Apple starts handing out US$100 iPhone credits

Customers must have the iPhone in their possession to receive the credit

Apple has offered iPhone owners instructions on how to file for the US$100 in-store credit that CEO Steve Jobs promised last week.

The credit, which Jobs announced after customers rose in revolt on hearing that the company had cut the price of the device by one-third, is good for purchases at Apple's retail stores and its online shop, or by dialling Apple's toll-free sales number.

IPhone owners, who have until Nov. 30 to apply for the credit, enter their iPhone's serial number and phone number in an online form, either using the iPhone or a PC or Mac. Apple then sends a text message to the iPhone with an access code, which in turn is used to retrieve the electronic credit. The credit consists of a credit number and a PIN, which can be used immediately in the online store or printed out for use later.

A Computerworld editor who owns an iPhone confirmed the process, and received his electronic credit almost immediately.

The US$100 credit is also not good on some items, specifically iTunes purchases or gift cards, and it's valid only in the US, the sole market in which Apple has sold the iPhone to date.

Because customers must have the iPhone in their possession to receive the credit, those people who sold theirs — on eBay, for instance, sometimes for a loss when the late June debut didn't end with shortages at stores — do not receive the credit. Instead, the current owner does.

Although Jobs offered the US$100 credit last week, saying, "We want to do the right thing for our valued iPhone customers," he also defended the decision to cut the price of the 8GB model from US$599 to US$399. "Now is the right time to do it," he said then. "IPhone is a breakthrough product, and we have the chance to 'go for it' this holiday season."

The day before that announcement, those who had bought the iPhone in its first two months overwhelmingly gave Apple a raspberry, seeing the cut as a cheap shot at early adopters and a slap in the face to long-loyal customers.

The 4GB iPhone, which initially sold for US$499, has been discontinued.

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