Activating the iPhone

So this past Friday, I finally fulfilled a wish two years in the making. My own wish yes, but hey, I wanted it. Due to some pretty good luck my contract for my ancient, shattered-screen Samsung flip phone expired just days before the new iPhone 3G S was to come out. Naturally, I had to upgrade.

I had been expecting this--Apple has pretty consistent product release cycles--and had saved up some money from my birthday a few weeks ago. With that, I logged onto AT&T's website and went through the relatively easy steps required to pre-order an iPhone.

Unfortunately, I had to be out of town on the actual day that I'd get the phone, as I was requested to take place in a roundtable on Gay rights in Arkansas. When I got back home, the package was sitting there, waiting for me. With predictable fervor, I tore into the box and opened its contents with the reference that Apple packaging demands. There were no instructions. I dug around in the box, but all I found were my receipt and a shipping invoice. I plugged it into iTunes, went through those steps, and put some music on the phone.

When I disconnected the phone from my computer, it said no service. This could not be fixed by any number of restarts. A quick google search yielded some news reports of an error in AT&T's computers do to so many activations. It made sense. I made due with my phone on the wifi, downloaded some apps, and went to bed.

The next morning I had no luck. I tried restarting it quite a few more times. Nothing. I even went to the AT&T store, but they were predictably useless. They told me to wait, had no idea for how long, and said I could try to call customer service. By this time I'm just calling it my iPod touch.

I wake up the next morning to, gasp, a phone that has no service. I do have, however, an email from AT&T. As it turns out, will do the trick. It took maybe five minutes of filling out a simple web form (phone number and zip code) and agreeing to my new contract. My next restart yielded a working phone.

The actual process of getting my phone to work was simple. But the fact that their website didn't link to the activation page, and I couldn't find out about it in a google search, in the packaging, or in their store is a pretty good example of pretty bad customer service. You shouldn't have to wait two days for an email that explains how to make it work. It should come the morning the phone is delivered.

The phone, of course, is wonderful; this entire post was composed using the free wordpress for iPhone app.