Blog Post

I’m a Bad Boy: “Ordered” Two iPhone 3G Ss, But Only Getting One

Stay on Top of Enterprise Technology Trends

Get updates impacting your industry from our GigaOm Research Community
Join the Community!

After the iPhone 3G S announcement, I knew I was getting one. Actually, I knew that even before the announcement, since for me some of the rumors were so obvious it was clear this was a device worth upgrading to.

I’m a first-generation iPhone owner, so I’m getting a bigger technological leap than iPhone 3G owners. The decision was easy. Fact is, I wanted a faster processor last year, and when there was no 32GB, and it became clear there’d be no turn-by-turn GPS programs anytime soon, I decided to hold off. This year, I get it all and then some.

But how to get my hands on one? The first thing I decided to do was “order” my iPhone via Apple (s aapl). I couldn’t buy one outright and have it delivered (some people can, it has to do with new or existing AT&T (s att) customers, and if the latter, what type of plan you have), so the best I could do was “reserve” it at a nearby Apple Store.

Anyway, the reservation process was a little strange. After confirming I was eligible, and agreeing to the $30 month data plan, I was asked to log into my Apple account and then…nothing. That was it. No discussion of payment or anything else. The web page I received was pretty generic, with no confirmation number or anything else. Also, I expected a confirmation email of some sort and didn’t get one. The whole thing just seemed odd.

The following day, I finally got an email, but it still seemed short on details (e.g., no confirmation number):


It seems that I could just stroll in whenever I wanted on June 19 — mocking and ridiculing the saps waiting in line — and pick it up. Except that I’ve seen nothing from Apple to indicate “reserved” users get any kind of special treatment in the line. They wait like the rest of them. And how long is the device “held” for you? Who the heck knows? I had visions of waiting in line an hour or two and then told “my” phone was given away (after all, no guarantee is given).

The last straw over was when I read that Apple may have issues with activating your phone if it’s not from a new line or an existing single line. Family plans, for example, may be an issue. I understood this was one reason I couldn’t just buy the phone online, but rather had to reserve it in the first place. However, AT&T had no such restrictions in handling various plans for shipment.

So I went to AT&T and pre-ordered.

In AT&T’s case, after verifying my family plan, and getting my agreement on the $30 data plan (remember, us original iPhone owners had a $20 data plan), it grabbed my credit card information, verified my shipping address, and the deed was done. The carrier is shipping it to me for delivery on June 19.

Or not.

Unlike Apple, I got a confirmation email right away from AT&T, and I have received another one since then:


Obviously, getting the confirmation email is nice, and having a site to which I can go to check my order is as well. Visiting the status site and entering the requisite info gives me this as of 11:30 PT:


The last item, “Freight,” is new in the last 24 hours. Are they prepping it for shipment?

What’s odd to me is I have no idea what it means when the iPhone arrives. Let’s say I get it on June 19 (the AT&T wording is careful not to actually say that; it’s simply what they’re shooting for), what have I got? Has AT&T done their part, so I just activate it via iTunes? Presumably this would take my current phone number and “kill” my existing iPhone in the process. Must I swap the SIM cards on the phones before I plug the new one into iTunes? Will there be instructions for this? I don’t know.

Or when I get the phone must I then go to an AT&T store and have them do the actual activation? That’ll be a pain, but I’d like to think with one in hand I could bypass the line waiting to purchase one.

It seems to me Apple and AT&T are leaving a lot of questions unanswered for those of us trying to order the thing online. You’d think since this was their third stab at selling a new model they’d have their fecal matter collected by now. I guess not.

Meanwhile, what about my reserved iPhone at the Apple Store? Well, I’ve still got the reservation in place. With the sparse confirmation I got from Apple I see no easy way to cancel it, and since I provided no billing information I’m assuming that they’ll just dole the thing out to someone else when I don’t show up.

So if you’re in line for hours at an Apple store in Southern California, and you finally get your turn, and you’re informed they just sold the last one, and it turns out they really had one more but were holding it for me, yeah, I’m sorry about that.

31 Responses to “I’m a Bad Boy: “Ordered” Two iPhone 3G Ss, But Only Getting One”

  1. Peter Smith

    Across the pond in the UK, we were told our existing 3g’s would get 3.0 on the 17th June. I have duly synced mine at 1.35am UK time to be told by iTunes that my software 2.2.1 is up to date. Come on fella’s – put your Miller or or Bud lites down and upgrade me. I need cut and paste now !!!

  2. Yeah, they really don’t have their act together! My partner and I are both new customers but trying to pre-order AND get on a family plan has been a real cluster****. After being told by AT&T corp, Apple corp and our local Apple store that we *could not* pre-order, another woman at the local AT&T store and someone else at the Apple store said, “Of course your can!”

    Whatever. We pre-ordered two phones to pick up from the store and we’ll just show up and hope for the best.

  3. Good luck. Trying to turn a single line into a family line with 2 iPhones sent me into the 8th circle of carrier Hell. It took 7 phone calls to get our account straightened out (and more than 3 hours of patiently explaining to AT&T that we didn’t want two family lines with one phone each but one family line with two phones).

    That was after being unable to complete the order online, being mocked by the account rep, and then having it take him 90 minutes to “complete” the order which set off the farce that was Paragraph 1.

    I wouldn’t do anything but go into a store and upgrade there. Make sure you get a printout of the order because once they start changing things, you can no longer get a detailed bill of the adjustments that they make.

    • Chris Wanja

      Oh wow, since the last time they released I was working for Apple I had heard of no issues when adding family lines. From what you guys are saying (above and below), this is going to be a pain.

      My whole plan is to swing my mother off of Verizon Wireless, have her buy the 3Gs, make our plans a family plan, then me and her switch phones landing me a 3Gs on my line. I really hope that goes over okay!

    • BustersDad

      In the same boat with the Family Plan–no information from AT&T or Apple on how to proceed. The Apple online process will not allow me two phones in checkout at once and asks about which text plan I want (only germane to individual lines) so it did not look right. On top of that, I stopped by AT&T store today to see if I could purchase two iPhones on Friday but was told they would limit the purchase to one per person (which I suspected thus the question). So we have to shop together, not an option on Friday, and then still not clear which shopping option will be easier or have phones on Saturday.

      I took one last stab at Apple and chatted with a rep who told me that text plan selection online would not alter my current plan. Based on that, unseen rep with no accountability, I placed two separate orders for two phones from Apple. I figure I will get the instant gratification and may have to duke it out with AT&T on the Family Plan after the fact. Fun, fun, fun! Good luck to all!

  4. Logich

    So I actually ordered two, one from AT&T and one from Apple, to see who would ship first and cancel the other one. I was pleasantly surprised that Apple shipped theirs out on the 15th and it’s now in Hong Kong with a planned delivery date of the 18th. Perhaps I can go pick it up at the FedEx location instead of waiting for delivery…

  5. So AT&T allows owners of original 2G iPhones to break their existing contracts and sign a new contract for a 3GS handset? Lucky them, I wish O2 would do the same thing in the UK. I still have 3 months left on my 2G contract and would gladly sign up for another contract today. But with no contract obligations, I may be tempted to keep my handset and go PAYG…

    • AT & T is only allowing people who are over with their contract to upgrade at subsidized prices. Those who bought the iPhone 2G soon after it came out are already done with their 2-yr contract and are on month to month plan now.

    • Galley

      I still had about 10 months left on my 2-year commitment from my 2G refurb purchase, yet I was eligible for the subsidized price. Perhaps the fact that I’ll be paying an additional $15 per month for 3G service and 200 texts was the reason.

  6. Joeypk07

    All I know is I ordered mine from Apple and it shipped from China early this morning with its “scheduled delivery” via UPS tracking as the 17th. I have to imagine they will hold these orders… but hey I won’t complain if it arrives on Wednesday.

    • Ditto here. I got a little excited to see the delivery date of 17th. I certainly don’t expect to get it tomorrow but that would be really cool. I was hoping by now we would be seeing some reviews from people who have gotten their hands early on the new iPhone (David Pogue, Walk Moosberg – the usual suspects!) but haven’t seen anything yet.

  7. whitemike

    i went into the at&t store and it was quite easy, the day the release date was set. but in recent days there has been articles all over about phone selling out, and possible shortcomings on at&t’s part for phones ordered after the 9th. good luck

    • That would have been the safest bet, and there’s an AT&T store not a mile from my house.

      So why didn’t I do that? Because this is the Apple Blog, we mess with our iPhones so you don’t have to. :-)

      Seriously, I wanted to see just what AT&T could do without me lifting a finger other than filling out a web form. If it goes smoothly, I’ll sing their praises. If it’s a pain in the neck, I’ll write about that, too.

  8. Chris Wanja

    From my fair share of pre-ordering electronics, what that is to just check your bank account, billing information, and shipping info to make sure they all check when the product actually arrives.

    It happened with me when I pre-ordered the new Sony DLSR camera. They charged me around 216 and it sat pending for about a week. I contacted them immediately to find out what it was and if it was just an authorization charge.

  9. Galley

    I’m in the same boat. I’m upgrading from a 1st-gen iPhone. I pre-ordered mine from AT&T on the 9th, but it’s still “in progress”. What’s odd is that the $318 authorization charge that appeared immediately on my bank account disappeared several days ago.

    • Ronnie

      I ordered me and my sisters iphone. We are on the family plan. Charge showed up on my statement and disappeared. I think that AT&T will bill you when you pick them up. I checked ups and mine and my sisters was delivered to AT&T this morning. Will be at AT&T tomorrow to pick them both up.

  10. joecab

    I ordered for a pickup at the Apple Store too (I’m also an original iPhone owner finally upgrading) and got the webpage that said to pick it up from any orange-shirted concierge, but no confirmation email. Maybe Apple is trying to keep it this informal to prevent guaranteeing one in case of any sellouts? Any I’ll be going to the Apple Store early Friday to see if I can get one before getting into work a little late.

  11. Chris Wanja

    Considering all the mess that ATT and Apple go through on activation day (with servers and cell towers), I would think that the ability to pre-order it would make things easier. Obviously, from your experience, that is not happening.

    Now you said you pre-ordered it yesterday (I believe that would be US time since your in South Cali.) through ATT. I had read across several RSS items that ATT’s pre-order stock had gone dry. But who knows! Going back to the activation at home process also makes it easier for jailbreakers to start hacking (no pun intended) away in an attempt to unlock it.

    What a mess. I still have yet to figure out where I will go to do my upgrade. Luckily, I can wait a week and let the mess settle down.