AT&T melts down again; will Apple ever learn? (updated)

AT&T melts down again; will Apple ever learn? (updated)

Summary: Another day, another AT&T fiasco. Today the iPhone 4 was available for pre-order, but bugs in AT&T's account verification system are causing few orders to actually get through.


It's unclear exactly what is causing the iPhone 4 pre-ordering problems today, but it's pretty clear that the who part is all AT&T.

If you try to pre-order an iPhone 4 from Apple's sales portal and choose to upgrade an existing line, AT&T's account verification system hangs for a long time and eventually upchucks a nondescript error stating that "...there was an error processing your request. Please try again later."


Early reports indicated that you could pre-order an iPhone 4 via AT&T's Web site (for delivery only though) but that too appears to be down.

Clicking on "Pre-order now" then "upgrade" causes it to churn for a while eventually returning an error saying they "are experiencing a system error that prevents us from completing your request." Adding that "For non iPhone related upgrades, please call Customer Care at 1-888-867-4384 and provide the error number at the beginning of this message."

When I eventually spoke to a representative at a local Apple retail store about two hours ago they told me that "Everyone's getting kicked out after the 'congratulations' screen. It's a known issue. Try back in an hour." Speaking with another local Apple retail store just now, it's certain that AT&T's servers that are "bogged down" due to "all the traffic" from the pre-orders.

So why does Apple continue to tarnish its reputation by sticking with AT&T? The almightly dollar is the only logical explanation. AT&T will simply pay Apple the most per iPhone subscriber and Apple is willing to take more money at the expense of customer satisfaction.

If you've got another explanation as to why Apple sticks with the noose that is AT&T, let us know in the TalkBack.

Update 1:20pm ET: I was able to successfully complete an iPhone 4 pre-order via the new Apple Store iPhone app (free, iTunes).

Update 2: iPhones pre-ordered for pick-up are available starting at 7am.

Topics: Hardware, Apple, Mobility, Smartphones, AT&T

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  • The Apple Store App only lets you pick it up at an Apple store

    If you don't live in an area where an Apple store is near you are still screwed. I want my iPhone delivered and so far I am out of luck today. This is really making me mad. I hadn't had that much of a bad experience with AT&T (other than the fact that the price is too high since there is no competition), but this pushes me to the "I'm going to leave AT&T as soon as I can" camp
    • I guess I just don't understand...perhaps never will.

      @jgpeters It's not just Apple products either. This whole notion of "pre-ordering" a product strikes me as a childish exercise in "I want it and I want it now and damn the costs". Since I became a grownup, that hasn't generally been a problem for me. For example I will not wait in line to see a movie just for the privilege of seeing it on opening day. I'm sorry (no I'm not, really) but no movie is that good. I can wait until next week or the week after that. It will still be there.

      Likewise, if I wanted an iPhone, what would be the hurry? Is my wallet on fire and burning a hole through my pocket as we speak?

      This is not a flame. I truly do not understand the mind set that leads people to behave this way.
      • Me thinks thou does protest too much

        @cornpie You certainly make an awful lot of assumptions about people that you don't know. Is that part of being an adult? Not to mention your condescending tone and attitude. And simply saying "this is not a flame" doesn't make it so anymore than saying "bless his heart" after criticizing some doesn't make it a put down. I'm sorry that you lack the passion to care enough about anything to be excited, whether it be a movie or a new product. Passing judgement on others because they find things in life that bring them excitement doesn't seem particularly adult to me.

        I have never spent time in line for a movie, but that's because I'm not that into movies. But I certainly don't mock people who do (well, except the ones who dress up in silly costumes). But I do have a passion for electronics and I don't intend to apologize for wanting to get new hardware quickly. And while there may be plenty of iPhones, the pre-order screen states that there is no guarantee that you will get the phone on launch day since it is first-come-first-served. So, if it makes me childish because I love technology and want it right away, then so be it.
      • RE: AT&T melts down again; will Apple ever learn? (updated)

        @cornpie Simply put... For some of us... It is fun!
      • RE: AT&T melts down again; will Apple ever learn? (updated)

        @cornpie - For a perfect example of the mindset that leads to this behavior, visit any Wal-Mart at 6:00 am on the Friday following Thanksgiving. Watch the mindless stampede.
      • RE: AT&T melts down again; will Apple ever learn? (updated)

        @cornpie Very well put! You'll have other complaining about your comment but I do agree with you. These people that hurry to get this stuff are the biggest complainers as soon as a bug crops up. Wait until the bugs are worked out and get a better product.
      • RE: AT&T melts down again; will Apple ever learn? (updated)

        @cornpie <br>Nicely put cornpie but I suspect this attitude varies across age classes.
        This "I want it yesterday" attitude is more prevalent in the under 30's.<br><br>There is also a subset of consumers who are willing to pay a premium to have it now instead of 3 months time. The marketing people recognise this and call it "skimming".<br><br>I'd say it is less about skimming cream than skimming suckers <img border="0" src="" alt="happy">
      • Nightmare Security Breach Strikes, Opens Glitched Personal Info!

        @cornpie Apple can't seem to win for losing lately..... your personal data of course. Getting switched up with someone else's can't be fun to think about. Hopefully someone that's honest, or your payment history, your address, and other assorted info is at their ready disposal!

        This is creepy stuff. Not worth it to put your whole life on the line, over pre-ordering a phone!

        Especially one that's locked into a Prison Walled Garden. Where you can't really use the full power of the phone. True full multi-tasking can only be done on a Jail Broken iPhone. Same with their Facetime fake video conferencing over WiFi only. Why do I say fake? ...because Cellular Networks do not support many features, Cell Phones on Open Networks take for granted. Like True Multi-Tasking and Video Conferencing on encrypted Garden Walled Hyper Tunneled Networks. Even AT&T's own 3G Network is Open if..... you have the right phone! Otherwise you're locked away in what might as well be AOL HELL!

        AT&T has at least 20 phones right now with WinMo and many with Android on the way soon that can use their Video Share Service ($5 a month). Why can't iPhone users get that? Simple.... ask Steve! He won't tell you the truth that if you want to use your new iPhone on "Video Share", you'll need to jail break it!!! :D

        Lets see HTC has a WinMo phone coming with dual core arm 1.3ghz and a screen of 1280 x 800 (Retina IPS killer) soon. It's going to be a beast, that tanks the iPhone to the back of the pack again. Even Android has one monster (actually over 200 Android phones, before year's end) coming soon too!!! Have a Nice Day and remember put the blame where it belongs..... Apple! ...that's why people with other phones don't have near the drop calls and connection problems on AT&T's own open networks!!! ;)
      • RE: AT&T melts down again; will Apple ever learn? (updated)

        I understand your pius sentiments Cornpie, but it's not like layaway. Layaway, payday loans, and early tax returns are childish and aimed at the uneducated. Placing something on pre-order is akin to investing in product success. Apple knows this is an easy inexpensive form of advertising. For the consumer, it eases the stress for ordering a new product and making gives them time to refocus.

        One more thing...T-Mobile!
      • RE: AT&T melts down again; will Apple ever learn? (updated)

        I almost completely agree. Of course, where I don't agree, is seeing a movie first day. It's been a tradition for me to see Star Wars and live action superhero movies first day, since 1997. But, standing in line? Not a chance.
        Although, now that grandma passed, I won't get bumped to the front of the line anymore. So, I guess I can wait. lol.

        Back at the ranch, seriously, you are correct. Look at the first generation IPhone buyers. They paid $600 for the derned thing, and it didn't have half the things the next phone had, which was $300.

        Then again, the biggest reason I'm not onboard with the IPhone is, because it's in bed with AS&S. As the article shows, Oops, they did it again! They have proven to me time and time again, they are indeed a company run by morons. I mean, let's just put it like this: How many times does it take for someone's identity to be stolen with a company before they realize they need to put an alert on that name and SS number? Once? Twice? Would you believe that they allowed someone I know to have an account opened in her name more than 4 times? And when we had that awful phone company, they cut it off at $300 (despite the fact the calls were made 3 days prior to opening the account) yet she had 4 or more accounts opened in towns 30-60 miles away, with amounts over $3000!!!!

        Ok, my point is, I would rather have my eyeballs poked with a high spinning needle than go back to AT&T. And, I do not understand the early adopter "Gotta have gotta NOW" mentality. And especially when it involves a dumb as company like AT&T.
    • RE: AT&T melts down again; will Apple ever learn? (updated)

      @jgpeters - Relax - it's a phone, a toy. Keep trying. Use AT&T's site - it's much more responsive than Apples. It also quickly lets you know if you got in or not.

      I got in with a little persistence. Personally, I'm amazed at all the people who blame AT&T for this. If Verizon was running the show it would amount to same disaster. When the Incredible came out they had activation problems. So did Sprint recently with the EVO. They weren't as bad solely because they weren't as many people trying to buy them. I have heard of activation problems today in the UK as well - can't blame AT&T for that. Face it - millions of people are pounding their systems and will do so for 48 hours or so. They could spend millions on trying to support this once a year spike or they could let many fail for a few days until the spike in arrivals passes. Personally if I was in the business to be profitable I wouldn't spend the extra millions it would probably take simply to better handle a spike that occurs 2 - 5 days out of 365.
      • Good point

        @kwelch_z Why spend millions for these short term spikes. The only ones impacted are the children that have to have their toys "RIGHT NOW". And if they have to try over and over for 48 hours, they will buy the darn thing anyway. Everyone else will wait a few days and won't have a problem.
      • RE: AT&T melts down again; will Apple ever learn? (updated)

        @kwelch_z - I didn't hear anything about activation problems with the Incredible. When I ordered mine, they were clear about the back-order and the expected ship date, and then they shipped it five days early. Activation was not a problem. I am not an Apple vs. Google type of person ... I just have too many family members on my account to be able to easily switch, and I happen to like open systems, so a droid is fine for me. I'd be almost as happy with an iPhone, except I really like dragging and dropping my 15GB of music (favorites, to which I actually listen) without having to go through iTunes.

        ? {?
      • RE: AT&T melts down again; will Apple ever learn? (updated)

        @kwelch_z<br><br>You make some interesting points. Everyone is so quick to blame AT&T for the sub-par service they're receiving. However, if the iPhone were available to say, Verizon, TMobile and Sprint, you wouldn't be jamming up one system to get orders in because it would be spread out across a fleet of carriers. Perhaps we should be angry at Apple for making the iPhone exclusive to AT&T.<br><br>In the past, I've had Verizon and they are absolutely NOTORIOUS for destroying phones with their Verizon branded AWFUL user interface and I'm sure they wanted the iPhone to be completely unlocked and more like an Android device than an Apple device. Which may be why Apple is keeping it exclusive to AT&T. Either that or AT&T is making them rich. No matter what the reason, Apple and AT&T sold 600,000 iPhones yesterday. Done. <br><br>That being said, I went to the AT&T store and pre-ordered my iPhone and my fiancee's iPhone yesterday. They system was slow, but eventually went through (we were there no more than 10 or 15 minutes total) and they felt pretty certain that I'd have it on launch day.<br><br>To all those who call names and accuse us of being "children" because we "want it now," get a grip. I love technology. Therefore, I like having the latest and greatest. If that means that I have to go down and pre-order it and deal with a system hiccup due to overwhelming demand, then so be it. It's my prerogative. I love ZDnet, but half the people on here just jump on to flame the fans and eager buyers and jump off. <br><br>Do you think that if the iPhone were on any other network that they would have had any better luck? I doubt it.
      • RE: AT&T melts down again; will Apple ever learn? (updated)

        @heymatthew & kwelch_z<br><br>I don't think cornpie had any intention of calling somebody with reasonable expectations (like yours) childish. Thank you for posting a reasoned response that shows an intelligent person takes the trade-offs into consideration when attempting such a transaction.<br><br>The way I read it, cornpie's intent was to point out the childishness of those who would like to be among the first to get their new iPhone not taking into consideration that they weren't the only ones with such a desire. A usage spike on AT&T's network created by Apple's announcement is something that should have been expected, not only by AT&T and Apple, but also by those trying to place pre-orders. I wonder how those same people react when they get to the Apple Store or movie theater for a new release only to discover that the line is already around the block.<br><br>Somebody perhaps needs to do a better job of creating a queue for such events. Wouldn't it be nice if you got on their system, got a place in the queue, and then notified when it's your turn instead of everybody trying to crowd to the front online?
  • Re-write in ASP.NET

    Try rewriting the site in MVC ASP.NET. You might actually be able to process an order ....
    • RE: AT&T melts down again; will Apple ever learn? (updated)

      @roteague <br><br>Please - if it were written in Active $hit Pages.CRAP nothing would work. Microsoft software has 0 place in the enterprise.

      And Ford's system that works on ASP.NET melted down over the weekend for those of us who ran Vehicle Health Reports. They got stuck all weekend and just "popped up" on Monday.
      • RE: AT&T melts down again; will Apple ever learn? (updated)

        @itguy08 Couldn't agree more! Every site I've seen written in .aspx is crap! Slow slow slow performance. Just visit and try to login and view your (landline) account... you will quickly see what I mean. Yes shi* pages! I have written then countless times about their crap web site and they don't get the message. No wonder, it's .aspx
    • Clearly that approach worked well for the London SE...

      Oh wait, it failed. And that even with some actual Microserfs being involved in the coding and design.

      Me, I'd have been lame enough to want to re-write it in Lisp. However, that moment has passed and all that I can justify is pointing and laughing at you for you *ahem* suggestion.
  • Point of Pride

    Maybe it's an ego boost for Steve Jobs to see how much pain people are willing to endure just to own an iPhone?