Like millions of other people, I wanted to get the latest gadget from Apple: the iPhone.
So I went to AT&T’s website, where it says "Find iPhone at an AT&T store,” plugged in my address and I was off to the nearest Apple retailer.
By noon on June 29th–the iPhone’s release date–I was hearing tales of long lines at all the Apple stores, but I figured that the small store I was headed to wouldn’t get many shipments, but would also see less people in line. The employees at the store told me that I was the first one there, so I left and got back in line at 12:30 p.m. The employees wouldn’t share a single detail about the iPhone until 6 p.m., when the store opened, including how many shipments the store was getting or any of the specifications about the phone.
Around 2 p.m., a few more people showed up, and by 3, there were six people in line. The line grew to the point that mall security moved the line behind a roped area. At around 4:30, the employees got a box of stuff from FedEx. Having seen this attempted secret delivery, the eagerly waiting customers became excited that it was stuff for the iPhones, or even the iPhones themselves.
Then, at a little before 5, the bad news hit.
The manager of the store, Eddie McGee, came out of the store, escorted by a security guard, to talk to everyone. He said they would not be getting any iPhones. It turns out that there was a problem with the shipment in that only the bigger AT&T stores would be getting ten shipments of the iPhones, but the smaller ones wouldn’t be getting any. As if pouring salt into an already open wound, he said that, by now, if anyone rushes over to another store they’ll just be at the end of the line and probably won’t get one.
He also said they were not allowed to compensate anything to do with the iPhone.
According to McGee, the only thing that customers could do was to order the phones directly though the store’s computers.
All he offered was free ground shipping or $14.95 for overnight shipping.
Understandably, the rest of the crowd and I were very annoyed, since the AT&T website had claimed that this store would be selling the iPhone. In reality, it was only ordering them for customers. He assured the crowd that they would get the iPhone before anyone else. He also said that those opting for the overnight shipping will get higher priority on shipping than those that don’t.
"I’ve been waiting all afternoon for an iPhone, knowing the store was going to have a supply. When we were told of a shipping error, we were very disappointed of the way it was carelessly handled by Apple. Now my feet hurt," said Alex Abdou, an angry crowd member.
"We’ve been lied to, and something should be done," said Elior Dawson, waiting in line with his father and brother.
While customers were signing up for the direct fulfillment–ordering the phones directly from Apple–Abdou asked to check on the priority of the orders, and whether or not these orders are higher up on the queue.
"That’s what they tell me,” McGee said.
He further elaborated, saying that he was told all this on a conference call before they told the customers.
The corporation knew that there would be a shortage long before 5 p.m. Friday. They should have notified the people waiting in line that they weren’t going to get any at this store, so everyone could’ve gone to another store to wait, and save the tremendous disappointment. Furthermore, AT&T should have been more direct on their website. The employees at the store were courteous, but they should have known and been able to tell customers earlier that there was a major problem.
Off to a bad start, iPhone.
Editor’s note: Brad hunted for the rest of the night Friday, and he did eventually find his very own iPhone. Blast Magazine staff writer Daniel Peleschuk contributed to this report.