majority of the country is anyway about unique territories.

  13. Nisun says:

    To Our Valued Apple Customer:

    Your Apple iPhone 4 Case Program order has been canceled.

    An investigation has uncovered you were holding it wrong….

    – Steve J.

    LOLOLOL

    • blueduckconsumerist says:

      Um… maybe you live in PR, but in the USA, it’s considered bad form to LOL at your own jokes.