After silencing customers and analysts alike last week with an offer to give ever iPhone 4 owner a free case to diminish reception woes, Apple made good on its promise Friday with details on just how to retrieve the gratis goods.
Get the iPhone 4 Case Program for free
Oddly enough, Apple won’t use an online application but instead a free downloadable app , a clever way to verify that everyone applying for case does, in fact own an iPhone 4. To find it from your iPhone, search for “iPhone 4 Case Program,” or use iTunes.
After the quick download, you can open the app and sign in using your iTunes account name and password, or your Apple ID. You’ll have a selection of cases from Incase, Belkin, Griffin, and Speck, in addition to Apple’s owner bumper cases. Check out our list of favorite iPhone 4 cases for some suggestions!
Apple won’t offer any sort of in-store pickup to get the cases to you in a hurry. Instead, you’ll need to wait three to five weeks for it to arrive via snail mail.
The fine print
If you bought your iPhone 4 before today – July 23 – hurry up and apply! Apple will cut off free applications for this pool of owners on August 22, essentially giving you one month from the beginning of the program. Owners who buy one between today and September 30, when the program ends, will have 30 days from the date of purchase to apply.
Did you grab an Apple bumper right off the shelf to protect your iPhone 4 day one? Wise choice. Apple will offer a full refund, including taxes and shipping fees, but the process varies depending on where and how you bought it. (You do remember, right?) If you bought it directly from Apple with a credit card or gift card, just sit back and wait for your refund to come in. There’s nothing for you to do short of checking the status of your refund. If you used cash, check, or a gift card, you’ll need to trudge back to the store in person to get your refund. Folks who opted to grab it from an AT&T store have it the worst: They’ll need to fill out a rebate coupon and physically mail it in by September 30.
No refunds on non-Apple cases
Did you nab a third-party case instead of Apple’s? Do not pass go, do not collect $30. Apple won’t offer refunds for any cases except it own. Depending on how much your $30 is worth to you, and how generous the return policy is at the store you bought it from, you might want to consider returning it there, then applying for a new one. Also keep in mind that you could always just get the free case, and sell it on eBay or Craigslist. The resale price of iPhone cases will likely tank in light of the fact that every single owner can get one for free, but people always like to try out new ones, and sometimes ruin old ones, so there will still be buyers.