Problems plague Apple's Mountain Lion up-to-date program

Since yesterday we've been getting a steady stream of comments, forum posts, emails, and tweets regarding problems associated with the redemption of Apple's OS X Mountain Lion up-to-date program. The program is supposed to give recent Mac buyers a free upgrade to Mountain Lion, and comes in the form of redemption codes for the Mac App Store. At first, a lot of them simply didn't work. Today, many of the redeem codes were downloading OS X Mountain Lion server instead of the regular version.

It's bad that that's happening, of course, and annoying for anyone who was hoping to get their Mountain Lion upgrades in a timely fashion. Apple's no doubt aware of it and hopefully correct codes that work properly will be supplied forthwith.

Until then, comments are open. If you're using a redeem code, let us know what's happened so far, and what's happening now.

Rene Ritchie

Rene Ritchie is one of the most respected Apple analysts in the business, reaching a combined audience of over 40 million readers a month. His YouTube channel, Vector, has over 90 thousand subscribers and 14 million views and his podcasts, including Debug, have been downloaded over 20 million times. He also regularly co-hosts MacBreak Weekly for the TWiT network and co-hosted CES Live! and Talk Mobile. Based in Montreal, Rene is a former director of product marketing, web developer, and graphic designer. He's authored several books and appeared on numerous television and radio segments to discuss Apple and the technology industry. When not working, he likes to cook, grapple, and spend time with his friends and family.

  • I've been waiting for 28 hours for codes for 2 MBAs. Still no response from Apple. This is pathetic. Even Dell has better customer support.
  • I'm in the same boat as you... Still waiting for my code for the upgrade.
  • Just off the phone with Apple. I was told that my form had been received and validated, however, it still could take anywhere from 24 - 72 hours before I receive the code. While waiting a few extra days isn't a life changing event, this is not what I would have expected from Apple. When things like this happen, I start to wonder - Are users really all that important to Apple? - Apple is always hesitant to admit they've done anything wrong, and the whole company is wrapped in secrecy, however, when it comes to supporting customers, Apple needs to be more forthcoming.
  • Apple is changing... accountants are now in charge... service, innovation, etc will be a thing of the past... eg Dell... bye bye Timmy
  • Re: "Apple is always hesitant to admit" ... I just got off the phone with Apple, and the tech I spoke to said ... "We've made a mistake in the implementation of the uptodate program." We send out duplicate codes, and the second person to try to redeem gets turned down. Also some people are getting the wrong codes and end up with Mountain Lion Server" We're now trying to commit to getting everyone correct codes within 72 hours of when they apply for them, after a lot of manual intervention. Frankly I felt the tech was refreshingly forthcoming rather than in any way hesitant. As a recent "switcher' from PCs I appreciated the candor. I now think of Apple as pretty good, not perfect.
  • Just bought a new MacBook Pro from MacMall, which qualified me for Free Mountain Lion Update. I even got so far as to acquire a code. (I didn't realize for 3 hours that I had to access the App Store Application from my Dock because Apple's email couldn't afford a few extra useful words.) When I entered the code it told me to try again later. A half-hour later it said "This code has already been used. Each code may only be used once."
    I have provided tech support professionally for Mac products for 15 years and I have never been more discouraged. Steve Jobs is rolling in his grave.
  • Applied for my code yesterday... Still waiting for it...
  • Still waiting for it...
  • Yep.... Got the "This redeem code has been used" yesterday, the redeem code for the OS X Server today and finally the correct redeem code.
  • I was also waiting, got impatient, and paid to download the update. I then emailed Customer Service and explained the situation and requested a refund. The response I got indicated this would not be a problem, so I guess we'll seemed like the only available course of action!
  • Submitted the form for an upgrade code yesterday around 10am EST and have not gotten anything back, not even an acknowledgement. Just shy of 30 hours now. I read on the macrumors forums that people who are calling Apple are being told it can take up to 72 hours!
  • In the same boat. Over 30 hours now. Worse though, I didn't note down the reference number, assuming it would be sent via mail anyway. Ah well, if I'm lucky, it'll be here in time for the weekend.
  • I got mine 15 minutes after I submitted my application and it worked fine for me. I feel like an asshole now.
  • Just curious -- what kind of Mac did you register…? It seems that people with certain models (like the new MBAs) have to wait longer than others, from what I've heard…
  • it was for the new MacBook Air.
  • Damn, there goes my theory…
  • Batman, do something!
  • Applied for my codes for a MBP and MBA yesterday. Still no codes. OOOOPSS APPLEEE
  • Apple really screwed the pooch on this one. I dropped over $3500 on a retina MBP with AppleCare and taxes... and after 38 hours, NO code. At least I didn't get a "dead" code or a code for Mountain Lion Server. But NOTHING. No email, no code, nothing. Called Apple's "Customer Service" and was told it could take up to 72 hours... are you freaking kidding me? I drop $3500 on a computer and have to wait THREE DAYS to get the free OS X upgrade code? Forget the pooch. I got screwed.
  • My exact situation. My exact purchase. And my first Mac. I should have stayed with the devil I know and re-upped with another costly ThinkPad, and not paid a huge premium for incompetence. Incompetence is cheaper @ Lenovo support. Silly me. Applied for code yesterday morning. Nada. Emailed support this morning. No reply. Tried the online support and all I got was a spinning wheel and the request to extend my session because it was going to time out. An expensive lesson.
  • There's no excuse for Apple not having validated all of those purchases ahead of time. It's not like they didn't know that systems were sold. Open the registration back on June 11, and let the customers register... build the database of codes, queue the emails and when Mountain Lion goes live, send the emails. This is the height of bungling, and is on par with what one might expect from Microsoft, Packard Bell and Gateway. Inexcusable, IMHO.
  • Not to mention Dell and Best Buy. Oooh Shiny factor aside, what is supposed to set Apple apart from All The Rest? The quality of the customer experience. You are absolutely correct that the implementation of the upgrade could have been carried out as you described. Small things add up over time. I'm old enough to remember the cachet that owning a Sony Trinitron bestowed. I've bought Windows computers that qualified for a next OS upgrade, and the upgrades appeared without a hitch. It's not rocket science, although perhaps in Apple's calculus, the number of free upgrades compared to the number of anticipated sales is probably small enough to merit a let-em-eat-cake from Cupertino.
  • I agree with you. It shouldn't have been a biggie to let qualifying customers register their claims from June 11. Would have showed some appreciation too - welcome aboard, we appreciate your purchase. Being in Australia, I'm also a bit annoyed at the fact that the rest of the world has to wait for America to wake up when it comes to non-physical software releases. But I guess I'll survive all of the above. It's just an OS.
  • I'm sorry ... you "dropped over $3500" ... and you are all wound around the axle because you can't save that $19.99 IMMEDIATELY ? Buy the upgrade, and you'll have your instant gratification, and then apply for the refund. If Apple doesn't agree to it, I'll send you the twenty bucks. Stop and smell the roses, will ya !?
  • I too have been waiting since yesterday morning, with no acknowledgement even that I submitted a request. I did get a nifty and useless claim reference number, with which I can do precisely nothing. It does piss me off, but I am trying to stay cool about it. And failing.
  • I submitted the form for my code yesterday and didn't get anything. Called Apple last night and the rep said he was resending it and to give it some time (didn't get it). Called back this morning and they told me to allow up to 72 hours for the code to come. If I havn't received it by then, it would be a problem and for me to call back.
  • Waiting.....waiting........waiting......
  • Requested my code yesterday around 8 am PST. Never heard anything back. Got impatient and bought ML through the APP store. I sent a request to Apple for reimbursement but I don't believe they'll refund me.
  • Do what I did buy the upgrade then request a refund. Simple as that. Within minutes I had a response from Apple saying it would be refunded.
  • Who did you email to get the refund? Thanks
  • Same boat. Bought a 13" MBA on Sunday. Applied for code yesterday morning around 10 am MST. Haven't heard anything back, except for an email from Apple letting me know ML is now available :/
  • I just spoke to a guy at Apple Support. He said that the delay was due to "overwhelming demand" and that I'd have to be patient. Mind you, I never once raised my voice. I was unfailingly polite. I even played dumb ... until I got that response. Then I told him, very gently, that this was my first Mac and that I'd been reading about failed codes and mistaken codes for the server edition - and his voice got louder. NO, he said, it's about demand, and you'll just have to be patient. Have a nice day, he said, and ended the call. Geez. Perhaps there's a secret call center underground bunker hidden somewhere in the plains of the Midwest, where the same people provide "support" for every single product sold by anyone. So far, the only email I've gotten from Apple is the email with my case number, marked "closed." Wow.
  • It may very well be about demand... but that doesn't explain the "dead" codes nor does it explain the Mountain Lion Server codes... and it's not like Apple had no idea about the demand. They sold the computers that generated this demand. This is more about another instance where Apple got caught with their pants down, and now they're blaming it on the "demand". I doubt this would have happened on Steve Jobs' watch... but now that he's gone, the company is buckling under the strain.
  • I applied for my upgrade yesterday at 9:45am Pacific time. I waited 24 hrs and called, and said what everyone else is reported... up to 72 hrs before you are emailed. This is annoying, but I will wait. The lady also said my serial number has been confirmed. I guess it takes longer for them to send out an email... lol. Im guessing this is because of all the codes that didn't work, they probably are trying to send out completely new codes. I hope I receive it soon, but i doubt it'll be here within 72 hrs, probably a little after that. I am not mad or angry or ready to switch back to windows, but this is simply annoying and ML better be worth it!
  • Wow. You people are some spoiled brats. Of course there are problems. This is what happens when a company tries something for the first time, especially a company like Apple that is just now starting to do the kind of massive numbers they are doing in the computer world. Have patience and I'm sure this will get resolved. And guess what? Lion still works perfectly well.
  • I think that I would have to say "wow" to your comment. For me, it is not that there are problems. As a software engineer I know perfectly well how easy it is to have a ****ing buggy release and how much of a nightmare that can be for everyone involved. As Fausty82 had said, this could all have been handled before hand with plenty of time to get the proper validations and registries out of the way. In fact, it would be kind of a nice little reward to the people purchasing a new Apple computer to be given somewhat priority treatment in the upgrade process. Instead Apple has made those of us who purchased a new computer recently either spend our money on an upgrade that was advertised as free or wait until the end of the line. For myself, I received the email with the password to unlock the content code but not the email with the content code itself (which by the way is a completely useless and annoying bit of indirection...if the content code got sent to the wrong email address, why wouldn't the password email be sent there as well?). Wondering where the actual content code was, I emailed the up to date support team, forwarding my original email confirming my upgrade request. After only 6 hours, I received back a form email telling me what I needed to do to complete my request to change my email address (?). Somewhat taken aback, I sent a reply back stating that I didn't need to change my email address, I only needed to have the content code sent. A short 10 hours later, I get an even less useful reply. Now, don't get me wrong, I know that mistakes can be made, but this was getting ridiculous. In this last reply that I had sent, I had not only plainly stated my problem, I had made a short 2 sentence request stating that I needed the content code and, additionally, highlighted it and changed the font color to a bright red so that it could clearly NOT be missed. However, their stellar reply was a long winded explanation of how to enter the content code in the redemption section of the App store so that I could download ML (?!?). Furious, but polite, at this point, I call Apple's regular customer service department and talk to a very friendly rep. He tells me that he sees that my request had been approved and kindly put in the request to resend the content code...5 hours later, the system still hasn't sent it. As I was stating earlier, it is not just that this sequence of events is frustrating, it is that it is such poor customer service. Every one of these customers was promised a free upgrade to ML. Even if Apple can't get it's sh** together long enough to fix, or to have avoided, this problem, there is no reason to continue beating the dead horse that their up to date database most clearly is. They could simply put in a credit to the App store accounts of every customer who hasn't received the upgrade to the tune of $20. Heck, they should do that anyway to stave off some of the bad taste in their customer's mouths. I have worked at Amazon and, while I don't always approve of everything that they do or how they do it, I can state one thing for certain...they NEVER treat their customers like this. Not to say that there hasn't been at some point a rude representative, that happens anywhere. But this is a complete example of institutional rudeness. Companies that want a loyal customer base need to think of how their actions color the perception of them and put customer service VERY high on their list. Anyway, that is the end of my rant. I do think, though, ladyshoes that you can have your own opinion of Apple's handling of this problem but, at the same time, calling people who are voicing perfectly valid complaints, even if you disagree with them, "spoiled brats" is rather uncalled for.
  • Not to be too troll-like, but should this really be a post on a blog that covers mobile? A thread is the iMore's Mac OS X forum - sure, but on the blog itself? Really? Nevertheless, I sympathize with you and your frustration.
  • I'm so upset I can't use air play mirroring because my Macbook is older then 2011...BOOOOO apple!!!!!
  • My code yesterday did not work... Got the "this code has already been used" error message... Got second code this evening... Downloading ML now... Hopefully it's not the server edition. Will check when it finishes d/l'ing before installing.
  • I am sill waiting for the code.... requested it on the 25th, and still not here... It's a shame. So I actually bought Mountain Lion in the App Store, it's cheap enough that I prefer paying rather than waiting. But still it is annoying...
  • Apple can go pound sand before they get another dime from me. This is the biggest clusterf*ck since the Newton. Just send me my code, Apple. Then hire some real IT guys to keep the plates spinning. SMH,
  • As a new APPLE user (recent switch from PC), I'm amazed at how "terrible it is" that after two or three whole days people still haven't received their free $20 upgrade. (btw - I'm one of those people due to my recent switch). In case it's been a while since you've been a PC user and you haven't been keeping up in "Gatesville", an upgrade to windows 7 costs somewhere between $119, and $219 depending on version and features. I now agree with my wife's philosophy ... "stop ... take a big drink of your coffee ... and try to figure out why it's such a big deal that you upgrade to Mountain Lion this week rather than next." "Try to imagine 10 years from now what the impact of a three or four day delay really was."
  • Actually, Windows 7 upgrades cost $149 for a family pack (3 PCs) including the disc. That was retail and was typically sold for even less. The box arrived in 2 days from and the disk is very convenient for re-installs. That was in 2009. I would expect that in 2012, with Apple's walled garden and distribution through the App store, upgrades should be available instantly. Both my MBAs' purchase dates and my account are registered with Apple. They should have put 2 and 2 together and offered my account a no cost upgrade through the app store.
  • I received my codes (one iMac and one MBA) this morning. About 24 hours after submitting the particulars, so not too bad. I'm now wary of installing given the issues. I'll give it today, read other postings, and attempt the install this evening.
  • I got my code after 48 hours! I'm donwloading right now and I hopefully got the standar version.
  • Still waiting for mine...
  • After about a total time of 30 hours or so I got my code and it worked. Ultimately not too upset, they took care of my situation pretty quickly.
  • I have been waiting for my code for 48+ hours now. Called them and nothing. Posted my opinion on Apple Community website. It was removed after only 4 hours. Here is the post if anyone is interested
  • Just received my code. I requested around 5pm CST on Wednesday.
  • Code received this a.m. And it doesn't work----frustrating to the nth power.
  • I feel bad, I got mine within 30 minutes, first day...
  • Got 2nd & 3rd codes this am... 2nd was for ML server... The 3rd was finally correct and now have ML 10.8 running beautifully on my MBPR
  • I bought a MBA, submitted the code, still haven't gotten any response @ ~70 hours. At least give your customers some peace of mind with an automated response Apple. An email that says "we have received your request and are processing it as fast as we can, please do not be alarmed if it takes as much as 72 hours to receive your code." Luckily someone who got their code almost immediately loaded it up on my favorite torrent site and I was able to start downloading it despite Apple's confused up-to-date program. Mountain Lion, mmehh. If Snow Leopard had iCloud I would still be using it. Spaces > Mission Control; Launchpad = totally useless; Lion never worked on my companies print server while Snow Leopard had no problems. Mountain Lion is even harder to use with a projector than Lion was and I am sure there will be many more "features" I will learn to hate about Apple's "upgraded" OS.
  • I put in my request Wednesday night, got my promo code Friday morning. I've just got around to using it now. Mountain Lion is currently downloading fine, no problems yet. It seems to me that Apple is taking extra care in making sure that they aren't giving away copies to people who don't qualify. These days if things aren't instant people freak out with impatience. Obviously I would be annoyed if I got an invalid code, but having to wait a few days for a free copy isn't that bad at all in my opinion.
  • I got new RMBP from Best Buy online. I submitted the request for the code twice on Monday, the day I received it. First time by attaching receipt from best buy. For this I got reply saying there is no proof that the product was paid for and received. Second time I submitted receipt (again), shipping confirmation mail from best buy showing tracking number, best buy's order page screen shot showing the status of order as completed and ups tracking page screen shot showing the tracking number and status as delivered. This time also I got the same reply from Apple. I don't know what else they want as a proof - i dont have anything else. I mailed to mentioned email support to which there is no reply since yesterday. I have had enough. I am buying the mountain lion today - already spent so much, a few dollars more. But that leaves me with bad feeling about Apple. They should not have promised free upgrade otherwise.
  • I purchased 2 Macs to get free uptodate codes. Received the code email and the PDF email for both systems TWICE. Went to install it on my new Mac Air last night and the PDF asks for a password. Looking at every piece of paper, there was no password. Called Applecare and after 1/2 hour she agreed for some reason I wasn't sent the password and couldn't figure why I was sent 2 sets of codes and PDF's. Been 24 ghours now and nothingreceived. Has anyone heard of this problem where there was no password to open the PDF?
  • I got my code on July 26th, it didn't work, I have sent 3 emails to the support email provided with my code, not a single reply from any of them, and still over a week later, no new code. There really is no excuse for this service.
  • This problem has been solved. I received my code instantly via Email and download started right away.