my disbelief in mankind’s perfectibility took a turn for the irreparable on tuesday june 15th 2010 when i found myself unable to put through an order for apple’s latest revolution due to miraculously unforeseen traffic on at&t’s servers. i should have stopped there had i known what was in store for me…
sure, i’m an early adopter, the earliest kind there is actually. but on that day, i felt lazy. why indeed should i leave the comfort of my compound for the city whose big lights might inspire me but whose noisy and nerd-crowded streets are lately doing little for my peace-seeking brain. so came wednesday and since, ever the loyal subject, i purchased the iPhone 3GS on this same date last year, i was ineligible for the deep discount myself. my wife, ever the loyal object, pitched in and bought me the phone from her account, eligible since nary a purchase had been made in the past 3 years. i had been assured by an at&t representative that the switch from one number (hers) to another (mine) would be an easy one, all done remotely, all within 24 hours at the most… happy, i gladly overpaid for a dock and a bumper and i was on my way to feverishly waiting!
as the first wave of black glass noisily started to make its way from the world’s factory floor, i kept my cool seeing that my particular handset would not, due to unforeseeable high order volume, land in my hands the first week the quick would undoubtedly broadcast breathtaking unboxing videos displaying their “i’m better than you” faces whereas the dead would cower in shame, pretending none of this shit was actually important. right? right.
after totally forgetting about it for a while, i received, on friday july 2nd, an electronic notice that my golden ticket had left the flowered alleyways of the foxconn factory in shenzhen and was on its way to the quaint american town of garrison, new york, my present home. so happy i was that i couldn’t help not do meth.
tracking as i did the package on its magical odyssey from mainland china to lantau island in hong kong where it boarded a beautiful unicorn to fly over to anchorage, alaska and into a complex network of underground tunnels manned by the most careful of creatures to memphis, tennessee and finally to my general area in newburgh on tuesday july 6th. it was so geographically close i could almost feel the kung-fu grip of death, the reputation of which had started making its way through gizmodos and engadgets, as if i, myself had started getting mad at the person i love most for not measuring quite up to my expectations! but sadly, and against all odds, disaster struck. disaster in the form of the ever-feared, mysterious and fabled “delivery exception.” in disbelief, i call, email and smoke signal in hope of a sensible explanation over this calamity. with what i interpret to be a voice too calm and careless for it to be coming from a person not under extreme duress during what can only be an armed hostage situation at my local fedex office, the attendant in charge tells me that the address on their manifest was wrong. he reads it to me and it, in fact, is not even an address but an inexplicable jumble of letters and numbers, strange since computers were the ones who took my order and they are never wrong; also the billing address is correct. hmmm…
see, that very day, i was on my way to fetch the children i was once told were mine, at their grandparent’s house in philadelphia. they had been kidnapped over 10 days before and it just would not have been wise for me to try and argue to my impatient wife that it was worth waiting another day for the second delivery attempt lest she would have bitten what is left of my head, off. it was fine, i knew what to do, i would back up my current 3GS phone to my laptop and, on our way to remind ourselves that we were parents, bring it with me to the fedex branch, pick up the orphaned package and activate the bundle of joy right there, in the car, with a little help from an at&t phone call to switch over the number and the wifi signal from the arrowed shipper’s office. as a matter of detail, this was the hottest day of the year so far (101°) and our car freon dispenser had decided to call it and die. hence our sensible decision to wait for mother earth to cool down to leave the house and embark on the 2.5 hour journey separating my koreshian estate and the city of brotherly love. with a short stop at the purple and white, this would be no big deal, right?
so how did i end up stuck in the middle of nowhere, stealing wifi parked in front of a panera bread for 2 hours in a conference call with an at&t manager, an apple senior advisor, two dead phones, a laptop quickly running out of juice and a wife about to commit the irreparable?… also, castrate me.
“no problem, sir, i’ll be happy to help you with that” are the last words i heard from the telecom giant before i was plunged into obscurity. i had first talked to them, as planned, at the fedex headquarters but something had gone awry; not an easy switch, it turned out. my 3GS had de-activated but the 4 was nowhere near coming to life, afflicted still with the plug into iTunes screen. the problem was that when i did, my wife’s phone number would come up, not mine. extraordinarily not in possession of a paper clip, i had to carefully unhook gina’s earing from her lobe as she drove and as i spoke to the befuddled in order to pop out the sim card out of the shiny newness to see if the tiny serial numbers corresponded to my telephone number indeed. they did. beffuddled bumped me up to the next level of incompetence. now speaking to a manager and parked for optimal wifi theft, i was told that i had to look for an at&t store around and get a new sim card. fine, there’s one not too far. i’m hot. at what time do they close? 9pm. what time is it? 9pm. it’s getting hotter.
conversations continued for an extra hour because i was now without a phone which, on a long road trip, is not advisable. i was talking on gina’s iPhone 1G which has sadly become unreliable and i did not want to be without a form of outside communication were something undelicious to happen to my faraway brood. i am calmly explained that once a sim has been de-activated, it cannot be re-activated. sucks for my 3GS, poor thing had given me so much joy. i explain ad-infinitum that i need help, not another “i know you’re frustrated sir” and the man tells me that he could call an apple tech to conference in to see if they had a way unbeknownst to him to remedy. “they made the phone after all!” i acquiesce in front of such managerial wisdom. the revered fruit woman comes on and tells me that at this point i should just restore the phone, which would clear the apple and at&t servers and get everything back the way it should always have been, quick, easy and smelling of mangosteen. but as i hit the button, i realized that, against all my expectations, crime was not going to pay since the wifi signal being stolen from the fauxtalian quick service chain was in fact so poor that the download of the restorative digital elixir would take 3 hours. since we had already been in limbo for the last 2 i decided, for i did not want my children growing up without a father, to get the fuck out of there and continue the process at my in-laws’ wired abode.
arriving at 12:45 am, we did not get to press any familial flesh but, again, a button, and went to deserved sleep. in the morning, i woke up to find the download complete, the phone restored and the number… still not mine. NOOOOOOOOOOOOO! my subsequent spirited call to the 1st-ampersand-20th letters was less than pleasant for both of us. i was again told to find a corporate brick and mortar to exchange the sim and that, from then on all shall be right with the world. apart from 2 wars, an oil spill and the worst economic downward spiral the world has ever know that is. my words, not theirs. and so i went to a mall store (shock! horror!) at which i was laughingly rebuked for they didn’t carry iPhone sims, of course. “the microsims are too new, we don’t have them yet!” they condescendingly grinned while giving me the address of another store that would, for sure, be able to help. a few miles and wrong streets later, i found myself in a line, waiting for my turn at bat. finally there and trying to contain my excitement, i wave to gina to wait outside in the car for me, assured that the formality of sim replacement would take but mere seconds. yet the man, types. types again. types some more. “you bought this phone from apple, right?” “yessssss?…” “can’t do anything for you.” i try not to kill him, too many witnesses. i
ask tell him to replace the goddamned fuckin sim now. he says it won’t help. he does it. it doesn’t… and so we look at each other, wondering what the other is going to do. i tell him what has transpired up to that point and, sorry, tells me he cannot help due to my buying the lusty gadget from the apple people and not from them. “what you’re telling me is that i now own a glossy doorstop.” “yes.” ok, how about re-activating my old phone?” “that’s easy…” really. i am now very, very hot.
upon exiting this den of philadelphian thieves, i call the at&t manager and tell him what i’ve just heard coming from one of his teammates. he patches in the apple tech again who decides that they’ve had enough of this nonsense and say that they are going to send me another phone, that the hardware must be at fault. but of course it’s not a hardware issue, it’s that none of you knows how this thing actually works and it is much easier to blame the other guy than to actually learn a product that sells too easily! but fine, i accept and am told that on the day i receive the shiny new handset, i will also receive a call from an at&t manager to talk about compensation. you know, for my troubles. fine.
the following friday the 9th, a handsome delivery man arrives carrying the cardboarded thing which i rush to unpack, plug in and watch with marvel the process take place by which things, sometimes work… my data transfers and i wait for the activation to take place. patiently, i do a little work, have a little lunch, cater to my children’s needs a little. still no activation 3 hours later. so we decide to go food shopping for the past weeks in friend visits have left us cheese and wine-less. i conscientiously take both old and new phones, expecting the 4th to joyously come online at any moment. all told, 8 hours go by before i decide to call my bestest friends at at&t. they tell me that… I MUST GO TO AN AT&T STORE TO GET A NEW SIM!!!! AGAIN!!!!! “since the old phone was reactivated, you see sir, the old microsim is no longer in pl-I DON’T GIVE A FUCK? WHEN IS THIS GOING TO END, WHEN ARE YOU GOING TO SOLVE MY PROBLEM? WHEN IS SOMEONE ACTUALLY GOING TO LOOK INTO THE PROBLEM, WHEN I GET A VERIZON PHONE?!?!” “i understand your frustration sir and i apolo-NO YOU DON’T UNDERSTAND BECAUSE I WAS SUPPOSED TO GET A CALL FROM A MANAGER TODAY AND IT’S 8PM AND THE PHONE HAS NOT RUNG ONCE, CAN YOU GUESS WHY?!…” i then promptly email the apple tech who is in charge of my case who answers “okay if your still having an issue, what is your contact number and case number so i can follow up?” clueless and cannot spell. the att&t representative also tells me that someone WILL be calling me on saturday at noon to talk about all this and compensation. i have my eye on an iPhone 4, i hear they’re a-ma-zing!
so you know what, the next day (saturday,) in the rain, i schlepp 30 minutes away to get that fabled new sim card. and it fucking works, right there, in 1 second. but i am not excited for the new iPhone anymore. i don’t care anymore. all of my entitled joy has been ripped away from me by willful incompetence and i just want an explanation. and so, i write an email back to the apple person, you know to the company that, after all, made the phone…
i have now gone to the at&t store, gotten a new sim and the phone is now working. after a week.
the at&t people promised to call to talk to me about the ordeal last friday.
that call never came.
when i called friday night to ask why my phone was still not activated and why a manager hadn’t called,
they scheduled a call for yesterday (saturday july 10th) at noon.
i am still waiting.
however, when my bill payment is late a day, they are quick to get on the phone.
my phone is also prone to the oft-excused ‘death grip’ issue but since i had already
purchased a bumper, i am ok.
as a long-standing apple customer. (my office and life is 100% mac,)
i can tell you this has been the most harrowing experience of my gadget-buying life.
not especially because the hardware didn’t work. but because of the lack of actual
support from either sides of this marriage of convenience between apple and at&t.
better customer service is not better apologies, it is taking action when action is needed.
and as i lay, last tuesday night, in the parking lot of a quick service restaurant for 2 hours in order to
get their wifi signal in the middle of god-knows-where because my old phone had been deactivated
and my new one unable to come alive on what was, so far, the hottest day of the year (101!)
i did not feel supported. a lot of blame went around as i, a father of two, couldn’t be called in
or call out to see if my children were ok.
i was expecting more.
i am very sorry about all this trouble. we never want our customers to experience things like this. i am very glad that your phone is now working. thank you for being an Apple customer and having so much patience through all this.
sincerely? SINCERELY?!!! i’m done with you people. i’ve heard it said somewhere that design is not just what it looks like and feels like. design is how it works. back to the drawing board then… have a calmer week than mine!