iPhone Launch, AT&T Vs. Apple Store

Illustration for article titled iPhone Launch, AT&T Vs. Apple Store

One of our readers, Frank Beacham, wrote in this morning after experiencing the iPhone launch first-hand in lines at both AT&T and the Apple. We thought his piece was well-written and quite telling about the difference in customer service between the two companies, so we posted it after the jump.

Last night, at the last minute, I succumbed to iPhone lust as I passed a line in front of an AT&T store on Broadway in the Upper West Side of Manhattan.

The line was less than a hundred, and it seemed for a while that the wait might not be too long. Wrong! The employees at the AT&T store at 2195 Broadway were in no hurry. In fact, a woman employee at the door seemed annoyed by all the people in line and would offer no information about wait times or availability of the iPhones.

But one thing she did make certain, this AT&T location was closing at 11 p.m., line or no line. There were no promises to service those who had been waiting for hours.

A friendly restaurant next door handed free samples of a mango drink and even offered take-out food, but not one AT&T employee ever came outside to interact with waiting customers or to explain the situation.

At about 9 p.m. a customer who finally got in the store spilled the beans that all the 8 GB models were sold out. AT&T remained silent. At this point, several of us hopped cabs to head to the nearby Apple

store on 5th Ave. There, we saw the other side of this take of two American companies.

Even though the line was longer than that at AT&T, the wait was short — less than 15 minutes. Friendly Apple employees stood by with wireless credit card terminals taking orders. The process took only

minutes. Leaving the store, a cheering row of Apple workers high-fived new iPhone owners.

Day one revealed what all Apple aficionados fear. That AT&T, through the depths of its incompetence, could derail the iPhone.


AT&T fanboys, are you just gonna take that smack talk? If you waited in line, shoot a few words on the experience to tips. And maybe we'll post your experience as well.



With my nearest Apple Store about an hour away, I ended up going to the AT&T store right around the corner from my house.

By and large, it was a pretty good experience. Though the Florida heat was stifiling, the store Manager, Mark, was outside the entire time (I was in line 4 hours) directing people to the end of the line and making sure that they were aware of the service contract and the need to own a computer so that their time in line wouldn't have been wasted by finding out some deal-breaking info as they were handed the box.

A couple times throughout the day, an employee came around and offerend everyone complementary bottled water.

6 people at a time were allowed in the store, to ensure a 1:1 customer/representative ratio.

The only weird things were that no one was allowed to open the phone in the store, as the box was sealed in a bag. If you returned the phone and the bag had been opened, there would be a 10% restocking fee.

Also, they didn't seem to know that customers could get their credit approval through iTunes and, as I didn't want my credit run in-store, I almost wasn't able to get the phone. In the end, I convinced them (Mark, the aforementioned manager, clarified things for them) but I think they'd still try to get credit run in-store because that's where they get their commission numbers.