AT&Ts iPhone errors

July 19, 2008 at 9:07 am Leave a comment

I’ve wanted an iPhone since the first one was released, but couldn’t see parting with the money required to get one.  Since my AT&T contract is up, I’m eligible for the $199 price, so this new iPhone is priced right in my ballpark.

On July 11th, I set out from home around 7:15 AM to buy an iPhone.  From reading about last years launch, I figured my best bet was to go to an Apple store.  I arrived about 7:40 and was shocked at the length of the line.  There must have been 80 people in line.  At this point, I started to think that I should have stopped for breakfast!  I began patiently waiting in line and talking to the woman who walked up just seconds after I did.  After a few minutes, I noticed that an Apple employee was walking down the line.  He was a few people ahead of me in line when he said something that really caught my attention.  He told a customer that they couldn’t sell an iPhone to anyone who recieved any sort of discount on their service through their employer.  He emphasized this by saying that he, an Apple employee, could not buy an iPhone at the Apple store because he got a discount on AT&T service through Apple.

After giving this some thought, I attribute this restriction on Apple store sales to AT&T wanting to get any many sales directly through their locations as possible, since they probably make more money this way.  Sure, I know that both AT&T and Apple are corporations looking to make as much money as possible, but at least Apple tries to do it such a way to not terribly inconvenience their customers, while AT&T cares not about us.

After hearing those words come from the Apple employees mouth, I decided to stop wasting my time at the Apple store, and headed back across town to an AT&T store.  I grabbed a bite to eat on the way, since I knew I was in for a long wait.  When I arrived at the AT&T store at just about 8:05 AM, there were probably 70 people ahead of me.  I pretty much knew that I was not getting an iPhone on launch day at this point.  Still, hope springs eternal, so I waited.  After about 50 minutes of waiting, word came that while they may not have enough phones for everyone in line, they could do “direct fulfillment” orders, so that you could get one shipped to the AT&T store with your name on it, and that when it arrived, you’d get a call and could come pick it up.  Since I had already invested about an hour, I figured I’d stick around and get an order in.

Now, in what I have to say is the most insane lie I heard that day, the AT&T people kept saying they didn’t know how many iPhones they had.  Why wouldn’t they simply count the people in line, and say “We have 50 phones, so these first 50 people can buy”?  Actually, I have a theory.  They wanted everyone there to get so much time invested in standing in that line, that they would wait around and order one from that store.  This goes back to my “AT&T doesn’t care one bit about their customers” theory.

Anyhow, with AT&T’s devious plan working brilliantly, things hit a snag.  They finally ran out of iPhones, and so started letting people buy through “direct fulfillment”.  That’s when they noticed that their system wasn’t charging sales tax on direct fulfillment orders.  After working with people on the phone for a while, they announced that they would be unable to perform direct fulfillment orders at this particular location because of the newness of the store meant they weren’t set up properly for direct fulfillment orders.

WHAT?  You mean in the YEAR this store has been opened, they haven’t noticed this?  Do they always push their stock on customers and never order phones through this great direct fulfillment process?

At this point, I left, having completely wasted 3 hours.  I went in to work, basically missing a half day for nothing.

This is the part of the story where things look a bit better for AT&T.  When I got off that day, I went to the AT&T store closest to my home (one that I know has been there for years, but it’s in an area I wouldn’t want to spend much time alone after dark).  After waiting about 3 minutes, I got to talk to an AT&T person who entered my direct fulfillment order.  About 10 minutes later, I was done.  One of the options on the order was for upgraded shipping.  I figured that I’m waiting several days now, so whats a few more and opted for the standard free shipping.

I gave them my email address as part of the order process and got email updates from them about the status of my order.  This morning at 3:01 am (Saturday, a week after my hours of waiting in line), I got an email indicating that it had shipped. I clicked into the link, then clicked the Fedex tracking number and saw that it was actually shipped Friday.  Ok, so I figured it would be here Monday or Tuesday, but then I noticed that it was set up for Saturday delivery.  So, without me spending money to upgrade my shipping, they shipped it next day with Saturday delivery.  Wow.  It showed that it was on the Fedex vehicle at that time.  Now, I’ve been periodically checking the tracking this morning, and it still shows on the truck.  While finishing this blog entry up, they actually called my cell to tell me that it had arrived.

With AT&T’s unstoppable lust for money, I’m shocked that they bumped my shipping up to next-day with Saturday delivery.  Perhaps someone at AT&T is trying to stand up for the customer, even if it costs them a bit of profit.

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Entry filed under: General.

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