Exchanging A Defective iPhone 3G Is A Huge Pain In The Butt

Reader Joshua wants to warn everyone that exchanging your defective-out-of-the-box iPhone 3G is a huge pain the butt. His girlfriend got her iPhone on launch day but quickly discovered that the speaker was broken. She brought it into the Apple store to have it checked out and an employee accidentally dropped it. At that point, Apple told them they’d just replace to the phone. That’s where things got complicated.

Joshua writes:

My girlfriend was set on getting an 8GB iPhone 3G on launch day, and to make sure, we headed out to the closest mall location in San Jose, CA at 5am. We were the 20th person or so in line, and had no problems getting in.
She was transferring her service from T-Mobile, and surprisingly, it all went smoothly. We probably walked into the physical Apple Store at around 8:15am and were back out to our car by 9:15.

When we got home, we noticed a problem with our iPhone — the speaker wouldn’t work. No external sounds whatsoever, unless it was docked. We called the Apple Store and I have to say, Apple offers some awesome support. They took her name down and told her to come right back in past the line and they’d take care of us (sorry to everyone who was still waiting).

We rolled back in around 10:30am, and if the next five hours had been up to Apple, we’d have been gone by 10:45am. Funny thing, they were going to try to troubleshoot it, but then one of the Apple specialists accidentally dropped the phone, and said casually, “We’ll just go grab you a new one.”

Unfortunately, AT&T has a different take on iPhone exchanges. AT&T could not give her a phone exchange because she was no longer qualified for first-time purchase and activation, so they tried to charge her full price ($399 instead of $199, if I recall) for the iPhone because she’d already purchased and activated an iPhone. Then, since they already returned that previous iPhone, AT&T locked her phone number and said she couldn’t get it back for 48 hours because of that return. After that, it became a worry on both ours and Apple’s part if they were going to charge an early termination fee, and then a new activation fee for the second phone.

Our Apple concierge, Rosemarie, was wonderful in arguing with AT&T on our behalf. Four and a half hours later, Rosemarie was able to widdle it down so that they could get her new iPhone activated with her original number, but they refused to let her walk out of the store with an iPhone for $199. In the end, Rosemarie and the store manager (whose name I didn’t get, but she was also extremely helpful) decided that what they were going to do was charge us for the full price of an iPhone and issue themselves a gift card for the difference of what we would have had to pay. So we paid our part ($231 and some change) and they used their self-issued gift card to cover the rest. In other words, Apple chose to eat the cost on our behalf because of what AT&T was doing.

In the end, we couldn’t have asked for more exceptional service than what this Apple Store gave us. While we waited, specialists noticed us and offered us snacks and sodas and were generally really friendly and empathetic. We were also pretty chill about the whole thing, which I’m sure helped, and by the time we left, they made sure we weren’t screwed with by AT&T.

So, just a warning to anyone else that has to exchange their iPhone. I’m not even generally an Apple/Mac person, but this gives me great faith in the Apple Store’s customer service, and I would definitely say to have faith in them, but be wary of AT&T.

Kudos to the Apple Store for for spending so much time working this out for you. We hope that AT&T works out this glitch — there’s really no reason why a simple exchange of a defective phone should take 4.5 hours and require the Apple store to issue gift cards.

Is this happening to anyone else?

(Photo: qshio )


Edit Your Comment

  1. Coder4Life says:

    That just goes to show how greedy telecommunication companies are. They obviously don’t care for their customers behalfs….

    Also the relationship between AT&T and Apple seem somewhat sour for this release… Only if telecommunication companies did business in the way Apple does they would be able to cut their call centers by 50% I bet.

  2. baristabrawl says:

    Yes, I agree. AT&T are mostly douchebags.

  3. AaronZ says:

    The fact that a CS rep couldn’t understand the concept of ‘defective product return’ is really beyond words.
    That’s a level of incopetence that borders on malicious.

  4. muffinpan says:

    The iphone is a beautifull piece of equipment. I would love to buy one. I just can’t because AT&T isthe worst. So Apple you can’t have my business until you offer to make your equipment available to other service providers.
    I’ll patiently wait for as long as it takes Apple to wise up. Remember you can’t sell apples off an empty pushcart.

  5. rochec says:

    Sounds like some sort of mix up/idiots CSR she was dealing with. I can’t believe that any company would actually have this as their policy.

  6. ZabbaDabba says:

    I’m a little confused about this. Did Apple cover the entire $231? Or did they have to pay again for another iPhone even though the one sold to them was broken?

  7. dragonfire1481 says:

    Most cell phone companies have a 30-day return period after you buy a phone where you can return it or exchange at no extra charge to you and no ETF if you decide not to keep the line.

    I thought AT&T was the same but I could be wrong…

  8. lingum says:

    Where it me, I would have just canceled the contract and left.

  9. coan_net says:

    Like I always say – with every positive & negative story about any store – it is not the store, it is the employee’s at the store.

    They are the ones who give the stores a good & bad name.

  10. backbroken says:

    “It took me the better part of an entire day to buy and activate my phone, and at one point it looked like I was going to have to pay twice as much, and the first one I bought was defective, but I couldn’t be happier!!”

    Kudos to the Apple concierge (really, concierge?) for making things right. But seriously, Apple really has some folks by the short-hairs.

    If this exact same experience had happened at say, Wal-Mart, I have a feeling we’d be reading a complaint instead of a kudos.

  11. snoop-blog says:

    I don’t understand why anyone would pay 3G’s for an iphone.

  12. IphtashuFitz says:

    If Apple hadn’t stepped up and swallowed the cost of the replacement phone I would have filed a small claims suit against AT&T. If AT&T required an additional $199 for the new phone then it basically means they’re the one selling you the phone. If they’re unwilling to give you a free replacement for defective equipment then you’d be well within your rights to sue them.

  13. quagmire0 says:

    Oh no! What will I do without the most cutting edge technology at the very moment it comes out?! How will my social status recover?!? :D

  14. mariospants says:

    Apart from stores not having enough stock around here, the launch apparently went successfully.

    Rogers in Canada was apparently shit-stormed on because of their proposed rates, and apparently they responded with a new package…

  15. Jubilance22 says:

    I’m confused.

    Your girlfriend bought a defective phone and wanted to take it back. Apple CSR drops it and damages it further. Why does the OP have to pay for a new one? Shouldn’t Apple or AT&T or both replace the phone free of charge, since it was defective straight out of the box?

    Or maybe I just missed that part in the letter?

  16. enm4r says:

    What I’m wondering is why there was any exchange of money in the first place. If I buy a product, it is defective, and I go to the store to exchange said product, I don’t expect to be repaying for anything. At this point it becomes a product for product purchase.

    Especially since the purchase of the iPhone has to be on a credit card, I’m not sure I would be comfortable with being charged 2x the amount only to wait another week for the credit to appear.

    I also have experience with this at Verizon, I had a new phone sent to activate, which I did, only to find the mic was defective. After about an hour in a nearby Verizon store I walked out with new phone that was functional, all without ever showing my credit card.

  17. Boatski says:

    To return an iPhone within 30 days they’ll charge you a 10% restocking fee.

  18. fjordtjie says:

    @dragonfire1481: i have at&t and i believe, but am not postitive, that they too have the 30 day policy. i’m also pretty sure, given my experience every step of the way when my [normal old, non-apple] phone died, that they are incompetent and sneaky. if it is like my case, they advertise one thing and have some little thing written somewhere else that makes it invalid for 99% of cases, meaning mine! cingular/at&t loses my business next January 13th (because I don’t want to deal with a cancellation fee!).

    anyone really love their cellphone company they’d suggest switching to?

  19. scandaloussc says:

    My friend and I went on launch day to pick the 3g. I got the white 16gb, he got the 8gb. Well, a couple of hours pass and my friend decides he wants the white 16gb also.
    Off we go to the AT&T store and he tells them he wants to change the 8gb for the white 16gb. It was not an issue and all they did was charge the difference and remove the 8gb info from the account and entered the 16gb info. There was no restocking fee or anything like that.

    And for what it’s worth I have done this with AT&T a couple of times with different phones. I would get one and decided a couple days even weeks later that I did not like it, then I would go and exchange the phone for another one. I would pay the difference or even swap if the price was the same.

    I think the Apple store employees not being accustomed to selling phones and plans and the fact that they might have been talking to a misinformed (dumb) AT&T CSR did not help Joshua’s girlfriends problem.

  20. Boberto says:

    this new version is a terrible deal. What do you get? GPS running on poorly written mapping software and 3G at dialup speeds ONLY if you’re in a major market.

    I have an iPhone running ver. 1.4 jailbroken on TMobile. I can’t imagine being locked into ATT for it though.

  21. acknight says:

    @Jubilance22: I think the letter was indicating at that point that the phone had been returned (as defective, refunding the $199+tax) but that they were refusing to let her buy another one (non-defective) at the $199 price because she was already a customer.

    At least that was my read.

  22. Jeangenie says:

    Trying to avoid flamebait–but from a customer service standpoint I have been really happy with Verizon Wireless.

    Now, I hate that they lock their phones down, the data charges are plain crazy and if you aren’t careful you can end up with an expensive monthly charge . . . but

    CSRs are pretty friendly, when you escalate you tend to get a reasonable person on the phone, coverage is excellent, you can upgrade and downgrade your phones easily.

    I don’t like the phone tree, and every now and then I get some spam. So life isn’t perfect, but I feel like I get my money’s worth and with the state of customer service in this country, I feel like that is a good deal.

  23. godlyfrog says:

    @Jubilance22: @enm4r: I had to reread it about 4 times, too. They keep saying exchanged, but at one point, it says that the iPhone linked to the account had been returned, which is why they wouldn’t allow the $200 first-time activation or the original number.

    Unless iPhones are different than other phones, swapping one phone for another is no big deal, even with AT&T. It makes me wonder if Apple was the one who screwed up by returning the phone instead of just transferring the phone, causing all this problem. I’ve never had a problem with AT&T swapping one phone for another, and I’ve done it with both Blackberries and regular phones. AT&T just asks you to swap the SIM card, give them the ID off the new phone, and you’re set. I’ve never worked with iPhones, though, so maybe it’s a different story with them.

    As it stands, I’m glad it worked out for the OP, but I’m a little suspicious about this due to my past experiences in swapping phones.

  24. FLConsumer says:

    @coan_net: There’s an old expression that “sh*t runs downhill.” Bad employees at the bottom are only tolerated by bad management at the top.

    @fjordtjie: Been with Alltel for 11 years now. They’re not perfect, but they do seem to genuinely try to get it right. Have had AT&T & Sprint for work phones; absolutely hated AT&T, Sprint just never had signal where I needed to be.

  25. Tightlines says:

    @backbroken: I don’t know. Sounds like Apple went completely out of their way to find a problem to the solution. They even let them bypass everyone else standing in line! The broken phone was their fault, yes, but the difficulty in getting them a new one wasn’t.

  26. I’m just as confused as everyone else. Did you pay for the phone again because you had a faulty phone? That’s what it sounds like in the post. If so, why?

  27. mpotter says:

    This is actually all AT&T’s fault because I had a similar issue. When I got my iphone on Friday, the Genius that was doing the activations connected my phone to itunes but it wasn’t recognized. Turns out it was due to low battery (<5%), but it took 10-15 minutes of charging for it to work. I wanted to exchange the phone being worried about the battery and when we tried got an error message from AT&T. It said they put a hold on all iphone purchases for 24 hours and any returns done in those 24 hours would lead to having to pay full price for the phone, not the subsidized price. The manager at the Apple store then guaranteed me a 30 day return (since apple has a 14 day policy) and gave me his card and number in case I had any issues.

  28. Jubilance22 says:

    @acknight: @godlyfrog: Thanks for the explanations, I was really confused. Sounds like it should have been a swap instead of a return and purchase.

  29. sam says:

    Having had to get my iphone replaced the day I bought it because I dropped it all of 5 minutes after leaving the store (apple was great – because it was launch day, they were VERY kind and replaced it for free), I can tell you that the Apple people in NY were very aware that for me to (a) keep the same phone number and (b) get the discounted price so that my ‘return’ would cover the cost, both the return and the new ‘purchase’ needed to be part of the same transaction. There’s a way to do this on the little handheld jobbies, but the salesperson needs to be aware of how it works. I needed approximately 4 apple employees (including a manager) to get through the process correctly on the first try.

  30. SacraBos says:

    @Jubilance22: You’re not confused. AT&T is confused. Apple had to bend over backward to do right by the customer and get around AT&T red tape. Apple: 1 AT&T: 0

  31. ECN2 says:

    Last year I had a pretty good experience with Apple fighting for me with AT&T. I bought the iPhone the day after it came out. After I finally got it activated in the afternoon, I saw that the camera didn’t work. I brought the phone back to the Apple Store that day, they replaced it and called AT&T on my behalf to push through the new activation. I sat at the Genius bar for about 2 hours while they worked on it with AT&T. They were intent on me walking out with a working iPhone, which I did.

  32. RockStarr says:

    My silent switch on my 3G was defective and all they did was “sell” me a new one but zero out the cost so I did not pay anything. It helped that I made an appointment for the next day for an Apple Genius.

  33. gspdark1 says:

    Another reason to be smug that I didn’t get the IPhone.

  34. backbroken says:

    @Tightlines: I guess what I am trying to say is that one man’s unnecessary 12 hour ordeal is another man’s wonderful customer experience. It all depends on your preconceived notions about the retailer.

    Instead of Apple/iPhone/Verizon, imagine the original post was about the author’s Black Friday experience buying a brand new Dell laptop at Best Buy. Author waits in line, purchases laptop, then goes home and discovers the speaker doesn’t work. Author takes it back to store where Best Buy employee drops it, provides misinformation regarding the return, then has to wait 5 hours while Best Buy hashes out the return with some faceless off-site Dell representative who wants to charge the customer the retail price to return the laptop. Best Buy eventually replaces the laptop by issuing a gift card for the difference. How do you think that experience would be portrayed? Would we be reading baout the author’s ‘great faith’ in Best Buy’s customer service? I doubt it. We’d be reading about how it took 5 hours to resolve a simple request because the Best Buy/Dell return policies are broken and anti-consumer (followed by 48 commenting clones saying “That’s what you get for shopping at Best Buy. I always use New Egg.”)

    FWIW, I’m neither a Dell/Best Buy advocate as I don’t patronize either, nor do I own an iPhone… and I’d probably be one of the clones in the comments.

  35. enm4r says:

    @SacraBos: I think Apple was confused as well. godlyfrog answered what I suspected, in that Apple actually opened themselves up to this nonsense by handing the transaction incorrectly.

    I’m all for them bending over backwards, and my experience with Apple has been similarly great. What matters most is that the customer was happy. But, I do think that had this been handled correctly, they could have avoided the gift card nonsense. Should there be such ridiculous tape regarding exchange vs return/buy? Probably not, but I think in this case most of the work Apple completed was because of the way it was initially handled.

  36. AI says:

    backbroken is absolutely right. Apple is getting a pass on this for no reason other than they are Apple and can do no wrong. It is Apple who chose to partner exclusively with AT&T. Apple set up the activation system with AT&T. They are still at fault here, no matter how nice the CSR is.

  37. SAGoon987 says:

    @quagmire0: Congratulations threadcrapper. You’re a genius and your post is completely necessary. I agree with your comment that people’s spending habits and desire for new things should fall in line with your habits and expecations, and they certainly should not do what they want.

  38. katzj says:

    No problems here with an exchange, although it was noticed before we walked out of the store. Didn’t even have any problems with the fact that the number had been ported over from a different provider.

  39. crazylady says:

    @AirIntake: I take it you forgot to read all those reports around iPhone 2g that centered around verizon wireless telling apple to basically go f*ck themselves because vzw and apple both wanted more moneys? And vzw and at&t are basically the only two carriers worth going with in the US (tmo? sprint? ya right). Source: [www.usatoday.com] and many others, if you just look around. The terms vzw wanted almost scare me, while some of Apple’s were fairly unreasonable but some were to be expected (like, a cut of the monthly bill..someone/something’s got to pay for ongoing software updates).

    AT&T is the worst part of owning an iPhone for sure. When my iPhone 2G came damaged, Apple quickly gave me a replacement no questions asked. I’m sure I’ve read more than one account of people receiving the same treatment from Apple even if the damage was their fault, for the first few weeks of the launch. After that I’ve loved my phone, and I love my new phone, but AT&T keeps fucking up billing.

  40. brother9 says:

    @backbroken: If they’d gone to Wal-Mart people would be screaming about how this person had to pay TWICE for the same phone. Apple broke the phone, they should eat the entire cost. I can’t believe the cult mentality that allows people to leave being suckered twice and happy for it.

  41. Benny Gesserit says:

    OK, I don’t haven a iPhone but shouldn’t this have been what happened:

    – couple return with BAD iPhone
    – Apple people agree it’s broken
    – Apple people pull a phone from inventory
    – Apple people pull her SIM and put it in the new phone
    – couple walks away happy and Apple people report the broken phone

    I thought you buy the phone from apple but the plan from AT&T – as long as their sim is sitting in a phone, should they even care? Or even know this has happened?

  42. phil28 says:

    Had a similar problem with AT&T refusing to approve a move to the new phone while in the Apple Store. An Apple employee spent over an hour on the phone with AT&T. The first AT&T support person said I’d have to go to an AT&T store. No way after standing in line at the Apple Store for hours. Finally an AT&T supervisor spent a half hour setting up a new account to go around the AT&T glitch. From what I have learned AT&T has so many restrictions or categories on accounts that those with anything out of the ordinary (like a business account, a discount plan, etc) were denied. Apple was terrific and at one point the manager said we will not let me leave without an activated iPhone.

    Clearly AT&T’s greed insisting activation be done in the store complicated this situation.

    And now many of us are finding that AT&T’s 3G service has many dead zones and can’t compare to that from Sprint and Verizon. Too bad Apple had to partner with such a scummy company.

  43. krispykrink says:

    @rochec: It is AT&T we’re talking about here.

  44. jdifonzo says:

    Yes, I had a similar experience. I posted about it here:


    Basically, seems like a very brittle system integration between AT&T and Apple.

  45. eismcsquare2 says:

    Only a fanboy will put up with this. I know it was AT&T’s fault, but however I drool over a product, will never sell my soul for it. Lame.

  46. sean77 says:

    @crazylady: Actually it went like this:

    Apple says “Hey Verizon, we’re looking at making a phone, and we want you to be the provider”

    Verizon says “Ok, sounds good”

    AT&T says “Hey Apple, if you go with us, we’ll give you 10% of our subscription income”

    Apple says “Verizon, can you match AT&T’s offer?”

    Verizon says “You’re nuts, no phone manufacturer in the world gets a cut of the contracts”

    Apple says “I give my rose to you, AT&T!”

    AT&T says “Sweet, sign this 4 year exclusivity agreement”

    6 months later..

    AT&T says “Dear Apple, suck it. We decided to raise the minimum plan rates for the next iphone and we’re no longer going to give you a cut of the contracts.. and there’s nothing you can do about it!”

    Apple says “Shit, we should’ve just stayed with verizon and not gotten greedy”

  47. eskimo81 says:

    Congratulations to Apple! Good job!

  48. AnubisAscended says:

    Seems to me that the telcos have way too much power over what phones (and features) they offer – case in point, Verizon Wireless cripples many of their phones, so that certain features, such as Bluetooth and MP3 ringtones, are disabled; and that customers can only use applications that VZW provides. Want to install a mail reader on your phone? That’ll cost ya extra!

  49. BurntToast says:

    Wait, they STILL had to pay $199+tax to replace their defective iPhone? How is that good Guest service? I don’t get it.

    So AT&T wouldn’t just exchange the phone, but charged her again? So she had to pay an EXTRA $199 on top of what she originally paid to get her iPhone replaced?

    I think this story should be more of a shame on AT&T and on a lesser degree, Apple, for not just replacing the defective phone outright.

  50. Seikuro says:

    There’s more to things that is let on here, I can tell you from experience.

    I agree Apple’s getting a pass because it’s Apple. Admittedly, they’re good with iphones; they took and replaced a friend’s iphone that’d had a mysterious dunking in beer because his power wouldn’t come on.

    However, exchanging the phones is as easy as swapping the sim numbers. However, iTunes has to be used. Apple set up iTunes to do all the activations in AT&T stores to cut down on iPhones being sold in America and exported overseas, cutting both AT&T and Apple out of our money. It was a huge problem with the first-gen iphones, since Apple gets $18 out of the base $20 data feature.

    The fact is the phone just had a busted speaker UNTIL the Apple rep handled it and dropped it. Again, swapping out sim and IMEI numbers is easy enough.

    And actually, the reason Apple skipped Verizon was because Verizon wouldn’t sign a deal that didn’t let them put Vcast on the iPhone. Notice that the iPhone doesn’t have AT&T MEdia Net on it.

  51. ludwigk says:

    I’m assuming that when apple returned the first phone, they also returned the initial purchase amount ($230 ish). That tends to happen when you return something. Then, they sold her a new one, but they didn’t qualify for the subsidized price. So, apple rung up the unsusidized price, then gave her a giftcard such that her out of pocket expense was the same as before.

  52. BurntToast says:

    Oh okay, that makes sense then… except for the fact that whenever I’ve done a defective exchange it was just that, an exchange and not a return/re-purchase.

  53. Dyscord says:

    Apple just plain rocks in this regard. Shows that the unreasonableness lies with AT&T.

  54. brettt says:

    The apple store can replace the phone and swap the sim.

    AT&T does not need to be involved in that situation.

    Don’t involve them. Ever.

    They eat babies.

  55. GrumpyMD says:

    Yes, AT&T are pretty much douchebags.

    My experience with Apple and the iPhone has been great, though.

    Bought the first one when it came out (so took a bath on the price), but when the touchscreen went haywire, took it back to the store and got a new phone on the spot, without having to go through the usual song and dance.

    Yesterday, I noticed a spot on the inside of the screen. I’ve never dropped the phone, and there was no damage on the outside of the screen.

    Took it to the Apple store, and within 1 minute of looking at the screen, the genius pulled out a replacement phone, swapped out my sim and I walked out with a (relatively) new phone.

    Try that at Verizon or T-mobile. I should know something about doing that at T-mobile. They’ll basically say it was your fault.

    So yeah, I got soaked on the original price of the iPhone, but I’m satisfied with my phone and the service I get with it. That’s how customer service should be run.

  56. sam says:

    @brettt: The problem with just “swapping the SIM”, as you suggest is that you’re SIM code (on the card) and the serial number (on the phone) will no longer match – it’s good for a short-term fix, or if you’re out of warranty, but if you have a problem in a month, the non-matched codes will cause a whole bunch of other headaches (I’m pretty sure there are about 100 stories about just this problem here on consumerist relating to the 2G iphone).

  57. ppiddy says:

    I had a similar problem.

    Got iPhone at the ATT store on Friday. Went to return it because of wonky battery. ATT store was out of phones. Went to Apple Store. They started to get me a replacement, but stopped then said they couldn’t take it back because it was purchased at the ATT store and was therefore an ATT owned phone. However, if I go back in 14 days, it becomes a service issue and Apple can replace it at that point.

    Seriously, if you lay down with dogs…

  58. ryandauzet says:

    I had a similar problem.

    For a detailed description of how it went down, here’s my blog: [ryandauzet.com]

    To sum it up…
    Two things were holding me back from a smooth iPhone buying experience:
    1.I had a business discount applied to my account.
    2.My iPhone was currently under repair and I made the mistake of taking off the iPhone plan on my account while my phone was getting fixed (AT&T will assume you don’t have an iPhone when you take off the iPhone plan, thus removing your upgrade eligibility).

    So, I spent about 1.5 hours on launch day talking to AT&T trying to get this figured out. I spoke to 3 customer service reps at AT&T, and every one of them told me that I wasn’t going to be able to get an iPhone that day. I wasn’t going to leave until I had a new phone in my hand. I was able to get them to remove the AT&T business discount by having them delete my account completely then recreate it. Apparently, the AT&T customer service reps can’t remove the discount over the phone, you’re supposed to go to the AT&T store for that (WTF!?!). Deleting and re-adding my account started my account off with a clean slate.

    When we finally made it over that hurdle, the Apple guy told me that I wasn’t eligible for a new device, even though my last AT&T phone was the 1st gen iPhone. I had to call AT&T again to figure out why, and they basically told me again that I was SOL. The end result: Apple said they’d give me the 3G iPhone for the upgrade price, then eat the rest of the cost.

    Kudos to Apple for taking care of their customers and shame on AT&T for not following suit. The only thing that’s kept me with AT&T is the iPhone.

  59. TheMadCow says:

    Why is this thread even this long? It’s a story saying, “Thanks Apple, for great customer service”! It’s not a freaking debate about the moral smugness of whether you purchased the iPhone or not. Jesus, you trolls need to get a life.

  60. pir8matt says:

    Customer support at the international plaza store in Tampa sucks. On Monday I went in, there were about 20 people waiting outside the store, in a roped off area, with some mouldy old security guard letting them through. A friend of mine and I walked in, saying we were going to look at computers. Then my friend just asked a rep for an iPhone and they sold it to him. So not only were they dehumanizing people by making them stand outside while they went through a 2-hour process to sell people a phone, they weren’t even guarding against people just walking right around the line. Awful.

  61. nickj224 says:

    Something similar happened to me that AT&T screwed me. Apple, of course, was great through the whole process. Basically, I had sold my v1 iPhone a month before the launch to guarantee I got top dollar for it (I did, $365 for a 4gb). When I did that, I threw the sim in my backup phone until the new iPhone launched. I stood in line at Apple on opening day for 3 hours only to find out that AT&T was not going to subsidize my purchase because I had just “upgraded” a month ago. Of course, by “upgrade” they meant that I started using my backup phone that I’ve had for 3 years. Now, I am not eligible for “another upgrade” until November. So, I am returning my 3G and going back to a v1 iPhone until Google Android launches on T-Mobile or Verizon at which time I will gladly pay the ETF to end my relationship with AT&T forever. After a few years of a decent Android phone (hopefully Nokia), I hope Apple opens up the iPhone for use with other/good carriers.

  62. sandyweb33 says:

    I also got a 3G iPhone on the first day. I’ve found after working with Apple by phone (1-800-MYAPPLE) that I need a new phone. Yesteday I was told that they would send me a new phone (free) and I would send them my 3G iPhone in packaging they will provide. I have AppleCare which costs $69 but the first yr is covered by Apple and the 2nd by this warranty. The problem with my phone is that when I sync it it takes 20+ minutes and has crashed, etc. Yesterday, Apple said I should get my new iPhone today. With all my Apple products I’ve had excellent service by calling the 800 #.

  63. bobcat6178 says:

    That’s why if you buy a phone buy it from the phone company not the maker. If you bought it from an at&t store, they would have just swapped the phone and sim cards. I have done this with many phones, including the iphone without problem. Apple just has no idea what they are doing when it comes to selling the phone and setting up service.

  64. Norfair says:

    I’m still confused. Surely AT&T and Apple had some contingency in mind in the event of defective merchandise. When you’re planning on selling “millions” of units, it’s a stupidly simple requirement. This whole nonsense of having to fool the system and negotiate with a CS Rep just so a customer wouldn’t be charged twice over a replacement seems completely absurd.

  65. Hesam says:

    I had a similar thing happen to me. Got to the Apple Store at 3 am, was third in line, and was in the store at 8 am. The entire story went like this:

    I went in, chose the model I wanted, and they attempted to activate my phone. Their system gave some weird error, which was traced to the fact that I had a FAN account on AT&T (business discount). I wasn’t aware that I had the discount, but it was through my university. I called AT&T while at the store and told them to remove the discount. They did, and after refreshing the account management page on one of the in store computers, I saw the discount was removed. I asked the Apple Store employee to try again. This time it went through, but the store’s credit card systems went down. Every employee was having the same problem, and they all kept retrying to no avail.

    After about 30 minutes, the credit card systems were back up. It wasn’t possible to rerun that same transaction, so they tried using another phone and took the first one to the back since it couldn’t be used anymore. Unfortunately, when they tried running through the process I was no longer “upgrade eligible”. When I went to the account management page, it showed that my contract had been renewed today. In other words, the previous phone was activated, but since I hadn’t paid for it, I couldn’t have it.

    The employee directed me to the customer care portion of their store, and asked me to call AT&T to see if we could get the contract extension reversed. AT&T said that all the Apple Store employees would have to do is return or exchange the previous iPhone, and the transaction would be reversed. This of course did not work. So one of the managers called AT&T again (this time the number the Apple Store people call), and was told that the extension was removed. We ran the transaction again and it didn’t work. He called one more time. They said they removed it once more, but again it didn’t work.

    By this time it was noon. I had been waiting to get my phone activated for four hours. Finally, the manager said that he would take my credit card information, and find a way to charge me for the phone later if for some reason the transaction hadn’t gone through. I told him I’d come by tomorrow to see if they had run into problems. They gave me the phone (the first one that was activated but not paid for), and after a few activation delays with iTunes, I was out the store with my activated 3g.

    Despite the excessive amount of time that I was at the store, time flew. The employees were joking around, offering me refreshments, and constantly apologizing. I had good conversations with them and other customers and so the experience was not bad at all.

    The best part was, that since the beginning (when I walked in), I had been working with a manager (not a specialist) to complete the transaction. Even though the manager was busy with other employee asking him questions, he did not stop helping me and made sure I left the store satisfied. The assistant store manager, who was also there, was apologetic about the entire situation. She seemed stressed out with all the problems that were going on during launch, but handled the situation well and made jokes with myself and the other customers.

    Even with all the craziness, Apple got a plus in my book for the whole experience.

  66. newyorkrebel says:

    My wife and I arrived wide eyed and eager at the Apple store in the Fashion Show mall in Las Vegas just before 7am on Friday to trade in our old iPhones for new 16gb models (black for me, white for her).

    On an AT&T family plan since last June, I figured it would be a pretty easy transition to 3G, right? Wrong!

    With only 100 people or so ahead of us in line, the wait was roughly 5 hours just to get into the Apple store. But that did not bother me at all compared to what happened next.

    The very friendly and helpful Apple employee attempted to “port” our existing iPhone numbers to new 3G models. Unfortunately, something went haywire during the porting process.

    Two hours later (now a total of 7 hours into the process for me), the porting issue was resolved, and the old numbers were ready to be ported to the new 3G phones.

    But, when it came time to check out and actually pay the $299 for the upgrade, AT&T wanted to charge me $499 per phone! Apparently, in resolving the porting issue, AT&T declared the 3G phones bought and paid for, and hence upgraded. When going to pay for the phones and check out at the Apple store, I was now no longer eligible for the $299 upgrade price since, according to AT&T’s monolithic HAL 9000 series I had already ‘upgraded.’

    After much arguing back and forth between myself and the Apple employees and AT&T, and after my graciously offering both sides every deal I could think of that was rejected out of hand without any consideration (“give me a store credit for the difference and I’ll pay the full price for the phones” – “no” – “give me an AT&T wireless account credit, and I’ll pay full price” – “no”), I was sent packing without my precious new 3G phones.

    All’s well that ends well though. Apple convinced AT&T to “return” the 3G phones, a process that takes about 5 hours. So I had lunch, watched Hellboy II (decent flick), then came back to the Apple store around 8pm, more than 13 hours after my day in line began.

    By now, most of the glitches had been resolved, and I was able to buy two new 3G iPhones for the upgrade price of $299 a piece. I was tire, dirty, overheated, hungry, and my feet hurt, but at least I was no longer stuck on the Edge network!

    The only remaining issue was my wife’s old number never did get ported to her new iPhone. She wound up with a new number, but was happy because she hated her old number and loves her new white iPhone!

    The moral of the story: Apple needs to sever all ties with AT&T and build its own wireless cellular nationwide network for data and voice. I’d rather pay Apple for home and mobile phone and internet than AT&T or any other wireless carrier!

  67. darb215 says:

    I waited in line for 7 hours on the 11th, picked up two 8g’s on a family plan. My display ended up being less touch sensitive on part of the screen and the screen didn’t seem to be glued down completely. I noticed later, once i got the replacement phone, that the vibrate button wasn’t right either, it didn’t toggle it freely moved. I thought they might of changed the design. This phone was badly built from the start. The headphone jack, the ipod connection was hard to insert and there was glue coming out of the creases…

    Heres what went down at the apple store on July 12th. Waited in line for a few, got up to the door guard/ greeter, told him i’d like to exchange the phone. Appleman came up, “well, what seems to be the problem” he asked in a condescending manner, like nothing could be wrong since it’s an apple product. Blow #1

    I showed him the screen and how it flexed and protruded over the bezel because it wasn’t glued down. He walked in the back room with my phone to compare with others iPhones and to show the DM, I guess district manager who never showed his face throughout this whole ordeal(1 hr prob). Appleman returned and said “they can’t tell a difference compared to others they had but they will exchange it anyway.” Blow #2

    This is where it got tricky. Appleman leaves for a while with my phone and says they are going to give me a brown box version from the genius bar reserves or something because that’s what they do for exchanges. He said it would be new but not retail. This made me question if I was going to get a refurb or gray stock version because the only way i can tell if its new is if its in a shrink wrapped retail box.

    I wasn’t happy with this, I waited in line for a retail box version for 7 hours and the phone isn’t even 17 hours old and I can’t even exchange it for a brand new box? He came back several times and explained: the system this, the system that, and it can’t even let him do it, blah blah blah. Finally a manger saw us chatting and called him over, asked him what was going on…she said just do a “retail swap”. easy enough. done and done. They exchanged it ported my number and I left with a new retail version like I deserve. No issues with att or anything. The manager did say something about the exchange might show the $399 price but just ignore it.

    Something I learned, iPhones have 10% restock fee. Return or upgrade to 16g, I asked.

    They could of handled the situation a bit better, the deal about them saying they couldn’t see a difference is just wrong, calling me a liar pretty much. They should of had me show them again and asked me politely so we could be on the same page. I found it frustrating he kept having to go in the back room and get answers, the DM or whoever should of got off his ass and talked to me and figured it out with out the middle man rep. in the end it worked out but the hoops and time it took were uncalled for.

  68. whuffo says:

    I just needed to get a new cell phone. My contract with Verizon was up and the phone I had was over 3 years old and due for retirement.

    Did I think about an Iphone? You bet; I’ve got an Ipod Touch and love it. But there were a couple of things that were bothering me. One was the high price; they can say the 3G is half the price but it’s not – it’s even more. And the other is AT&T; we used to call them Cignaless. The change in corporate name didn’t improve their coverage or service one little bit.

    Aftr considering the situation carefully, I chose to get a Blackberry Pearl through T-Mobile. I’m happy; it does everything I want and then some and the service is about half the price that AT&T wants for an Iphone.

    If Apple wasn’t in bed with AT&T it might have turned out differently – but I’ve been an AT&T customer before and I’m not going back to them no matter how sexy the phone is.

  69. timbrews says:

    I had a “damaged out of the box” experience myself, but had NO troubles w/Apple or AT&T.

    Long & short of it…bought my 16GB @ Apple store Saturday afternoon; by 6PM the glass separated from the bottom of the phone (by home key). I called Apple store @ 5min to closing & was able to get my name on “stand by” for 1st thing Sun AM.

    Showed up Sun AM & concierge at door tried to make me stand on line; told him my story & showed him my phone…BLAM! new iPhone w/correct number & all in under 20min.

    GREAT service Apple…kudos to the employees & management at the South Park Mall (Charlotte, NC). Apple FTW

    BTW…my line wasn’t available for upgrade, but one of my family lines was. AT&T guy told me to get iPhone on upgrade-able line, then go to AT&T store where they gave me a new fre SIM & registered the iPhone to my line; THEN gave me another new SIM (all free of charge mind you) for the “upgraded” line so my family member could use their number/phone again. AT&T FTW!

  70. wiggatron says:

    @Boatski: What does that have to do with anything? Nobody was returning anything, they were exchanging defective merchandise.