3 out of 4 iPhone friends have to return to a store

I’m on an email list from the ITP masters program I attended. These are the folks you expect to buy an iPhone. People with years of computer experience, a Master’s degree in interactive media. These are the people you want to take care of if you’re apple, because they all have blogs, and they are all influencers of purchases of other.

4 intrepid early adopters set out to purchase iPhones yesterday, and all four obtained them. None of them had a working iPhone last night.

AT&T was taking 6-12 hours to “port” the number of one person, initials LG (not the phone). LG is lucky enough to spend weekends in Fire Island, with nary an AT&T store in sight. She will be looking at the demo screen all weekend until the magic email arrives that activates his phone. And she’s the lucky one of the group.

FF got email that said his activation was in progress, then another that said:    “Your activation requires more time to complete” and as of this morning still not working. After talking to the phone activation guru via phone, he found he has some sort of Password on his account that he doesn’t know. He was going to the store.

GC has been an AT&T customer so long they “couldn’t change her account to a more current account that could accept an iPhone.”
She said:

“The guy on the phone tried to convert my account to a new AT&T/Cingular account but apparently he didn’t have access to dummy SIM cards, so I was told to GO BACK to the AT&T store to have my account converted.  Got to the store…and the security guard tried to make me go back in the iPhone line!!!!!!!!!  There was supposed to be one customer service rep available to assist non-iPhone related issues.  But the guard wouldn’t let me in.”

Finally, there’s LP who read the accounts of the three previous friends and said “hell with this” and got a 7am Genius Bar appointment at 5th avenue to activate her phone. Hers is working as I got this email at 8:55 am:

There are  still both models here at fifth ave.

Sent from my iPhone

LP, you’re such a tease.

All had the problem that I twittered about last night.

Apple’s iTunes 7.3 messes up your iTunes library file. My call to AppleCare yielded me the info that they’re desperately working on 7.3.1 and to downgrade to 7.2 which I did. 7.2 can be found here http://oldapps.com/download_iTunes_mac.php  if you don’t wish to rebuild all your playlists and re-find all your music.

So, for a company that prides itself on experience over all, I’d say Apple was sunk in the initial launch by AT&T’s ineptitude at handling a bunch of high-value, early adopter customers.

Me, I’m waiting for iPhone 2.0. Or maybe one of those Nokia N95s that friends are recommending.

UPDATES: FF – Waited on line  at the AT&T store and heard this:
“Turns  out if you have a family plan, the iphone cannot be added to the 
primary number!  So like 11 hours later that’s the problem? The email 
didn’t come cos of that!!!! (activation email i was promised oh at 
like 1am). Ofcourse, my phone is deactivated because the primary is 
knocked out now, so they sent me to an instore phone…”

FF couldn’t wait for the hold time, so he has to wait to lunch time to go back. FF had been in line with another customer, same issue. How STUPID is AT&T. If you have a family plan, as in “ALL MY BUSINESS IS WITH YOU” for my whole family, they won’t let you buy and add a $600 dollar phone to your plan.

LP updates that she went to the Apple store, but it turns out that because she had called AT&T a few days ago to check her account and make sure she was good for the upgrade, it was a painless experience.

Friend #5 from the list got a phone with no issues. Hey, 4 out of 5 iPhone users had some difficulty with the experience. None were dentists.

See the Nadleroni’s take on iPhone, curmudgeon that he is.

Second Update, direct from FF:
Now about ATT & APPLE. I completely agree Lisa. At some point that 5
yr exclusive should really be considered. I hope there was a clause
in it for royal screwups. Do you know that the ATT rep i spoke to,
the one responsible for sending me to the Ninjas…was a young
whippersnapper from FL who basically told me that its an iTunes issue
in terms of processing stuff. She did prove one thing though that my
SIM was working and that ATT had done their part. I said prove it and
she did. I was able to take the SIM card out my iPhone, plug it into
my old phone and make phone calls. A minor detail that would have
been nice to know oh, 36hrs ago cos i would have been at least able
to use A phone if not my iPhone. Anyway, she was partially correct
that ATT had infact activated my SIM. BUT turns out she wasn’t
correct about everything. The fact is that iTunes needs to
authenticate your phone with not only the iTunes player but the SIM
card and other hardware (remember steps 10 & 9) information from your
phone, which is then combined with how you are referenced on the ATT
side, including a very important switch called STATUS.

The Ninja says to me. “Oh, this is why you’re not activated yet. Your
status had been set to processed/confirmed rather than activated.” He
further explained that my decision to add the $10 – 1500 text
messages feature had created a HOLD in my activation process which
instead of saying activated, placed my status in the confirmed but on

I was completely blown away, because 36 hours ago none of the 8
customer care folks who reviewed my accounts had caught that. AND he
said it that SOMEONE had infact made that change to my account,
probably at the time they were upgrading my plan. So HUMAN error –
because when i called in they should have changed the confirmed to
activated and noticed that my plan was not accepting the addition of
the plan, which would need to happen post activation.

So, the reason i could take my SIM card out and place it in my other
phone and it worked and i could make phone calls was because the SIM
card was activated but that iTunes hadn’t received the confirmation
from the ATT system that the green light from the STATUS should let
it proceed to activate me. Once that error was corrected/adjusted,
and he manually changing the info in my ATT config screen iTunes
immediately detected it and I was golden.

It was soooo crazy.

It was also a really interesting lesson for me, even though i was on
the receiving end. Of process management and i gotta tell you there
were plenty of times when i was thinking about the steps invovled and
saying shit what the hell would Ishikawa make of all of this. I was
so tempted to do an Ishikawa diagram just to stop me from wigging out.

Jobs needs to have a heart-to-heart with this guy at ATT. I just
can’t understand how even with 6 months lead-time you could have this
kind of madness. Thank god someone hired the Ninjas, who are a
consulting group, to be there…even if in some cases 1hr 40 min.
Because the Ninja told me, he said…it would not have been 48hrs
sir, because if they didn’t catch it earlier, you would have been
told the same thing as before. Just wait….

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