Apple-flavored Kool-Aid

June 17, 2010


Despite my best effort, I do not have an iPhone 4 pre-ordered or even merely reserved. Why? Because Apple??AT&T decided to discriminate against people who, for whatever reasons, only have a debit card and not a credit card.

My own story is that I had personal bankruptcy effective December 31, 2004. I have found it surprisingly easy to lead a cash-based existence. I suppose that???s in part because banks for a long time have given you VISA debit cards, so I can pretend that I have a ???charge??? card, even though it comes (relatively) right out of my checking account.

That was all fine and dandy until yesterday, Day of the iPhone 4 Pre-Order. Yesterday, Day of the iPhone 4 Pre-Order, was the first time I have ever run into a SNAFU because my card is debit not credit.

At lunchtime, I made my way over to the downtown AT&T store because that was most convenient. I drank the Apple Kool-Aid a long time ago, as I believe I have mentioned previously, and would have preferred checking in at one of their stores, but as it was a non-weekend workday, I made do with what was available.

I can???t blame anybody but myself for this lack of fulfillment. I arrived at the AT&T store where the line-managing concierge made a frequent point of mentioning that debit cards would not be accepted and that if that was all you had, you should save yourself some agony and turn back now. I smugly watched three people ahead of me in the line of nine bail. I am an experienced Apple line-waiter. I stayed.

Oh, and I also answered to at least two passersby who wondered what the line was for, that AT&T was giving away a million dollars but that they should keep it on the down-low.

Yeah, then reality set in.

My turn with a CSR came and I had an enjoyable fifteen minutes with Zach while he waited for the overloaded AT&T and Apple systems to process each screen of information. Then came the Moment of Doom. I realized that my card was debit not credit.

It???s not that I???m dumb. I know the charges come right out of my checking account. But I???ve never been denied, because the card with the VISA logo, etc., is supposed to work “everywhere VISA is accepted.??? Right. Apparently not in Cupertino, California??AT&Tland.

The official line is that in previous pre-order situations, people were confused because a ???hold??? is placed on the total $$, though (as usual) the account activity doesn???t occur until the purchase is shipped. People less smart than I did not comprehend that it was not an actual duplicate removal of funds. Apple??AT&T decided not to deal with the questions this time around.

Freakin??? awesome.

I tried to be interested in picking up something for lunch on the way back to the office, then decided I???d see what would happen if I tried pre-ordering online at the Apple website. The first two attempts failed. The third attempt denied me for some reason other than my debit card, because I never got so far as being asked to enter the number. But what it did ask me was whether I wanted to ???reserve??? one at a store to pick up on the Day of Release. YES, PLEASE.

I then got a friendly web page that said something to the effect of ???thank you, your iPhone will be ready for you to pick up.??? There was no subsequent email confirmation. I was nervous that I had any kind of deal.

In the evening I saw the headline informing the world that AT&T stores had sold out of their allotted pre-orders. Skepticism crept closer.

This morning I tried the Apple site again and saw that instead of ???Ships: Arrives on June 24th??? it said ???Ships: By July 2nd.??? After lunch it said ???Ships: By July 14th.??? What?

Then I saw the headline that over 600,000 iPhone 4s had been pre-ordered. Whoa! Panic!

I called the store where I thought I might have an iPhone 4 on reserve. Nope, they didn???t have me on their list and, of course, I couldn???t be added.

My main motivation for wanting to acquire an iPhone 4 on the day of its release is because I???m leaving for ten days in London the next day, and my current iPhone 1 (bless its Edge network soul) is beat up and cracked, and water seeped into those cracks a few weeks ago and caused the top half of the touch screen to no longer work. Although I have gotten quite adept at creatively rotating the thing to accomplish tasks, there are some important actions that I can???t do, such as dial a phone number with the keypad.

So it???s down to this. I will draw on my line-waiting experience at an Apple Store around dawn on June 24th and hope for the best. If the iPhone 4 stock has been depleted by the time it???s my turn, I will instead get the $99 iPhone 3GS and figure out the rest (with regard to contracts and upgrade prices) later. I really want to take something that is fully functional in every way with me on my trip.

One Response to “Apple-flavored Kool-Aid”

  1. someToast Says:

    Not to be an apologist, but this sounds more like AT&T’s issue than Apple’s. Apple allows debit cards for both pre-orders and in-store purchase after reservation. All Apple hardware I’ve ever gotten has been on a debit card. There’s reports of people doing online pre-orders via on debit too. Sadly, in-store AT&T pre-order may have been the one vector where debit couldn’t be used (which is crazy, especially if they’d put a hold on the funds then and there).

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