Before I get into my letters to Apple and AT&T, here is a little backstory…
I’ve had the iPhone since the second one hit the stores. Every year I have been at either the Apple store or the AT&T store to get the newest one. You had to if you wanted it on day one. Sure you could try and order it online but half the fun for me was going to store on launch day. I actually preferred the AT&T store. I went to the same one for the past four years. I would see some of the same people and almost looked at it as a reunion. It was a great group of folks. All friendly. There was one person who usually showed up by 5AM who worked nights. Once they showed, we all “held” their place in line so they could go back to their car and nap. It was no big deal. That person was there forth or fifth and they would enter the store in that same position.
This year I decided to try and order the phone online. The reason was that I have a different job now and not being their in the morning on launch day was something that I didn’t want to worry about. So, I woke up at 2:45 AM to be ready to order my new phone. The plan was that I would go to work on the 16th, leave early to wait for the UPS truck and head back to work. Yes I would miss the fun of being at the store but life gets in the way sometimes.
At 3:00 AM I clicked on the AT&T store and received an error. I tried the Apple store but it was not up yet. Forward to 3:16 AM. I had been hitting refresh on my phone, my iPad and my computer and still couldn’t get through to AT&T. Finally I got through at Apple. Success I thought. Nope. Since AT&T was having issues, I couldn’t process my order. If Apple can’t communicate with AT&T, I couldn’t order the phone. I figured I’d just buy it outright at this point. Couldn’t do that. Apple’s website would only let me order the phone by connecting to my provider.
By 3:58 AM, I still had no phone and now the shipping dates were into October. I wanted the iPhone 7 Plus 256GB. At this point I was willing to settle for the 128GB or even the Silver. Still no luck.
I finally took to Twitter to vent my frustrations. Someone from AT&T actually contacted me. To make a long story short, they were nice and told me how sorry they were but I still had no phone.
By the time I finally was able to order the phone through AT&T, I was looking at getting the phone mid October. Problem is that I will be away that week. If I could reserve it in store I could set it up for a store where I will be traveling to. That wasn’t an option.
So, I decided to take the morning off of work and go wait in line. By Thursday night I was reading that Apple said they would have zero iPhone 7 Plus’ regardless of the size or color. I still had hopes that maybe AT&T would have some but I wasn’t hopeful. I finally decided to call my local AT&T store. Knowing they couldn’t tell me what they had, I simply asked if they could tell me if I should take the morning off work and wait in line if I wanted a 7 Plus. While two stores refused to answer me, one store clerk told me that I shouldn’t take the morning off. He also let me know that it wouldn’t matter which store I went to. While AT&T might not like that this salesperson told me, it was one of the only reasons I wasn’t looking to totally jump ship from AT&T.
So, after all this I have the following to say to Apple and AT&T.
Yep, you have created a product that we all love and want. You create hype around the product each year and many of us go out of our way to get the latest and greatest iPhone you make. But enough of this limited supply crap. This is getting old at this point.
Last year was the first year of the Plus size phone. I can understand some of the limitations because you didn’t know how many people were going to want the bigger phone. Yet there were still wasn’t close to the supply that should not have been expected. There were enough webpages, tweets, posts and comments all over the net from people who wanted a larger iPhone. You should have expected the demand would be greater than the supply you had. While I was able to get an iPhone 6s Plus on launch day last year, it was the 64GB and not the 128GB. I wasn’t happy but at least I had the phone on launch day.
This year you not only limit the supply but you come out with a color that has become more elusive to find than Bigfoot. I don’t want the Jet Black but based on how quickly people’s orders were pushed into November, we all guess you made three of them to have available on launch day.
But the real problem I have is that you had ZERO 7 Plus’ available on launch day. How do you call it a launch when you don’t have any? Seems like false advertising. And you have no excuse this year for not knowing that people were going to want the larger phone.
Is the Samsung exploding phones part of the problem? According to AT&T, they believe a lot of the orders this year are Samsung users who are buying up iPhones with their credit from turning their phones in. Is that part of the issue? Well why couldn’t you have put more phones aside to purchase through your upgrade program if that was the case? Maybe give a little nod to the loyalist who buy a new iPhone every year.
How about maybe start showing those who own an iPhone already some love? Here’s some ideas I have:
- Offer previous owners a special window to upgrade before the general public
- Check your records to see how many people upgrade every year and start making sure there is a minimum of supply to meet that demand?
- Stop making a handful of the “newest color” or the “newest size”. It isn’t like you wouldn’t sell them at some point.
- Stop making everyone get up at the same time year after year for the newest product. How about changing it around so that people in different time zones can sleep in once in a while?
- Make sure your website is actually functioning when you say pre-orders can start. It isn’t the first phone you are offering.
Hearing “We had no idea demand would be so high” worked for a while but is getting old now. Nobody buys it anymore. And the problem is that other companies are actually starting to make phones that really do compete with the iPhone. While I’ve been a loyalist and want to stay one because I love my iPhone, if I have to wait months for one it may be time to start looking elsewhere. Many of the “yeah, my iPhone is okay” folks that I know have zero problem looking elsewhere. You start losing both camps and things may change for the company.
Next year you will put out what a lot of people are already referring to as the “anniversary phone”. The iPhone 8 – or whatever you will call it – will be a big hit. Yep, I’ve got my fortune teller hat on and I can see it. Have enough stock of the darn thing on launch day. And get your website working. Seriously, nobody is buying into the “we had no idea…” line. While many of us will stay with the iPhone for now, wouldn’t you still like to have customers who are satisfied with the entire process and not just users who like the phone?
Now for AT&T
Please read the above letter to Apple as much of it applies to you. This isn’t the first iPhone launch for you. You have had the iPhone since day one! Enough of the servers crashing at pre-launch. Seriously. This got old a few years ago. Now you aren’t the only game in town. Canceling contracts isn’t as hard as it once was. We aren’t all “stuck” with one company like in the past. Get your site working!
And the same applies to AT&T as it does to Apple… you can show a little love to your long time customers. I think I was told about a dozen times by the different AT&T reps I spoke with how much you all appreciate that I’ve been such a great customer for years. Well, thanks for nothing if I still couldn’t get any assistance getting an iPhone ordered – or at least getting one shipped to a store where I would be traveling. You can see all of your customers who get the new phone every year. Heck, you even now offer the AT&T Next Every Year plan! How about you keep enough stock for those of us on it?
I’ll give you more of a break (not in a nice way) when it comes to some of the business side of this. You will have customers no matter which phone they purchase. I’m sure you wouldn’t care if I said I was going with an Android phone over an iPhone as long as I stayed on your network. But again, you aren’t the only game in town.
Get your act together AT&T. Like I said with Apple, wouldn’t you like to have satisfied customers instead of just customers?
That’s it for my rant. Nothing will come of it I know but sometimes you just need to vent.
Hopefully there will be a review of the iPhone 7 Plus 256GB sometime between now and early October. Otherwise it really might be a review of my new phone by another company.