New Mac owners took their frustration with Apple onto Twitter today as they groused that they have not received redemption codes for the free copy of OS X Mountain Lion they were promised.
"36 hours later still no redemption code for mountain lion, a phone call to apple informed me the process can take up to 72 hours?? Huh?" tweeted Andy Blackwood around 5 p.m. PT Thursday.
"A day and a half later and still no Mountain Lion redemption code. This is what a Retina MBP earns me? Frustrated!" said John Derrick, referring to the MacBook Pro equipped with a higher-resolution display.
Blackwood and Derrick were joined by scores of others also on Twitter who complained about Apple's inability to get them the redemption codes they needed to download Mountain Lion.
Last month, Apple promised customers that if they purchased a new Mac on or after June 11, they were eligible for a free upgrade to Mountain Lion. The program, called "Up-To-Date," started taking requests from those Mac owners Wednesday when the company shipped Mountain Lion to the Mac App Store.
The terms of the deal, as spelled out in the fine print on the Up-To-Date site, promised a code would "be emailed within 24 hours of order qualification." The phrasing, however, distinguished between that "order qualification" and the customers' submission of a request.
Some people were positively hot.
"If I don't get my redemption code for Mountain Lion soon, I'm gunna go to an Apple store and slap the first employee I see with an iPad!" threatened Robbie Bone, one would hope with tongue in cheek.
Others took a conspiracy theory approach. "I reckon Apple is holding back my Mountain Lion redemption code for the lulz, to send it exactly 1 minute after I give up and pay for it," tweeted Martin Bryant early Thursday.
It's difficult to tell how many customers are awaiting codes, but a well-trafficked thread on Apple's support forum dedicated to the topic has been viewed more than 2,600 times and currently has over 100 messages.
Several Apple blogs noted the exasperated users, too, including iJailbreak.com, which hosted an unscientific poll asking readers how long it took to receive a redemption code. The overwhelming response, chosen by over 84% of the respondents, was "24 hours plus."
Customer fury over free upgrades regularly gets stoked. In late 2009, Dell and Hewlett-Packard PC owners went to those vendors' support sites to vent about missing Windows 7 upgrades.
Microsoft launched Windows 7 more than two weeks before users flooded the Dell and HP forums with complaints.
That grumbling was reminiscent of an earlier debacle by Windows PC makers in 2007 over free or discounted upgrades for Vista.
The sluggish fulfillment by OEMs (original equipment manufacturers) of the last two Windows upgrades may have been one reason why Microsoft took control of the process this time.
At the end of May, Microsoft unveiled its own upgrade program for customers who purchase a Windows 7-powered system before Windows 8 ships on Oct. 26. Users must pay $14.99 for that upgrade, but Microsoft said it was handling everything itself.
Apple customers, meanwhile, continued to flame Apple on Twitter, or in some cases, surrendered.
"24 hours later and still no redemption code for Mountain Lion from Apple. No communication, nothing, zilch. Great user experience, Apple!" said "nicoadams" on the micro-blogging service.
"Finally caved and purchased #MountainLion. Will chase for refund when I finally get redemption codes. Fairly disappointed," concluded Michael Dyrynda.
MacRumors reports that at least half a dozen users have been mistakenly sent codes for the OS X Server components of Mountain Lion by Apple, instead of the actual operating system itself.
Apple did not reply to a request for comment on the Up-To-Date code complaints.
Gregg Keizer covers Microsoft, security issues, Apple, Web browsers and general technology breaking news for Computerworld. Follow Gregg on Twitter at @gkeizer, on Google+ or subscribe to Gregg's RSS feed. His email address is firstname.lastname@example.org.
Read more about mac os x in Computerworld's Mac OS X Topic Center.