AT&T And Apple Pass The Buck, Blame Each Other For Non-Working iPhone 5

Kevin was excited to buy a new iPhone 5 last week, but the iPhone was much less excited to go home with him. He left for a business trip and discovered that the phone wouldn’t come out of airplane mode. What was wrong? Had he only spent a few hours with the phone before it decided to rebel against Kevin and against the very AT&T network that was supposed to give it life? He sought help, but the carrier and the phone manufacturer each refuse to take responsibility for the problem.

So I got my new iPhone 5 Friday, September 21st. I could not have been more pleased. However, it was a very brief love affair. I was traveling for work from Florida to Tennessee and all was going well until I tried to take the phone from Airplane mode to get cellular service when I arrived in Tennessee. The signal icon only said “Searching”. And search it did. Until I returned home on the 26th. I promptly called AT&T assuming it was a carrier issue. They had me reset the phone, etc. all to no avail. I was told to take it into the AT&T store for more diagnostics and SIM card replacement. I promptly did just that.

The friendly technician at the AT&T replaced the SIM card, but still no success. The phone required network access to activate, and the store’s was not functional. They also informed me that they could not access iTunes for the activation, because they were not running the most recent version on their system. The technician then handed me a piece of paper with, no kidding, the Apple 1-800 number. He told me they could replace my phone at the store, but it would be a lot of trouble, and would require several managers to approve. He assured me that Apple could resolve it more quickly.

I left and went back to work and called Apple tech support and was told that I needed wifi to activate the phone. I do not have Wifi at work (government employer) so was told that when I go home, to try on my network there and call them back as they would walk me through the steps for additional diagnostics.

I got home from work and did as told, accessing my wifi and using my old iPhone (kindly reactivated by the AT&T clerk) to call Apple tech support. The 2nd technician I reached (the 1st sent me right into a customer service queue with no warning), could not have been more confused and said AT&T was known for sending them customers with issues the carrier should fix. At this point I was quite agitated as this was now my 5th conversation to fix this brand new phone, that nobody wanted to replace. The nearest Apple store is 1.5 hours away, so that was out of the question. The tech finally agreed that they would try to repair my phone, but would not replace it until they performed diagnostics on their end, or charging my credit card a hold of $700 until they determined the issue. I finally agreed to send the phone to Apple for repair, but will have to wait until they decide I am not lying before they send a replacement. My question is this, “Why are Apple and AT&T so reluctant to replace on obviously defective product?”

Want more consumer news? Visit our parent organization, Consumer Reports, for the latest on scams, recalls, and other consumer issues.