About iPhked

My name is Dan. I’m a 22-year old Software Engineer living in Boston, Massachusetts. The iPhone is the pinacle of technology and deserves to be commemorated forever, but after four hours spent trying to purchase one, talking to multiple people at an Apple store, an AT&T store, and AT&T customer care, I still have nothing to show for it.

Through poor training, no backup plan, and corporate bureaucracy and deal bickering, Apple and AT&T have failed in delivering what could have been the most anticipated and exciting product launch ever. I got iPhkd, and here is my analysis of what failed, the system screw ups behind it, and the dedicated Apple store employees who tried their best despite everything piling up against them.

Saturday, July 12, 2008

Promises vs. Reality

Apple’s Promised Experience

Everyone knows Apple's pitch: Things just work as they’re supposed to. It’s supposed to be like walking into an ice cream parlour and ordering a big fat sandae-malt.

This time around, Apple decided to go for in store activation. You just walk in, a friendly Mac Genius takes care of you, and 10 minutes later, you’re online. Here’s what Engadget quoted AT&T as the reason for this choice:

"There is no question that many enjoyed the convenience of at-home activation, but we also found that many others wanted to complete purchase and activation in one step so they could walk out of the AT&T store with their iPhone up and running. We have decided to take the latter approach and we think customers will like it. It will be especially helpful if any questions or issues arise during activation. They can be resolved on the spot and in-person.”

Sounds fantastic. Everything works, and if it doesn’t, you get personal care.

The Reality

The reality is that Apple’s activation system interacts with AT&T’s records at the most rudimentary level. If you are the sole person on the account, things work. As soon as you have a non-standard account, Apple’s system won’t let them sell you anything.

Corporate account? Can’t help you. Family plan? Not unless you’re the primary account holder.

My nightmare began because I’m a recent college grad living in Boston. Throughout school, I’ve been on AT&T’s family plan because it made more financial sense than having my own account. Apple, however, apparently can’t cater to people in my situation due to the complexities of a family-style plan – their iPhone sales system just won’t let them sell it to non-primary account holders on a family plan.

[image credits: Universal Pictures]


Kimberley said...

OMG! Your experience mimics my husband's experience almost verbatim. He was denied activation because, somehow, without his knowledge or input, AT&T flagged his personal account as a business account. It is now 10:18 p.m. on Monday evening and AT&T STILL has not been able to remove this flag! Looking forward to reading more about your experience.

Marc said...

Wow, horribly shitty situation there. Although, not in Apple or AT&T's defense at all, you can't buy or upgrade even a regular phone if you're not the primary account holder of a family plan. That goes with all the other carriers. However, if it was a home activation like it was with the first iPhone, and you had all the account verification info like you said, you'd have a working iPhone by now. AT&T and Steve Jobs done fucked this one up!

Kimberley said...

Update - Apple/AT&T have yet to accomplish activation of an iPhone for my husband. He rec'd a text message from AT&T on Tuesday that his account had been corrected and he was free to purchase an iPhone. Went back to the Apple store last nite. Went thru the whole process only to have Apple refuse to activate because my husband's account is still coming up as a business account. Called AT&T and all they could do was apologize and offer to "escalate" the problem. It had already been "escalated" on Friday, Saturday and Monday, to no avail. Went to AT&T (corporate store) to see if they could remove the flag on the account. No one in the store was able to do so. They contacted a VP and he was not able to do so. Another 2 hours of back and forth bullshit, and still no iPhone. It now appears that the only way my husband will be able to purchase and activate an iPhone will be through the AT&T store, because, even if they are unable to remove the flag, their computers will be able to override the flagged account, unlike Apple's computer system. Unfortunately AT&T has zero iPhones in stock. They will put him on a wait list, with an anticipated wait of 10-21 days.