After 5 calls to AT&T customer service, this is the contents of the iPhone shipment I received:
Here's the full story up to this point ...
Wednesday, May 21st
I am a developer for Pegasus News. My team has been working on an application for the iPhone and was in need of hardware for testing, so when my brother mentioned that AT&T had refurbished iPhones on their site, I jumped on the deal knowing that stock at all local Apple stores was nonexistent. I place my order, everything goes through just fine, I'm a happy customer. I try to pull up my order status on AT&T's site and get an error message telling that it might take 24 hours for information to be available in their system. This seems like a common enough requirement, so I wait patiently.
Thursday, May 22nd (1st call to customer service)
24 hours have passed and still no information available online. I decide to call AT&T's customer service, and the helpful agent gets in touch with the right department for me. He has been told that the online orders department has my iPhone all packed up and ready to be sent out on that day's truck. All is well, and I expect to receive my iPhone the Tuesday after Memorial Day.
Tuesday, May 27th (2nd call)
No iPhone. No online order status. (I still get the error message about waiting 24 hours.) I call up customer service again (this time directly to the online orders department) and am told my iPhone is on backorder and will not be shipping for 2-3 business days. When I inform the agent that I was told last Thursday that it would ship that day, he says there is no record of that conversation in my account. Frustrated but unable to progress any further, I thank him and hang up.
Minutes Later (3rd call)
I decide to call back to make sure that at the least this second employee had noted our conversation in my account. The woman I speak to politely informs me that there is a note in my account and that in fact my iPhone will be shipping that evening or the next morning. In response to my incredulity at this news, she tells me to check my email for a tracking number. No email, but she assures me that I'll have one by the morning. A mixture of baffled, relieved, and skeptical, I decide to call it an evening and wait for my email.
Wednesday, May 28th @ 9am (4th call)
Still no email. I know it's early, but my faith in AT&T customer service is waning at this point and I need more assurance that my iPhone will indeed be shipping today. The man I speak with tells me that in fact it has already shipped. He puts me on hold to check the shipment tracking system and returns with the news that the ship date is 5/22/08 via DHL. He provides a tracking number and I verify that the package is indeed scheduled to arrive today. It is delivered to my apartment complex office that afternoon, and I call my complex to tell them to put it inside my door as I won't be home until after they're closed.
My wife calls to tell me she found the DHL delivery, but it's not a box. It's a shipping envelope. She asks if she should open it. I tell her please do.
"It's just a bag."
"It's a what?"
"It's a bag. It's an empty plastic bag."
"Well, um, er, is there anything else in the package at all? A note or anything?"
"There's a shipping label. But this is just a bag like you'd get if you bought something in their store."
"I'll call AT&T again."
6:20pm (5th call)
I tell the customer service agent my situation and bluntly ask what the hell is going on. He replies that when he came on shift today there was a memo telling him that refurbished iPhone shipments had a technical glitch in shipping and would be delayed for a few days. I ask him to give me a date. He won't. I ask him if I can speak to his supervisor. He says the supervisor got the same memo and will tell me the same thing. I ask him to humor me. He does.
(Cue 15 minutes of flamenco style guitar music repeated in 5 minute increments)
Wendy Sheppard, a supervisor, takes my call. To the lower rep's credit, he's absolutely right. I get no further with her, and she tells me her supervisor is an administrative manager and does not take calls. End of the line.