How was your iPhone buying experience?

iPhone3G.jpgExisting iPhone owners are now queuing to update their software, but some prospective iPhone buyers  are unhappy they haven't got the device yet. Mitchell Bingemann at AustralianIT reports that several Optus customers are unhappy they were persuaded to sign up for a plan even though phones weren't delivered, and now face getting a monthly bill even though there's no phone in sight. Other carriers also have problems (most notably Vodafone and its no-end-in-sight plan confusion). How was your iPhone buying experience? Would it put you off buying one again? Share your thoughts in the comments.
Billed for iPhone but no device [AustralianIT]


Comments

    Vodafone's buying "experience" has been a joke from end to end (and I speak as someone who works at a company who signed up to be a Vodafone reseller so we could sell the iPhone).

    In my personal experience, there was the fun bit where the $29 cap plan that was initially offered on launch day was scrapped by Vodafone without any explanation being given to their resellers as to why they were suddenly unable to sell it.

    After discovering she couldn't order it, the salesperson and I decided that it was just another glitch in Vodafone's backend system (I'll get back to that later) and signed me up to the next highest plan ($79) with the idea in mind that I would go talk to an actual Vodafone store later and get it fixed (this was well into my third hour in store and I just wanted to get out of there). I'm now stuck on the $79 plan.

    From the reseller point of view, Vodafone's back-end system for signing up new subscribers was a disaster. It's a web-based system that ironically enough only runs in Internet Explorer, meaning Apple resellers need to either set up a Windows machine or use VMWare. The system is incredibly buggy, with tabs and buttons not showing up where they were supposed to be, or in one memorable case, the tab was only half there and completely unclickable. It was also very slow and ocassionally stopped responding entirely (meaning I had to re-start my theoretically 15min credit check process). The salesperson in store (who was a complete champ by the way, fought through the bugs and crashes very heroically) ended up calling the support people four times trying to figure out why certain things weren't working. She was on hold for ages, and in one case after she put the support person on hold to confirm a detail with me, the support person hung up on her. In the end, one of the support people told her in no uncertain terms that my account had been processed successfully and my phone number would transfer in an hour or two.

    So when I went to talk to Vodafone the next day, we discovered that my account hadn't gone through at all, and needed further fixing up.

    In the next chapter of my saga, the story gets even funner. Turns out my iPhone was faulty out of the box (the silent switch didn't work). I booked it in for service with a Vodafone store on the Tuesday after launch day. I was told it would be back in about three days (the Apple support website also said something to this effect). I was never contacted about it. A family member dropped into the Vodafone store twice the following week, and I called them twice as well. They had no clue. In fact, the second time I called, the guy who answered didn't even answer with the store name - I had to ask him if I was talking with someone from Vodafone.

    When I eventually picked up the phone the following Friday (a full week after it should have been ready), I saw on the job sheet that the job had actually been completed on Friday 18th. Vodafone had the replacement phone in store for a week and never told me.

    On top of all this, I've been speaking to various Vodafone complaints departments. One guy told me he would have transferred me through to their higher-level complaints people, but they had about 50 in the queue (surprising, that) so he gave me a direct number. That number was disconnected. When I eventually got through to the higher-level complaints dept, the woman did a good job of sounding sympathetic and told me she'd call back the next day. I haven't heard from her since.

    Bought mine at an AT&T store on preorder. The day it came in one of the clerks lied to me saying that it was not there. I called back with a fedex shipping number and said that fedex showed it delivered 4 hours earlier. The clerk then said oh yes i do believe i saw your phone. Then once I got in the store the clerk did nothing but complain about having to activate the phone. They argued among themselves for about 10 minutes, and then finally started to activate the phone as they continued to complain the entire time. After they finally completed the activation process, I still had to call back the next day to talk with their tech support, because the angry clerk messed up the process.

    I purchased mine from Virgin Mobile on Friday 1st August and the sales process was relatively simple (I was an existing pre-paid customer, so that may have had some effect).

    However, on checking my account online, I discovered yesterday that I'm not on a data plan as yet (despite being told I would be prorated for the first 6 days).

    So, I currently owe around $175 in casual data browsing charges - which I won't be paying. I'll wait for my bill to arrive in a couple of days and if the charges are still there, I'll be calling up (or walking in) and getting them promptly removed.

    I'm one of the Optus customers who was assured that I should sign up for a plan, even though there were no phones available. I'm number 30-ish on a list that now holds about 60 people (for my local store), and in the two weeks since I signed up, only 4 people ahead of me have received a phone.

    I don't want to take it out on the kids behind the counter, since it's hardly their fault they're not getting any phones, but damn, I'm getting tired of waiting.

    I'd have loved to get an iPhone, and visited Optus and Vodafone stores in Adelaide only to be told they had "more stock coming" and that I could sign up for a plan now. I'm going to buy a Windows Mobile device out of spite. User experience begins when the customer walks into the store, not when they open the box.

    I am another waiting Optus customer. I ordered mine around 3 weeks ago, and apparently "hopefully" I'll receive it by the end of the week (but I know I won't).

    There are 6 people on my list waiting - and I'm so eager to get it already...very frustrating. If I get my first updates bill with the charge of the phone on there - I might have a few words I need to say to those optus boys...

    I've yet to buy an iPhone, and I have a feeling it may be some time before I get my hands on one. My hope is to purchase a phone "outright" (preferably an Optus prepaid which I'll then unlock, as this is slightly cheaper than a Telstra outright) and take it to my current provider, Three. Admittedly I only started trying this strategy after Three's recent announcement of BYO-iPhone plans and have so far tried only one shop. But already I'm disgusted. And why?

    1. Optus setting a quota on how many pre-paid handsets it will sell and thus not actually being in a position to sell me one until... Well, they didn't know and they couldn't/wouldn't take an order ("It would just be too much trouble," I was told).

    2. When challenged on the quota (here I was, willing to hand over the best part of a thousand dollars and they had iPhones in the shop but were only allowed to sell them on contract) the guy at Optus "World" said: "A contract customer is just worth far more to us than a pre-paid customer." Now this might be true, but it is NOT something you say to any potential customer. If I'd been even toying with the idea of an Optus contract that statement would have turned me off right then and there – customer lost. (I hadn't told him I planned to unlock and go elsewhere; I would have been even more offended if I'd in fact hoped to use the phone on Optus's prepaid plans.)

    So at this stage I'm just going to wait. I'm loath to give my money to telcos who provide very poor customer service and who simply don't get what it is that Apple is offering in the iPhone. The only potential they can see is how much money they can get out of their customers by stocking this device.

    I really do wish that the iPhone were being sold outright through Apple stores and then we would be dependent on telcos only for the plans. Who knows, if an updated iPod touch comes out anytime soon I may just opt for that and keep my SE phone (which does MMS and bluetooth and video and a number of other nifty things that Apple hasn't gotten around to yet, including tethering to my laptop as a modem).

    I rocked up at the Optus store at 5am waiting until 8am. I was the 4th in queue, the fist 2 had been waiting since 10pm the day before!

    Anyway, got in, got my iPhone 16Gb in white, and the problems started...

    - They couldn't activate my line. So they made me fill the paper work up and told me they would activate it as soon as the system is back on.
    - 11pm: still nothing, so I call and the salesperson I saw in the morning told me she would do it asap but they have so many customers that they can't keep up. To which I replied that she should logically finish with the 1st customers before dealing with the others.
    - 2pm: still nothing, I call back the store and another chick tells me that I have to contact the customer service to get it done. I get angry and ask to talk to the salesperson from earlier. When she picks up the phone, she tells me that she has already activated it and that I just have to wait for it...
    - I wasn't so sure about it so I call the customer service (who put me to the iphone customer service) and ask them what's going on with my account. The guy tells me that there is no trace of me anywhere and that most likely the salesperson hasn't done anything.
    - I call back the store and I am talking to the store manager. I explain that I am not too happy about the situation. She says it's normal because the system is not working and they didn't get a chance to activate anything. This just proved to me that the salesperson had lied to me saying she did activate my line... Which I remind the manager who basically says "yes we are getting on to this" and hungs up on me.
    - I call the complaint phone number on Optus website. The guy who picks up asks for my phone number (that I just gave to the automatic answering machine btw) without saying hello or anything. I explain it is for a complaint and the guy says I have to call the sales department for that. Very useful.
    - In the mean time, the salesperson calls me back to organise the activation of my phone (it's around 3pm by then...).
    - Coming home, I wanna buy MobileMe. My iTunes account doesnt work for some reason... I am still waiting for an answer from Apple...
    - A week later, I wanna get international roaming (a very common and basic service in France, where I come from) for my holidays in singapore. I call the customer service (tennis game between the normal customer service and iphone customer service again...) to be told that I can't get the service until 3 months. Pissed off, I talk to the team leader who tells me that if I can prove that I've had international roaming with another ISP I will be able to get it.
    - I get my mum back in France to scan and email my invoices to Optus. They call me back at a ridiculous time (7.30 in the morning in Perth... Those guys in Sydney didn't even think of the time difference...) and I get told that I need to put a ridiculous $800 deposit down to get this basic service...

    So all in all:
    - Optus, you suck
    - iTunes, you suck
    - MobileMe, you suck

    :(

    In contrast to some other people's experiences, I had a pretty decent one. Signed up at the Optus store. They told me it would be there in two weeks, and I got my phone after that two weeks.

    The iPhone is new and in demand. It's been no secret you need to wait to get one.

    At "Strathfield" - Mentone VIC (Optus Dealer - Australia) they served me up an open - out of the box -iPhone 3G! They called me 27 July to collect a white one. I suppose to be one of the lucky customers who will receive it quickly, cause white -according to the salesman- are low in demand. Charger, headphones and USB cable were intact, but the instruction book was bent, the gelatine around the iPhone had removed and repositioned and of course the cellophane around the box was missing. Not only that, but guess who I found into "my roll" folder, when I hit the Photo Application: 10 photos of people I've never seen in my life!... Why?, I asked them. Well, we had to open it up to do the on-line activation, they said. And the photos? Well, those must have been downloaded accidentally to the device, during the activation process! I took it back of course and demand to be present prior to activation. Still waiting. Never know when it will be available. Terrible! I am very frustrated! I'm thinking about cancelling the contract!

    I must have faired pretty well it seems. I got to Chermside at 6.30am just as the centre openned. About 30 people in front of me but a few parents with children so probably only 15-20 people after phones.

    At least half those were either after a prepaid phone or were new customers and needed a credit check (I'm an existing customer with a deposit). I got to the front of the queue at about 7.45am was processed and out of there by 8.05am and home by 8.15am. Been loving the phone ever since.

    And for those that badly want an 'outright' iPhone (and don't need to worry about a credit check): do the maths on the cheapest Optus plan. Since there is no unlock fee (and you can unlock it straight away) I think it works out cheaper than buying the prepaid and your repayments are spread out over 12 months AND you still get included voice and data even if you never use it. Still tough to get ahold of one but easier than asking for a prepaid.

    I put down my deposit online to get priority queuing. I lined up outside Burwood Westfield at 6am when the store was to open at 7am. There were 4 other people in line when I got there and by 6:45 when the security guard came to open the Westfield doors, there were about 25 of us. We all did the dash (we literally ran to the store) and lined up.

    The staff arrived at about 6:55 and went inside and started opening up the shop. At 7:05 one of the staff came out and said that they shouldn't be too much longer and were de-bricking the phones. 7:15 a staff member came out again and called out 10 people's names. They said that those people had put their names down to receive a phone at the Burwood store. He then said to the rest of us that after these people had received their phones, there were 8 phones left and they were all 8GB phones. Needless to say we weren't impressed. Most of us left muttering the regular f*ck you Optus comments.

    I then went into the City (at 7:30 from Burwood, this isn't a fun experience!). I arrived at the city store and saw the line of about 150 people and was considering leaving when someone came up and asked if I had put down a deposit. I was then taken to a line of about 20 people. The line took about an hour and I went in to speak to one of the staff. As he went to put my details into the system, the system crashed... I filled out a form and he said that he will process it later when the system is back up. I wasn't impressed but left to go back to my car. I walked 100M up the road and got a call from the guy who said that the system was back up.
    I went back to the store and the person who had just called me was with someone else... I waited around for another 25 minutes and he finally finished up. He came up to me and said that the system had gone down again. I left again and went home without a phone.

    At about 2pm I got a call and went back to the store to pick up my phone.

    The plan I'm on is perfect for me and I've been pretty happy with the phone in general and haven't had any real problems. There are the obvious missing features but I was aware of those before I got it. After the initial debacle, I'm a satisfied customer.

    Wow, reading these comments makes me feel really lucky..

    On the day the iPhone came out, I went to the shopping centre at about 10.30am.

    First stop was the Optus store, they were sold out.
    I knew i wanted the optus plan, so I looked around at all the Optus carrying shops in the centre.

    I thought I was out of luck, but then I saw another shop, AllPhones.

    So, I went in and asked "Do you have any iPhones left?"
    Guy: "Yeah actually we have 2 left"
    Me: ":O I want one!"
    Guy: "Alright!"

    And so I filled in the forms, waited 20 mins for it to activate and off I went.

    It's been great ever since! Haven't had an issue at all.

    I ordered mine a week after it was released over the phone with Optus. Ordered on a Monday, and they told me it wouldn't be in 'till Friday, but had it on Thursday. Very, very happy.

    In hindsight, my experience was unnecessarily complicated but overall a fantastic one spanning state and international borders.

    I registered my interest as soon as the page was available on the Vodafone website and paid the $189, waited for a while and got a reply from Direct Deals saying they couldn't process my order as I was still on a plan and I needed to pay off that plan, which I wanted to do anyway. I called them up and, after about an hour in the phone queue, spoke to someone who said that he would organise me paying off the old plan and that they had already taken the money off my credit card for the iPhone anyways so my iPhone was on the way, woohoo!

    I received a confirmation e-mail to say that my iPhone would be delivered in 2-5 working days. Thing is... I was leaving for a snowboarding holiday in New Zealand within that period so called Vodafone to re-arrange the delivery and they advised they would wait for me to let them know when I was ready, or that I could simply go to the Apple store in Sydney and pick it up... hmmph.

    Went to the Apple store after snowboarding for a week (awesome fun), who advised me that I needed to cancel my online deal to purchase one through them, I explained that Vodafone told me I could sort it out with them, they advised I visit a Vodafone store. I visited a Vodafone store who told me that they did not deal with the on-line orders, but the Vodafone store down the road did. That other store did not deal with on-line deals. So... back on the phone for about 45 minutes on hold and I was advised that I had already signed for my iPhone, which had been delivered already. The guy sent me a copy of the signature, which wasn't mine, but belonged to someone else at my house... SOOOO it was sitting there at home waiting for me all along :)

    Good day guys,
    Just in reply to Alex's comment;
    I'm not sure if you are aware mate but, all iphones have to be activated. If the dealer does not finish activating the phone for us, we CANNOT use it. They call it the process of unbricking.
    The company obviously tried to do a good deed to you by having the phone ready for when u walk in the store. and that is what a lot of stores have done and still do. I think you have it all wrong. As far as the pictures go, during this unbricking process... unfortunately some iphones syncronise with the computer automatically. and clearly that is what happened in ur case. Anyway, im just saying, there are proceedures they need to follow by rules of Apple.

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