AT&T saw our story about several stores forcing customers to purchase accessories with the iPhone last Friday, and let us know that they're aware of the problem and they're taking steps to remedy it. First, they claim that this is not a company-wide policy and "no one is required to buy accessories in order to get an iPhone". That's definitely not what customers were told on Friday, when several stores took it upon themselves to tell customers that they could only get an iPhone if they purchased accessories.
Their official stance now is to offer refunds to every customer affected, which means if you were forced into buying iPhone accessories you don't want, go ahead and return them to the store where you bought them. AT&T's also said they've "taken significant disciplinary action in this matter", but it's hard for us to gauge what type of disciplinary action that is.
A reader emailed us over the weekend and outlined exactly why this was happening. From the previous post:
A reader tells us if an AT&T rep doesn't sell between $60-$65 worth of accessories for each phone sale and $20-$30 worth of features, he can be written up and terminated if sales don't improve within 45 days. If customers came and bought iPhones without accessories, this would have caused a big downwards drag on their record. Each accessory sold will count toward a rep's sales goals, even if it's returned the next day, plus he gets six cents on the dollar.
Even weirder: regional managers had side bets on Friday with stores and had perks for reps that sold an X amount of accessories. The reader says they basically acted like used car salesmen.
Thanks to everyone who wrote in about their difficulties! Here are some more reports:
Greg says the store at 3711 eS Bristol, in Santa Ana, forced each person who bought an iPhone to buy a case and a car charger. They also ran out of iPhones, but promised that if customers pay now they would ship more directly to them. When Greg showed up the next day, he found the store selling phones to people at the door instead of delivering them as promised.
James says the Cathedral City, CA store forced them to buy $75 worth of accessories. The manager claimed it was "corporate policy", pointing to a laser printer printout when challenged.
HardD99 says he was forced to buy three accessories at the Everett, WA AT&T store, with the employees telling him he'd be charged a 10% restocking fee on the accessories, not just the phone.
Sean says the Bellevue Square, Bellevue Washington store was forcing 1 accessory per iPhone.
Vince says the bundle he was forced to buy in San Pedro, CA, on Western & Park Western, added up to an extra $100 over the normal 8GB price. "Rules" were on a dry erase board next to the iPhone banner.
Bruce says his local (no address) AT&T store claimed the local Apple store was sold out of iPhones at 6:45 PM (they were not) in order to entice line-campers to use the voucher system. The voucher let them pay now and get the phones in 3-5 days.
Bryan from Manhattan Beach, CA says he was also forced to either buy two accessories or leave.