No, we didn’t accidentally republish yesterday’s post. This is another story of a “new” iPhone with someone else’s email address, and this time there appears to be no simple explanation for it—the address on the phone belonged to a man who lived on the other side of the country and used a Blackberry.
I also purchased an iPhone in New York City, but in Manhattan, and the main difference was that I pursued my case heavily both with the original store, Executive Customer Service, and the person whose e-mail address was on my phone. The store refused a return, so being a good Consumerist reader, I e-mailed the CEO directly.
They arranged for an exchange, but still failed to explain how this man’s e-mail address ended up on my phone. The store claimed that this was an unavoidable part of their activation system, and the e-mail address belonged to either an employee or a previous iPhone purchaser. However, I e-mailed the address I found directly, and he kindly responded with a concerned e-mail about how he was based out of Los Angeles, a Blackberry user, and had only been in New York to exchange a SIM card a few months prior.
The kicker was that when I asked the Executive Customer Service rep about why customers’ private information was showing up on the phones, I was told that they would not pursue this, and that I should talk to the store manager directly. Except that I already had spoken to her, and was lied to.
Last, when I went to exchange the phone at a store in Atlanta, the reps here told me that this was an unacceptable practice, and that their own store utilized an activation process that didn’t require an e-mail address.
Here’s the letter Howard wrote to AT&T. It’s the same story as above but has more details, so we’re including it in case someone from AT&T happens to read this.
My name is Howard ___. I am writing to tell you about a recent experience I’ve had purchasing the iPhone at the AT&T Wireless Store located at 1330 Avenue of the Americas, New York, New York.
On November 23rd, I purchased an iPhone at this store. During the activation process, I was surprised when the sales consultant presented me directly with an unwrapped and activated iPhone— I did not watch him unwrap the phone, and the phone was a bit greasy, but I figured I’d give the sales rep the benefit of the doubt. It should be noted that the sales rep, Michael Badalov, provided excellent customer service and I have no complaints.
Upon returning home, however, I discovered that the iPhone App Store was already registered to an e-mail address “XXXXXX@gmail.com”. I do not know who this person is, and concerned, I headed for my local AT&T Store in Fresh Meadows, NY. At this store, they told me that I would need to go back to the original store to investigate the issue.
I traveled back to the AT&T Store where I made the purchase, and I spoke with a customer service rep who said that this “happens all the time” and that I would not be able to exchange the phone without incurring a restocking fee. I asked to speak with the manager, Felicia Williams, who also explained that this often happens with the activation process, that other customers or staff members may have been logged into iTunes, and that there was “absolutely no way” that I could have been sold a used phone. I asked for an exchange and she refused, saying that this often happens and was an unavoidable part of the iPhone activation process.
As a customer, I’m disappointed for two main reasons. First, I am now in possession of a phone for which I’m worried may not actually be a new product— although I want to believe the store representatives, given the activation process, I hope it’s understandable why I’m concerned that I was not provided with an exchange of the phone.
Second, I am dismayed that customers’ contact information can spread so easily from phone to phone, and I’d be worried that my information is not passed on as well. The fact that I was told “this happens all the time” was met with much dismay.
If you’re really planning on buying an iPhone, you might want to just do it online.