AT&T Won't Sell You iPhone Because "You're Going To Unlock It"

Colin writes:

I went into my nearest ATT store and there were two CSR’s behind the counter- I asked for an 8gig Refurb iPhone thats being sold for $249 and the kid said sure and walked me over to the desk. The next words out of his mouth “What is your social security number?” No “How are you today?” “Thanks for coming in” No, apparently they just want my credit report to see if I am “worthy”

“Um. What? Why do you need that?” He tells me that its necessary for activating a new account “I don’t want an account now, I will activate on iTunes later” He turns and asks some other CSR if they can sell it without activation- to which the other CSR says “No” I say, ok, whatever, I’ll buy the phone and just cancel the service, then I can keep the phone because I am paying full price for it. “No, you can’t do that, you would have to return the phone”

I’m starting to get upset at this point so I ask for a manager, and next thing I know, theres now 5 CSR’s behind the counter. (No other customers in the store- just me). Manager says no, and that if I buy and activate, they will notate my account that I plan to cancel and keep the phone. I am FURIOUS now, so I call ATT and explain the situation to a sales csr- she is confused and is useless and can’t resolve the issue anyway. Hanging up, I then approach the sales desk- now there are 8 CSR’s behind the desk!!?! (Only ONE other customer in the store btw) I tell one of the CSR’s I am ready to buy and activate on a two year commitment… Drum roll please…


“What?!!? Why not!?”

“Because you are going to unlock the phone and we can’t allow that. Go buy one on eBay.”

Now I am about to lose it.

“First off, you have NO right to dictate to me what I do and do not do with a product I purchase. If I pay FULL RETAIL PRICE for something, I can smash it with hammers and throw the pieces off the Grand Canyon if I so choose!”

Purchasing an iPhone at full retail price carries with it no commitment to anything, and to make assumptions to what I plan to do with the phone is complete discrimination. What if I wanted to give it as a gift to my girlfriend and she would be able to activate on her own accord???

I explain all of this, calmly mind you, and then ask them to call their corporate office. Mrs. CSR #1 says “We are corporate”

So now they’ve lowered themselves to LYING to my face. Awesome.

“You’re corporate? I make more money in one day then you make all week Mrs. Corporate”

Now THEY’RE really pissed and tell me they are calling security. I tell them go ahead! I’m not stealing, Im not breaking things, Im not wildly running around the store naked & screaming “The iPhones are your demi-god! OBEY!” I am trying to PURCHASE a product and agree to the terms of their contract!!!!!

“We are denying to sell to you”

I fold my arms and wait. Three security guards show up and I take the ‘leader’ aside and explain. He has NO idea what to do. He actually calls the main office, his boss, and asks what to do in this kind of situation. The security boss says the store CAN deny me the sale and asks the security guard to pass along that message to me. I respect their decision, but once outside the store, the guard AGREES with me!

“You should be able to do whatever you want with the phone. If you bought it, its yours”

He apologizes and tells me that I should go to the main kiosk and file a complaint with the mall corporate offices.

Fast-forward 30 mins, I’ve driven to another store, I walk in, ask the same question “I’d like an iPhone 8gig refurb”

“Ok, here you go! No contract? No problem! That will be $249.00 plus tax”

That being said: They have NO rights to deny a sale because they “Suspect” I might unlock it. It is not spoiled to defend my rights as a consumer to purchase an item under the terms of the agreement set forth by the manufacturer and the distributer. To deny me purchasing the item at FULL RETAIL PRICE because they think I might “unlock it” or “sell it on eBay” is judgmental and discriminatory.

The whole point of being able to buy the phone at full retail price is the convenience of activating it in the comforts of home, or giving it as a gift to someone who will activate it themselves.

And like I said- you receive NO discount on the price of the phone for activating! So if you want to buy one, NOT activate it and merely hang it on your wall like a piece of art- That is your given right as a consumer!

I apologize for the long rant, but I am furious that this kind of situation was even necessary…

Thank you for taking the time to read what occurred.


Colin M.

Looks like one AT&T store has taken it upon themselves to grossly misinterpret company policy and procedures. Why should the store give a damn what you do with the phone after you walk out with it? It’s no skin off their hunched and scaly backs. Once again, when it comes to You, iPhone, and AT&T, the cellphone carrier is your 7th grade girlfriend’s ugly friend that kept showing up whenever you wanted to go makeout in the back of a dark movie theater.


Edit Your Comment

  1. A.W.E.S.O.M.-O says:

    Where did you get a refurbed 8GB iPhone for $249.00? That’s a hot deal!

  2. donTHEd says:

    ^^Really it is.

    The AT&T store in my local mall does this all the time. Espcecially with foreigners that come shopping there.

  3. ianmac47 says:

    Maybe they denied you your sale because of your race. I think that’s exactly what happened.

  4. MattofBostone says:

    They have them in the Northeast Corporate AT&T stores, it is a damn good deal though.

    You are wrong about the no discount part though, that is the discounted price, the only thing different about the iphone is that you dont have to be ready to upgrade before you buy it.

  5. Ben Popken says:

    Select stores in the Northeast are selling them for $249:[]

  6. sleze69 says:

    What store? In which mall? Post the details so AT&T knows the source of this bad publicity.

  7. I just did this weekend with 2 8gb iPhones. Went in, “you know how to set that up?”, I said I would take them to go, paid and walked out. Im sure they thought nothing of it and only asked for my name.

  8. unklegwar says:

    How pathetic is the customer that he’ll put up with all that and STILL go buy an iPhone? Sheep. Baaaa. Baaaa.

    Why do companies get away with this behavior? Because of guys like this, who will STILL buy the product no matter how badly you treat them.

    • Mphone says:

      No, just no.

      One store does not get to decide he doesn’t get an iPhone. It is obviously not a company issue. It is that store. Sure that store needs a big hairy complaint on it. The issues at THAT STORE need to be sorted it out. But to just blame the iPhone and AT&T as a whole for one store
      (not defending all of AT&T actions but this is not really their fault)

      Learn the difference. It could say your life someday.

  9. nikkomorocco says:

    this is probably a pretty noob question, however i’ve never considered an iphone until recently, do you HAVE to get the iphone plan if i get the iphone and unlock it? I’ve got AT&T right now on a family plan that is discounted through my job. is it possible to just buy the iphone, unlock it, and use it like a regular unlocked cell phone (minus the internet and email–which i dont have in my plan right now)?

  10. sketchy says:

    They have NO rights to deny a sale because they “Suspect” I might unlock it.

    That is partially correct, they can deny you a sale for no reason whatsoever, not just because of what you might do with the product.

    It is not spoiled to defend my rights as a consumer to purchase an item under the terms of the agreement set forth by the manufacturer and the distributer. To deny me purchasing the item at FULL RETAIL PRICE because they think I might “unlock it” or “sell it on eBay” is judgmental and discriminatory.

    Except they are under no agreement to you to provide any service. Until you purchase an item the store is beholden to you for nothing. It’s not discriminatory to refuse a sale, stores can sell or not sell to whomever they like.

    The only thing done right here is that you went to another store.

  11. Nighthawke says:

    The way I figure it, Jobs is regretting the deal, even though he’s making money hand over fist from it. The Golden Rule of going into the cell phone business is that Expect To Get Gouged from The Carrier. It’s a miracle that Apple got all the features enabled when they went with at&t.

  12. homerjay says:

    You lost me here:
    “You’re corporate? I make more money in one day then you make all week Mrs. Corporate”

    Thats certainly the way to get what you want…

  13. Steve Trachsel, Ace says:

    Im sorry.. The moment you dropped the “I make more in a day then you do in a week” line you go from customer to assclown. Im sorry, but people who work sales jobs still deserve to be treated like human beings, even if they are confused about the rules.

  14. Steve Trachsel, Ace says:

    @homerjay: Wow, that might be the first time we have ever agreed on anything.

  15. Eric1285 says:

    Most stores reserve the right to refuse a sale for any reason.

  16. ilikemoney says:

    @unklegwar: Why is he a sheep? He had no qualms with the product, only the retailer. Your post makes no sense.

  17. MattO says:

    i so hope the OP went back to that other store and showed it to them and told them that THEY ended up losing a sale that no other store had a problem with…

  18. emjsea says:

    Sounds like someone is a spoiled little executive whose been trained by his job to think the entire world revolves around his every whim and desire. Hate to see how you treat the support staff in your office your entitled asshat.

    Why do I think there is a lot more to this story (probably a lot of bad tone and attitude on the part of the original poster) that’s being conveniently left out?

  19. castlecraver says:

    OP needs to take a serious chill. You should have just gone to another store after they refused the first time, rather than make an ass of yourself yelling about making more money than Mrs. Corporate blah blah. Your blood pressure (not to mention the obviously ill-trained AT&T reps) will thank you.

  20. Gorky says:

    The reason they probably did this is because they want their “credit” for selling a new activation. Im sure they get some kind of kickback for the customer activating on the spot instead of just buying it. So they only sell them to people who activate. Quite slimy

  21. ilikemoney says:

    @emjsea: I wouldn’t say he was “spoiled”, but perhaps suffers from the same sense of entitlement most American consumers have. On that note, though, I can’t say I wouldn’t be pissed off if I was summarily denied a purchase just because some counter-jockey decided he wanted to enforce some imaginary rules. However, I would have been far more likely to walk out and try someplace else.

  22. Gorky says:

    Also Im sure they probably make little to no margin at all if they just sell the phone without activation so they have no motivation to sell to people who dont sign up for a contract

  23. homerjay says:

    @Tracy Ham and Eggs: Really? I find myself agreeing with you quite often. I just don’t write it down.

  24. Pithlit says:

    @Tracy Ham and Eggs: I cringed at that part, too. I couldn’t help it, even though I’m on his side. I think the OP had every right to be upset, but that really is a no-no, no matter how in the right you are.

  25. aldo37 says:

    Like others have said, this guy is a total d-bag. You make more money? Please.

  26. RandoX says:

    @homerjay: I didn’t get that part either…

  27. jamar0303 says:

    This is why my next phone will be a Fujitsu.

  28. arch05 says:

    @unklegwar: Don’t be an asshat. He was fighting with at&tards, not apple.

  29. unchi says:

    where is this right he has to purchase a product discounted and refurbished? i think the saying “the consumer is always right” is the law he believed passed Congress.

  30. Underpants Gnome says:

    “If I pay FULL RETAIL PRICE for something, I can smash it with hammers and throw the pieces off the Grand Canyon if I so choose!”

    Actually, that would be littering in a national park, which is illegal. :-)

  31. Osi says:

    To tell the truth, any store have the right to deny service. It is their legal right. If you don’t like it, tough, that’s corporate america for you.

  32. davere says:

    While the store should have been able to sell him an iPhone without a credit check, this guy is kind of an ass. I think I would have refused to sell him anything too.

  33. ChrisC1234 says:

    I think you’re just dealing with sleazy sales people (I do NOT like cellphone sales people). If you don’t sign up for an account there, THEY don’t get squat. I’m not sure, but I’d be willing to bet that they don’t get credit for signing up a new customer if you activate the phone via iTunes.

  34. Hawkins says:

    I agree that the people in the store were being clueless and unhelpful. But to be a big enough jerk that they have to call security to eject you is ridiculous.

    And then to be insane enough to argue your case to the mall cop… What, did you expect that the security person was going to determine that your case had merit, and order the AT&T store to sell you the phone or suffer a beat-down?

    Be nice. Life is short.

  35. smitty1123 says:

    There is more dickery going on in this story than at a frat party.

  36. drmrsthemonarch says:

    He’s also not paying Full Retail Price really.

  37. porktree says:

    Is this story even true? $249 for a refurb sounds $100 less than reality. Anyway, when I bought my iPhone from the att store, they started to do a credit check, and I told them not to bother as it would never be connected to the att network (apparently they do the credit check because they’ve sold a lot of phones that have been returned because the buyer couldn’t get an att account because of bad credit). The guy said, ‘no problem’ and sold me the phone. I think the OP is either lying outright or exaggerating a great deal

  38. savvy999 says:

    I make more money in one day then you make all week


    I’m shocked that Ben would even consider siding with any “consumer” that pulled that line.

    Forget the clumsy ugly-7th-grader-in-a-movie-theater cliché, how about the-original-poster-is-a-whiny-asshole one?

    Two big FAILs on this one.

  39. stinerman says:

    Umm… anyone can refuse to do business with anyone else for any reason unless they are discriminating based on a protected class, which IIRC are:

    Race, ethnicity, color, national origin, religion, sex, age and I think a few others. In some states sexual preference is a protected class.

    A business can refuse to sell you a product because you visit this website, have blue hair, or like George Clooney’s movies. They can’t do so because you’re black, a woman, etc.

  40. weave says:

    Just tell them your current iphone is busted and you’re going to move the SIM from it to the new one.

  41. Alexander says:

    The sales guy was being a jerk, he just wanted some commission. I used to work at a cellphone place, not sales, and they hated just selling phones outright. They didn’t get a penny from that, so they were were always told to do whatever they could to get an activation whenever anyone wanted just a phone. When you encounter people like that, just go buy it somewhere else.

  42. brent_w says:

    “I make more money in one day than you make all week Mrs. Corporate”

    – Seriously?

    I mean … way to sound like an ass … sheesh.

    Thou should have given you the i-phone up your ass.

  43. apotheosis says:

    The only way this story could be more amusing is if they finally sold him the phone, then demanded to see his receipt on the way out the door.

  44. homerjay says:

    How about “Its a gift”

    Is that so hard?

  45. wow, way to take the high road, Colin. you had me going til you belittled the CSR with the “I make more money…” crap. Go buy a refurb from and stop being such a whiny-titty-baby dick.

  46. Balentius says:

    @Underpants Gnome: Yes, but AT&T shouldn’t be stopping you… :)

    Having said that, he really should have left a few minutes before he did.

  47. DrGirlfriend says:

    No one comes out of this story looking good. Yikes.

  48. SVreader says:

    I can only imagine what waiters and waitresses do to this guy’s food.

    “You’re out of lentil soup? Don’t you realize I make much, much more than you do AND have benefits???”

  49. Parting says:

    @ChrisC1234: Usually dealers (not corporate), get commissions on activations. Corporate usually get commissions on value of the product sold. And I know that dealers get activation credit based on SIM/ESN, so if you activate your phone online, they still get $$$.

    In this case, I’m suspecting that the customer started cussing as soon as the sales rep told him that he needed his social #. The bitchy phrase where he tells that he makes more money in a day, shows what kind of person he is. in the same situation, most would state that they would file a complaint for lack of customer service and respect; not ”Oh! I’m so much better that you! You’re mu slave! Do as I say!”

    And I don’t like people who generalize ;)

    Usually a good sales rep is easy to spot. Usually, they also get paid proportionally to their knowledge. Better pay attracts better reps, who know well the product, and they will explain throughly, so they can get repeat business from you or your entourage. Quality always attracts more customers and more commissions. An average person changes phone every 2 years anyway.

  50. Shmonkmonk says:

    The OP is a total D-bag but thanks to jerks like him, my shopping experience is easier. All it takes is respect and a little bit of empathy to get what you want from a sales clerk, especially if they just got done dealing with an a-hole like him. Dealing with a major jerk kind of throws them off their game and I guess they feel the need to compensate the next customer. If the customer in front of me is ripping the clerk a new one, I know that when it’s my turn, all it takes is a verbal hug for them to give me a deal.
    “Wow, that guy was such a jerk! Who does he think he is?! It sorry you have to deal with rude people like him. What’s the total? Oh darn… I’m sorry, I forgot my coupon at home. Oh geez, I’m so sorry but I’m going to have to come back, can you hold this for me? Oh you can just give me the coupon price? Oh thank you so much!”
    It doesn’t always work but I’ve gotten fees waived, prices reduced, warranties thrown in, fists full of free samples, free drinks, etc.

  51. Parting says:

    @homerjay: Yep, he would get the phone then. I’m suspecting the customer used very ”inappropriate” language from the start, since he attracted a full CROWD OF EIGHT REPS :) Just like a monkey in a circus.

  52. Gev says:

    “You’re corporate? I make more money in one day then you make all week Mrs. Corporate”

    What an asshole.

  53. Parting says:

    @SVreader: Ha! Ha! Reminds me of a story a waitress told me. A lady complained ”There is no vegetable in my cup of soup!” in a snotty tone, the customer was pointing her coffee :) When the waitress pointed that she was looking for vegetables in a cup of coffee, while the soup isn’t ready yet, the customer was very apologetic for the rest of the meal.

  54. kenblakely says:

    The poster is a tossbag with a sense of entitlement. Apple (or anyone else) can refuse to sell him something for any reason they want, assuming he’s not a member of a protected class. They can throw him out of their store if they want – it’s called trespassing.

    Consumerist is really slipping. I can’t believe they posted this.

  55. Trai_Dep says:

    There’s a reason why Jobs demanded an Avoid-ATT-Stores-At-All-Costs option when Apple hammered out a deal with AT&T. And this is it. The end.

  56. RIP MRHANDS says:

    The douchebaggery on both sides pretty much makes this even, does it not?

  57. sylvie calls shotgun!! says:

    I agree that Colin should be able to buy the phone without explaining, in advance, what he intends to do with the phone. But, I believe that his attitude directly related to the way he was treated by the staff. His comment about making more money than the staff does nothing to support his argument and does everything to make the irritate the staff. He shouldn’t be surprised that his “power” comment was responded to with a “power” move in return.

  58. Kat@Work says:

    @Underpants Gnome: Damn! You stole my line! :P

    Seriously – this should be tagged ‘bad consumer’ and ‘bad AT&T’ Just bad.

  59. mattatwork says:

    “You’re corporate? I make more money in one day then you make all week Mrs. Corporate.” You sir, are a true asshole, and deserve terrible, terrible service.

    The headline should read “AT&T Reps Are Forced to Speak to Absolute Jerk”. Yes, the AT&T folks were in the wrong, but the second you drop the “make more money” card you immediately become the bigger prick.

  60. evslin says:

    “You’re corporate? I make more money in one day then you make all week Mrs. Corporate”

    That’s the dumbest thing I’ve ever heard anybody who wants something say to somebody in a position to grant the favor. WTG.

  61. BugMeNot2 says:

    I don’t put much stock in the OP’s story. He contradicts himself right off the bat:

    “”Um. What? Why do you need that?” He tells me that its necessary for activating a new account “I don’t want an account now, I will activate on iTunes later”… I say, ok, whatever, I’ll buy the phone and just cancel the service, then I can keep the phone because I am paying full price for it.”

    So he wants to buy the phone, and when they start to prep for activation, he says he’ll activate it on iTunes. They tell him no to that and he says he’ll just activate and cancel when he gets home. So, was he going to activate on iTunes or not? Or, more preposterously, was he going to activate on iTunes just to cancel immediately? As far as them requiring activation in the store, maybe that was part of the terms of buying the refurb. I wouldn’t doubt it, based on the rest of his behavior.

    Also, they were not lying when they said they are corporate. This happens quite a bit, actually. There are authorized resellers and then there are corporate stores. Often, an AR will have someone come in demanding they do something that can only be done in a corporate store, and the customer will become irate at them, accusing them of lying, nevermind everything about the AR clearly states they are an AR and not a corporate store. So when he demanded a number for a corporate office, they more than likely took that to mean he mistook them for an AR instead of a corporate store, and they were trying to clarify.

    The OP just comes off as a jerk no matter how you look at it, even if his account is accurate and the store made some mistakes.

  62. mattatwork says:

    Dear Colin,

    I’m very, very glad I don’t know you, because you sound like a true jerk. Do you seriously think pulling out the “make 5x as much money” card will get you what you want? If you’re truly fortunate to be making an obscene amount of money, have the decency to be humble about it. And don’t think that it entitles you to anything.


  63. ptrix says:

    the lesson to be learned here: if asked why you want to buy it without a contract, just tell them that you’ve bought one, and liked it so much that you want to get one for a friend/relative as a gift. They really can’t argue with that, now can they? you won’t have to give them any personal information, because you just said you won’t be using it yourself. you don’t have to get a contract on the spot for the same reason. I’m pretty confident that their own policies in such a case would tell them to smile and sell you the phone.

    If you’re going to play the game, use the playbook

  64. lolowankenobi says:

    @Underpants Gnome:

    Something that is illegal still does not excuse a possibility. You may have to pay a fine but it can be done if someone chose to.

    Sales people do this all the time they like saving those phones for the “NEW” customers they can get into contracts. To them they are the all seeing all dancing retail gods of their store. I hate retail people on power trips, employees that are way too loyal to companies that could replace you at any given time. So don’t shop there and tell us what store this was so we do not go there etc.

  65. babaki says:

    they dont have to sell you anything. stop being a cry baby and just go to another store next time. if they dont want your business, then dont give it to them.

  66. Jess A. says:

    Yeah… the store does have a right to refuse to sell to you. And in my life as a retail manager, raising your voice at employees or speaking in a demeaning manner would be more than enough for me to show you the door.

    But here’s the other thing that makes no sense to me — if you were fairly certain you could get the same price elsewhere, and this store was so hell-bent on not taking your money, why on earth would you fight to give it to them?? Just take your business elsewhere. Eesh.

  67. bohemian says:

    Oh, this is so why I only buy phones through the automated website or when out of options calling the main sales line.

    I tried to get our “new every two” phones from Verizon and got a total much of run around, BS and upselling from the smarmy used card salesmen rejects at their brick and mortar store in town. I finally gave up and just left. These are the same guys that nailed my elderly mother for about $250 to activate one of those bottom of the barrel cheap pay as you go phones for her vacation to Florida.

    I NEVER deal with the stores if you don’t have to. Automated systems are much easier to get your way with because they don’t ask questions and don’t have sales quotas.

  68. midwestkel says:

    This would have all been avoided if you lied in the first place and said it was a gift for someone.

  69. says:

    While stores legally are allowed to sell to whomever they please (within the race/sex/religion/etc restrictions), if they start enforcing silly policies like this they will rapidly find themselves going out of business. This AT&T outlet will hopefully find its tactics backfiring. (Why do they need 8 service reps in one shop, anyway? That’s weird.)

    I wouldn’t have sold to anybody who was acting like this guy, although I can’t be sure if he wasn’t acting like a complete asshat from step one.

    @stinerman: isn’t blue hair technically part of one’s color? ;)

  70. babaki says:

    “You’re corporate? I make more money in one day then you make all week Mrs. Corporate”

    so then why are you buying a refurb. just pony up your bag of gold coins and get a new one at full price.

  71. dragon:ONE says:

    What you SHOULD have done was after buying the iPhone, go back to the first store and showed them it and gave ’em the bird.

    Just a suggestion.

  72. smoothtom says:

    Your anger over being denied access to this product is a classic sign of addiction, sir. You are suffering from iWithdrawal and are lashing out at the people preventing you from getting your fix. Perhaps if you quit Apple cold turkey, your mood swings will abate.

  73. TexasScout says:

    “we reserve the right to refuse service to anyone for any reason”

    this is America BTW…

  74. spamtasticus says:


    How pathetic are you for chastising this person for wanting to buy something and fighting the idiots at that particular store? Are you a microsoft fanboy schill? If you are not, may I sugest you count to 10 and take a deep breath before posting next time.

  75. Youthier says:

    The store had the right to refuse to sell to you although, unless you were being abusive, it was silly of them not to.

    I don’t count the money comment as abusive but I do count it as being a douche chill.

  76. ClayS says:

    Exactly, he’s so well off that he drives around town to save a few bucks on refurbished technology.

  77. MonicLoss says:

    In defense of my actions- many people have had a problem with my comment about making more money- I was at the end of my rope and they had at this point already called security and addmittedly- it just came out without thinking.

    Up till that point I had been as calm and rational as I could be, but to have 8 employees all in chorus attacking me and claiming I was going to unlock the phone, sell on ebay, etc etc was just too much and I reacted. The lying to my face, the snobbery attitude by all of them, I had enough. People can be pushed only so far before they react- and I reacted. Sure, my choice of words could have been better, I whole-heartedly admit to that, but I think that we all have our limits before we might say something we don’t actually mean… You can hate what I said, but understand the embarassment and anger I felt when they treated me like some underhanded thug trying to shill a device on Ebay.

  78. SmellyGatto says:

    I judge the asshattedness of a person by how many !!!!!!!!!!!! they put when posting a conversation. i mean, if the peron gets so excited typing the convesatin that they need to repeadedly punch the !!!!!!! button, then i can only assume they have no control in person.

  79. esqdork says:

    Nearly everyone in this story sounded ridiculous. As for “I make more in one day than you do in a week”–why are you buying a refurb?

  80. Machete_Bear says:

    I was with the OP as much as anyone until that salary dig. The store was wrong at first, but if a consumer ever pulled that line on me for doing something I thought was company policy, I would refuse service to him too.

  81. OsoGrande says:

    If you make more money in a day…

    do your part and just go buy a brand new one for $399 at full retail to help support the economy.

    If you operate a business in the USA, guess what?! You have the right to refuse service to ANYONE, especially a primadonna such as yourself.

    bad consumer

  82. cwsterling says:

    @Dakota Courtois: I was going to suggest that but i guess you beat me to it. If its not out of his way he should still go back and be like well I guess im going to unlock this iPhone that i got from another “corporate” office. He should basically use all the crap that they gave him and turn it back on them

  83. ionerox says:

    The OP lost me as well with the abusive behavior towards the AT&T folks. Working retail is shitty enough without having someone act all high-and-mighty because they (or think that they) make more money.

    @nikkomorocco: Techically, you could get one & unlock it to use on another (compatiable) network. I think T-Mobile is the only other in the US aside from AT&T that uses the same type of network. However, Apple’s been pretty clear that if you “jailbreak” your phone that you’ll be voiding your warranty as well.

  84. notme93 says:


    The guy wants an iPhone. Are you going to blame Apple for a bunch of jerks AT&T hired? Also, can you blame AT&T as a whole company for one store filled with jerks?

    I challenge anyone to find a large, national/multi-national company that doesn’t have jerks working at it.

    The best thing this guy can do is complain to the upper tiers of AT&T management and have them take care of their bad employees.

  85. “I can smash it with hammers and throw the pieces off the Grand Canyon if I so choose!”

    I would argue that you, at the very least, should not do that. It’s littering, jerk!

  86. @esqdork: You can do well for yourself and still be thrifty. Might as well save what you can, when you can.

  87. stre says:

    @unklegwar: he’s not a sheep because he’s obviously going to jail break the damn thing, otherwise he wouldn’t have made a big deal. he’s trying to get something he wants without having to deal with AT&T.

    that being said, Colin sounds like a deuch. “It’s my right! they’re discriminating! i make more so they should do what i say! they can’t refuse service!” shut up. as long as they’re not actually discriminating (which it doesn’t sound like they were doing) they can deny a sale till your ears fall off. should they? no. but they can. and if you expect us to believe that you managed to say everything you did “calmly”, despite the rampant use of exclamation points, you must think we’re all idiots. if i knew you i’d smack you upside that undersized head of yours.

  88. Mr. Gunn says:

    Bad consumer. Not knowing that ATT has required a SSN for every contract is strike one, acting like a douchebag is strike two, and buying an overpriced crappy phone is strike three.


  89. stre says:

    i think we all agree this deserves a dual “bad consumer” tag

  90. kc2idf says:

    It sounds like someone is just a tad power hungry, but who knows? I do know that AT&T’s arrangement with Apple involves a huge kickback to Apple, so you would think that, if anything, it would be in AT&T’s interest not to insist on activation.

  91. boandmichele says:

    @homerjay: yep, i stopped at that point. jerk.

  92. kc2idf says:

    @stre: No.

  93. AZTriGuy says:

    Ok, I wouldn’t sell to the OP either. It sounds like the original rep had some kind of feeling about him when he walked in, maybe that was why he asked for the credit check to kick it off. Some stores will profile like that. If you don’t feel that it’s right, then you turn around and walk out, that simple.

    When I bought an iPhone for my wife for Valentine’s Day, I walked into the AT&T store, went to the counter, asked for an 8GB iPhone, paid for it, and walked out. They didn’t ask word one about activation, credit check, anything. It was my understanding that you activate it through iTunes anyway, you didn’t activate in store?

    As much as I don’t think the store handled the situation well, I think the OP handled it worse. The sense of entitlement in his attitude would make me have him removed from my store as well. Making his case to the mall cop was the best part.

  94. AZTriGuy says:

    I’m also reminded of Monty Python . . . “Help! Help! I’m being repressed!”

  95. Buran says:

    It’s not even illegal to unlock a cell phone! There’s currently a DMCA exemption for unlocking!

  96. Buran says:

    @AZTriGuy: You don’t. I bought one in an Apple Store and just paid for it there and took care of the rest when I got home. You do not need to give your SSN when you buy; that’s in the activation process.

  97. Witera33it says:

    At&t is getting pretty butt-hurt about the jailbreaking. Those asshats were saying what AT&T is thinking. Apple doesn’t loose money but they do. As a result, to stay good to the exclusivity contract, Apple voids the warranty of unlocked phones. YOu are after all violating the original terms of service for the device. They also will offer no customer support, and their software updates will potentially brick your phone.
    This right here is why jailbreaking is kinda ridiculous. The software updates give the user new functionality and keeps current with security. Without this, one of the core reasons to have an iPhone in the first place is negated: A device with unlimited button configurations(touchscreen) means a device that can keep up to advancement. No updating=no advancement.
    Personally, the 3G iPhone will be out this summer. That’s a hardware advancement worth waiting for.

  98. Elijah-M says:

    A universal rule: it is almost impossible to tell someone how much money you make without sounding like a dick. I am sure there are exceptions to that rule, but I have yet to encounter one of them.

  99. Starfury says:


    I was just about to say that. Any store can kick you out for any reason…or no reason.

    As to some of the earlier comments: I work for lawyers and they behave this way with the helpdesk. When they do they’re generally told “no, not I.S. policy” or we forget to put their request in for a few hours.

  100. @sketchy:

    “It’s not discriminatory to refuse a sale, stores can sell or not sell to whomever they like.”

    Yah…bull POOP. To refuse a sale because of race, gender, etc etc etc is *absolutely* discriminatory. That’s why we don’t have “whites only” stores and other such abominations.

    It’s not discriminatory per se to refuse to sell to people because you don’t like what you think they’re going to do with the product…that’s just stupid and unethical. Yay AT&T for only being stupid and unethical…

  101. Mills says:

    Even if salespeople were lying, exaggerating, engaging in some weird profiling (or they have a crazy manager who follows corporate’s instructions to the letter), but there’s no telling why because the OP sunk way down past their level with the “I make more money than you comment.”

    I’ve worked retail, and I probably would’ve called security too.

  102. Mrs. Stephen Fry says:

    OP, you sound like a jackass. I’m glad they wouldn’t sell you the phone.

  103. missmicrophone says:

    I can understand your frustration with the situation, but you made yourself sound like an ass.

  104. ionerox says:

    @Witera33it: Apple does loose money, they get a cut of each contract for the iPhone from AT&T.

  105. Tigerman_McCool says:

    Is it that the OP likes confrontation? I know people like this, he probably ranted about it all day, annoying the shit out of his family and friends, and let it ruin his day. I would have walked out of the store, never to return at this point:

    “No, you can’t do that, you would have to return the phone”

    You can cast your biggest stone by not shopping at the their store and telling your friends not to shop their either.

    I almost stopped reading after the “i make more money than you” comment, but I wanted to see the posters here rip this assclown a new one. As always, they did not disappoint.

    -BTW: I sure am glad the security guard agrees. Whew!!!

  106. moviemoron says:

    It really amazes me how some of you people can attack the
    innocent victim. With the Iphone, you can activate it via the internet or in the store. your choice. I know it because I bought one.
    Now, consumer goes into store and says he wants to buy the phone. They ask for his social to activate, but he says he will activate it at home. That should have been enough, but they went on to press the issue.
    Consumer did nothing wrong and does not deserve any ridicule.
    Imagine going into Safeway and asking for a sandwich and the clerk doesn’t sell it to you because she thinks you are going to feed the pigeons with it. WOuldn’t you be furious to?

  107. mrbiggsndatx says:

    I work for AT&T, using an AT&T mobility computer to place this comment. Frankly, i would have walked past the store again, stuck my head in and said “Look what I have!! Time to unlock it and use it on TMOBILE!!”

  108. Tigerman_McCool says:

    @moviemoron: No doubt he was dealing with idiots and he was in the right, it was his behavior afterwards that warrants the ridicule.

    As to your question, then I would simply no longer shop at Safeway either.

  109. spryte says:

    @Elijah-M: I think the exceptions occur at the lower end of the salary ladder. Pretty hard to sound like a dick if you admit you make $5 an hour.

    I agree with the person who noted the gratuitous !!!!s in the post. That is so annoying and automatically takes away from any legitimacy the post may have had, just like bad grammar and spelling errors do. If you want to be taken seriously, try writing like a functioning adult, not a spazzing child (and of course, try not being a complete tool).

  110. sam1am says:

    I like how you got all huffy and then you were sure to explain that you said all of the calmly. Somehow I have a hard time believing that…

    You sound like a problem customer.

    Also, in AT&T land there are reseller stores and corporate stores. So when the store told you they were corporate, that is probably what they meant.

  111. Hawk07 says:

    The OP of the story is always wrong.

    The guy caves and gives his SSN and his identity is stolen, it’s his fault for not sticking to his guns and activiting it on iTunes like everyone else.

    He refuses to give his SSN and is accused of possibly doing something to a product that he will eventually legally own, it’s his fault for not being nicer to the customer service rep in an empty store.

    It looks like the Consumerist is turning into Digg.

  112. Hawk07 says:

    @Mr. Gunn:

    He didn’t want a contract. He just wanted the stupid phone, and to be able to activate it at home.

  113. Hawk07 says:

    On further thought, I think the outcome of the comments would be completely different if the OP said he was black and tried buying it from white employees.

  114. Japheaux says:

    It’s a crapshoot with the AT&T people. My kid’s phone dies a week ago. I went to the store and simply asked to get the cheapest phone in the place that would work.

    Schmo tells me it’ll be $179.99 and that it’s a great bargain. I ask why he can’t just sell me a $20 Go Phone and he says it wont work and that he won’t sell it to me.

    I leave and go to the Meg-a-Lo Mart and buy a Go Phone, swap the SIM cards and the phone works for $20.

    I can see where the guy is losing a commission, but holy crap, Beavis, help me out here, I just want a phone I can talk on (does that exist anymore?).

    I think he could have worked with me a little on this one–but then again, Amarillo, Texas IS a whole ‘nother country.

  115. Trae says:

    Stores get kickbacks for activations. They probably just wanted to make sure they’d get one and decided to break policy to inflate their numbers.

  116. AaronZ says:

    Is it ironic that this story is directly above the ‘Morning Deals’ that lists a refurm 8g iPhone for $349? :p

    Also, if this guy said “Paid full price!” one more time, I’d smack him myself.

  117. sisk says:

    Go to an apple store and tell them you want to unlock the phone. I have worked for apple and work for AT&T currently.. It’s apple policy to not sell phones if they are being unlocked and you MUST buy them with a credit card. Its policy – get over it. They were checking your credit because if you were an actual customer, and your credit came back with a deposit you would have to go BACK INTO THE STORE to pay for your deposit. They were doing you a favor, but I bet you’re one of those people who don’t want to show your receipt when asked either.

  118. tmlfan81 says:

    10 to 1 says they didn’t want to take a strike against them for a new sub not vesting and canceling within the first 30 days.

    I’m not 100% positive, but I’m sure that the refurbished iPhone plays with their attachment rates of calling plan features and accessory add-ons as well.

    Coming off as an arrogant ass didn’t help much, either.

  119. tme2nsb says:

    @sketchy: This is 100% correct.

  120. OsiUmenyiora says:

    A 30-minute drive just to get to another AT&T store? Man, I’m sure glad I don’t live in suburban hell.

  121. Crymson_77 says:

    Everyone, please keep something in mind. Mall kiosks are typically NOT owned by AT&T. AT&T is a classic brick and mortar store. The ONE thing you need to look for on their sign is “Licensed” or “Authorized”. If their sign, or any of their materials, have that on it, it is NOT owned by AT&T. You are FAR better off going to an AT&T owned store any time as they could care less if you have a contract or not. As long as the phone sells.

  122. less_is_best says:

    I remember when you bought a product and it was yours. Now companies consider anything they build and sell as still theirs after the sale. WTF? When did this happen?

  123. Yeah the salary thing was a bit jackass-ish, but I suspect the at&t store had a limited number of refurbs and the csr’s got an activation commission so they weren’t letting an iphone walk out the door without getting a commission for it.

  124. pine22 says:

    all he had to do is not tell them he was going to cancel after the activation. try it at another store and im sure he’d be able to get it.

  125. Sasquatch says:

    “You’re corporate? I make more money in one day then you make all week Mrs. Corporate”


  126. ptrix says:

    @less_is_best: i don’t know when that began, but it’s something that we’re seeing more and more all the time. especially when it comes to products like CDs, DVDs, computer software, video games, etc etc etc.

  127. Elijah-M says:

    I would bet that the store employees are rated – and meagerly rewarded – on the ratio of iPhones sold to in-store activations. I’ve worked retail jobs before where selling a large amount of a particular item, while good for the store in the long run, made me look bad if I didn’t get the customer to purchase the (always overpriced) add-on to go with it.

  128. tamoko says:

    Dude… just walk out. Why be a dick and try to “prove” a point? Why create so much drama?

  129. deVious says:

    @sketchy: Not technically correct. A store couldn’t refuse to sell to someone because they were black, or a woman, etc.

  130. moviemoron says:

    So in other words, if a store won’t sell to black people, that is okay. Black people shouldn’t make a fuss and instead go shopping somewhere else that will cater to them. Am I correct in my assessment of your statement?

  131. nick_r says:

    If you make more money in a day than they do in a week, why didn’t you hire someone with better composure to go pick up the phone on your behalf?

    And that’s one to grow on…

  132. Ariel.Sanders says:

    A famous philosopher “Lou Rawls”..once said that “People are people and they all have their moods.” Sounds like everyone was in one during this. But whoever said this is why Apple wanted home/web activation is correct. But comeone people is just a phone. I got some beans that for every one you plant , an Iphone grows in 6 weeks. *wink* email me.

  133. Machete_Bear says:

    @moviemoron: Don’t turn this into a race issue. This was about a consumer who was in the right until they acted like a douche and lost all of their credibility. Beyond that, he was just mongering for attention, knowing full well he could get it elsewhere with no fuss.

  134. BugMeNot2 says:


    He said he wanted to take it home to activate, after being somewhat hostile to the sales rep. He also then contradicted himself by saying he would activate in store just to cancel when he got home. Again, it sounds like he’s leaving out a lot of detail. Perhaps to get the discounted refurb phone he had to activate in-store. A lot of times, there will be a special that says, “free blah blah blah (with in-store activation).” You don’t get the free whatever if you don’t activate in-store.

    Of course the responses would be different if it came down to “I’m black and they said I couldn’t have the phone because of it.” That would be discrimination which is illegal.

    But see, that $20 go-phone costs the store much more than the $20. Typically, the cell phone stores do not make any money off the phones. They do good to break even. So had he let you take that phone that cost them more than $20, for $20, they would have taken a loss and probably never have seen you to do business with again, anyway. The big box stores can afford to let you have the phone at a loss, because cellphones are not their sole point of business. They know you’ll buy other stuff from them. However, how often do you go to a phone store?

    Way to over-dramatize. This is not about a store not selling to black people. This is about some real-life Veruca Salt demanding something in a dickish manner and feeling wronged about it.

  135. North of 49 says:

    Colin, you should go back to the store with your iPhone and “Pretty Woman” them. “You work on commission, right? Big Mistake. Big Mistake!”

    I’m speaking specifically about the two scenes where the escort gets kicked out of a high end boutique because she’s not good enough for them and then going back in laden with enough parcels and giving them hell for not taking the sale in the first place.

  136. BrewMe says:

    If you read the Giz. article that Ben posted, the memo specifically states ‘New activations only’. OP is a cry baby and made an ass out of himself.

    March 1, 2008

    Refurbished iPhones at COR Stores. For a limited time, select COR stores in the New England Market will offer refurbished iPhones (both 4GB and 8GB) for a special price. These devices are good as new and give customers the opportunity to experience the revolutionary iPhone with big savings. New activations only, upgrades with Manager approval. Refurbished iPhones will only be available to purchase in select COR stores across the Northeast Region and will be available while supplies last. Please reach out to customers that have recently purchased an iPhone to see if they are interested in activating an additional iPhone at a discounted equipment cost. Please note no in-store sales materials should be created. This is to be sold as a closing tool only. Product is available while supplies last from initial shipment. Failure to follow this communication will result in a Code of Business Conduct violation

  137. Kounji says:

    Wait a second, maybe this is a small authorized reseller of apple products and corporate came in that day to see how things were functioning. He could have just insulted one of their middle or district managers. You never know…

    I highly doubt they were corporate though.

  138. notallcompaniesareevil says:

    Once again, the comments show more thought than the post.

  139. BrewMe says:

    Also, I believe COR stands for Corporate Operated Retailer.

  140. muddgirl says:

    I’m pretty sure that stores can deny service to any customer, at any time, for any reason. It’s usually posted in the store.

    And yeah, in the future: vinegar may attract more flies than honey does, but sweet vinegar works better than “I make more money than you, Ms. Corporate” does.

  141. Traveshamockery says:

    It’s your right to defend your rights as a consumer, but it’s also their right to refuse to sell to you.

    It’s BS in this case, but despite their lies and bullcrap, they’re within their rights.

  142. Gev says:

    @moviemoron: If the grocery clerk told me that I couldn’t have a sandwich, I’d just go get one somewhere else.

    I certainly wouldn’t throw how much money I make in a week in the clerk’s face as if somehow my earning more money they they do will magically unlock some door and get me what I want.

    I’m sorry but the only real “victim” here is the clerk that he belittled in a vain attempt to get his beloved iPhone. Nobody deserves to be treated like that, no matter how insipid their policies regarding sales might be.

  143. ElenorR says:

    He turns and asks some other CSR if they can sell it without activation- to which the other CSR says “No”

    It usually at the market’s discretion if a consumer can buy purchase a product. A store does not have a legal obligation to sell a product the way you want them too.

    Obviously you were able to find someone to supply your demand, but the first store did not lose a sale or do anything wrong. They made the choice to only sell their iPhones with a contract. From your post, they seemed to make this quite clear. You chose not to accept their answer because you felt that they should sell you a phone without a contract.

    So you became aggressive to the staff and then sent a rant to the Consumerist because this store did not have the product you wished to purchase? And you wonder why they became less and less service oriented?

  144. jon-e says:

    This is one of those situations where everyone involved was an idiot.

    The salesperson was an idiot for pushing so hard to get his commission that he pissed off a customer.

    The customer was an idiot for not just telling them to screw and making his purchase somewhere else.

    There’s no excuse for bragging about how much money you make. You end up looking like a tool even if you are telling the truth about it.

    Added to that, the store was under no obligation to sell him the product, so that makes his idiocy all the more potent.

  145. rawsteak says:

    you should have went back to the store, knock on the window and yell, “do you like apples? HOW DO YOU LIKE DEM APPLES!?! I got an iPhone and you guys still have yours! Who’s going to get fired when they don’t make their sales this month!?! EAT IT”

    that would be the very mature thing to do, of course.

  146. Justin42 says:

    @brent_w: I have to agree. Why do people always use this “I make more money than you do” argument when they’re out of things to say? Do they really think that it either changes the situation,or makes the other person more likely to agree with them? “Oh, I bow to your superior paycheck.”

    Let’s see, person A is a bank CEO who’s been selling predatory loans to people who can’t afford them and has directly contributed to the economy imploding. Person B teaches in an inner city school to kids and stays late to help them with their homework.

    But “I make more money in a day than you do in a year!”

  147. TPS Reporter says:

    I bet that’s why everybody wants to come to America, because we have the right to purchase needless crap. And if you make good enough money, you can tell the sales clerk “I make more money in a day than you do in a week.” Actually that would make you sound like an ass, but this isn’t about you.

  148. Soldmysoul says:

    “You’re corporate? I make more money in one day then you make all week Mrs. Corporate”

    Classy dude, real classy

  149. mikecolione says:


    Actually we get paid for the activation (or upgrade). It doesn’t matter where they activate it at. We’re also not supposed to activate in the store. They were probably doing the pre-approved credit check we are instructed to perform.

    That said, we have been instructed to limit the amount of iPhones sold to one person. They even have a database set up to track purchasers…

  150. bones says:

    So the minimum wage AT&T employee has the right to screw AT&T out of a sale because he doesn’t like the customer? I doubt AT&T would agree and I hope the jerk employee gets fired.

  151. Kwummy says:

    That’s an awesome story, despite being completely fabricated.

  152. brennie says:

    @BugMeNot2: I’m with you. The basics here might have happened, but so much of the exchange comes off as made up after the customer had to leave the store empty handed. “It’s a gift” is all that was needed.
    @Tracy Ham and Eggs:
    yeah, no kidding total DB about the “i make more money” comment, but then he says the CSR’s got “REALLY pissed” at that? seriously? CSRs hear that one about ten times a week. Good for an eye roll at best. I actually had a guy say once “I made more money when I was eighteen then you’ll make in your entire life!” It was a struggle to keep a straight face after that.

  153. Marko_Vulvic says:

    I hope Jerkass McTinydick reads these comments.

    The minute the words “I make more than you” leave your mouth, you could be raped to death by a robot made out of colostomy bags and I wouldn’t have a shred of compassion for you.

    So Colon, well done sir, you are a total dick.

  154. Hawk07 says:

    It’s less of a hassle and less intrusive in terms of privacy to buy a 50 caliber hunting rifle in my state, than the 20 questions AT&T was giving this guy. Sounds like the CSR has having a bad day and/or didn’t want to lose out on the commission.

    All the more reason the iPhone would be better off sold exclusively online so that these types of CSR people won’t have jobs for much longer.

    So far, some Consumerists fail at cause & effect. Replace AT&T with a company like Best Buy, which seemingly ever reader hates, and at least being told “I make more money than you” is better than “I have a job, you don’t”. If the American people stopped shopping at Best Buy (which according to some on the Consumerist, is the worst company in the world, which I wouldn’t necessarily disagree with), then Best Buy would have to start closing stores and laying off people.

    So, while it was definitely the CSR’s prerogative to not sell the phone, if he/she keeps that up, they won’t have a job much longer. Plus, we consumerist readers have learned that retail cell outlets are the WORST place to buy your phone. (I even had an assistant manager at one of the AT&T stores tell me that at a party).

    Yeah, the guy was a jerk for saying he makes more, but if the CSR keeps this up, the store won’t have the sales to justify its existence. Or, if we all just bought the stupid phone online, we wouldn’t need retail employees.

  155. timsgm1418 says:

    my daughter, who is a waitress has a personal mantra…If they have a job that sucks more than yours, be nice to them…I think that’s a good idea, completely agree saying I make more than you do, is childish and stupid, and what did that prove? Who cares how much he makes? @SVreader:

  156. Witera33it says:

    @ionerox: I stand corrected

  157. rolla says:

    i would have taken their names down and report them to corporate.

  158. jimconsumer says:

    Actually, they have every right to refuse to sell you something. Hate to say it, because I don’t think what they did was appropriate, but legally you’re wrong. You really are lucky they did not call the police and have you arrested for trespassing. They could have. Private businesses have every right to deny you service and to demand you leave. Other than a few specific, protected reasons (race, gender, disabilities), they can make up any reason under the sun. “We didn’t like his hair cut” is reason enough.

    Is it a good idea for them to do this? No, they’ll be burned to the stake in public opinion. I think they’re a bunch of pricks for their attitude. But it is technically legal and they do technically have every right to behave this way.

  159. bnorton says:

    So how long did it take you to unlock your iPhone then? Is it still working?

  160. brennie says:

    “the I make more money comment” is heard a dozen times a week by any CSR. Most likey to get an eyeroll at best than to get them “REALLY pissed”

    totally made up.

  161. calvinneal says:

    What an elaborate lie: All iphones are turned on thru Itunes. They are not, I repeat never activated at the store. The entire premise of this complaint is a lie.

  162. Canoehead says:

    @Nighthawke: Dude – Apple got a rumored $3.5 billion from AT&T in return for making them exclusive carrier, plus they get a cut of the take from service plans, plus they make about 15-20% margin on the sale of the unit up front – who’s gouging who again? AT&T paid through the nose, the a$$ and several other orifices to get this (hey their risk, go for it – but don’t say Apple is getting gouged). Because of that $3.5 bil (which is to be paid over time) Apple is contractually obligated and seriously financially incentivized to help AT&T maintain their exclusivity. And franly, AT&T and T-Mobile both kink of suck, so you’re not losing much by going with AT&T. The only reason I would Jailbreak one is if I lived in a country that does not have them officially yet.

  163. shiwsup says:

    @stinerman: Discrimination based upon age is usually fine–not only charging different amounts but refusing service altogether. Gender (not sex , I think) is only semi-protected. Race is the big one.

  164. Grrrrrrr, now with two buns made of bacon. says:

    Oh for Pete’s sake, just buy it at another store. Oh wait, you did… there a point to this story?

    I call douchebaggery on both sides.

    Meanwhile, Colin, it sounds like you need a Waaaaaambulance. Let me call you one.

    And yes, if you’re absolutely sure that you make more money in one day than the salesman does in a week, why don’t you put down your triple-platinum MasterCard and buy a new one?

    Wow, there’s 15 minutes of my life I’ll never get back.

  165. Hawk07 says:

    I think Colin’s case is legit though. The rep was accusing him of attempting to unlock the phone when he attempted to purchase it.

    It’s like the gas station attendant accusing you of buying a lighter to smoke crack. Could you be doing that? Yup, but whether it’s an iPhone or lighter, it’s not the retailers job to tell you what you can and can’t buy. If you want to refuse sales, then get out of retail.

  166. pigeonpenelope says:

    Those sales reps were in the right. If they sell a phone without an activation, the company loses money and they lose commission. A lot of cell phone stores will not sell a phone at full cost. If they did that , there may also not be the inventory necessary for the customers who want a contract.

  167. pigeonpenelope says:

    @Marko_Vulvic: i couldn’t agree with you more.

  168. Parting says:

    @brennie: It’s follow up closely by ”You all will be fired!” and ”I’ll sue you!”, when saying ”no” to outrageous or rude demands.

    I never heard that from a polite person, even in cases where the company did make a mistake (well, maybe this has to do with the fact that their demand is legitimate, in the first case).

    Now I just mentally give these people ”a look”. Lack of imagination and idiocy won’t be rewarded by my frustration, and not even an eye-roll.

  169. homerjay says:

    @brennie: Thats probably when he finally got access to his trust fund.

  170. xis170 says:

    AT&T employees receive nothing on iphones. There is no commission on them. They cant and technically are not allowed to activate them in house. Its all done by itunes. They are and told to check if customer has the credit to activate. Also to check customers current plans. iphones are a pain. the same att services cannot be applied making the job harder. Customers think they get more and better service with iphones when in reality is the opposite.

  171. Parting says:

    @Hawk07: Actually, reps will KEEP their jobs. The policy has to be followed, this is a promo item, and only qualified people can buy it.

    A corporate store is closely monitored by company (in this case AT&T, but it’s the same for others), not like a dealer (that’s what the girl was trying to explain to the moron customer). If a rep does not follow a policy (even if it sounds idiotic), the rep may be fired on the spot.

    As a customer, be nice, and at least pretend you need it for promotion. Or go to a dealer who’s employees are paid minimum wage and just don’t care.

  172. Parting says:

    @mrbiggsndatx: And that would just tell employees that they were RIGHT, and the customer wasn’t going to activate it in the first place, as they suspected.

    Pretty Women technique does not work in this case :)

  173. Atomike says:

    Lots of folks are upset with the OP for losing his cool. Well, if you think you would have stayed perfectly calm, then that’s fine. If you always say the right thing, and never get upset, then goodie for you. You win a prize. By saying that he made more money, he was simply making the point that they are NOT corporate. What he said was likely factual. So, stop whining about the OP. I liked his story and I can relate to his understandable indignation. 4 stars for him.
    If you folks are going to dump on him for being a little upset, then you really really don’t belong on the internet. It’s to sophisticated for you.

  174. Pithlit says:

    @Atomike: Yelling that you make more than a retail employee=very bad form. Fact. I managed to reach 35 years on this planet without ever having uttered such a thing, and so have most people I choose to associate with, however old they are. People aren’t judging him for losing his cool. Everyone loses their cool and says things they regret, but certain things are pretty accurate indicators of character. There are certain things certain people of class will never say, no matter how mad they get, and no matter how in the right they are.

  175. Pithlit says:

    @Pithlit: First sentence should be “Yelling at a retail employee that you make more than they do…”

  176. KingPsyz says:

    I skipped past most of the comments since I’m sure it’s a lot of fanboy back and forth.

    But I have to wonder, why Apple chose to align itself with such a horrible service provider. Why not let the market decide the best carrier for your new overpriced gadget?

    I’m more disapointed in the fact that the OP went and bought one somewhere else anyway. Is having a cool status symbol phone worth enough to you to overcome supporting a company that couldn’t even resolve such a simple complaint before you were shackled to them?

    You could have spent the same $250 on a decent MP3 player and gotten a free phone with a carrier if you still needed a phone.

  177. mysidia says:

    Almost universally, a store has a right to refuse sale, based on information you tell them about how you’ll use the product. Better to reveal as little information as possible — you hint you intend to unlock it, that cannot help your negotiation, but it can possibly be used against you.

    Now their behavior is very dubious, and may be against AT&T policy.

    I suggest you start writing some letters to their corporate offices. CSR #1 saying their corporate is probably ignorant, and doesn’t understand how the business is organized.

    Would be best imo if you identified the exact location of the store, persons involved, time of this event, etc, in the article, that way people will know which location to avoid, and which CSRs to especially avoid.

  178. nardo218 says:

    Yeah, real calm. Wtf, consumerist. One store has taken it upon itself not to sell to this psychotic idiot.

  179. alulim says:

    That salesman gets commission for activating an account. GOOD FOR HIM FOR REFUSING YOUR SALE. Your wasting his time and more importantly his money (potential). Buy it from straight from apple you prick…

  180. dantsea says:

    Colin, I’m pretty sure the storefolk told you “no sale because we think you’re going to unlock it” because it got the same hilarious reaction as the unallowed “no sale because you’re an asshole.”

    Enjoy your iPhone (and high blood pressure)!

  181. Witera33it says:

    @PSN: kingpsyz:
    At&t wasn’t apple’s first choice. Verison was, but they wouldn’t bend to apple’s demands for specific services. At&t was willing in exchange for a exclusivity contract. Apple would prefer the phone to be available to everybody, but had to go this route just to get it on the market.
    As to all the comments:Most have been about how the OP had to remind the CSRs how crappy their jobs are because they have to deal with tools like him, and get paid crap for it.
    “You’re corporate? I make more money in one day then you make all week Mrs. Corporate”
    I would throw that guy out too. Except, the place I work actually has a sign that says “we reserve the right to refuse service”

  182. dweebster says:

    The OP seems like AT&T/iPhone’s ideal customer: self-important narcissistic jackasses with money to burn. You met your match in the AT&T store, as I’ve never seen such a bunch of equally self-important narcissistic jackasses as I’ve met in all the AT&T corporate stores. You’d think they are trained to act like they’re the only cell carrier in the country – they’re certainly consistent. Sprint at least takes my money without a fight.

    The funny thing about the story is how fucking important that store’s staff seem to feel about that damn iPhone. Really, the thing has no expandability, no backup capability, the keyboard sucks (and isn’t as usable as a hardware keyboard). But enough “hip” people buy something and it’s suddenly something that people will endure dealing with AT&T representatives to acquire.

    I just don’t get it.

  183. ampersand says:

    So, uh, he WAS buying it just to unlock it and/or sell it, right? Or did I miss the part where he said otherwise?
    Don’t see a whole lot wrong with them calling a duck a duck if that is indeed the case. As many people stated above, they can deny you a sale for any or no reason.

  184. smithy242 says:

    What’s so special about the iPhone that people are willing to pay a good deal of cash and risk having their phone bricked with the next firmware update? I’ve never used one, so any insight you could provide would be helpful.

  185. bigvicproton says:

    “You’re corporate? I make more money in one day then you make all week Mrs. Corporate”

    And? I work in corporate and almost everyone makes more money than me, even the custodial staff do. So what? Is this how you talk to your waitress too? Your postman? My god, how much of a flaming-ignoramous are you? No wonder these people hated you. When they were in the back they probably said “real jerkoff here” and decided no iphone for you. If I knew what store this was I’d take them all out for pancake breakfast.

  186. Qazaq says:

    Last week a friend of mine has tried to buy 2 iPhones for his children at one of the AT&T Stores near or in the Oxford Valley Mall, Langhorne, PA. Because he speaks with an accent, the salesperson denied selling those phones to him suspecting he is going to unlock them. Like someone mentioned in the second post – “Especially with foreigners”….

  187. ninjatales says:

    I’m going to side with AT&T on this one. If the customer hadn’t acted like a douche in the first place, things might’ve been different.

  188. trujunglist says:

    Great, you couldn’t get your iPhone. That doesn’t mean you have to be a fucking douchebag to random people who aren’t even involved in the sale. A store has the right to refuse service to anyone, and since you’re a goddamn douche, I don’t blame them.
    See comment: “You’re corporate? I make more money in one day then you make all week Mrs. Corporate”

    Fuck you, douche.

  189. radio1 says:

    Actually, if the AT&T store was a kiosk, which I think the OP said, it was privately franchised store.

    Strangely, they have a lot more leeway to do whatever the hell they if you piss them off. vs. an actual free-standing corporate owned stored.

    What I do not get, is why continue being a dick? After the first 5 minutes of the fracas, when it’s clear they are not going to sell you one, just leave and go to the next store.

  190. itsgene says:

    And now we know why Apple opened their own stores.

  191. 4ster says:

    Before you told them you make more money than them, you should have said, in a slow, deep voice, “Do you KNOW who I AM?”

    Then they really would been ‘fraid of you.

  192. silyolpooh says:

    Actually, they CAN refuse to do business with you. For any reason. Same as you can refuse to do business with them.

    A few states/localities protect race/gender discrimination, but otherwise you’re SOL. Do what you did – find another vendor and get over it.

  193. tjh9915 says:

    “You’re corporate? I make more money in one day then you make all week Mrs. Corporate”

    ^That’s obnoxious. No Wonder you are buying an iPhone. I would enjoy seeing that iPhone shoved into the orifice furthest from your ear.

  194. jayw7 says:

    my fiancee sells phones for nextel. (they aren’t combined here because the person who owns sprint here will not sell back to sprint) his company policy is to not sell a phone with out a 2 year contract. they don’t make any money on the phone, they make the money on the contract. I’m sure this is why they refused to sell the phone.
    they get a comission. would you rather make money on a phone? or shoot yourself in the foot and sell it for no profit, and screw yourself out of a customer you could make a profit off of?

  195. hejustlaughs says:


    Actually the salespeople deserved it. My friend who works at a AT&T store knows exactly why they refused the sale. They have a limited number of stock on the refurbs (especially after hooking all your buddies up with one) and they the commissions from a two year activation is good money.

    Can’t win it either ways. Commissioned sales and you’ll get some staff that act this way, non-commissioned sales and you get… Best Buy.

  196. Sarcasmo48 says:

    “I make more money in one day than you make all week Mrs. Corporate”

    Do you tell that to the Emporer’s Club hooker you inevitably have to get with that attitude?

    …’cause she probably makes more than you.

  197. Sarcasmo48 says:

    Oh and bee tee dub, what kind of high-paid assclown uses a pay as you go data plan for his business? You’d think if you’re a high-falutin’ executive that kind of thing would get comped.

    My policy, if anyone gives me shit in the store, I get their name and ask for a manager. If the manager is a tool, I leave. Sometimes I just leave. I don’t wave my paystub around like its a court order to be a douchebag. Or do you get a paystub when you run the business on the Tom Bosley informercial?

  198. Buran says:

    @Witera33it: Jailbroken phones still have to be loaded with AT&T SIM cards. So why should AT&T care?

  199. Transient says:

    It’s interesting seeing some folks flip flop sides between stories. When the company side of the capitalism equation works within the rules to screw a consumer (ie, right to refuse service) it’s a terrible thing. However, when the consumer side of the capitalism equation works within the rules to screw a company, there is great celebration.

  200. Buran says:

    @Transient: It’s interesting seeing pro-consumer reactions on a forum named “Consumerist” not “Corporationist”.

  201. AlphaTeam says:

    Some AT&T stores are anal about these things. I recall needing a SIM card so I asked if I could get one unactivated. I have been their customer for a long time now.

    First I get a “No, we can’t give it out” and then I offer to buy it and they say “Sorry we can’t sell it”.

    I go to another store, and I offer to buy a SIM card. He just asks for my phone number and gives me one unactivated.

  202. Anonymous says:

    Get this crap: I am (have been for like 12 years) an AT&T customer. I am eligible for an upgrade in May 2009. However, while browsing the AT&T site, I saw that they have refurb 8GB for $100.00 So I call to see if I can get in on this and they say “No – you have to either wait till you are eligible or pay full retail.” But I try to argue that I am going to sign another 2 year contract anyway so why not let me in on the special refurb pricing. I was extremely frustrated but since I didn’t have any leverage to argue I am in wait mode. What is up with that? Great customer service…..

  203. Anonymous says:

    For the person that started this thread. Awesome you make money. Thumbs up for you and making your case very irrelevant with that line.

    For most people that work in sales, there will always be someone dissatisfied with something. It can be any one thing for anything you sell. Everyone in sales will always have some angry customer sometime or another. Its inevitable and it can always help a business grow because you know where you need to improve on.

    In this case.. the truth is ATT actually doesnt start making money on IPHONES till after the 1st year out of the 2 year commitment. Some two year contracts give as early as a 6 month early upgrades. Which bascially means you dont have to finish the two year contract. Standard early upgrade is eligibile for most customers that pay their bill on time (4 months). ATT makes a lot of money but also lose a whole too for people that want to buy the iphone for retail price and unlock it later. ATT basically has to buy the phone for retail price and then make money on the SERVICE.. so if you dont pay them for the SERVICE, they dont make money. they actually only make 8 months out of 12 months if you do an early upgrade. If about lets say you get 30 percent of the customers that do that, then ATT wouldnt even make that much money.

    If you make your mind to buy something then go buy it and honor the contract and your salesmen. Ill admit that corporate ATT have 60% under-trained and not know everything they are supposed to know. But when comes down to the contract, there is nothing they can say or change whats written on paper. 2 year contract, with a standard early upgrade. This phone requires a data plan etc etc.. if you want it then take the deal. If you dont then you dont have to. No one is forcing you. Most sales reps for any store just sell the price they are supposed to sell at. Why whine about the price, contract, this and that when you have other options elsewhere. You not only waste your own time, but you make a fool out whining and just go somewhere else.

    I work at an AUTHORIZED ATT retailer, while i wont give out the retailer name. I know that for a fact all our reps know more than corporate ATT in any subject because we acutally ahve to research things ourselves and do more things and know more things so that whent he customer comes in and goes out, they feel just a little more educated and knowledgeable of what they buy. We do get assholes of all kinds here at times.. but we always stand in their shoes and do what we can on our side. If we cant do then we will tell the customer that we tried our best (because we have done everything we could or could not). Most assholes like this guy who put the post dont give a flying f. And if you do make that much money go buy it from someone else. Dont get me wrong.. There are some rip offs at corporate sometimes.. but there are customers that rip ATT as well.

  204. Dentalicious says:

    Except because of FCC restrictions they aren’t technically allowed to “let you” unlock it. And legally any business can deny service to any customer. Mind you if it is because of race or gender they could be sued. Really, in this case, they did nothing wrong (except being kind of annoying).