Apple: We'll Only Help You With Your iPhone After It's Too Late To Return It

Darin’s iPhone was defective, so he tried to return it to the AT&T store where he purchased it. No dice. AT&T told him that Apple was responsible for the device. When Darin tried to exchange the phone with Apple, they told him he’d have to deal with AT&T for the first 14 days.

That’s odd, Apple has a 14 day refund policy on the iPhone. As in, you can’t return it for a full refund after 14 days. Darin writes:

So I made the 15 mile drive to the AT&T store and as soon as I walked in I was told that they will have nothing to do with the iPhone the moment you leave the store. So I drove 15 miles back home and called the nearest Apple store. They told me that they will handle any issues after the first 14 days, but AT&T is responsible for any issues within the first 14 days.

I then called AT&T and talked to a very friendly and helpful rep who told me that she believed that Apple would have to replace the phone but would verify, I spent several minutes on hold before she returned and after verifying the policy did confirm that AT&T policy states that Apple is responsible for all phone issues.

I explained what the Apple store told me and she volunteered to call them, I spent about 10 minutes on hold and she came back on and let me know that she had talked to the Apple store manager who stated that Apple policy states that AT&T is responsible for the first 14 days but that she would work with me if I went to the store.

Darin eventually got a replacement iPhone, but it seems that Apple and AT&T have their wires crossed on this issue. Apple is responsible for the actual phone, don’t let them make you wait 14 days to replace a defective unit because of a contradiction in policies, or you may find that you cannot get an full refund on the phone. Darin thinks it might be better to buy the iPhone from the Apple store, because that AT&T store wasn’t equipped to help him.

Darin writes:

I purchased an iPhone Friday night from a local AT&T store, took it home and activated it with no issues. AT&T was relatively up front about the fact that it was covered by the Apple warranty.

After spending some time using the various features I noticed that the external speaker didn’t work. I tried calling Apple tech support but gave up after being on hold for about 15 minutes.

Saturday morning I woke up, called Apple tech support and after a hour was able to speak to a rep. She was helpful but not knowledgeable (I knew more about the menus than she did), but after working through the problem she said that it appeared as if the speaker didn’t work and to return it to the AT&T store. I asked several times if AT&T would replace it and she said that they would.

So I made the 15 mile drive to the AT&T store and as soon as I walked in I was told that they will have nothing to do with the iPhone the moment you leave the store. So I drove 15 miles back home and called the nearest Apple store. They told me that they will handle any issues after the first 14 days, but AT&T is responsible for any issues within the first 14 days.

I then called AT&T and talked to a very friendly and helpful rep who told me that she believed that Apple would have to replace the phone but would verify, I spent several minutes on hold before she returned and after verifying the policy did confirm that AT&T policy states that Apple is responsible for all phone issues.

I explained what the Apple store told me and she volunteered to call them, I spent about 10 minutes on hold and she came back on and let me know that she had talked to the Apple store manager who stated that Apple policy states that AT&T is responsible for the first 14 days but that she would work with me if I went to the store.

So I drove 45 minutes to the Apple store, walked in and asked for the manager; when explaining my issue to the Apple rep 3 other people spoke up and mentioned that they have the same issue with AT&T stating that they have to go to Apple. The manager talked to all of us, explained that fact that the AT&T and Apple policies do disagree but that she would resolve our issues. 45 minutes later I walked out with a new phone which is working perfectly.

I do want to warn people about purchasing iPhones from AT&T due to the potential support issues that they may experience if the receive a phone with issues.

Darin

(Photo: hanapbuhay)

PREVIOUSLY: 14 Days To Return The iPhone, 10% Restocking Fee If Box Is Opened

Comments

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  1. Ray Wert Jr says:

    Let the returns begin. Or the attempts at least.

    iPhone, change the world? No. Set record for beating the Newton to hype/downfall record? We shall see.

    Apple, using AT&T was a baaaaaddddddd idea.

  2. Plaid Rabbit says:

    I’ll agree that AT&T was a really shitty choice, but the problem with the whole thing is bad cell phone provider stories are like assholes and opinions – EVERYONE has one. I mean, I love T-Mobile, but many here hate them, and I’m sure that one person on here loves Cingular/AT&T, where I am REALLY pissed that I’m going to have to give them money to get this phone. The same goes for Sprint and Verizon.

    Apple will weather the problems (500,000 out and only a few vocal people having activation problems? That’s it?), and come out on top, I think. They really did, it seems, everything they could to make sure things were taken care of prior to launch. Now, its just up to the people behind the product to make it work. I have faith in Apple, but I’m worried about AT&T.

  3. Hawk07 says:

    I think the whole 5 yr contract with AT&T showed me Apple’s true colors and really turned me off to the idea of ever buying an iPhone. If I wanted to spend $600 on a phone, I’d probably get that new Prada phone. At least that’s a brand name designer.

    Also, just wait till all the iPhone clones come out that are more feature riched, unlocked, and support the ability for the community to write custom code and features for.

  4. banned says:

    Any chance an underpaid CSR’s gets to “pass the buck” will be taken. These people are simply lazy and unknowlegable and instead of taking the time to learn and resolve the problem, its far easier to say call apple, or AT&T, or Motorola or whoever.

  5. jtlight says:

    It’s pretty ridiculous how poorly planned this entire operation was. Though I’m not a fan of Apple, I would expect more from them. Seriously, how many months have they had to put this together. Wouldn’t someone take a look at AT&T and Apple’s policies to make sure they don’t conflict? If I ever paid $500-600 for a phone, I would want NO problems.

  6. rrrebo says:

    The iPhone is the trophy wife of the cellular world. It’s gorgeous to look at, interesting and amusing at parties, but at the end of the day it’s going to fark your gardener, take your money, and leave you unfulfilled.

  7. sassenach says:

    Take that, early adopter!

  8. Trai_Dep says:

    So the takeaway is that AT&T sucks and canny consumers should avoid their stores like the plague? Got it.

  9. tcp100 says:

    Man, this is great. Every morning, I check my favorite sites, you know, the iPhonerist, iphonemodo, eniPhoneGadget.com, msnbiPhone..

    Seriously, this stupid cell phone has become the Paris Hilton of the tech news world.

    Anyways, shock! Misunderstandings, miscommunications, problems, and dissatisfaction with an overhyped product that used the ol’ “artificial scarcity” routine to drum up sales, a la the latest game console?

    Say it ain’t so!

    Cure: Wait a couple weeks. They’ll make more.

  10. ECN2 says:

    After reading this, and knowing my own experience with a defective iPhone, I would highly recommend purchasing an iPhone from an Apple Retail Store. After going through 20 hour activation process, I noticed that the camera on my iPhone was dead. I went back to the Apple Store where I bought it and they replaced the phone. They thought that swapping the SIM card would get me going again, but AT&T insisted that my account was inelligible for an iPhone (something that took 20 hours to solve with the first activation). The Apple Genius Bar guy got on the phone with AT&T on my behalf and successfully pushed through the 2nd activation while I sat there.

  11. Amarain824 says:

    Darin, don’t forget to add the cost of that 30 mile trip to your cost of the iphone…so its 2G’s plus 1 and a half gallons of gas…

  12. SBR249 says:

    I’m actually surprised that Apple just sat back and let AT&T handle the iPhone launch like this. I mean, if Steve Jobs was OCD enough to inspect the caulk joints on the window panes of an apple store, I’d expected them to browbeat AT&T into actually behaving. But I guess I was wrong.

  13. ahwannabe says:

    Is it okay if I point and laugh now?

  14. ctate says:

    Honestly I’d just love to own an iPhone, but I’m waiting until they work out all of the bugs and the price goes down. I just can’t justify paying that much for a phone in general, much less for a phone that you can’t insure. It has a very high risk of making it into the toilet courtesy of my one year old.
    Also I’ve had cell phone techs tell me on many occasions to wait for the second generation of high tech phones like this to come out. There’s just too many issues with the first runs. My two cents…

  15. mac-phisto says:

    it seems a little fishy that at&t couldn’t replace your phone. even though it’s apple hardware, by not replacing it at the store it was purchased at, the sale numbers are going to skew (unless they plan on tracing IMEIs, which is highly unlikely).

    essentially, if they follow normal inventory routines, at&t stores are going to show a higher sales volume, thereby warranting higher restocking of the phone over time. meanwhile, apple stores are going to bear 100% of the replacement burden?!?

    what nimrod is running this operation?

  16. osxso says:

    Well, couple things about this. First, yes, Apple does have a 14 day return policy. So, within those 14 days, you can return it (10% restocking still applies). However it obviously doesn’t apply to purchases at the AT&T store. I work at an Apple store and I can tell you that it’s been challenging for everyone. Today I called because my iPhone couldn’t receive calls, and without even hearing me out, the guy gave me AppleCare’s number. After I told him I worked there, he took a look into the problem, found it and fixed it. Kind of ticks you off.
    One solution you could try…break your screen. Digg has a couple stories about people getting a free replacement for it.

  17. OnceWasCool says:

    I never trust anything with an Apple logo.

  18. jburland says:

    A 14 day return policy covers the “I bought this, but I changed my mind” scenario. I would think.
    If a purchase is defective and not fit for purpose, it would appear to be quite obvious that you return it to the vendor and that THEY sort it.
    What kind of retards do Apple and AT&T have working on their joint venture procedures and agreements that they didn’t address this central issue?

  19. eli_b says:

    Fahrenheit 611

  20. pinkfariey says:

    Its all bout mony they dont give a rats ass about you or your phone.

  21. nequam says:

    @oncewascool: Thanks for the thoughtful and well-developed comment. Apple products have no worse track record than other products.

    These iPhone posts and comments demonstrate that the only difference between the haters and the fanboys is that the latter have cooler gear.

  22. bedofnails says:

    @nequam:

    Cooler gear as in a cell phone/ipod that lasts only a day before recharging, or a cell phone that has a network browser on geriatric network, or maybe you meant cooler gears as in $600 half glass liability.

  23. swalve says:

    The reason there aren’t more complaints is that Apple people are brainwashed into believing the products are excellent and the service is good, true or not.

  24. nequam says:

    @bedofnails: Yet another hater proves my point. WIth every product there is a trade off of features. iPhone buyers have chosen a sleek design and visual features over speed and price. You may not make this choice, but it doesn’t mean Apple products suck generally, or the iPhone sucks in particular. It is, however, a valid choice and one that even non-Apple-lovers make. It’s similar to the choice to buy an iPod. Just ask Creative (Zen) and Microsoft (Zune) on that score.

  25. bedofnails says:

    @nequam:

    People waited in line to PAY for a half-assed 1st gen product, just to HAVE, it. That’s certainly part of the “i” appeal. Although this unfortunate consumerist desire exists for other poorly launched products (and some well executed ie Wii) usually with the “i” crowd will you see a blatant disregard to “value” and amazing excuse driven defense to their motives. I’m sure the iphone will be amazing in time; but again, I don’t see how the “trade-off” point has validity. You don’t buy an overpriced cell phone for the camera, and you don’t buy an overpriced ipod for the phone.

  26. mikecolione says:

    The policy as it was given to us is once we sell the phone, Apple is responsible for it.

    If the phone doesn’t work, they would have you send it in (via an apple store if you choose) to have it serviced.

    AT&T stores have absolutely nothing to do with the phone or activation. All warranties are serviced through Apple themselves.

  27. barbster says:

    Very interesting story. I had the exact same problem with my iPhone…everything worked except the external speaker. Thankfully though, I had purchased mine at an Apple store and they gave me a new one with no issue. Wondering if this speaker issue is going to be a trend.

  28. ludwigk says:

    @JTLIGHT: the iPhone launch was meticulously planned. What you’re seeing is poor implementation. As well as Apple wants the launch to run, and as much effort as they poured into making this launch smooth, it can’t make an AT&T CSR any better than they are. You’re confusing the two, indicating that you truly have no idea what you’re talking about.

    @SBR249: Believe me, Apple knows AT&T is flaking on service, The shit has already hit the fan, but AT&T has like 1800 stores. It takes time to move a beast like that.

    @MAC-PHISTO: why would you count defective replacements against sales numbers? Replacing a phone is a warranty service, which would not affect sales.

    @JBURLAND: They’re called retail employees. They can be quite inept at times (although the opposite is also true, they can be stellar).

  29. NaughtyBitsGLiF says:

    @ BEDOFNAILS

    NEQUAM has his head so far up Apple’s Hershey Highway he can’t hear you. I love the way he uses Haters and Fanboys, seems he is a hater of haters. Kind of iRonic eh’?

  30. waxer says:

    FYI: Verizon was 1st approached by Apple to be the exclusive and they said NO. Good call VZ, AT&T blows!