I created a blog post discussing what we might expect at the Apple store on 24 June and thought I would be avoiding the problems that I had last year when I bought the iPhone 3GS. As I stated in that earlier post, I went online on launch day and went through the pre-order process (last year I waited a day too long) and received a reservation to pickup an iPhone 4 next Thursday. A reader sent me an email stating that his email confirmation email did not include the fine print that said the iPhone is sold on a first-come, first-served basis. UPDATE: That reader came back and told me the same fine print is indeed there so he won't be going to wait in line with NO guarantee an iPhone will be there for him. Even so, it appears there is the possibility that we will have another confusing day on 24 June at the Apple store with first class (pre-ordered)/coach (pre-authorized) and baggage (neither of these) lines outside the store. If you pre-ordered to pick up your iPhone 4 I would love to hear what your email confirmation states as I try to figure out if indeed there are different levels again. It looks like there may just be pre-orders and walk-ins and I would think there is very little chance you could just show up and get an iPhone. It is indeed possible that my pre-order had an issue going through the problematic system and that I ended up just with a pre-authorization.
For comparison purposes, here is the text of the email I received from firstname.lastname@example.org:
Thanks for reserving your iPhone. It will be here June 24. When you come in to pick up your iPhone, you'll be part of an exciting launch at the Apple Retail Store. We'll have Specialists ready to transfer your contacts, set up email, and help you get apps so your iPhone is just the way you like it. We can't wait to see you at the store.
Sincerely, The Apple Retail Store team
The email then shows my reserved items and rate plan with a hyperlink to cancel the reservation. Below this is the following fine print:
Pre-authorization does not guarantee iPhone availability at an Apple Retail Store. iPhone is sold on a first-come, first-served basis.
Your reservation is valid for pickup only at the Apple Retail Store that you selected.
If you do not collect your selected item(s) by the designated date and time, your reservation will be canceled.
All sales are subject to the Apple Retail Store Purchase Policies.
Apple reserves the right to refuse, limit, or cancel a reservation if Apple determines that a customer has provided misleading or fraudulent information and/or abused or disrupted the reservation system.
Please let me know if your email is different than this as I try to figure out if there are different levels of pre-ordering again at the Apple store. If it ends up that my order is just a pre-authorization and indeed is not a pre-order then I will most likely NOT be in line next week because the pre-orders will get priority on getting iPhones and if the in-store experience is anything like the online experience I doubt too many who did not pre-order will be getting an iPhone 4 next week.
It seems like confusing the customer is the order of the day when it comes to Apple and the iPhone as Joel described his experiences as well. You would think that by the fourth time doing this Apple and AT&T would get it together.