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Activation Problems in iPhone Paradise 434

Posted by Zonk
from the long-wait-short-celebration dept.
Thomas Hawk writes "Unfortunately it appears that some activations of Apple's new iPhone have gone badly. After waiting in line 36 hours I'm still unable to activate my phone. I'm documenting the AT&T circus call by call on my blog. I've had my hold calls dropped, been patched into other users unable to activate their phone instead of AT&T customer service reps, been told that my wife must get a new phone and that the family plan can't work for me. I've been told that the problem is that I'm not putting a new chip into my iPhone in the slot on the left side of my phone when no slot there exists. PR Blogger Steve Rubel has also been documenting his problems on his Twitterstream. According to an unscientific poll being conducted by Engadget about half of the people who bought iPhones have had activation trouble with about 38% of problems still unresolved." Even the folks at MacWorld weren't immune to these issues.
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Activation Problems in iPhone Paradise

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  • by adam (1231) * on Monday July 02, 2007 @01:23AM (#19713551)
    I am aware of the activation problems, especially after seeing this looooong thread [apple.com] on Apple's own forums. However, with regard to the engadget poll, I would be wary of its results-- there are many people who are "haters" of the Apple products, of the iPhone, etc, and I suspect many people who don't own iPhones are responding anyway saying they have activation problems, to skew the poll. My experience has been generally good.. bought 4 phones (I discussed yesterday [slashdot.org]), and three of them activated almost immediately. My primary phone, our biz dev guy's phone, our operations director.. no problem. The fourth, got the notorious "we need more time to complete this activation" (I was porting a second line, after porting my primary line from t-mobile). After about 12 hours, it started receiving texts, and within 24hrs it was ringing at the correct number. I called t-mobile tonight to cancel my service (40hr mark, or so) and they told me the second number has yet to fully release and to call back tomorrow to confirm it released and my service was fully cancelled.

    I admit not to have much technical knowhow with respec to the inner workings of this process, but I don't imagine it's entirely any one aspect.. AT&T, Apple, etc. It's probably due to the slowness of every vendor involved (those releasing numbers, etc) and the sheer volume of registrations over the last 72hrs.
  • Well, I'm happy (Score:2, Interesting)

    by UbuntuDupe (970646) * on Monday July 02, 2007 @01:24AM (#19713557) Journal
    Not because I hate Apple or AT&T ... but because I just went through the process of upgrading a seven-year-old phone (Sprint). And it was a pain in the ass. I went through customer support hell, inconsistent stories, runarounds, transfers ... I was thinking the whole time, "holy shit, people upgrade phones all the time, why the hell does this have to happen to me?"

    Well, as of this weekend, I completed the month-long process of upgrading ... and I'm just glad to know I'm not the only one who has to go through a stressful activation process :-)
  • Re:Apple Hype (Score:1, Interesting)

    by dmarcoot (96402) on Monday July 02, 2007 @01:34AM (#19713635) Journal
    try the phone. i have.
    and your wrong.
    there is a lot special, namely the UI.
    but if that doesn't float your boat, find me a phone anywhere that has 1 gb of memory, never mind the 8 gb iphone has.

    or the video play back with a 160 ppi screen, or a better internet experience, because there is none.
    io dont even think it is best phone, but it certainly is best hand held internet device with perhaps the nicest UI ever made.

      i have used apple gear for 15 years, with not a single hardware problem, not one.
    your entitled to your opinion based on your singular experience, but the vast repeat customers apple has, Consumer reposts highest customer satisfaction rating for years. all speak to another experience with their products entirely.

      i wonder why your wasting your tim reading and posting here on a product your made up your mind on without even trying. people like you are more annoying than so called "apple zealots"

  • by Enderandrew (866215) <enderandrew@gmai l . com> on Monday July 02, 2007 @01:39AM (#19713665) Homepage Journal
    Two other things.

    1 - You seem to suggest the iPhone is selling out like mad. Funny, countless reports show the phone is still in stock everywhere, not just at the usual AT&T stores, but in Apple stores, and available on the web. For the most hyped-product of the year, it didn't sell out right away. Let's say 20% of the country has AT&T Cingular (which may be generous). Of those, how many are eligible for new phones this minute? Of that group, how many absolutely had to have the iPhone on launch day? Of that group, how many of them had the money to actually purchase it?

    I'm not sure they sold 1 million units.

    2 - You suggested they could be operating at 99.9% effectiveness with activation. Perhaps you didn't RTFA let alone the paragraph summary. It was an unscientific poll, but the results still showed half of iPhone owners reported problems.

    50% > 0.1%

    Those figures aren't remotely in the same ballpark. After you brush up a bit on your reading skills and math, I'll start giving you a bit more credit.
  • Re:gadgets (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Lemmy Caution (8378) on Monday July 02, 2007 @02:03AM (#19713849) Homepage
    iPhone, and Apple articles in general, attract fans (and anti-fans), rather than nerds/geeks. The difference between tech-fans and geeks is the difference between religionists and mystics. Fandom is, at the end of the day, a dependent relationship of admiration and respect for the cultural authority of some producer or another. That's antithetical to the nerd distance from the "marketed product" and the interest on how it could work and what could be done with it.

    I'll admit it: I think fannishness of any stripe is a kind of cultural servitude.
  • my experience (Score:5, Interesting)

    by venicebeach (702856) on Monday July 02, 2007 @02:11AM (#19713893) Homepage Journal
    Posting this from my iPhone. I had trouble activating at first too. After waiting 10 hours I figured out that the problem was with transfering my old verizon phone number. I asked them to cancel the activation and started again with a new number -- went through immediately.

    You cant do anything with the phone until its activated, no ipod, photos, nothing except calling 911. So the wait can be frustrating, and its very hard to get info out of ATT.
  • by BlueTrin (683373) on Monday July 02, 2007 @02:41AM (#19714075) Homepage Journal
    Apple should force users to enter some iPhoneID to be able to post in the technical problems section to avoid spams and false information.

    But did you consider also the fact that not all the people who have problems will log on to Apple forums to post or vote in the poll ?
  • by Jeff DeMaagd (2015) on Monday July 02, 2007 @02:43AM (#19714097) Homepage Journal
    Some of the problems arise from the owner living outside the area code of the original line.

    I really don't think that it helps that maybe several hundred thousand transfers and activations are happening at the same time, basically 6pm ET to 7pm PT. I don't think it happens very often.

    Having it done in iTunes on the whole, probably improved the experience for 95%+ of the buyers, otherwise the lines would have taken maybe two or three times longer to finish.
  • Re:no problem for me (Score:4, Interesting)

    by XaXXon (202882) <xaxxon@gmail . c om> on Monday July 02, 2007 @02:44AM (#19714103) Homepage
    both mine activated fine at about 7pm pacific.

    As far as the keyboard, it's one of my favorite parts. Not having used any type of small-form-factor keyboard extensively, after 5 minutes, I was typing far faster than I ever had on a blackberry-style device (which I've played with for similar short periods of time).
  • by Palpitations (1092597) on Monday July 02, 2007 @03:28AM (#19714391)
    I worked for Cingular for quite a while before they merged with AT&T - and for a while afterwards. My jobs ranged from fraud prevention to customer service. My position in fraud prevention was the most interesting, as a large part of the fraud we saw was from cell phone dealers themselves. They'd steal credit card information from one customer, tell the rest of their customers that they could come pay their bills at the store with cash (when they weren't authorized to do that), pocket the cash, and then use the stolen card to pay the bills. When you see 100+ accounts paid with the same credit card, you know something is up. That said, before AT&T moved in, my job was basically to help people. I was in a position where I called people who were using a lot more minutes than their plan offered, and instead of charging them the insane amount they would have paid for going over, I offered to switch them to a plan that would cover their usage. The most extreme example that comes to mind is someone who had used so many minutes over their plan that their next bill would have been well over $2,000 - they were flagged, I called them, and convinced them to switch from the lowest priced plan to the highest priced one, because that meant they would save about $1,800 a month. How's that for customer service? Sure, we could have just stuck that guy with a $2,000 bill, and put his nuts in a vice. But we did the right thing - we looked for customers who would be hurt and spent our time, money, and resources to help them out. Guess what one of the first programs that got cut was when AT&T took over?
  • by Holmwood (899130) on Monday July 02, 2007 @03:42AM (#19714477)

    there are many people who are "haters" of the Apple products, of the iPhone, etc, and I suspect many people who don't own iPhones are responding anyway saying they have activation problems, to skew the poll.


    I really don't buy that 'haters' are skewing the poll significantly. It's possible, sure, but... it really comes off as sounding unlikely to me.

    That said, there's no way that 33% or more of iPhone customers are having serious activation problems. That would be many, many hundreds of thousands of people. If that were the case, there'd be news stories galore, all over CNN etc. We'd all (not just a few of us) know people who were suffering activation problems.

    The OP is certainly correct in this -- it's an unscientific poll that doesn't mean much. Any online poll like that will suffer from selection bias. That bias could be 'haters', but it's much more likely that people having troubles activating are out actively searching for information, and, more likely to find such a poll and, in turn, much more likely to respond to such a poll than people who have the phone perfectly activated and are relaxing and enjoying their phones.

    (To the OP, I wanted to see the results and cheerfully answered -- lying -- that I'd had no problems activating my non-existent iPhone. So at least I biased it the other way!)

    I'm biased btw, I think the iPhone is nice, but ludicrously overhyped, and anyone who waited a long time in line for it is out to lunch.

    But I suspect the OP's experience (2 of 4 phones activating perfectly, one almost perfectly, and the fourth within 24 hours) is par for the course. And, frankly, considering what a mess AT&T's systems are, I think that's an impressive achievement for Apple.

    If we took a WAG (wild-assed guess), there are almost certainly thousands of people with serious activation problems. There might even be tens of thousands. A hundred thousand? I doubt it, but perhaps possible. Even at the 100k mark, that'd be one in 15 customers. 6.7%. Considering it's mobiles and AT&T involved, that actually sounds very good to me, though painful for those with problems.

    Granted, if there are still many thousands of people with serious problems in several days time, that'd be quite bad.

    As someone who isn't an iPhone fan, it looks like a pretty decent launch. Though I still shake my head at those waiting in line.
  • by theturtle32 (526990) on Monday July 02, 2007 @04:18AM (#19714669)
    My 8gb iPhone activated no problem but then the speaker didn't work ... No rings no music without headphones, no speakerphone. So I took it back to the apple store at the grove in los angeles and they replaced it with a new one on the spot, even though they were supposedly out of them. They had enough foresight to keep a bunch on hand to be able to offer replacements for people who had problems. That's good customer service. They switched the sim card from my broken phone to the new one so that when i went to re activate it (yes I had to take it home and plug it back in to iTunes to get the new one to work) it wouldnt start charging me for two iphone plans. I am a very happy iPhone customer. Its not perfect but its better than anything else on the market. Its what I'm typing this message on now.
  • by scooter.higher (874622) on Monday July 02, 2007 @05:10AM (#19714915) Homepage Journal
    I don't feel I need to apologize for skipping that. I tend to give less attention to anonymous posters, whether on /. or elsewhere.

    ACs tend to be more inflammatory and abrasive than is necessary, which they probably would not had they put their name (or pseudonym as the case may be) behind what they say.

    I will add, and others have caught this as well, that the "magic number" he mentioned is the same number he was given in an e-mail when a problem was first identified.
  • by arth1 (260657) on Monday July 02, 2007 @06:00AM (#19715131) Homepage Journal
    They may be helpful if you talk to them, but T-Mobile's web site is about the worst mess I've ever had the misfortune of using. Every single time I visit "My T-Mobile", I have to explain to the web site that I don't have any of the phones listed. And because of that, half the site is not available. Including support -- you have to choose a phone model before you can look up support information for something that's NOT device related!
    And half the time I try to pay my bill, the system is "temporarily" unavailable, and won't let me.

    As for the iPhone -- have anyone bought an unfettered iPhone yet, which /wasn't/ bundled with a plan? (Not "unlocked", but one that never was locked in the first place.) If so, what's the experience in getting it activated with an already existing SIM card?
  • hahaha.. lap it up.. (Score:2, Interesting)

    by sqldr (838964) on Monday July 02, 2007 @06:53AM (#19715389)
    From this article.. [bbc.co.uk]

    "I can't think of another product launch that has been like this. When we went into the store I was almost moved to tears, it just made you feel really special."

    "Nothing matches this - it's like going to a rock concert. As I went down the stairs in the store I was thinking 'this is what Sting feels'."

    "It feels great, oh my God, overwhelming. I never thought this day would come - and now it finally has, it's mind-blowing,"

    "I'm going to run home and ring people just to say 'Guess what, I've got an iPhone, bye!"

    You SAD, SAD, HORRIBLE, PATHETIC people..

    It's just a phone!!
  • by sogoodsofarsowhat (662830) on Monday July 02, 2007 @09:53AM (#19716633)
    Well i live in the heartland in a town/county of under 30,000....we have excellent GSM coverage by ATT. Granted compared to the iPhone ATT service sucks. But ALL USA based cell providers SUCK!! I have activated 3 iPhones so far without a single glitch. My friend had a problem but let me explain...he had a business package same as i did..but tried at first to activate to that account....THATS A NONO!!! See I read the literature....and COMPREHENDED that ATT said no business accounts. So i just got a new number/account. Then had ATT shut off the old phone and move the number (not the account to my iPhone) the other 2 iphones i activated were new accounts tied in a family package to my new iphone account with old #. No issues. A lot of individuals had packages with just them on it...but were business packages to get the data pack they needed...they didnt realize this and thus the problem. Anyways...who didnt expect the cell company to be the worst part of this whole thing....i mean cell companies, like phone companies are THE DEVIL!!!
  • by ari_j (90255) on Monday July 02, 2007 @10:01AM (#19716723)
    Mind if I ask which town and/or county that is? I am in a city of 80,000 on an interstate corridor and Apple says no way, AT&T says partner service only (and even that is dubious), etc.
  • by narf (207) on Monday July 02, 2007 @11:34AM (#19717969) Homepage
    The iTunes activation process is what reads the SIM card ID# and links it to your new (or old) AT&T account. For some reason I'm not privvy to, your old sim card cannot be used. You get told to put the new one back in if you try using your old sim. And unlike any other phone I've used, there really is an activation process on the iPhone. Until the phone is activated by AT&T, it's completely unusable apart from emergency calls. No iPod, no camera, no nothin'.

    The real problem is that nobody at AT&T or Apple seem to really know whats going on during the process, and because both companies are involved, it's easy for their reps to blame each other. For example, my activation process took about 14 hours. About 13 hours into the process I called AT&T and was told that there was a problem with the porting of my old number (wrong acct # given by me) ... but that it shouldn't affect the activation of my phone. Yet, 5 minutes after getting an e-mail saying the port was sucessful, the phone activated. In the grand scheme of things, 14 hours isn't a big deal, it's just fustrating to have the device in your hands, totally unusable.

    I think most people are blaming AT&T because Apple is usually fanatical about the 'customer experience' and most phone companies act like they'd really prefer you just died.

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