- AT&T receives some unknown number of refurbished iPhones.
- Assuming the demand will be low (God knows why), they decide to list them as in stock on their online store and leave them up for a day with no regard to how many they actually received or how many orders were placed.
- They proceed to assure customers that the phones are in stock and will be shipped post haste.
- A memo is sent to customer service reps indicating a "technical glitch" in shipping. Reps are told iPhones are backordered and will ship in 2-3 days. AT&T again assures its customers that they have enough phones.
- People begin to receive their shipments of empty plastic bags and, justifiably outraged, pressure customer service for further answers.
- Somebody at AT&T (who knows how far up or down the chain) makes up a ridiculous story about the refurbished units needing to be re-inspected to ensure they're in top condition before being sent out. (That should placate the customers. Who could be against AT&T making extra sure they're sending out good phones?)
- AT&T begins sending out order cancellation notices and informing customers of indefinite wait times for backordered phones.
According to Stacy, there are currently over 500 phones on backorder without a known ship date. 500. I guess I had a little more faith in such a huge e-commerce site to better automate inventory tracking. I was informed that according to the online store, new iPhones are in stock. I told her that I thought it only fair that she ship a new phone to me as a substitute for the refurbished one she could not provide, and she responded that due to AT&T's agreement with Apple no iPhones can be discounted. (Now, the technicality of whether this is or is not a "discount" could be refuted, but I do understand that Apple is very strict in their price setting policies.)
The only conclusion that I can draw from all of these interactions is that AT&T has absolutely no desire to make their customers happy. I have been met at every turn with people who are sympathetic to my situation but completely powerless to change it. This is not the way to maintain the integrity of your brand. I sincerely hope that AT&T knows the only reason for its current success is Apple's superior product.