So my parents purchased a couple of free phones from AT&T's website when our contract just ended, before the iPhone was announced. Now, even returning the phones won't let me buy the iPhone AT ALL. I called AT&T customer service the day the iPhone was announced, preparing myself for a somewhat hellacious wait and process to get this all done, to return the phones. I talked to a representative and promptly said they would send me, which surprised me. I got the pre-paid postage about 4 days later and sent it out via USPS immediately. I'm thinking it's all gravy and I'll be able to wait in line for the launch. Fast forward 3 weeks, a day before the iPhone was going to be announced, and I call in AT&T (kept the sim cards to use for my old phones, on the recommendation of a MR member telling me I'd still qualify for the subsidy) to ask how much longer it'd take for me to get the activation process over with and he said maybe half an hour longer because i needed to talk to an AT&T manager and deal with customer service. Then he told me that his database hasn't received the returned phones and that I should bring in some papers to prove that I purchased them in order for them to find my phones. It's been about 3 weeks now so I think that it's got to be an error, but he tells me to just go to the store and talk to the manager and hopefully it'll appear in the system tomorrow. I decide against going to the iphone launch because I had a midterm that day and tried calling in afterwards but the wait was 5+ hours in addition to the activation process, so it was best I try again the next couple of days. Well, I don't have the time to wait that long the next couple of weeks because of classes so I decided I'd try yesterday after hearing the lines have gone down (although the wait was still bad) I decided ordering it isn't a terrible idea, which I should've done from day one if I didn't want to wait in line. I go into my nearest AT&T store to purchase the two iphones for those two lines. The dude didn't seem like he knew much so he called in customer service to deal with my situation, but made me wait for about 10 minutes doing just about nothing (well, not nothing, i got to play another round of Tris on my iPhone). The dude said he doesn't have any proof I returned the phones, which I said it's been more than a month since I returned the phones. I tell him I'll order the iPhone no-commitment price and get reimbursed later when the returns have been made in the system, which he said he can't even do. That made me question him why, and he didn't give me much a response beyond "it's not in the system, I can't sell it to you at all. sorry." I said that there is no commitment and I'll be fine with getting reimbursed for the difference in the future, but he wouldn't budge. So i was really stunned by how dumb AT&T's system works. I explained to him that I returned the phones, kept the sim cards so I may use them to hold me down until I receive the iPhone and that it's been a week. I give him my order number to prove that I received these phones and when he asked me for the return order number, i told him I called over the phone so I don't have an order number, receiving only a piece of paper for the prepaid postage which I taped onto the boxes with the phones I returned. He said he can't do anything for me, so I ask to speak to the manager. where the fun begins. I tell him my story: purchased 2 online (for free as a result of the subsidy), iphone announced to i called to get prepaid postage sent to me, shipped them back, 5 weeks later, I can't get my iPhones because they don't see it in their system. He tells me that he can't do anything because this can only be handled by the president of the western continent department BS. he actually said that. western continent department president. my best bet is to wait for an appeal/investigation which would be about 5 days. he goes on to tell me that me keeping the sim cards meant i'm under contract and that they can't give me the 199/299 prices because the subsidy is through the contract. i returned the phones because the representatives said that I'd still qualify for the subsidy if I returned the phones, even if i kept the service which eliminates any "subsidy" I received. "we're losing about $500 on each iphone sold" got me so upset I politely said, let me just talk to customer service who actually can do take care of this. 500 dollars? cmon, you've got to be an idiot. 599 (no commitment) versus 199 is $400 jackass. even the upgrade-ineligible $399 - $199 is only a $200 "loss." i'm buddhist so I believe in keeping a cool and collect attitude when interacting with others (karma) so I kept myself from yelling at him for being an idiot, although it was very tempting because it had been about 40 minutes of going around in circles and fed with a little more BS each turn. i decided to call customer service and not deal with the dumbass. after talking to customer service for another 20 minutes, who was very nice, I got my investigation/appeal expedited (don't know how much a post-it note will do in this case) so now I'll wait in the next couple of days. On my way out, I thanked the first guy for trying to help me out because I can't reprimand someone who doesn't know what to do (don't fault the stupid) and will never deal with that ignorant manager ever again. Until then, i can't get any iphone because their policy doesn't really allow for reimbursement with the iphone. any ideas how to help me out? i appreciate any input.