Many of you out there, including my beloved wife, are enjoying your shiny, new iPhone 4s. Perhaps you're even reading this entry on your iPhone 4. Be thankful I am not near you, because if I could touch your iPhone 4 right now I would smash it into a million pieces for a YouTube video. I would go all Gallagher on your phone, splintering it into so many specks of toxic dust that Steve Jobs himself wouldn't be able to identify one single component. I'd become classic NBC David Letterman, crushing it in an industrial steam press or dropping it off a high rise building, all with a huge, satisfying grin on my face.
I am not an Apple hater, mind you. Sometimes I've been dismissive of their products, sure. For example, I might like to play a computer game sometime and for this reason, I've never purchased a Mac laptop or home computer. But I don't have an irrational hatred of the company or anything. I've owned two iPhones and adored them both, hence why I attempted to continue my relationship with Apple and upgrade to an iPhone 4 on June 15th.
My wife and I were both eligible for upgrades on our account, and so I was charged with the task of pre-ordering our new phones. When I got up for work that morning I checked the Apple Store and attempted to place an order. It didn't go through, but I wasn't worried since it was early in the day and I was sure it just wasn't time yet. Over the next 10 hours, in between work assignments, I attempted to order our devices well over 500 times without any success. I probably got to read every single error message in the Apple Store database though. That was fun.
Two hours after work, I was finally able to get through and ordered both our phones. The orders were successfully placed 15 minutes apart and "order acknowledgments" came sometime overnight. It took 12+ hours for the privilege of giving Apple my money.
Apple's response to the pre-order problems was dismissive, almost comical. Basically their statement read "We understand a very small minority of customers might have experienced a slight delay in ordering our glorious new handheld orgasm device. But look, we sold 600,000 of the things, did you really expect to get right through? See what happens when you assume? It makes you an ass. Love - Steve." I brushed this rather flippant "apology" off because, what did I care? I'd gotten through, I got my order acknowledgments, I was golden. It was time to move on and wait for delivery.
On June 20th, we received a shipping notification on my wife's phone. I did not get one, but wasn't too worried because the order still existed. I could log in and see it. Then came Tuesday morning, June 22nd. The first email I received from Apple stated that my wife's phone would actually be delivered one day early, clearly some form of apology for the trainwreck of a pre-order one week earlier. I scrolled through my inbox looking for a similar email about my phone, and instead was greeted with this:
"To Our Valued Apple Customer:
We were unable to complete the authorization process for your iPhone order. As a result, we had to cancel your iPhone order."
What did that even mean? You couldn't financially complete the process? You already authorized my card. The money was still there, waiting for you to take it. You couldn't authorize my eligibility? You authorized it when I ordered the phone. And if you really "valued" me, why couldn't you 1) explain the actual problem and 2) give me some chance to correct whatever it was, if it was on my end?
At this point you might be wondering why I persisted in ordering online when everything was clearly steering me towards going to an Apple Store. When I was upgrading my original iPhone to an iPhone 3G, I went to our local Apple store two weeks after launch and upon arrival was told I'd still have to wait in line for a chance to get one. Two weeks after launch. Did I mention that I live in Florida and our Apple Store is outside? They expected me to spend an entire Saturday in line in 100 degree heat for the chance to get inside to the giant, disorganized clusterfuck that is the Apple Store only to surely be told that they were out of phones by some clueless hipster doofus? Fuck that noise, junior. Never again.
And I sort of needed this phone at launch to help do my job. You see, I review iPhone games at Gamers With Casts (perhaps you've heard me talk of it) and being up to date with the latest hardware is somewhat crucial to helping stay relevant.
I did eventually go to my local Apple Store to yell at some hippies though. After spending an hour shuffling around the store (because there's nowhere to stand while you're being helped that's not in someone else's way) I was told that they had no real idea why my wife's order shipped and mine didn't. They hinted that it might be because I was on an AT&T Family Plan, which was never mentioned during the pre-order as something that might disqualify me. See? Clueless hipster doofuses.
The next day was a slow one at work, so I called the main Apple Store phone number to at the very least get an answer. My intentions at that point were to write this blog, I just needed the conclusion. After shockingly long (read: not shocking at all) hold times, I spoke to a rep named Josh who seemed sincerely interested and helpful. He said my order was canceled due to "internal process" but had no idea what that meant, so he took my info and told me he would call me back after talking to his supervisor and coming up with a solution to my problem. I was feeling pretty good at that point, almost as if this would actually get resolved satisfactorily.
Josh called back and told me they still had no idea what "internal process" meant. Their best advice was to call AT&T and find out if something on their end had disqualified me. Armed with those specifics I was to then call them back and they would fix the situation. I thanked Josh and prepared for the nightmare that is AT&T.
When I called my carrier of non-choice I explained the situation, at which point the rep (who was the opposite of Josh in every way) placed me on hold but not before explaining what I would hear while I was on hold. In case you're curious, you hear music and ads while on hold with AT&T. Why this had to be explained to me I'll never know. Maybe I don't like my hold experience spoiled. Anyway, he came back and the response was essentially "Uhhhh, we don't like see, uhh, any reason why Apple duhhh, canceled your order and uhh, you should like call them 'cause they canceled it and stuff not us, duhhh."
Long story short, Apple said that since no one would take blame for canceling my order, I could go ahead and order again. Gee, I could have done that without all the phone calls! You mean now you'll allow me to get in the back of the line? Oh thank you Apple! You'll still allow me to hand you money!
The one detail that made the entire process worthwhile was that after redoing my order I could email a super secret Apple email address and request expedited shipping. I felt slightly appeased and somewhat confident that by doing this I'd have my phone only a day or two after it should have been here anyway. Email sent.
28 hours after sending that email with all the info requested, I received this follow up:
"Dear Apple Customer,
Thank you for your recent Apple order.
Customers whose orders were cancelled due to an Apple error were notified via email of the issue and asked to rebook their order and then contact Apple at this email address for possible expedited delivery. After reviewing our records, your original order was not cancelled because of this reason.
Your subsequent order is set to ship by the dates that were listed in your order acknowledgement email. We are not providing expedited shipping at this time on your order.
We apologize for any confusion this may have caused."
So, even though that's EXACTLY what happened and I did EVERYTHING I was asked to do in a situation where NOTHING was my fault, there's no resolution, no happy ending... just repeated thrust kicks to the balls by the mighty Apple boots. I handed Apple $200 on June 15th and they told me over and over and over again that they simply don't want it. They don't want my money. What balls on this business to tell its customers that! So I canceled my order entirely, an event that probably would have happened anyway a day or two before the late July shipping date on my order acknowledgment. I'll just do without. I'll find a company that does want my money, and give it to them.
Maybe this is all AT&Ts fault, and while you might think I should get mad at them too, it's not as if *I* chose to go with AT&T. Apple forced that borderline-Comcast-incompetent wireless carrier down our throats. They're the ones in bed with them, not me. They know the world hates the service AT&T provides, despite what stats Luke Wilson gives us.
I know it matters not that I canceled my order and Apple doesn't get my $200. Apple won't even notice. And that's the real problem.
*Please understand that while all these events actually happened and I am very disappointed with Apple, I realize that it is just a phone and in no way am I equating what I went through with the tragedy in the Gulf of Mexico. If BP is at the bottom of the list, Apple is clearly one slot above them. Or they're tied and Apple won the tiebreaker.
Oh, and I hope firstname.lastname@example.org becomes overrun with spam. Just sayin'.