When it Comes to iPhone Pre-Orders, AT&T Needs to Do Better

After receiving hundreds of emails from frustrated customers in regards to the AT&T iPhone 5 pre-order and after going through the experience myself, it’s clear that AT&T needs to do better when and if it offers a pre-order for the iPhone 5S or iPhone 6 next year.

Last Friday, I, along with many others, pre-ordered my iPhone 5 through AT&T’s website early in the morning. I had tried the night before but AT&T’s website was unusable and Apple wouldn’t let me pre-order.  In the morning, I saw that the device was sold out through Apple and so I decided to test my luck through AT&T’s website once again.

After about 45 minutes of clicking, hitting back on my browser, and entering pertinent information over and over again, my pre-order stuck and I was now the owner of a new iPhone 5. Oddly enough, AT&T never, for whatever reason, sent me a confirmation email. It did however send me a nice text message which you can see below.

Read: My iPhone 5 Pre-Order Nightmare Came True.

preorder

That test message at the top was one of the only pieces of information I had about my order.

However, the problems with the website were just the beginning of my problems with AT&T and my iPhone 5.

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After enjoying a nice relaxing weekend as a future iPhone 5 owner, I woke up on Monday morning to an email from a reader (and not AT&T) saying that the carrier had mysteriously pushed his iPhone 5 order back from the original September 21st delivery date to 14 to 21 business days from then. Flustered, I did a little investigation of my own.

And that’s when I discovered that AT&T was of absolutely no help in regards to anything iPhone 5 pre-order related. Starting with its website which offered me nothing in terms of information.

Until yesterday morning, my order said it was processing. I didn’t have any tracking info. I didn’t have any scheduled delivery date. Nothing. It just said processing. Then, a little later in the day, the website claimed that my device had shipped. Still, the carrier providing nothing in terms of information. Great, it shipped. But was it on time? Who was delivering it and when? These are questions I wanted to have answered.

But who to answer them? Well, AT&T states this right above my order:

Here are the details on your order. If you have questions, we’ll be glad to help. You can chat with an agent live or contact us.

Seeking clarity, I gave them a ring. I went into the conversation with no answers and left the conversation with no answers. My customer service rep, while nice, couldn’t tell me a thing. She had no idea if it would arrive on September 21st or not. The only thing she could tell me was that yes, I placed an iPhone 5 pre-order on the morning of Friday September 14th.

So, then I started the hunt for any email from AT&T.

Like I said, a reader emailed me saying that his order had been pushed back. And soon after, it became apparent that AT&T sent the email out by accident and that his order was actually coming on September 21st.

Others received emails saying that they would be notified when the device shipped. Oddly enough, I never received an email from AT&T about an expected shipping date. Not even one offering misinformation.

Read: AT&T iPhone 5 Pre-Orders Begin to Ship.

In fact, this entire time, I haven’t received a single email from AT&T about my iPhone 5 order. And others, who had received emails previously, said that  AT&T did not email them telling them that their order had shipped as it had promised. Most people discovered the news and their tracking number either through UPS or FedEx or through AT&T’s website.

The funny thing is, my friends and co-workers who pre-ordered through Apple, Sprint and Verizon don’t have any horror stories of their own.

After years and years of taking orders for the iPhone, you’d think AT&T would have this all figured out by now. That its website would offer up-to-date information, that its customer service reps would be well-equipped, and that it wouldn’t be sending out false emails or no emails at all. You’d think after all of the nonsense, that they’d do something to change or improve its system.

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Hopefully, in the next year, it makes the necessary changes. A great ordering experience and fantastic customer service to boot would go a long way with customers torn.

Comments

  1. George Lahan says

    I’ve had the exact same experience. To a ‘T’. Exactly the same. I still have no idea when (if ever) I’ll receive my new iPhone. Asked them to cancel my order, but they can;t even do that. Extremely disappointed.

    • Nicole says

      I had the exact experience! Up @2am, website a nightmare, then finally on phone w/ someone @7am then working all day. I’ve received NO phone today & no shipping info! I’ve tried putting in my track order # on AT&T site but nothing! I was promised to get it today or ship out today w/ tracking & receive NO LATER than Monday! SO very frustrated!!!

  2. Paul says

    Glad to hear your getting an iphone5. My order was at 3:20am EDT and I seem to be back ordered and not getting a phone on the 21st. AT&T says they are doing FIFO but it’s apparent that they have no idea who’s getting a phone and who isn’t.

  3. Jeremie says

    AT&T doesn’t know what’s really going on! I placed my order on Friday 9/14 at about 11-1130 am but when I go to the AT&T website and view my order it says order placed on Sunday 9/16. I even have confirmation emails from Friday that says I placed the order on Friday the 14th. So I did the online chat help and now I’m just more pissed. They said if my order was placed before 9am pst then I would be getting it on the 21st. Well I did! But… They say I didn’t then she proceeds to tell me that processing takes a while and even though I ordered on Friday supposedly their systems took two days to actually put the order in!!! This is ridiculous and unacceptable! If this was the case why couldn’t we have ordered it on wednsday since it wouldn’t have really gone through until Friday? AT&T also stated I wouldn’t be charged until the item shipped I guess that is a play on words since they have a hold on my account for the full amount! Yes I haven’t been “charged” but I can’t touch that money either! So needless to say they said it would be shipped around 10/4 – 10/15 I’ll believe it when it actually happens! I thought by pre-ordering it I would actually get it on time or sooner boy was I wrong! This whole thing is seriously making me rethink other service providers and I have been with AT&T for over 10 years. Hope others actually get their phones when they were supposed to. Good luck!

  4. Troy says

    I ordered in the morning hours of the 14th via AT&T. They stated via the ATT website that it was going to ship on the 21st. Called ATT when no tracking showed up and they stated it would be 14-21 business days.

    I then call the order desk (ATT automated update of order status) and the voice response says it has been sent to their shipment warehouse, they’ll tell me when it ships, I can’t change my order anymore, etc. My CC has a hold for the amount of purchase. I’ll be furious if I got scammed by ATT on my phone that is supposed to be delivered on 9/21.

  5. Stephanie says

    I ordered at midnight, the first chance AT&T allowed me to order. I got an email saying my iPhone will arrive on 9/21. I called today to be told my phone will arrive by the end of October or later. They can’t explain the change on ordering or why their emails say a different date. They LIED!!!!

  6. Chad says

    Dear Mr. Stephenson,
    I’m writing to tell you my experience with AT&T recently. We recently made an online order with AT&T for the preorder of the iPhone 5. We tried to make an order at 1:15 AM MST September 14, 2012 and there was too much volume and AT&T’s servers went offline. We tried again and again and finally at 2:05 AM MST we had success. The website confirmed that we would receive an iPhone 5 and with in 30 minutes we received an email confirming we would receive the iPhone 5 on 21st. I received two other emails later on that explained how to contact AT&T using the phone and how to check to see your balances etc. I thought everything was fine and that I would receive my phone as promised on the 21st. I checked my AT&T account yesterday to check on the order status and it shows that the phone is processing. I looked online and checked the message boards to find that people that ordered the phone later than me had already received tracking for their phones. So I called AT&T customer care at 7:30 AM the first agent I talked with told me I would be receiving it today on the 21st as promised. Two Hours went by no tracking and I decided to check again and the second customer care agent told me that it had updated to being shipped 2-3 weeks but she then looked at the time I ordered the phone and said you ordered it early enough that you will get it tomorrow for sure. Well now I am hopeful but I’m starting to have some doubt that I’m going to get the phone tomorrow. Another hour went by and I decided I need to call one more time to make sure that I’m getting the phone. The third customer care agent told me that I would not be getting the phone until 4-10 of October. How could that be? I said I ordered earlier than customers on the message boards that have already received tracking. I was told that she knew that and mine had been back-ordered. I hung up told my wife the bad news and she told me to call back again. I called customer care a forth time only to find out my order had been processed and I would receive the phones Saturday or Monday at the latest. I said are you sure, she replied and said yes. I told my wife and we were both pretty excited we had sold our old phones and bought some cheap used iPhone 3’s that we were going to sale once we got our new phones. We are going to Disneyland October 1st and the new phones will be perfect to take pictures of our family trip. Now I decided that I would call customer care one more time just to make sure that we are indeed getting the phones. I called for the fifth and final time the customer care agent looked up the order and said the order had been processed and I should receive the new phones between October 4-10. I said are you sure I was just told the 22nd or the 24th of September. She said I’m sorry but that is the dates we have. Now I am pretty deflated and discouraged. She told me I should try to go to the store in the morning to try and get a phone. I decided I would go and try to get a phone at the retail store. I called the local AT&T store and asked if it would be possible for me to get two phones. They said one per customer. I decided I could not go and get a phone without getting one for my wife. We have an autistic daughter that my wife volunteers at her school and would not be able to stand in line with me at the AT&T store. So as of today I have not heard anything from AT&T and had I not called yesterday I would be under the impression I was getting phones today. Last year I preordered the iPhone 4S from AT&T and received the iPhone 4 and not the 4S as ordered. I’m wondering if my account number is doomed by your system or am I just that unlucky. I no you will never read this letter but it has helped me blow off some steam. We are still loyal customers that feel like we have been betrayed.
    Sincerely yours,
    Chad

    PS I posted this on AT&T’s forum and they just delete it.

  7. b says

    I preordered 9/20 and had the 14-21 day message when I ordered. I was talking to a rep today and asked for a more accurate ship date while I had them on the phone and was told my order would ship between October 10th and 19th.

  8. tympanik says

    Check the macrumors forum for the 300+ page topic ‘ATT iPhone 5 Pre-order thread’. I’m in a similar situation. Pre ordered on the am of 9/14. Order still shows ‘processing’ and ‘backordered’. Has he same status it did on 9/14. Several calls to att, provided as many differing responses (From delivery on 9/21 to 14 _ 21days). There are also rumors that att may have run out of nano-SIMs.

  9. signa says

    Could they be sued for taking our money over week ago promising that first comes first serve, yet selling them to people who came to their store week later?

  10. holli says

    I also preordered through att over ten days ago now, and the only confirmation that I even placed the order is in my email and the hold on my card. If I go to my account on the att website and look for my order information or call the automated service, there is nothing there at all. It all has me worried that it even exists, there is no order detail, estimated shipment date, no backordered nothing except the 2-3 week estimated shipping. It is very frustrating that someone can “pre-order something” but actually be one of the last people to receive the item. Att really needs to get their communication together! Isn’t the customer supposed to be the most important?… Will not be preordering from them again, I would rather wait in line through someone else. Hopefully I actually receive the phone someday..

  11. Melissa says

    I AM USING SHOUTY CAPS. BECAUSE I’M MAD! I ordered AT THE AT&T STORE on the 14th. My order is still PROSSING. Meanwhile, on the 21st. people could purchase phones at the same store. NOT HAPPY WITH AT&T. All Sprint customers who preordered on line the 14th, were able to go pick there phones up at Sprint stores on 21st. Whats up with that. You would think they would try to keep there customers happy, and make sure we were taken care of first. Not a smart move, how many people will get fed up with them and switch to Sprint or Verizon?

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