iPhone buyers report AT&T store woes | iLounge News


iPhone buyers report AT&T store woes

Following a MacDailyNews report that AT&T Stores have been hiding and refusing to demonstrate Apple iPhones to potential customers, readers have reported mixed but negative-skewing experiences about their attempts to purchase or even just see iPhones at AT&T stores. Some positive reports have been posted, but MacDailyNews and many of its readers have suggested that AT&T stores and their employees are being less than cooperative with customers interested in testing or purchasing the iPhone.

Some reports claim that the iPhone display units that appeared around the device’s launch have been removed, without explanation. Other reports claim that AT&T employees informed customers that they had to purchase an iPhone to be able to see one. Still others suggest that the commission-based employees are not receiving enough financial incentive to push the device over other models, and that they have instead opted to attack the product.

A report from “DM” states, “I went to my local corporate ATT store in Northern NJ, they did not have any iPhones in stock (probably true). But what a little disconcerting is that they were trashing the iPhone and Apple as putting out a bad product and suggested that I buy the new Blackberry Curve. I just smiled, walked out and across the mall and bought one at the Apple Store.”

A separate report from “Jim Steward” states, “My local AT&T store had them on display at first, then took them out. The display is still there, but no iPhones are attached. I didn’t have any trouble purchasing the iPhone, but they would not even bring it out of the back room until I had paid for it. If I hadn’t been set on buying the iPhone when I walked in or had not already looked at and held one, I would’ve gone to another AT&T store to see if I was treated any better.”

We encourage our readers to share your AT&T store experiences, positive, neutral, or negative, in the comments.

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I purchased an iPhone at an Apple store without hassle. I activated it through iTunes and used it for a week. Amazing product but I returned it for several reasons. First and foremost my corporate IT system would not allow me to use it on their servers. Secondly, the slow Edge data system and poor cell phone reception in South Florida didn’t cut the mustard. When I called to deactivate the AT&T account, the CS rep actually said “Wow, we dont know how to deactivate iPhone accounts, it is not in our manual. Please take the phone to the Apple store and have them call us and we will work something out.” When I told this to the people at the Apple store, they were dumbfounded. They gave me a “special” number through AT&T to cancel my account. I called them back, and after speaking with (no kidding) 7 layers of CS I was able to deactivate the phone account. That is probably the one reason why I will never own another iPhone, sadly, until they open it up to other carriers. I loved that phone, but AT&T CS is worse than poor, they borderline on criminal.

Posted by R Sluss on August 1, 2007 at 12:54 PM (CDT)


I bought my iPhone from the local AT&T corporate store in Bakersfield, California and had no problems. The iPhone display was prominent at that time (during the first week of introduction), and the employees were helpful. It has been my experience with Apple resellers that some employees simply don’t like the Apple brand and will try to steer toward another product. I had an experience like that once at CompUSA.

Posted by oneunclerod on August 1, 2007 at 1:01 PM (CDT)


Hah and I thought I was the only from bakersfield,CA that read here.

Posted by Ethan on August 1, 2007 at 1:13 PM (CDT)


It’s common in any from of specialty retail to find employees biased for or against a brand or product. I’ve seen it happen with everything from luggage to hand made katanas.
The bias can happen for any number of reasons, from poor incentives to a legitimately bad product.
...What ever the case in this instance, it sounds like AT&T needs to get their sales people in line

Posted by MirandaKali on August 1, 2007 at 1:19 PM (CDT)


I tried to warn people…AT&T can destroy the iPhone over time just by being who they are.  Even if it’s the greatest device since the car, you still have to deal with AT&T.

Smartest thing Apple could have done was limit the exclusivity deal…too late now.

Posted by malren on August 1, 2007 at 1:23 PM (CDT)


I’d say that it’s probably the level of commission paid on the sale.  AT&T stores probably don’t make much on the sale of the iPhone and their employees less, and so their employees probably try to direct people to other products.

I’ve seen this happen with the iPod in stores in Canada like Best Buy and Future Shop where people will walk in to buy an iPod and tell someone and the sales guy will go, “Oh the iPods aren’t very good.  We’ve got a Sandisk player that’s much better.”

Posted by Jeffery Simpson on August 1, 2007 at 1:32 PM (CDT)


Ok…I am tired of hearing people trash AT&T.  I have been with them for many years.  Back when they were AT&T and then Cingular now back to AT&T.  I have stayed a loyal customer with them for many reasons.  Yes…I have experienced some bad customer service issues but if you deal with one company long enough you will have a bad experience with them at some point.  I think it is only fair to judge them as a whole. 

Quit trashing AT&T…do you think that any other wireless company would have done any of this flawlessly?  This is new and with any thing that is new there are to be some items that will need to be improved. 

If all you nay sayers out there think you can do better than Apple and AT&T why arent you working on improvements instead of sitting and b#^*cing about it?

Posted by bonsai on August 1, 2007 at 1:38 PM (CDT)


I went into an AT&T store, and there were no iPhone displays set up. I didn’t ask any questions (though about four different reps asked me if I needed help).

Not that they would have taken me seriously, though.

Posted by Eric on August 1, 2007 at 1:48 PM (CDT)


I was recently in my local AT&T store to work a ‘plan’ issue, and cannot report any iPhone trash talk. But I did notice the lighted iPhone display was there in the store front, but all the iPhones had been removed. I was told that anyone who requested to buy an iPhone could then actually see one. It seemed strange to me at the time. But now seeing this article, it is starting to make sense, I’m sorry to say…

Posted by chashulme on August 1, 2007 at 1:51 PM (CDT)


My experience buying the phone wasn’t terrible, but the salesman sure wasn’t keen on the device. My old phone was a TMobile MDA (a huge, huge piece of junk) and when I told him I wanted to buy the iPhone he responded, “You want the iPhone over the MDA? You’re crazy man. Crazy.”

Hysterical. Has anyone here used the TMobile MDA? It’s HORRIBLE. I can’t say enough bad things about that phone. And it cost me $500 since I bought it off-plan. What a joke.

Posted by thelottery on August 1, 2007 at 1:54 PM (CDT)


bonsai thanks for adding nothing to the discussion.  They asked people to share their experiences, and that is what people are doing.  Then you post a comment telling people to stop sharing their experiences, wtf?

I am no longer an AT&T customer and looking to switch back because of the iPhone, so I am glad people are sharing.

Posted by Dave Mozealous on August 1, 2007 at 1:56 PM (CDT)


“Smartest thing Apple could have done was limit the exclusivity deal…too late now.”

Wonder if Apple could use the “bad faith” angle to terminate the exclusivity - if AT&T continues to provide poor support.

Hope so…

Posted by LagunaSol on August 1, 2007 at 1:57 PM (CDT)


To be fair, I would like to point out that I didn’t ask why the iPhones had been removed from the display. For all I know, they could have done it to reduce the chance of theft. Or perhaps they had someone try to lift one… The lighted display was right next to the street entrance. Moreover, I didn’t detect even a hint of iPhone trash talk, like thelottery got… If I had, it would have left a bad taste, no doubt… FWIW.

Posted by chashulme on August 1, 2007 at 2:03 PM (CDT)


The Vacaville, CA AT&T store no longer has the display units out to play with. They put them away. The kiosk is still there, but the phones are gone.

Posted by Kevin on August 1, 2007 at 2:07 PM (CDT)


...i went to my AT&T store in bayridge, brooklyn, NY a week after the iphone was launched…they have 1 iphone on display and when i’m about to look at it, the guard said ” u can’t try it, it’s my own phone” and i said 2 myself ” if you dont want people to look at it, might as well keep it in ur pocket”....
...dunno if it’s just the set of employees here that are nasty or they have no good PR training from the company…
...i used to remember before the bayridge store was remodelled, once u enter the store, nobody wants to help u until u asked for help…all of them are sitting on their comfy chairs doing nothing or 2-3guys outside the frontdoor smoking and chit chatting….
...i’m so happy now that the chairs are gone! they are all standing in there but the smoking group is still active…
...i’m sure the manager/or head of the office knows about it or he maybe part of it…
..no offense to AT&T, just my honest observation….

Posted by footsie77 on August 1, 2007 at 2:21 PM (CDT)


Hmm…  Now that I’ve read this, I’m starting to wonder about the Goleta, CA Cingular store.  I noticed a couple of weeks ago when I went in that all the iPhones had been put away from the display and was wondering what was up.  They *were* back out again last time I went by though (I walk right by the store on the way to other places fairly frequently).

PS: iLounge web people - something strange is up with your web form - I tried to post from within NetNewsWire, but every time I hit the space bar in this text field, it scrolled me to the bottom of the page.  Had to switch to Safari - weird.

Posted by Ryan on August 1, 2007 at 2:31 PM (CDT)


AT&T stores in my area, Roseville California, seem to also be a little sketchy with wanting to show the phone to people. I think they have units in stock now, but are keeping the demo models locked up unless the iPhone “Expert” happens to be in the store to demo the phone. I went in the day after the launch and asked to see the demo. I was told the phone was in the abck and they’d have to get someone to show it to me. About 5 minutes later this girl came out of the back and let me play with the phone. when I was done she went and put the thing away in the back of the store. A little bit later, several people came in and asked if they could demo the phone and were told they would have to come back the next day since their demo’s were not available. I thought that was a little odd since I had just demo’d the phone not even 5 minutes earlier.

Posted by Greg on August 1, 2007 at 2:32 PM (CDT)


I should have also added that I went into my local Apple store and scored an iPhone no problem a week and a half after the launch. I was in and out of the place in less than 10 minutes and the store was real busy at the time. I went home and activated the phone which I found to be a quick and very easy process. My wife liked the phone so much we went and bought one for her 2 days later. I have no issues to report and found dealing with Apple direct a much more pleasant experience that dealing with the lame sales people @ AT&T that I have had to go through wehn buying and activating phones in the past. I am happy with the AT&T phone service, but never hapy with dealing with their sales or customer service people and I have been a customer of theirs for 7 years.

Posted by Greg on August 1, 2007 at 2:39 PM (CDT)


I went to the closest AT&T store, because there are no Apple stores close to where I live (Dayton, Ohio). I had to sign my name on a book and wait over half an hour to be helped. I don’t know if it’s usually that busy or what, but that seems like a long time to wait. About 10 minutes into my wait I asked one of the reps who was looking up something on a computer if they even had any iPhones in stock, just so I wouldn’t wait for nothing. He said yes, so kept waiting. They had a big iPhone video display up, with two iPhone docks on the stand below it, but there weren’t any actual iPhones on display. This surprised me. The main thing that convinced me to buy one was that after I got to try one out, I was hooked. The Apple stores at 5th Avenue and SoHo had LOTS of iPhones to try, which was a GREAT move by Apple.

Posted by Muero on August 1, 2007 at 2:40 PM (CDT)


tore, but the unit is so impressive in your hands . . . and then you just have to have one.

Anyway, after my long wait at the AT&T store, the lady finally went back in the back for a few minutes to get my iPhone. It seemed to take a while, which makes me wonder if they are locked up even in the back. She had never sold one before, so she had to keep asking the guy next to her what to do on the computer. She insisted on telling me about the restocking fee, computer requirements, etc. For some reason she really wanted me to go through the credit check and everything in the store, which I kept refusing. That’s one of the best things about the iPhone, is that you get to set it up in the privacy of your own home. Don’t cellular carriers realize how much people hate their stores? Even if the employees are trying their hardest, the process is always long and annoying, and often times the reps themselves end up getting placed on hold by their own company. It probably only took 5 minutes once I was helped, but I would still recommend an Apple store over an AT&T store if you have a choice, or just buy one online.

Posted by Muero on August 1, 2007 at 2:42 PM (CDT)

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