Under The Microscope

Archive for July 1st, 2007

iPhone No Longer iBrick

Yesterday (late last night, really) I posted a timeline of my iPhone purchase. As noted, I had the iPhone in 7 minutes, but activation was taking hours. This morning when I woke up and discovered the iPhone was still an iBrick, I decided to stop waiting and do something active. An hour later, I’m up and running.

Here’s what I did:

1) As I only have cell service, I tried the new SIM in my old phone, which allowed me to place calls.

2) I then checked the AT&T forums for contact info. I called 1-877-800-3701, selected option 1, and then waited on hold.

3) For the next 45 minutes, I heard 30 seconds of bad music, followed by a pause during which I would experience that emotion once called “hope”. I’d then get a standard “Your call is important to us” type message, followed by 30 seconds of more bad music, another pause, and so on. Lather, rinse, repeat.

4) When I got through, I explained my situation to the CS rep, who looked over my account, tweaked some things, and checked my IMEI and ICCID numbers (they’re on the iPhone box). He then told me to swap my SIM back into the iPhone and wait just a couple minutes for a call-back.

5) A few minutes later, I had the long-awaited email, as well as a call-back from the CS rep on the iPhone. Everything finally worked. I asked what the issue was, and the CS rep said that the person who had activated the account had neglected to add one feature, and failed to click the all-important final “Activate” button. Oops.

Lest you think I’m an idiot, when he said “the person who activated the phone”, he didn’t mean me. It sounds like at least some activations must be processed manually, after the iTunes portion is performed by the customer. My phone number is in New Jersey, while my billing address is in Boston, so this may cause issues and require manual activation. That manual activation didn’t go properly – my CS rep said they were “seeing a lot of problems with that”.

As mentioned yesterday, I have no plans to pay an activation fee and at this time, none was on my account. If one is added, I’ll be fighting it, as $36 to activate a phone myself, then wait over a day with not one but two bricked phones, is not my idea of a bargain.

I don’t know what would have happened had I passively waited longer. It seems likely that this might have gone unnoticed for many more hours, perhaps even days. The best I can offer those waiting is to take action.

An iPhone Timeline

Saturday, June 30th

9:33 AM: Enter Apple Store.

9:37 AM: Say “8 gig, please”. Specify that I do not, in fact, mean an 8 gig Nano. Come on now Mike.

9:40 AM: Leave Apple Store with custom iPhone bag that is both stylish and mugger-attracting.

9:49 AM: While driving home, chuckle about suckers who waited in line for hours yesterday. Get stared at by other drivers wondering what’s so funny.

10:10 AM: Arrive home to set up iPhone. Quickly reach final screen informing me this will take some more time and that I should watch my email.

10:17 AM: Receive email from Apple stating “AT&T is now processing your activation. You will receive an email confirmation once your activation is complete.” Or, to paraphrase: “Psyche!”

10:28 AM: Check email. Spam and an email from a friend who got his iPhone yesterday, and is emailing from the device. Set Mail to check every 5 minutes. Briefly consider the “Every 1 Minute” option, but shake it off.

10:31 AM: Notice my old AT&T (Cingular) phone is now dead. Feel mildly irked, but accept unavailability of phone service secure in the knowledge that the iPhone will be working shortly.

2:30 PM: Grumble about the iPhone not allowing you to do anything until activation.

2:31 PM: Stare alternately at Mail and iPhone for the next 4 hours. Realize I don’t have a lot going on today.

6:10 PM: Fail to order pizza for dinner, as no phone service is available. Recall the good old days of landlines.

7:30 PM: Leave house to attend a party, in the hopes that an unwatched iPhone activates. Resolve to refuse to pay the bogus $36 activation fee.

Sunday, July 1st

12:18 AM: Return from party to find that an unwatched iPhone remains a useless iPhone.

12:26 AM: Notice email sent by “do_not_reply@att.com”. Friendly! Tear it open (virtually) to find that AT&T is “currently processing [my] order” and that I “will receive an additional e-mail when [my] order is complete that will provide further instructions to activate your iPhone.”

Paraphrased: “Psyche! Again!”

12:34 AM: Wonder how it can be so hard to move a number from one phone to another on the same network. Also, wonder if I’m actually even close to ever being able to use the freaking thing.

12:54 AM: Consider calling 9-1-1 with the iPhone’s Emergency Mode, just to get it doing something. Reject idea out of hand as a criminal waste of resources.

1:01 AM: Recall Charlie Brown. Feel that I too got a rock. Both sit there doing nothing, but only one costs $600.

1:09 AM: Record the above-linked Charlie Brown audio with Audio Hijack Pro. Shamelessly self-promote. Use Fission to edit same. Continue to shamelessly self-promote.

1:14 AM: Write this post. Twiddle thumbs.

1:39 AM: Come to terms with the fact that there is likely to be little sympathy for this situation amongst the unwashed masses not in possession of an iPhone. Console self with beer, which requires no “activation” beyond a bottle opener.

1:53 AM: Apologize to Steve Jobs, the fates, and the aforementioned suckers for my hubris then, check email one last time. Zip, zilch, nada.

2:06 AM: Realize that calling 9-1-1 to report the apparent death of AT&T might actually be the right thing to do. Resolve to sleep on it.

Update (7/1/2007, 1 PM): Finally got it going. See iPhone No Longer iBrick for full details.

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