My bad iPhone 3GS purchasing experience

January 06, 2010

Today, I thought I’ll buy an iPhone 3GS. I somehow broke the headphone connector on my old one, and it was annoyingly slow. I like the new features too, like better camera. So, why not.

First, I went to a nearby AT&T store. They had the phone, but they said I can only buy it with AppleCare. (Rushing ahead, the Apple Store people told me this is a lie.) But I didn’t feel like arguing with them, so I went to Apple Store instead.

There, I first had to go through some sort of pre-activation on the computer, and then we were almost done… or so I thought. Not so fast. The sales people brought me a phone and activated it, but the phone remained in the “activating, no service, please wait” state.

Managers of various capacity came by to look. They thought maybe the SIM in the phone is bad, so they exchanged the phone for a new one. Same thing. Everybody was very friendly, but obviously distressed at the same time because me and them had to put up with AT&T not activating the phone in a timely manner.

They said that maybe something is up with my service plan and I should go to AT&T to check it out since it is a network-related issue. (Reminds me of a “Mac vs PC” ad where the PC is calling various help lines in vain.) Luckily, there was an AT&T store nearby… except that it would close in a few minutes. But I made it in time.

The AT&T people were upset with the Apple People who had sent me to AT&T with a phone that says “no service.” This shouldn’t happen, they figured. Maybe.

AT&T gave me a new SIM and one of the more competent people looked at their computers and said there is a “network delay” of 2 hours. Whatever that means. They said that I could just go home and my phone with the new SIM would be activated later. Which is true. But then again, the first 3GS that I bought would probably have woken up the same way.

So, the final verdict is that there was some AT&T network delay that gave me and Apple Store people a bad iPhone 3GS buying/selling experience.

On a side note, the Apple Store retail staff always used to have some sort of custom PDA for mobile sales processing. Today I saw that they have replaced it with iPod Touch in a custom enclosure that contains barcode and credit card readers. Dogfood, eh. I mentioned this to the salesperson and he said he was very happy about the Touch and the sales app. Which indeed looked pretty slick.