Sorry, Your iPhone Reservation Isn't A Reservation

How are Apple Stores doing with the much-anticipated iPhone 3G S launch? Apple fan on the ground Joseph reserved his phone online, queued up outside of his nearest Apple Store this morning at 6:30, and… hit a snag, since his reservation apparently isn’t a reservation.

He wrote us:

So far, on day 1, Apple has managed to live down to all expectations. I rolled out of bed at 5:30am, and was in line outside the mall at 6:30am, ready and waiting for when the doors to the Apple Store would open at 7 (attached picture). It started off nice, as at about 6:40 Apple employees came outside to greet us with coffee and doughnuts, and to pump up the crowd. At 6:50 they took us into the mall, and divided us up into two groups, those with reservations, and those without. Those without reservations were told the only iPhone 3G S available for them would be a black 16GB phone.

At about 7:45, I got to the front of the line. The concierge attempted to find my reservation, but was unable to do so. No problem, I thought, I can just pull up the email on my original iPhone. I showed it to the concierge, who them started to hem and haw, as she called a manager. Apparently, my reservation wasn’t really a reservation, although the email from Apple sure looks like one. After all, the email says, “Thanks for starting your iPhone purchase online. To finish the process, come to your nearest Apple Retail Store and look for a Concierge in an orange shirt. We’ll help you complete your purchase, activate your new iPhone, and set it up for you.”

Somewhere between starting my online purchase and coming to the Apple store to finish it, there should have been another email. I’m not quite sure what that email looks like, since I never got it. I guess I should have been looking more for the email that says “Oh, but here in the middle of those two things is another step.” Also, the line at the bottom of my original email that iPhones are sold on a first-come, first-served basis doesn’t really apply.

Tim, the manager, told me that I was more than welcome to buy the 16GB iPhone, which I declined. As I walked away, he tried to explain to me that he understood exactly how I felt. Oh really Tim? Did you pre-order a phone, wake up many hours earlier than usual to go get it, and then be told you didn’t really order one? “Um, well, no. But I don’t have the new phone yet either.” Ok, thanks Tim, that’s exactly how I feel.

Solution? Go across the street to an AT&T store, spend less than 5 minutes waiting for a rep to get to me, and out the door with the 32GB iPhone in less than 20 minutes. On this one, AT&T gets a big thumbs up, while Apple, um, not so much.

Have any other early adopters out there experienced similar issues with Apple’s reservation system, and reservations that aren’t? Share your 3G S victory or horror stories in the comments. Or just make fun of the people who Need To Have It Today.