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Buying an iPhone? Don’t buy it from Apple

13 November, 2008

My first generation iPhone recently turned up its heels (but that is another story… and one Apple seems reluctant to comment upon). So, into the glorious glass and customer service edifice that is the Apple Store, Sydney.

I made an appointment to tell someone the product was broken (don’t see why I needed to do so, but did…). They confirmed said malfunction, and told me I’d need to fly to the US to get the phone replaced (and proposed Hawaii as good this time of year). Rather than pay the airfare, I figured I would buy a new (3G Australian approved) phone.

Ok, I figured, I’ll go to Telstra and buy it from there, but when I suggested this they told me I was better off buying it from them as they would set it up correctly for me (definitely implying that Teltra wouldn’t. Experience led me to beleive this was possibly correct!). So, I said, I was to buy a phone now. This is where the fun started.

“You need to make an appointment.”
“To buy a phone I need to make an appointment?”
“Yes, that’s right. we can fit you in tomorrow.”

 Suffice to say that I started to go ugly at this (I’m trying to be a paying customer, remember! and they’d just convinced me I should buy from them) and so they found me a sales person. Magic.

Pleasant. Got me phone. Pulled up my Telstra customer record (which was at least 9 months old, but she didn’t seem to mind that) and off we went. Of all the things I was most concerned about – I wanted to make sure that i didn’t lose my Memo service (Telstra takes messages for you and sends you and SMS) and that the phone was set up correctly. I was reassured at least three times that the Memo service would be untouched. Even when I pointed out that form said “Vidoe Voicemail” I was reassured that thsi was for video calls only and my memo service would be fine. A few minutes later – ‘bingo’ she says, all done.

I decided to access the Apps Store and – what do I find – my login is only valid for the Australian Apps Store and yet for some reason, my phone has connected me to somewhere else! Apple person not in the least worried, tell sme to go home and synch and all will be fine. Somewhat suspicious, I do so.

After some false starts and a complete reboot of the PC, I synch my phone. Only to discover that it has not be ‘set up correctly’ at all:

  • timezone still Cupertino (all appointments out by a good few hours!)
  • software not updated to latest version
  • internet setting not set up correctly for carrier

and then, the worst thing! I got a message saying I had VOICEMAIL!!! I don’t do voicemail. At all. Ever.

So, back to Apple (yes, I made ANOTHER appointment so they could do what they hadn’t done right the first time). And, after a bit of a wait, get told a) sorry we didn’t set that up right b) oh, well you can do that at home c) well, it’s working now atht you’ve fixed it up isn’t it. As to the memo vs voicemail – got politely told that was nothing to do with them and I’d need to go to Telstra.

Long story short – I did. Telstra took their usual half hour and 2 supervisors to explain what memo is to the salesperson and I am back happy there. Went home and upgraded the software myself and now I think I can say ‘bingo’ – I have a properly working Aussie legal Telstra connected 3G phone.

If you’re thinking of buying and iPhone – can I strongly highly and forcefully recommend that you get it from you carrier? It might not have been set up correctly for me (which I ended up doing myself anyway), but at least one bunch of setting (carrier related) wouldn’t have been screwed up. I confess, I should have realised that something might not be the way it should when Apple’s carrier records were almost a year old.

Apple – you need better care and attention to this! How about:

  1. no appointments for people buying a replacement product because you can’t fix/replace the broken one
  2. don’t promise to set up my new product correctly and then completely fail to do so
  3. don’t be complacent when I point out that it isn’t set up correctly
  4. don’t reassure me about settings that you cannot control or don’t know about
  5. don’t give me ‘genius’ staff who have to get other people to help on the product that I booked for (one genius clearly was not iPhone savvy)
  6. do something more than look superior when you stuff up
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3 comments

  1. Hi Jen,

    Had a similar issue with much better outcome. Have had an iPhone since Oct 07 (2G 8GB) I bought it in San Diego. Worked fine until Oct 08, the top of the screen lost its touch sensitivity.

    Reset it to vanilla, packaged it as new, obviously it was a jailbroke unit! Sent it back to a friend in San Diego who took it to the biggest store there. Took a bit of convincing (it had obviously not been activated via AT&T) but they gave a replacement. Return postage time and on ground Apple store time, less than 2 weeks. No idea why you would have had to fly to Hawaii? But yes – advice stands, buy in foreign countries only if you have contacts on the ground who can talk in the ‘local’ language 🙂


  2. Hi Gary

    Sadly, tried that. had a friend going to the US. Gave them my phone. They tried two Apple stores and were refused a replacement as it hadn’t been activated. One Apple store did comment that if it had the AT&T SIM card, they might have replaced it.

    However, as this was a hardware fault – activation should be irrelevant, methinks!

    Now on my 3G iPhone and looking forward to yellowsn0w (unlock for 3G iPhone).


  3. Yea – knew about the AT&T simcard thing, and made sure I kept it safe for just this very scenario!
    Happy with my 2G for the mo using Cydia, iPhone SDK & Installer on top of AppStore/iTunes to mod away.

    Still interested in the issue of being locked to a 3G carrier and able to freely mod etc: without breaking some of their wonderful walled garden’ness 🙂



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