Day long iPhone 3G S buying saga ends in success

Day long iPhone 3G S buying saga ends in success

Summary: Earlier today, I described by early line experience and if you saw my Tweets I was pretty angry at the time after waiting for four hours in line and not having that wait time considered at all by Apple. I am a sucker for shiny new phones though and couldn't resist, so I headed over to another Apple store at Southcenter at lunchtime to find there were only about 15 people in the coach (non-reserved line) and another 12 or so in the first class (reserved) line. I was able to speak with someone now that I was calm and collected and found out what the issue was with pre-authorization and pre-ordering. I then waited approximately 45 minutes to get through the line and into the store where I went through the buying process.

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Earlier today, I described by early line experience and if you saw my Tweets I was pretty angry at the time after waiting for four hours in line and not having that wait time considered at all by Apple. I am a sucker for shiny new phones though and couldn't resist, so I headed over to another Apple store at Southcenter at lunchtime to find there were only about 15 people in the coach (non-reserved line) and another 12 or so in the first class (reserved) line. I was able to speak with someone now that I was calm and collected and found out what the issue was with pre-authorization and pre-ordering. I then waited approximately 45 minutes to get through the line and into the store where I went through the buying process.

To start with here are my definitions of the two terms that Apple is using for the iPhone 3G S ordering system (which is changed from each of the last two methods of purchasing an iPhone):

  • Pre-authorization: A process you go through online after selecting the Buy Now option that asks you all about your AT&T account, what phone options and prices you have based on your account details, what data/text message plan you will be buying, and what store you will be going to. You receive an email confirmation telling you the next step is to visit your nearest Apple store to complete the buying process. This entire process is worth nothing and is only designed to let you know how much things will cost and has no relation to anything that Apple cares about.
  • Pre-ordering: A process that appears much the same as above, however this process ended on Wednesday night and was never defined on the Apple website as being any different than pre-authorization. I learned at the end of this process though you select the particular iPhone 3G S model you want and what specific store you will visit. You are then placed on the magical Apple "list" so Apple can let you in a special first class line when you get to the store. However, being on this "list" does not guarantee you will get an iPhone 3G S and it is still a first come, first serve process.

Neither process asks for any billing info and as clear as I can tell the pre-authorization is just to inform you personally what your costs will be while the pre-order process lets Apple know about how many people plan to visit their stores over the weekend. I think this process could have been much clearer so people knew what to expect.

So, back to my Apple iPhone 3G S saga for 19 June 2009. After being told I would have to go to the back of the coach line I took off and went into the office to work. I then ordered my iPhone 3G online and succumbed to the fact I would have it delivered sometime next week and give up on the line plan. I was then chatting back and forth with my buddy Joel Evans from Geek.com who was in Boston and we both decided to head to the Apple store to see how the lines were and try again to pick up an iPhone 3G S in person.

I headed to the Southcenter Mall Apple store around noon and found there were only about 15 people in the coach line and 12 or so in the 1st class line. Apple was taking about a two to one ratio of 1st class (preorder) to coach (no preorder) people into the store to go through the buying process. We moved fairly quickly and I was in the store after about an hour I made it into the store and told the guy I wanted a black iPhone 3G S, MacBook Pro 13 inch, and iLife family pack. He put in the order, grabbed my items and then took me to a guy who was going to go through the activation process.

One thing that was a bit strange was that they took my existing SIM, put it into the new iPhone to copy contacts from the SIM (I told them I didn't need to do this since I use Exchange and don't backup contacts to my SIM), then handed me back my existing SIM and attempted to activate the iPhone with the new SIM. After about 30 minutes of nothing happening (paid for my gear during this time), my attendant left to go help someone else for a bit so I took the iPhone, conducted a soft reset (turned on and off) and the iPhone was activated almost immediately. I then left after this and went home to start testing out my new gear.

I think Apple may want to consider a process where people pre-order and pay for the iPhone so they know they will get one if they order it, unlike the false security of the current pre-order process. Also, it should be a completely first come, first serve process on launch day at the stores just like the first generation. The two line process just creates a system that is confusing and a bit unfair for those who messed it up and didn't happen to order on the announcement day.

My last step of this very long day will be to cancel my online order and start working on my first impressions and review for the site here. Did anyone else have a day like I did today?

Topics: Hardware, Apple, iPhone, Mobility

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9 comments
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  • "Tech savvy guy"

    Mathew, you can put to rest any delusions of being a "tech savvy guy", as you said in an earlier post. Standing in line outside an Apple store at 2:30 am to get the latest bauble from the Almighty Steve disqualifies you from ever being considered tech savvy.
    itpro_z
  • RE: Day long iPhone 3G S buying saga ends in success

    My day was alot easier. I pre-ordered a 32 GB iPhone 3G S
    from the Apple online store and it was delivered to my door
    this morning at 10AM. With this option, the only benefit of
    waiting in line is the shared experience - which, in your case
    - doesn't sound too good.
    rickhuizinga
  • RE: Day long iPhone 3G S buying saga ends in success

    UNFAIR.

    Actually, I preordered mine online last week. I bought two of them, so I did it "right" twice. Both times, I was asked for my phone number, zip code and last 4 of my SSN. They pulled the info from AT&T, gave me my options with pricing and I mad a buying decision at that moment. Gave them my cc info and I ended up getting both at home on the day of release.

    I think the author's problem is that he waited too long to buy his pretty iPhone. And now he's whining about it? And why in the world would a tech-savvy guy who gets PAID to write this stuff allow another geek to activate his phone for him? Use your own computer and iTunes.

    Oy. Another stellar column from ZDNet.
    OneRing2Rule
  • I like my iPhone...

    But I don't get people caught up in these manias. From people camping outside to watch the continuation of George Lucas' (crappy) Star Wars films tens years ago to people camping out for a phone.

    I like my iPhone, really I do, it's the first time a phone has excited me... but sh*t, wait a week and you'll (likely) be able to walk inside an Apple store and get prompt service and the latest iPhone in no time.

    -M
    betelgeuse68
  • ??????

    So you waited in a queue for 20 more MHz, copy and paste
    and a video camera. Whoa - you must have been seriously
    disappointed.
    ragingpanda
  • RE: Day long iPhone 3G S buying saga ends in success

    Preordered online. Arrived at the Store at 8:45AM, it had opened at 7. No line, over a dozen staff in the store. There were probably about 4 other customers. It took me about 10 minutes in and out. They had a cooler of water and juice drinks waiting to sooth snarly folks (sort of like the author it sounds like) who seem to always expect red carpet treatment. Easy, fast, friendly. I'm not an Apple person (up to now).
    avwine
  • Based on my 3G purchasing experience, I changed my behavior

    Based on my previous purchasing experience, where I ordered my iPhone 3G in an AT&T store, which took tons of time, and then more time when I picked it up, I changed my behavior this time.

    I ordered my 3GS on Apple's web site.

    It was delivered to my office at 9AM Friday morning, and I had it up and running with everything transferred over soon thereafter.
    hunger_z
  • RE: Day long iPhone 3G S buying saga ends in success

    The confusion lies directly with Apple, I had no problems
    when I went to an AT & T store to pre-order my iPhone. The
    process took less than 10 minutes, I selected the 16GB, no
    need for 32 with (Simplify Music 2.0) and was out the door,
    they told me, I would receive and e-mail to confirm that
    my order was ready. I went to the store at 6:40 on launch
    day, which I really didn't need to, I was told that my phone
    would be reserved for up to 7 days. However, I did not
    want to risk that my phone would be handed to someone
    else in the launch day frenzy. There were two classes, but
    I think the pre-order option saved a lot of people time as it
    did for me. I believe without the pre-order or home
    deliveries, there would have been more chaos. I was in the
    store at 7, they had my phone still in the shipment box,
    saw them open it, activate it and I was on my way at 7:23.
    The other benefit of going directly to AT &T was there was
    no need for me to wait to activate my phone through
    iTunes. They both did a great job with trying to streamline
    the purchase process, but as a general rule, go with
    directly to the source that is going to activate your
    services, which is AT & T. The entire process was simple
    for me and I'm a happy camper.
    reel.moments
  • Easy Meat

    I didn't pre-order because I wanted to read the early reviews before buying. They looked OK, so I strolled into my local AT&T store at about 8:45AM. No lines at all and a sales rep got to me within just a few minutes. I was home and surfing within half an hour. Like you, I did have to do a shut down and restart for activation to complete (and the AT&T folks didn't seem to know anything about it), but no big.
    Tunerator