Limited New iPhones At ATT Stores, Latecomers Pay Extra To Have Phones Shipped

Only the first lucky clutch of people in line today at AT&T stores will walk out with a new iPhone 3G in-hand. There were only 30 phones available in total at the the biggest AT&T store in Waterbury CT, at the Brass Mill Center, according to a store employee. Reporting from the line, reader Kevin says that everyone else was given an option to buy a slip of paper for $226.79 (see a scan of it posted inside), have the phone shipped from the warehouse to you, then you come back to the store to activate the phone. Customers will have to pay for the shipping charges for this favor.

Brian Lam over at Gizmodo says that most AT&T stores only had a few dozen of the new phone for sale today, and that you’re better off going to an Apple store, as “they always have more.” According to commenter camman68, the noon news in Wichita, KS has reported that all the AT&T stores in the area are completely sold out. Fear not, Witchititians, they seem to have some left on eBay. They’ll just cost you over $800.


Edit Your Comment

  1. Zeniq says:

    Wow. I bet the ones who stood in line since early this morning and were like 100 behind felt dumb. Too bad the ATT employees didn’t just tell them that there were limited quantities so that they could do something more useful with their time.

  2. Illusio26 says:

    Anyone who pays over $800 for a cell phone that sells for half that, should have some sense beaten into them.

    If people would stop giving money to the ebay vultures, maybe people would stop speculating every time a new tech came out. Then people who actually wanted the device could get it.

  3. Mr_Human says:

    Just a short line at the AT&T store on Broadway near 23rd in NYC.

    I’m happy with my crap Sprint phone; I don’t want to worry about the cost of losing a pricey phone.

  4. tom2133 says:

    @darkjedi26: Can we beat the sense into them with the phone?

    I still laugh at that one story about the lady last year that bought the first place in line from one guy to buy all the iPhones, only to be told you can only buy one.

  5. arniec says:

    I’m REALLY pizzed…not because I don’t have an iPhone 3G but because I did wait in line for several hours in the hot hot sun this morning and THEY SOLD OUT AND DIDN’T TELL ANYONE. They wanted to get you in the store and have you pay now to get the phone in a week or more. Asshats!

    They could have at least announced when they were out so we could go home rather than not tell anyone.

    When we kept asking how many they had/how many are left, their response? “Only one person knows and she won’t tell us.” WTF? They can’t even come up with a better lie than that?

  6. Krycek says:

    This just in, the apple support line is currently down due to high call volumes

  7. 11hawkinst says:

    I’m in King of Prussia, PA and just got back from the Apple Store in the KoP mall. They said that they had a ton left. I don’t know if I can take their word for it, but they weren’t the slightest worried that they would run out.

    Now, if only the stupid servers would start working.

  8. zedo says:

    I also waited in line in the hot sun, promised that there was a phone for me, then after being strung along for hours, told to go home. Horrible. Store run by crackaddicts, downtown Washington DC and they had sold out by 9am! WTF??

  9. theblackdog says:

    @darkjedi26: Tell that to the folks still paying over $300 for a Wii on Ebay.

  10. Alex Chasick says:

    @tom2133: That was such a great video.

  11. LatinoGeek says:

    When are people going to learn. The early adopters were miffed when apple dropped the price and made them pay 20 bucks for some extra apps. Early adoption is not for the faint hearted or people who are chronically prone to buyer’s remorse.

    Me, I’d like one today, but I’m not due for upgrade until late Aug, so I will watch with amusement as people Curse apple and at&t.

  12. shocker says:

    Only 3 AT&T stores in Wichita, with no Apple Stores. AT&T stores only got about 50 units each, so no surprise they’re all gone.

  13. Wormfather is Wormfather says:

    @Alex Chasick: Link please!

  14. STrRedWolf says:

    40 at the AT&T store in Baltimore, MD, and there were slated to be more but according to AT&T, FedEx lost a shipment and Apple won’t give ’em tracking details.

    Paging Steve Jobs…

  15. Wormfather is Wormfather says:

    OMG, people are actually bidding on the 3G iphones…north of $800.

    Lets see:
    $300 for phone $200 ETF

  16. theblackdog says:

    @STrRedWolf: Meanwhile, a bunch of FedEx Employees are suddenly carrying new iPhones.

  17. Zeniq says:

    @Wormfather is Wormfather: Holy crap WHY!?!? Even though the “go to ATT and pay for a slip of paper and pay more for shipping” is dumb, it’s a hell of a lot cheaper than the ebay auctions, and you’ll probably get it at bout the same time! Maybe it’s people buying them for unlocking purposes?

  18. asten77 says:

    Oh wah wah. The history of technology has repeatedly shown that being an early adopter generally results in some degree of taking it in the shorts financially. This is no different. Wait for the next damned shipment.

  19. starbreiz says:

    Most stores, if they don’t have something in stock, will have it shipped to the store for pickup, and nor charge shipping. Heck, some clothing stores (like Lane Bryant and Eddie Bauer) will ship clothes directly to your home with free shipping if the store is out of stock. How is AT&T/Apple getting away with this?

  20. ModernDemagogue says:

    Can someone that has some experience with going to a store to buy a receipt explain to me what prevents one from simply doing this, getting the phone, and never bringing it in for activation? Do they make you sign the two year contract? I can’t imagine they would, you can’t sign a valid contract until you actually have the phone and activate your account.

    While obviously this phone would sit around and be a brick for a while, it seems like an easy way to get a 3g iPhone for $226 without re-upping your contract. As soon as they get jailbroken, you’ll be ready to go.


  21. ModernDemagogue says:

    Just confirmed with an ATT Store. ATT does not do the contract and similar procedures until after the phone has been shipped to you and you bring it back to the store.

    $200 iPhone 3g on T-Mobile here I come baby!!!!!

  22. coold8 says:

    I got mine at 1030 from freehold raceway. Even though the comps went down… 3times I only waited about 3 hours. Not bad and they had lots of them

  23. jsgumshoe says:

    Stood in line at an AT&T store in Bloomington, IL. After they sold out – we were told they would take orders – but they couldn’t do it because iTunes was down. Asked us to wait patiently and gave us water. Then, those of us who hadn’t completely succumb to heatstroke realized that we were now sitting in the sun waiting to do something we could come back and do anytime.

    When I went back later I guess they forgot what story they told us. Because they admitted their own ordering system was down and was still down, but that they could take a paper order.

    Why didn’t they offer a paper order earlier?

    Buy a phone, can’t activate it because of Apple, try to order a phone and can’t because of AT&T.

    But try and find a cell carrier with a soul….

  24. howie_in_az says:

    @ModernDemagogue: I’ll be very, very surprised if you manage that.

  25. ModernDemagogue says:

    Already done. Contractless phone on its way. Now just to wait for someone to figure out how to unbrick it.

    Worst comes to worst I arbitrage it for $500 to someone who doesn’t want a new contract, or to pay some required data fee.

  26. I’m going to have to deal with the AT&T stores. I’m not looking forward to it. I had no interest in going out today as I knew it would be an experience best avoided, but as I’ve got a corporate discount on my account I cannot buy my iPhone from Apple Stores. I hope if I wait for a little while that they will actually have some in stock.

  27. dink23 says:

    @ModernDemagogue: It’s not that easy. The rep forgot to tell you that all phones are shipped to the store you order from. Their system automatically inputs the store as the shipping address and it is not changeable. Plus why would you buy a 3G phone to use on a non-3G/incompatible future 3G network?

  28. HonestNigerian says:

    I’d buy a 3g for tmobile even if it won’t work on thier 3g network, because with th old iphone you can’t surf and talk at the same time. wit the new one you can still use Edge while you talk.

  29. dink23 says:

    @HonestNigerian: EDGE does not allow for talking and surfing at the same time, that is the reason for UMTS/HSDPA/HSUPA 3G as the data and voice channels are separate. The ability to use data while on voice is what makes AT&T’s 3G network (and all 3G GSM carriers) significantly different than Verizon and Sprint’s.

  30. Nick_Bentley says:

    I think Lela said it best, “Space madness”. It’s just a phone, and it’s a nice one, but to see this much buzz over a telephone is pretty amazing. Whether it’s just these, or game systems at holiday time.

    I don’t understand why the retail stores don’t give out RFID bracelets so the people can come back in a week to claim their items. Having people camping out for a week isn’t good for business, and it’s not very safe (either for them or for the potted plants around your storefront, that Mountain Dew has to go somewhere at 3am).

    Of course Apple has to support their retail stores and dealers, so they can’t pre-order items and ship them for the date, but they could work something out so the first people to arrive a week ahead of time will get a magnetic card or something equally hard to duplicate in a week, to return for their phone. They could have only 24 hours from rollout or they lose it to someone else. Even taking down names and addresses and having them show matching ID would keep a slew of people from camping out for a week.

  31. Fitzador says:

    That “[c]ustomers will have to pay for the shipping charges for this favor” is not true. I did this exact thing — “direct fulfillment” — and the line item for the shipping on the receipt reads “88868 ECONOMY FREIGHT 1 @ 0.00.”

    Also, the business with getting “an option to buy a slip of paper” makes AT&T’s practice of direct fulfillment sound very shady, but it is not as shady as Consumerist makes it out to be. An order is placed for an iPhone for the customer, with the shipping address — as mentioned in the comments above — given as the AT&T store where the order was made. The customer receives a phone call when the phone arrives in the store, then goes back to the store to activate it.

    I’m tired of getting up early, only to be disappointed by a miniscule stock of phones at the AT&T store. With direct fulfillment, I can have my iPhone by the middle of this week with no hassle.

  32. daisyluv says:

    HAHA… I’m in Oregon, I didn’t have the time to waste in line, so I ordered it to be shipped to the store (3-5 bus. days) and didn’t have to pay anything extra. 16g white for the normal $299 (if you are at the end of your contract to renew or a new cust). Not sure what’s wrong with Kansas, they probably pocketed the shipping $.

  33. shocker says:

    Fitzador is right. My paper receipt for my direct fulfillment order reads the exact same thing: a shipping charge of 0.00.

    They call me when the phone is in, and I go to the store and pick it up.

    And how exactly is “an option to buy a slip of paper” any different than ordering anything else? Is it any worse than an order confirmation email you might get from

    Or is this an indictment of the principle of ordering things in general?

  34. ModernDemagogue says:

    This was not my understanding, and I hope it is not the case. I bought it from a store I won’t be near again for at least a few months and was told I had the option to pick it up in store, or could have it come to my apartment in Manhattan for me so I could take it to a location of my convenience. It’s a bit too late to call and check on this, but it was my understanding that when they were using the billing address of my credit card, which I gave them, as the shipping address.

    We’ll see what happens, I’ll look into it tomorrow.

    As to why I would want to do this, 1) I have a legacy Voicestream/T-Mobile plan from years ago which is cheap and has all sorts of extras ($40/month 1000 min + nights/weekends + mobile to mobile + 500 text messages, $6/month edge data plan). Their 3g network is/will be compatible, and I try not to use voicemail, so visual voicemail, the only inactive feature on my current 1st Gen iPhone, is useless or at least no more convenient than a shortcut to my GrandCentral inbox, 2) my limit on how much I’ll pay for a handset is ~$300. Any more than that and I’d feel guilty about dropping it in a beer or destroying it in some other unfortunate fashion. These new iphones cost $450 or much much more, so I can’t see that its worth it for GPS and a marginal boost in browsing speed.

    And even if it doesn’t get hacked in the near future, I can still arbitrage it for $400 to someone on att who doesn’t want a contract.

  35. I went into the same AT&T store that Alex wrote about in his article on Friday and was told that I’d be lucky to get one by August. And to add insult to injury, the store rep pointed to two girls who bought the last iPhones – my ex and her roommate.

    I would’ve paid an extra $200 for both phones on the spot.