I Still Cannot Use My iPhone

UPDATE: Now I Can Use My iPhone!

Mr. Jobs,

I know you may not be the right person to write this letter to, but I know you and the people of your organization care more about my satisfaction that the folks at AT&T. Please let me tell you my people and I hope you can forward this to the right person who can actually resolve my problem. I bought an iPhone from the Apple store in Jacksonville, Florida the first day it was available. I went home, installed the newest version of iTunes and began to activate my iPhone. That was now almost 48 hours ago and I still do not have service of any kind of my iPhone. I have talked to three different representatives at AT&T and I can say they have no idea about the iPhone. Their lack of training has made my experience awful…

Each person has said everything on my account is fine and they told me to wait. The first time I called was 6 hours into the process and they said my iPhone would just need more time and everything was okay. After 24 hours I called up because my iPhone was locked and I could not do anything. The person I talked to said everything was okay on my account. She did not know what to do, telling me several times she had to look at her guide and she even told me that there is no one there who could help her. That is great, AT&T did not have a single employee who could assist in the activation process. She just told me she did not know what to do, but would hit the activation button on my account. She did and now I have access to the main menu and can at least use Wi-Fi. I called earlier today and I could not even wait in the phone queue line, I had to leave a voicemail to AT&T that was NEVER returned. It has now been almost 48 hours and I am still on hold with AT&T and they will probably tell me to continue waiting. My old phone still works to make and receive calls, it is like nothing has happened and I never even activated my iPhone.

I am very upset at how AT&T has handled this, but I see it as partly Apple’s fault. If Apple picked AT&T to be an exclusive carrier for 5 years, you should have followed up on the process. If you want to make a radical change to the activation process, following up with your talent is just as important as execution. I know you are a great manager and leader in your industry, and certainly you know the ins and outs of business, but why are you letting AT&T hurt your image. You have the power. You guys need to tell AT&T how it is, and how dissatisfied customers are at their process. It hurts your image to because we are using iTunes to activate the iPhone.

I’m sorry I wrote so much, but I believe it is very important to hear my opinion, as I am very frustrated at AT&T and Apple. Right now I am feeling extreme remorse for buying your product and switching to AT&T.

If you know someone who can simply make me happy and Activate my iPhone, please pass this on.

Thank You,


[account and personal information redacted]

News reports indicate Anthony is not alone in having iPhone activation issues, though the number of affected users is relatively small.

Still, perhaps AT&T and Apple thought the activation program was so easy and perfect that they didn’t bother training their reps in how to handle calls like Anthony’s.

What Apple & At&T should’ve done is had an elite iPhone customer service/tech support squad to deal with these issues. If a customer called up AT&T with an issue, they would get immediately forwarded to this team.

Even if it was server and system overload on AT&T’s end, at least someone who could say, “yeah, a bajillion people are trying to sign up at once and there’s some problems, we’re really sorry, please wait, here”s some free iTunes downloads.”

(Photo: karo.lina)


Edit Your Comment

  1. davere says:

    I was lucky and my iPhone was activated in less than a minute and my number ported in less than a half hour.

    But I hear that when people call, AT&T is blaming Apple and Apple is blaming AT&T. I knew this was going to happen. They should have just released it as an unlocked phone and sold a ton more.

  2. bnet41 says:

    I don’t know if anyone is to blame here. Big rollouts always have issues. I have never been apart of one that was perfect, no matter how much we planned. It sounds like overall the issues are small and sporadic.

  3. dbeahn says:

    If the old phone still works, the problem is on his AT&T account. Apple can’t do anything, but a competent AT&T CSR could get things sorted out in no time.

  4. Amy Alkon says:

    The problem is ATT. My two most recent experiences: I called because I have terrible reception on my phone, and found out that my t681 is obsolete and they were sending out replacement phones (shittier ones without bluetooth). See story at link:


    The tech support chick never called me back when, guess what, my call was dropped (of course she had my number — we went through the usual info-hosing…she knew my grandma’s pet’s name by the time she started helping me).

    Then, I called back about three weeks later (I’m writing a book, so cell service isn’t at the top of my list, to-do-wise). I talk to this nice but not exactly genius guy, and help him tell them (he types it out) that my phone is obsolete (he knows nothing about it and ATT blocks him from seeing the page on the Internet that talks about it!)…and says somebody will call me back in 72 hours. That was in mid-May.

    I feel sorry for Apple loyalists who are used to Applecare-style service. Think about how customer service must have worked in communist Russia. This is probably a rung lower in satisfaction.

  5. firestarsolo says:

    Did you know that some people are waiting until SP1 to buy Vista?

  6. Mojosan says:

    I opened my iPhone at 8:30am and its now 10am and I’m typing this from the iPhone.

    I have all my contacts, music and pics sync’d to it. Got my weather, contact pictures, wallpaper, voicemail etc all signed up.

    And I dont use Mac.

    I’m sorry if other folks are having issues. I love it so far and its been very, very simple to activate and personalize.

  7. johnny5alive says:

    I waited over 42 hours to get my iPhone activated before I did something about it. I got the phone around 10 pm Friday signed up, and waited and waited and waited (“your activation requires more time to complete”). I wasted my time with AT&T customer service as, according to their automated activation hotline, my phone was completely activated and I was a happy customer. Hardly the case.

    Based on a tip from the apple discussion boards
    I went to my local AT&T store, got a new sim card, re-applied for the AT&T service through iTunes and was making calls and surfing the web 5 minutes after I got back home. iPhone rocks. Hope this helps…

  8. scoobydoo says:

    Poor service from ATT? Say it ain’t so!

  9. allstarecho says:

    Can’t say that I feel sorry for anyone who is having issues with iPhone/AT&T. And no, I am not against the iPhone. I want one really bad. But I refuse to use AT&T. Their service is horrendous, and always has been, and no phone itself is going to change that. If you switched to AT&T just for the iPhone, you now get what you deserve!

  10. rbb says:

    That’s life on the bleeding edge for ya. Do you want some chees to go with that whine…

  11. castlecraver says:

    I’m not reveling in anyone’s misery or anything, but does anyone else think there’s a little poetic justice when some rabid fanboy who just had to have the jesus phone the day it got released ends up having to wait a few days (*gasp!*) for the thing to get fully activated?

  12. olegna says:

    Boo Hoo. What do early adopters expect? Esp. from a company notorious for using the early adopters as the final rung of its product development. I’m still amazed people buy phones and MP3 players with lithium batteries encased inside as if they last as long as the gadgets themselves. The iPhone takes this a step further by encasing the SIM card (??) inside and chains you to AT&T (ew!). I though Apple was supposed to anathema to Big Bro but I can’t even open my iMac shitbox to change a HD without a special tools, and in less than 8 months of ownership my Apple monitor (fused to the computer itself) now has a lingering green pixel on the screen (fixable, but annoying). Stupidity.

    @Firestar: I rushed out and snatched up one of those sweet little Dell XPS laptops (think: ugly ducking Macbook with more RAM, more storage, and less heat for the same price) loaded with XP precisely to avoid early-adopters’ angst. Then Dell saw the light and released more machines with XP after previously discontinuing them. (And now, YAY, you can get ’em with Linux!) Yeah, I know Dell’s CSR sucks but I’ve never called them (I know enough about computers to fix my own problems.)

    PS – Apple CSR stinks, too. In fact the only CSR I’ve ever been happy with is TigerDirect.com — Mac uber-fans probably have no idea what TigerDirect is, much less recognize the neato aspect of being able to change out hard drives on the fly or assembling your own box, which is as easy as using Legos.

  13. XianZhuXuande says:

    As I understand it AT&T’s server was/is overloaded. It could not process all of the requests. This happened to me too. Apple said I should leave my computer on and my iPhone attached until I received the email. Other people have reported ejecting and reconnecting their iPhones to re-initiate the activation process until it goes through (people have reported success after two or three attempts).

    Mine sat for several hours. I eventually disconnected and reconnected. It gave me the waiting message again, but five minutes later it was activated.

    It makes sense from a technical standpoint. AT&T (and Apple?) probably just underestimated the amount of stress their system would be subjected to when all of these new iPhone purchases rushed home to activate.

  14. chrisfromnl says:

    I work in the activations department for the AT&T premier program (summer job, pays more than pumping gas). We don’t do iPhones, although I DID activate one for an apple employee about 6 weeks ago, so I know it’s a similar process to any other phone.
    I wish you had more details for me, I could possibly explain what the problem was, and possibly give you a solution. In my dept. we don’t usually try to ‘fix’ problems with peoples activations. If we run into an error, we just fill out an error log and someone else looks at it presumably. Sometimes we get errors involving peoples accounts have the same features in there twice right from the start and we can not even save anything due to the duplicate features. Sometimes we can delete one of them or set the expiration date, other times we have to send in the error log to someone with more experience. There is a few other more “common” errors that we are not supposed to fix ourselves, but I know how by asking various people in other deptartments, so I fix them usually.
    If the lady told you everything in your account was fine (the SIM/IMEI numbers are in there) than it should be as simple as turning the old phone off (remove the battery to make sure) and than turn the iPhone off than power it back up. As long as the SIM number is in your account of the card that is in your iPhone, the other one shouldn’t still be working unless you haven’t turned it off yet. Weird how that works. I’ll have a customer call in on their old phone, and I’ll lose them 2 minutes into the call because the old one gets deactivated right away, and other times someone will leave the old phone at work or something and they have to wait until the next day to turn it off before the new one works.
    If you can figure out what is wrong with the activation let me know. I think the iPhone activation center is a brand new center, so they might not know all the tricks i’ve picked up in the past 9-10 weeks.
    Hope something here helps, I’m off to activate phones for the next 9 hours.

  15. allstarecho says:

    Actually, what happened is that the actual company AT&T contracted with to handle activations – Synchronoss – their software sucketh. It’s their system that is doing all the work and from the accounts I’ve read around the net, their software did crazy things.. like not accept all of the info you entered, or simply just lost it all together.



  16. ThyGuy says:

    This is why you buy new stuff a couple month after it’s released. Let the phone monkeys (customers who must have the item ASAP) deal with all the problems.

    I’m laughing at you right now!

  17. maevro says:

    I actually like my AT&T service here in NYC. I have had Nextel and Verizon and find it much better them both.

    I use an HTC Trinity and Treo 750 and get great UMTS & HSDPA service, almost never drop a call and most of the CSR’s are nice. They recently dropped the $18 upgrade fee and the $36 to change my phone number.

  18. tnijem says:

    Perhaps you should record the conversation(s) with the AT&T folks and send those to Steve to really demonstrate the lack of aptitude and “run-around” you have been receiving.
    There is a beta service for call recording here

  19. yg17 says:

    @XianZhuXuande: Don’t apologize for AT&T; they should’ve known the load new iPhone activations would bring and should’ve beefed up their system to handle it. AT&T’s incompetence shines once again, and there is absolutely no excuse for it.

  20. jamesob5 says:

    62 hours and counting…

    I’m a new customer not porting a number. The AT&T people have no answer besides wait. I have no clue what else to do?

  21. @maevro: I looked at the HTC’s but I found them clunky. But doesn’t matter – I can’t use either the HTC or the iPhone where I live – the cell coverage is awful and they are out of date technically.

  22. CreativeLinks says:

    Does anyone else think it is strange to launch a new product at 6 PM on a Friday night, right before a Holiday Weekend?

    I mean, are you really going to get the top customer representatives on a Friday Night/Saturday morning?

  23. nequam says:

    @Mojosan: Cool for posting using the thing. So, how is the touchscreen for typing? Looks like it works well, based on your message.

  24. ptkdude says:

    I’m wondering if this guy is porting a landline nuber to his iPhone. That can take up to a week to complete.

  25. Hawk07 says:

    I really should save all these stories the next time some smug Apple fanboy starts mouthing off about how nothing ever works in Windows and how bad Microsoft is.

  26. Tallanvor says:

    @Amy Alkon: I remember when that happened! I ended up writing complaint letters to both Sony Ericsson and AT&T about how the reception used to be fine, went downhill, and then AT&T decided to send out crappy phones without bluetooth or international roaming capability.

    Sony Ericsson apologized and sent me a real phone.

  27. mac-phisto says:
  28. yg17 says:

    @CreativeLinks: You say that as if you would ever get top CSRs at AT&T…..

  29. davidaegger says:

    It’s really a shame that things like this happen with the activation process, but blanketly placing blame on Apple or AT&T as if they’ve done something terrible is going a tad too far. We never hear about the host of activations that don’t work with Sony phones, Motorola phones or Nokia phones because they’re not the Jesus Phone.

    I heard of just a few people that had activation problems the day of the release, and at this point, I know of no one that is still having issues activating – which really points me to the probability that this case is in the very rare category and likely the issues with the activation are not actually linked to the same issues with the initial problems due to server overloads and the like.

    I read The Consumerist every day, and usually other complaints are serious ones that hurt multiple people or do so in a serious way – it’s sad to see the blog jumping onto the iPhone bandwagon, talking about it just because they can. To expect everything with the iPhone launch to go perfectly is asinine. Reportedly, 500,000 phones were sold, but if just 5 people have issues like this, the blogosphere can erupt and ignore the 499,995 people that aren’t having problems.

  30. WebCudgel says:

    AT&T is not the only one shorting their customers on service. I took my MacBook to an Apple store yesterday for a problem with the case. They told me it is a 30 minute instore fix. However, because of having fewer Geniuses onsite, they have a 2 day backlog of laptop work. Thus, I would have to leave it for a few days or wait a week or two for the backlog to slow down. To me this is unacceptable. Why should my service be impacted by the release of a completely unrelated product? I’m sure the same problem has happened to other AT&T customers who had issues with their current phones and had to wait excessive amounts of time to get it fixed. Neither of them prepared like they should. Neither of them is supporting their existing customers because all they care about is the new customers they get with the iPhone.

  31. itmustbeken says:

    @olegna: Boo Hoo. What do early adopters expect? Esp. from a company notorious for using the early adopters as the final rung of its product development.

    I am right there with you.
    What are people expecting?! New phone technology from a company that has never made a phone before through a system that has the highest customer dissatisfaction of the major players?

    And I think that after 24 hours after it not working means a trip back to the Apple store. At $500+, someone at the store needs to make it work, not you.

  32. lestat730 says:

    Anyone else getting really sick of hearing about the iphone everyday?

  33. Amy Alkon says:

    Thanks, Tallnavor, going to try that.

  34. yg17 says:

    @lestat730: Yes. I was sick of it in January and I’m still sick of it in July.

  35. XianZhuXuande says:

    @yg17: Fear not, I am not apologizing for AT&T. The reason why I singled them out as the copy that might have underestimated the launch is because that is exactly the sort of thing I can see AT&T doing — cutting costs wherever possible. I imagine that is less likely with Apple, who is investing so much in this release. You can see in this product’s quality just how concerned they are with a well-executed release.

    I do not expect to enjoy being an AT&T customer, but at least I like the phone.

  36. yg17 says:

    @XianZhuXuande: Your last sentence is the problem with the entire situation. Why go to a carrier you admit to being lousy over a phone? What good is your fancy phone when you don’t have a signal, drop calls, and have utterly useless support. I’m not singling you out, since there are thousands, but you’re the reason AT&T isn’t fronting the cost of a decent system; they know that no matter how crappy their service is, you’ll pay for it. Why spend millions improving their infrastructure if they have a bunch of people who will willingly pay for subpar service?

    I say, choose a carrier first and phone second. Because even the best phone in the world is useless on a bad carrier.

  37. eli_b says:

    iLaughed because iMbored of the iPhone stories from every blog and media outlet in the universe.

  38. bedofnails says:


  39. maevro says:

    @Moonshine Mike:

    The HTC P3600 is very light and is far from clunky. It has great form factor and fits well in my hand, better then any of the other 12 smartphone/PPC’s I have had in the past 30 months. You can also check out the Touch, which also is compact and far from clunky.

    Yes, I am sick of hearing about the iPhone.

  40. peggyhill says:

    This iFailure brought to you by Apple and AT&T.

  41. bedofnails says:

    iwanted to check the internets on my new iphone, but the battery died while loading a web page.

  42. asten77 says:

    Haha, this just made me laugh. Fanboys of all kinds just annoy the daylights out of me. Apple seems to have the worst.

    Quit whining. It’s a toy. You can live without it a few more hours.