Iphone 4G Rollout - The Fiasco in Phoenix

Discussion in 'iPhone' started by Phoenixian, Jun 25, 2010.

  1. Phoenixian macrumors newbie

    Aug 11, 2009
    Phoenix, AZ
    I've sent this email off to Apple; unsure if I found a valid email address or if anyone really cares. Just thought I'd share my thoughts with you:

    Dear Sir or Madam,

    Despite my best efforts to pre-order the new Iphone in the wee hours of June 15, I was unable to do so on-line because of the failure of Apple's and AT&T's websites. It was only because of the release of the Apple Store application for Iphone that I was able to make a reservation to claim a new Iphone at Apple's retail store at the Biltmore Shopping Center. This website failure resulted in an unnecessary 8 hour ordeal in extreme conditions.

    You may not be aware that this particular shopping center is an outdoor shopping center.

    My plan was to arrive to claim the phone at 8am following a 7am appointment. I arrived to find massive crowds waiting in line. The lines wrapped three quarters of the way around the building. The temperature at 8 am was 96 degrees.

    Two lines were formed, one for reservations. Water was offered along with various snacks throughout the wait.

    Rumor spread through the lines that only one non-reservation customer was allowed in for every ten reserved customers, yet the lines didn't seem to move.

    As time passed Phoenix's temperature reached 113 degrees and the lines barely moved.

    I left the line to enter the store to see what could possibly be taking so long. My assumption had been that one would purchase the phone and leave (to activate the phone at home as I had done with the Iphone 3Gs that had been shipped to me directly). Instead I witnessed each and every phone being activated in-store. The transaction became a two step process involving purchasing the phone followed by activating the phone. A minimum transaction time of 10 minutes per phone. AT&T had two representatives in-store. I casually asked them if AT&T would un-lock my Iphone 3Gs once I purchased my Iphone 4G. They suggested I contact AT&T customer service (by phone) for the answer. I then asked if they'd never been asked that question before. They responded that, when asked the question, they always refers the person to AT&T's customer service (by phone). I suggested that perhaps they should get the answer to the question to save their (and your) client a telephone call. They stared blankly at me as if they didn't understand the value of having an answer on-hand for the client.

    Announcements were made occasionally to the lines updating availability for those who were unable to pre-reserve a phone yet no one had an actual count to offer. Rumor spread that the ratio changed to one non-reserved customer for every two reserved customers. People called friends at other local stores and were told their ratios favored reservations to non- reservations 10:1, sometimes 15:1. Rumor spread through the line that employees were taking lunch breaks and there were fewer available to tend to customers. The line barely moved and the heat escalated.

    Finally, at approximately 3pm, my friend and I reached the front of the line. The guardian of the "list" was reluctant to allow my friend and I to enter together. Only if we were married would he allow this to happen. I lied to him to gain access simultaneously and escape the now 113 degree heat. The purchase of my phone took perhaps 2-3 minutes. My friend's transaction was a bit more complicated since she was upgrading her phone and that of her daughter. She also purchased MobileMe's family pack to cover herself, her daughter and her son. The transaction took approximately 15 minutes.

    Now we had to visit a second person to activate the phones. My transaction took literally seconds, Denise's took longer because we learned her Macbook's operating system (which she'd brought with her) was not compatible with the new IOS4. She purchased the new Snow Leopard operating system as well. The challenge here was finding someone with the point-of-sale machine to ring the transaction. None were readily available and this took time.

    I had anticipated perhaps a wait of perhaps 60 minutes. I anticipated entering the store, purchasing the phone and leaving. How naive was I.

    Apple offer amazing products which are beautifully designed and executed. There is no disputing that fact. Apple offer incredible customer support. The Genius Bar is my friend and has assisted with many issues as I left Microsoft's world to enter that of Apple. I cannot count the number of computers, Ipods, Iphones, Airport Extremes and other Apple products I've purchased in the past 5 years. I am a fan.

    Where Apple falls down is customer service. This rollout is a great example of that falling down. Apple's system's are precise. If the model used in scheduling Genius Bar appointments were somehow adapted to the rollout scenario perhaps clients would enjoy the experience rather than dread it. It appears that Apple chose the model the TSA use at airports instead of the model Disney uses in the the FastPass system at their theme parks.

    More specifically:

    The door to this particular Apple store faces north. The lines traveled east from the door, down the east side of the building and wrapped around to the south. The sun rises in the east and southern exposures always offer the most sunlight. This orientation offered the greatest exposure to our hot desert sun. Had the line traveled west from the front door and continued south (on the building's west side) customers would have been shaded for the majority of their wait.

    This Apple store does not have bathroom facilities for customers. Perhaps none do. Because this mall is completely exposed to the elements, a public bathroom is contained in an office housing the property's concierge. This office did not open until 10am when the majority of businesses open. Therefore, from 7am (and earlier for those who showed up to stand on-line) until 10am, there were no restroom facilities available for Apple's customers.

    The simplicity of the two lines was perhaps naive because there were more than two customer types present. This variety of customer led to the excessive delay. Instead, I believe you had these customers present:

    Existing AT&T customers, in good standings, with reservations
    Existing AT&T customers, in good standings, without reservations
    Existing AT&T customers, not in good standings, with reservations
    Existing AT&T customers, not in good standings, without reservations
    New AT&T customers with reservations
    New AT&T customers without reservations

    I learned, upon entering the store to purchase my phone, that many people were deemed ineligible for upgrade by AT&T. These individuals had issues with their AT&T accounts which required resolution before the phone could be purchased. Perhaps this is why two AT&T representatives were present yet this did not help expedite processing of all the customers. Instead it exacerbated the delay. These individuals, perhaps, saw this as an opportunity to resolve their issue and purchase a phone in one visit, to the detriment of all those in good standings with AT&T. Had the AT&T/Apple systems not crashed on June 15, this would not have been an issue. The work-around appears to have been the Apple Store application for Iphone.

    The bottom line is, to my detriment, Apple once again could not live up to my expectation to receive excellent customer service when purchasing the new Iphone 4G. Had the websites not failed on June 15 I would have received the phone by FedEx and activated online. Instead, a simple transaction which should have taken moments took 8 hours of standing in incredibly uncomfortable heat. People who brought small children with them couldn't complete their business. Elderly people with health issues couldn't complete their business.

    I believe Apple and AT&T (for their contribution to the fiasco) owe all of us an apology and commitment that this will never happen again.


    ps. For those wishing to keep our Iphones in pristine condition, perhaps Apple should consider sharing with third party vendors the specifications of new products so that protective cases can be developed and released to coincide with the release of the new Apple product. I'm not suggesting sharing the technical aspects of the product, just the exterior dimensions. No cases for Iphone 4G were available for purchase yesterday. The Bumper had sold out and, frankly, I couldn't justify spending $29 more for a picture frame for IPhone 4G.
  2. rmwhite macrumors member

    Jun 16, 2010





    This is the most ridiculous complaint letter I have ever seen. You were completely insane to think you could just show up and waltz in to get a new Apple gadget on launch day.

    Didn't have time to wait in line? Wait until there is no line. Apple never held a gun to your head you self-entitled snot.
  3. phx macrumors member

    Jun 25, 2010
    Wow, just wow. I have been looking at these forums for the last month and this post was the only one that made me want to join.

    There are multiple apple stores in the valley, why would you chose to go to the biltmore in the summer is beyond me, did you not know it was an outdoor mall, or did you not realize that phoenix gets hot in the summer (and spring and fall, even winter sometimes)?

    Or maybe you thought that the lines would move lightning fast (too bad everyone had issues like your female friend, but that is how things work).
    And by the way, the fast pass at disney land isn't for everyone, if everyone had it there would be no point, and apple did have a fast pass line, called reserved, its not their fault you couldn't be bothered to wake up at 3 am, make a 5 minute transaction and go back to bed (I think it was 3am, not sure what time zone AZ is in right now).

    You are the fanboy that wanted his phone on day 1 (or 2 depending how you look at it) and I find it just awesome that you think its in any way apples fault for your blunder of waiting outside.

    But you did have a good point about the cases, it really stinks that the us companies that make legit cases (otterbox) can't get their buddies to sneak them the specs like the companies in china can, but then again why would apple stock the 3rd party cases at launch when they are trying to sell their own case?
  4. Prolif1k macrumors 6502

    Apr 14, 2009
    I'm sorry, but you just sound like a crybaby. Pretty much anyone who lined up yesterday had the same experience as you.

    And for Christ sake, will people please stop calling it the "iPhone 4G"?
  5. a3silver macrumors member

    Jun 16, 2010
    I think they do that. And yes, you're a crybaby.
  6. Iphone4Mac macrumors member

    Jun 14, 2010
    At baybrook mall in houston I was the third in line for reserves and at 6:55am some wealthy looking guy came to the front of the line and asked if he could get in front of us, and look angry when they guy in the front said no lmao:D
  7. Geckotek macrumors G3


    Jul 22, 2008
    People seem to forget that it was their choice to line up. Very few people had a necessity to buy the phone yesterday. Most could easily wait and probably should have if they were going to get pissed off enough to send an e-mail like the one above.
  8. tsmithgolf2000 macrumors regular

    May 18, 2006
    I just don't get it, why would anyone wait for hours outside in 110F heat for a cell phone. This is not life or death, it's a freaking mobile phone. Yes, I have my 2 iphone 4's but that's only because I was able to order it over the web, there was no way I would have waited in line for hours in 110F heat. This is lunacy. You have to hand it to Apple, they create this excitement and people do crazy stuff to get it. Last year I got the 3GS about 2 weeks after they came out, just walked into a Apple store and completed process in about 15 mins.
  9. rwilliams macrumors 68040


    Apr 8, 2009
    Raleigh, NC
    Man alive, no one made you line up in the desert heat for an iPhone. That was your choice. Apple stores had a swarm of people all around the country yesterday, and every one of them had to deal with impatient, obsessive Apple fanboys who wanted everything served up IMMEDIATELY. That's not how it works. Those people worked very hard yesterday to help as many people as they could, and this letter should have been sent back to you with a reply of "Cry me a river".
  10. Applepi macrumors 6502a


    Aug 15, 2007
    Try going to an indoor mall instead, you should know that it gets ridiculously hot in the summer here.
  11. Phoenixian thread starter macrumors newbie

    Aug 11, 2009
    Phoenix, AZ
    Flame away guys.......

    It was all about the process; yes, I could have chosen another location.....over twenty miles away from home......two stores are conveniently located for me, both in outdoor malls......My expectation of Apple was the system on rollout day would work smoothly.......

    I would have, if given the opportunity, ordered on-line and not participated in the madness......I guess you all missed the part about the Apple and AT&T websites crashing on the 15th.

    I should have known better than to share with all you experts! Please forgive my naivety!
  12. ugahairydawgs macrumors 68030


    Jun 10, 2010
    What exactly would you have had them do different to better your experience there? Shy of building a waiting room (with A/C and bathrooms) or re-directing the sun I don't really understand what else they could do to improve the process. Issues come up and they have to deal with them as they do. Kicking out a person who has been waiting in line because their account is not completely clear from AT&T's side is not the solution.

    But yeah....pretty shocking that you developed an attitude with the customer service folks and they didn't bend over backwards to accommodate you.
  13. amps macrumors member

    Jul 2, 2009
    I don't think you'll find much sympathy here. If you had to have a new iPhone on launch day, be prepared for a long wait. It was your choice. I forced myself to go over and pick up my wife's phone even though mine was delivered a day earlier. I had made a reservation for her but still knew what I was getting into. I did it just to challenge myself and force myself into an unpleasant experience. It wasn't quite as bad as I envisioned.

    There is no way I would get into a long line that wasn't moving but I can understand that some people might choose to.

    I believe there should be some way to streamline the process and move people along that just want to pay and go home with a box. Sort of like the airlines do with a kiosk.
  14. Geckotek macrumors G3


    Jul 22, 2008
    You could have gone today....or next week. It was your choice to stand in line.

    And EVERY year they activate. Why did you expect differently?
  15. rwilliams macrumors 68040


    Apr 8, 2009
    Raleigh, NC
    1. The system did work smoothly yesterday. There was just an unprecedented number of people going through that system. They activate the phones during the launch every year. This is nothing new. It just seems like your expectations were completely out of touch with the reality of this launch.

    2. We all know about what happened on the 15th. Shouldn't that have given you an indication of the madness and potential lines that awaited you?
  16. bhsu21 macrumors 6502

    Feb 25, 2008
    Jacksonville, FL
    Or you could have ordered online the day after the first day to order. You'd get it on or before July 2. No heat. No line. No complaining. You decided to wait cause you wanted it on day one. Lines were crazy all over the country. Atlanta had 5,000 people at one mall.
  17. K2Valor macrumors member

    Jun 22, 2010
    You should email the sun and tell him to stop being so hot.
  18. anonymous6237 macrumors 6502


    Nov 3, 2007
    Plano, TX
    I seem to recall a Simpsons episode where Mr. Burns builds a machine to block out the sun (for nefarious purposes).

    Maybe Steve should build the same thing so people waiting in line, in Phoenix, in the summer, outside aren't required to have the forethought to worry about the heat. :rolleyes:
  19. N1CKOLAS macrumors newbie

    Jun 23, 2010
    We have a pretty awesome life if our major life problems involve choosing to wait in line to purchase a luxury item, don't we? The June 15th fiasco should have been a warning sign of long lines to come. What did you expect? I don't mean to offend, but you did have a choice in the matter. You could have waited a few days to avoid the hassle, or realized after 20 minutes of the line not moving, maybe waiting all day in Arizona summer heat might not be a good idea. On top of that, Apple provided FREE drinks and snacks.

    I know there is frustration but realize the major time commitment required for purchasing an iPhone. I spoke to multiple Apple Store employees yesterday and many of them were working shifts from 5:00 AM - 12:00 AM, yes as in midnight!, with only short breaks in between. Give Apple a bit of credit, or at the very least, show some respect for the hard working people allowing us to purchase a completely unnecessary luxury item. They had to deal with us grumpy folks all day!
  20. bhsu21 macrumors 6502

    Feb 25, 2008
    Jacksonville, FL
    Yes blame the sun.

    And seriously you could tell the line wasn't moving fast and hotter than Hades so why not leave?

    Wouldn't it suck too if this person got a bad IPhone with every single problem that's been mentioned?
  21. highertechnology macrumors 6502a

    Jul 31, 2009
    I live in phoenix and left with an iPhone from a store with a ridiculously long line INDOORS. You moron. You did it wrong!!!!
  22. spyda macrumors 6502a


    Jun 30, 2009
  23. mrfriggz macrumors member

    Feb 23, 2010
    I stopped reading at 4G... :p

    In all seriousness, I did read the entire rant. And as my opinion, I feel that you are out of line in your comments to Apple/AT&T. This must be your first early adopter experience with Apple. What you experienced is normal. Like it or not, you have a choice. I have decided that I can wait a week or two to try and get one.

    Take a deep breath. You got your new iPhone 4. Oh, and please, for the love of god, do not call it 4G.
  24. sparkomatic macrumors 6502a


    Jun 8, 2007
    Orange County, CA
    I read your letter and I disagree completely with it. Aside from what the other people posting have said, prior to the 24th, there have been news reports and stories about how 'big' this launch was going to be. If you were a member here, you surely would have seen the posts from people talking about lining up the night before and the anticipation.

    Yes, I agree, I think the pre-order process sucked. It took me most of the day to finally get my iPhone pre-ordered. I knew there were going to be long lines on the 24th and didn't want to wait in them. So I kept trying for the pre-order. Yes, other people did not have the time, ability or patience to keep trying on the 15th. And, some just didn't get lucky to get a pre-order placed.

    Aside from that, I really don't think there's much to complain about. I agree with everything the first person who replied said.

    And, I waited in a very long line for the first iPhone launch and did a reservation for the 3GS (which was a long line as well).
  25. detroit1 macrumors regular

    Jul 11, 2008
    what are you in 3rd grade? that was one of the most poorly written complaints i have ever read lol. seriously, dont try to use big sentences if you cant use correct grammar. lmao fail

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