When news spread that Apple would offer personal pickup service for the iPad Air, many jumped at the chance to secure their iPad Air online. Personal pickup offers the convenience of avoiding early morning lines and worse, the risk of not getting your device on launch day. We’ve seen a number of reports of poor experiences with personal pickup, specific to the iPad Air launch, which seems out of the norm.

iPad mini lines

Customers who order online can select a store for personal pickup. Usually within an hour, they receive notification that their product is ready for pickup. The transaction is completed online. When a customer arrives for pickup, the store needs to confirm the identity of the individual, locate the product and complete the delivery portion of the transaction. With no funds exchanging hands, this should make for a relatively quick process. One member in our forums waited 50 minutes for his iPad.

I waited 50 minutes with five customers in front of me, who all bought on line. They have no reasonable working system. They say they have glitches but they are just incapable of doing this. When you get to the front of the line they get somebody to retrieve your order. After more than ten minutes no one showed.

There were multiple reports of customers who had partial orders processed. Given the ample supply of iPad Airs, representatives suggested voiding the Apple Store orders and buying from the store.

A similar thing happened to me at my local Apple Store. It processed my iPad but the Smart Cover was still waiting. I ended up buying the Smart Cover separately and calling and canceling the other Smart Cover. The Apple rep said a lot of that happened.

When I got to the store at 10:35 the guy said they have iPads but I’d have to void my order and then buy an iPad as if I was a walk in.

There have been similar reports on MacRumors as well.

There were 2 lines at my apple store. Pick-up and “new”. My problem – it is only fair to COMPLETELY EMPTY the pre-order/pickup line before a single person on the “new” line gets a device. The people who have pre-ordered have already paid, they already have my money. There were people who didn’t do personal pick-up who were getting devices before paying customers.

Apple offers personal pickup as an option to bypass long lines. According to their site, “You can be in and out right away.” That’s been my personal experience as recent as last month, when I was in and out of the Annapolis, MD Apple Store with a new iPhone 5s. Launch days are typically heavy traffic days at any Apple Store. Early reports have sales of up to 3 million of iPad Airs sold, not to mention traffic for iPhones, Macs and other products. It’s unclear as to how many experienced problems with their personal pickup. The stories above illustrate that despite the often exceptional shopping experience the Apple Store provides, there is always room for improvement. Don’t be surprised if we don’t see personal pickup as an option for the iPad mini with retina or other major product launches.

Did you opt for personal pickup? How was your experience?