The Bronx: home of J. Lo, sulfur fumes, and crooked iPhone sales? It seemed that way while waiting at the Bay Plaza shopping mall this morning, where one retail chief didn't seem to play by the rules.
The line was modest, but it didn't matter when a dark-tinted SUV rolled up as customers were slowly allowed in. Four people, looking something like discarded cast members from The Real Housewives of New Jersey, ambled to the front. Words were exchanged with a few people huddled around the door. The quartet walked back and forth between the parking lot and the AT&T store, with cellphones nervously pressed to their heads. They then spent an hour watching the line. Strange, right?
But then the ferrying began: at least two men repeatedly walked in and out of the store, bypassing the entire line, to purchase iPhones and bring them out to the parking lot. It was a clear reseller operation—buy the phones before they sell out, flip them for a profit, screw the people who'd waited. And the manager seemed like he was in on it, opening the door for the phone carriers each time. One woman angrily objected, and was told by the manager that these guys "were first in line." Despite having pulled up in a car in front of everyone. When she objected further, she was told to "calm down" or else she wouldn't get a phone. She then yelled "fuck" a lot. The manager also refused to disclose how much stock the store had to anyone in line.
An AT&T rep says it's looking into it, and explained that this was an exception to the rule of generally good service around the country. That much is true: the Bronx store's staff was terrific, as are most AT&T employees we've been served by at retail spots. But when a commodity like the iPhone 5 rolls through, this kind of racket can rear up in a hurry.
Did you see anything dubious when you copped a phone today?