EPIC iFAIL

Summary:My wife Rachel has been awaiting the iPhone 3G for several months. Even though I am wedded to my beloved BlackBerry, she wanted to be able to carry a single device to play her music, act as a phone, and to be able to check her email.

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My wife Rachel has been awaiting the iPhone 3G for several months. Even though I am wedded to my beloved BlackBerry, she wanted to be able to carry a single device to play her music, act as a phone, and to be able to check her email. At the $199 price AT&T was advertising it at, it seemed like a no-brainer. So despite my usual reservations against buying Apple products, we headed to the AT&T Wireless store today on my lunch hour to see if we could pick one up for her. Click on the image above for video.

I was fairly sure we weren't going to walk out with an iPhone 3G today, because the hardcore lunatics that slept outside the store overnight surely would have cleaned the store out long before we got there at 12:15, but at the very least, we could reserve one to pick up later. Rachel needed to go to the AT&T store anyways, because she needed to transfer her phone numbers from her old T-Mobile handset into her new Samsung 3G phone, and since her old Motorola V60 unit had no Bluetooth capability, we had no way to do it at home. So we were going to the store one way or another.

Click on the "Read the rest of this entry" link below for more.

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Boy was I wrong thinking we would go home happy. When we arrived at the Fort Lee, NJ store, there was naturally a long line -- and it was filled with angry people who had been standing outside for hours in the 90 degree plus summer weather. One ten year old girl and her family member waited since 7am, a total of five hours when I walked to the front of the line to speak to people. AT&T was managing the crowd in pure Soviet form, locking the doors and queuing people in only a few at a time. An entire half hour went by where nobody was let inside and no further information was released. But then, the news emerged as a few disappointed customers exited the store -- all the phones were gone, and you couldn't even reserve one at the $199.00 price because no phones were in the store. Additionally, not everyone can qualify for that special price -- they're only doing it for new AT&T contracts and for customers that are upgrade-eligible. Otherwise, you have to pay full retail. How do you know if you are upgrade eligible? Call the customer service number.

Also listen to: Jason Perlow interviews customers on the iPhone 3G Line in New Jersey (podcast)

The real annoying part of the whole thing was that if you WEREN'T there to buy an iPhone -- say you were there for a regular customer service issue, like my wife, you had to wait in the same line as the iPhone people.  The entire operation was badly managed, and I'm quite sure some of their existing customers walked off in pure disgust considering moving to a new carrier as a result.

Did you iFAIL as well as badly as we did today? Talk Back and let me know. 

Topics: AT&T, Hardware, iPhone, Mobility, Telcos

About

Jason Perlow, Sr. Technology Editor at ZDNet is a technologist with over two decades of experience with integrating large heterogeneous multi-vendor computing environments in Fortune 500 companies. Jason is currently a Partner Technology Strategist with Microsoft Corp. His expressed views do not necessarily represent those of his employer... Full Bio

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