My nightmare experience trying to buy an iPhone 3G on launch day

I know this is well after the launch day of the new iPhone but I wanted to post about my horrible experience from that day.

I arrived at the Apple store around 5:45 am and was 15th in line. An Apple employee came around asking us to make sure we were upgrade eligible. I knew I was eligible but went ahead and called AT&T anyways just to make sure. I was happy to learn that I was indeed eligible to purchase the new iPhone. I do not have a corporate or business account and do not have any discounts attached to my phone. I am a current iPhone owner and have been so since 2 weeks after its launch a year ago.

When I finally made it into the store and was about to purchase an iPhone I was shocked to hear the Apple employee inform me that they were receiving an error code, “IRU”, or something like that. They told me I would have to purchase the phone at an AT&T store. I was obviously disappointed at this point due to the fact that I had waited in line for nearly 2 and a half hours and I knew that the AT&T stores would probably be sold out by now.

An Apple employee by the name of Meghan was extremely helpful. She called AT&T and tried to figure out what was wrong. They informed her that my phone was not upgrade eligible since I just purchased it recently. This was not true at all. I actually purchased the phone 2 weeks after it was launched a year ago. After discussing the problem with AT&T some more she actually managed to convince them to manually activate and upgrade my account. Meghan informed me that I would have to go to the AT&T store and sign a contract and then have them reverse the upgrade and deactivate the phone so she could try to activate it again.

Apparently there was no way for Apple to sell me the phone without getting past that error code. I then proceeded to the AT&T store to explain to them the situation and see if they could help. They did not have a clue as to what the problem was and what Apple needed them to do. After talking to the AT&T manager for a few minutes she decided to walk over to the Apple store to try to get a better understanding what the problem was.

We then walked back over to the Apple store. The AT&T manager made a couple of phone calls to have the upgrade/activation reversed but this still didn’t work. What was even more frustrating that the fact that the AT&T manager informed me that I would now have to pay the full price of $499 for the phone since I just upgraded my account. I didn’t understand why I would have to pay $200 extra for a phone due to AT&T’s screw up.

This was very frustrating due to the fact that AT&T had some glitch in their system stating that I was not upgrade eligible when I actually was. I was actually also disappointed with Apple since they had no contingency plan in case this sort of thing happened. They had absolutely no way to override the error code and sell me a phone even though they knew I was eligible etc. What made if even more frustrating was that Apple had a phone they were holding for me and wanted to sell me but couldn’t and AT&T had my contract upgraded and activated but didn’t have any phone to sell me.

After spending 6 hours going through this ordeal it goes without saying that I am very tempted to pay the money I was going to pay for the phone to cancel my account with AT&T. Apple and AT&T really screwed this one up big time.

I did end up getting one of the new iPhones via AT&T’s direct fulfillment option which took around 10 days.  I’m extremely happy with it so far.


About Will Hucks

I am a systems analyst and do java development here in Jacksonville Florida.
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