The Journey is the Reward :: My Apple/AT&T Tale

Initially, I wanted to tell you all about my big #iPhone4 Upgrade FAIL story and how I was ready to tell Apple and AT&T to go screw themselves, but after a little bit of digging and finding out why I was unable to get my iPhone right then and there on launch day – I realized something. I realized that the Journey is (truly) the reward. With the journey being an attempt to gain an iPhone, and the reward was learning all the business information surrounding an iPhone purchase/upgrade. Or, maybe it was something more. Now, is any of this information important to you? Who knows?! But according to the AT&T rep that I spoke to, “…hundreds of thousands of customers are affected” with the same issue I had attempting to upgrade to the iPhone 4. So it must be important to someone out there. Thus, the need to write-up about my experience.

However, before we get into my whole tirade, may I ask just one question: “Why do incidents like this always happen to me?” I know I’ve been called “Special Ed” for a reason. But still! Can’t I just go through a regular purchase/upgrade without the hassle/burden/amusement of having a story behind it? Just once is all I ask. Please? Granted I’m a pretty laid-back dude if you ever met me in IRL, but on iPhone Launch Day? Ya, the blood was starting to boil. Just a little bit. But I digress…

Unlike most Apple fans who faithfully camped out/waited in line a night before launch, I opted to wait after work to show up and pick up my iPhone 4. Seeing as how I had already made an iPhone 4 reservation via the Apple Store App on Pre-Order Day without a hitch (unlike many others), I felt confident enough knowing that when I did show up at the Apple Store, there would be an iPhone 4 waiting for me.

So I get of work around 4:30pm , hopped onto the 101 South, and was within the Palo Alto enclave on University by about 5pm. Even found curbside parking right next to the Apple Store thinking to myself, “Dude, this is pretty sweet!” Walking to the beginning of the line, I checked in and was told that the wait would be an hour. Again, I thought to myself “Dude, this is pretty sweet! I’ve waited in lines longer for rides at Great America!”
So after a very quick hour of entertaining conversations with fellow Apple-tons, complementing Sal Castaneda on his media prowess, and freebies given away by Apple Employees – I was in the Apple Store ready to go! So excited! Time: just before 6pm.

I was greeted by a chippery, but visibly fatigued, young fellow. Heck, if I was here since 3:45am, I’d probably be tired
too. Nevertheless, this guy was still tick-tock’n. We mosey on over to wherever there is an available space to complete our transaction and I asked him if I could use one of their docks to charge my phone. To which he willingly obliged.
He pulled out the iPhone and placed it in my hands. Again, I was like “Dude, this is pretty sweet!” as we continued our transaction. I was so excited about having the phone in my hands that I could only just barely hear him say, “…see your ID, last 4 of your SSN, billing zip code, and phone number…“. [Processing Transaction] [Timeout] Dude, let me tell you, the iPhone4 really is pretty sweet![TimeIn] Then, a notice on his handheld iPhone “pseudo-Register” pops up notifying him and me that I have a business account. Oh, really? Since when? “I’m sorry. You can’t upgrade to the iPhone 4 with an AT&T Business Account.” But like I said before, I DON’T HAVE A BUSINESS ACCOUNT! After a few rounds of verbal takedowns, I was asked to PHYSICALLY make my way to an AT&T store to get the situation remedied, even though in the back of my mind, I thought a phone call to AT&T should suffice. “It’s for security reasons. To make sure you are who you say you are.” Oh, is that right? *pshh. Whatever. (*sidenote: Is it me? Or, is EVERYONE in Palo Alto, or maybe just the Apple Store, this way??!) So reluctantly, I journeyed over to AT&T.

At this point, I was starting to get pissed. Why in the hell did I have to wait in line for, if I only have to end up jumping through so many daumn hoops?

At AT&T, I was greeted by an amazing staff who were ready and willing to help. After a short while of sitting and waiting, watching the NBA Draft on the telly, I was approached by a kind fellow and told him about my situation. I was told that my account did indeed say that it was a PERSONAL ACCOUNT. I’ve always had one! Great! So what was the BFD?! Making my way back to the Apple Store, I was now armed with the knowledge I needed to hop any hurdles that might prevent me from picking up my *precious. I mean, after all that trouble, it would be nice to bring home something right? Nope. No dice. I got the same Business Error and the same sorry reply. All that trouble. For nothing. Feeling defeated, I headed home cursing to the heavens. Daumnit! Time: quarter past 8pm.

I came home broken, defeated, and worst of all, empty-handed. Fortunately, I was greeted by HK in the best way possible. J/K! In comparison, HK is pretty tame when it comes to the latest anything. She doesn’t really worry about obtaining the latest and greatest right this instant. She’s already pretty content with what she already has (3G), and is willing to wait out any bugs to get worked out if she really does decide to upgrade. And, don’t lie to yourselves, some kinks still need to be worked out. At any rate, she saw my defeat and swore up and down and agreed on how my situation was so stupid. She also recommended that I call AT&T directly to get to the bottom of my “Business Account” situation. And I did. Apparently, being a customer of AT&T for as long as I’ve been, leaves some nasty business residue behind. This is what I discovered:

From my AT&T Representative
So sorry for the inconvenience. The reason why your account says its a Business Account is due to a Back-End issue we’ve had with Cingular. [Timeout] I’ve been with *AT&T since 1998. Actually beginning with Pacbell -> Cingular -> and now AT&T [TimeIn] And you’re not the only one. There are hundreds of thousands of customers that are affected. You see, what Cingular had done for some of their customers was, for some odd reason, input a pseudo-TIN (Tax Identification Number). The agreement that 3rd Party Businesses (such as Best Buy, Walmart, AND Apple) made with AT&T is that 3rd Party Businesses CANNOT sell products or services to AT&T business accounts. That would serve as a conflict of interest. Since, in our records, although we know your account isnt a Business, 3rd Party Businesses DON’T know that. And that was why you were rejected. I really apologize for the inconvenience. What we can do for you is send in a ticket request to remove the “Business” label and pseudo-TIN that was given to you by Cingular. That should resolve the issue…

And as of 06.25.2010 at 10:21AM PST, I recieved a text message from AT&T telling me, hopefully, that my “Business Account” issue has resolved. With a $25 Credit for my AT&T account to boot. For all my troubles of course. Which leaves me with one question: Will I run on over to the Apple Store to get my iPhone 4 now that all of my problems have seemingly been resolved? *meh Probably not right away. Don’t get me wrong, I still would prefer to upgrade my phone, but after all this trouble, I need a fauk’n break from Apple, AT&T. I need to de-stress. Maybe some Parkour, bicycling, swimming, or hell, even some running would do me good.

In the end, I realized that the so-called “Journey” wasn’t about waiting in line to get a phone (seriously, it’s just a phone), nor was the running around Silicon Valley trying to get my “Business Account” issue fixed. In reality, and this may be a little too deep for some of you to comprehend but, what I ended up realizing was how ridiculous it was for me to buy into this whole iPhone 4 hype. Driving around town, trying to get my questions answered – all for a zero reward. Was it worth it? Let me tell you something, if knowing now that I don’t really need to have the latest anything right this second is any sort of reward – I’d gladly take it.

How do you like them – Apple’s?


P.S. Apple and AT&T need to communicate better with one another.

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