iPhone for corporate users. What a debacle

What a debacle. Here is how poorly AT&T have handled the management of the iPhone for the millions of “individual” users that have their bill paided for under a corporate account.

First, prior to release I inquired with my company’s technical people who contacted our local rep. Here is what they had to say.

“I’ve spoken to our Cingular rep and he not going to be able to sell the iPhone to business customers for 1-3 months. I suppose this is to keep stock high in the retail channel. Your best bet, according to him, is to go directly to an Apple store and buy it there. He thinks it’s a better bet then going to a Cingular store.”

So on the night of the release I goto the New York Apple Store, which is huge and open 24 hours, inquire about getting an iPhone given I’m on a corporate account. I have to ask a sales person who asked another more senior who asked another more senior again (it all was rather smoothly handled) until I get the response, “Yes, I can get an iPhone given I’m on an existing corporate account, I simply have to a call AT&T for the activation process and get a new 2 year contract”. That’s it. None of the detail I’m about to discuss. So, as I’ve recently written I did indeed buy the phone. (Includes Pictures & Video)

The first time I call Friday Night (now actually 1am Saturday morning), no answer other then a very boring on hold message for 30 minutes.

I call a second time Saturday midday and again, no answer other then a very boring on hold message for 30 minutes.

On Sunday, call a third time at midday, and surprisingly after 20-25 mins I get an operator. Before that story, it was interesting to observe a change in the on hold message from the previous two times. This one I recorded, I wish I’d had the earlier ones. This time the message clearly states. “Your iPhone is not eligible for any corporate discount.” Wow, just some little detail nobody has at hand before.

Of course, I can’t get my phone activated. What a surprise. As the operator stated, paraphrasing “The iPhone is intended for individuals. We didn’t expect this need for corporate account uses”. I’m sorry, I’m an “individual”, I just have somebody paying the bill on my behalf. AT&T/Apple you blew it here.

So in order to get my iPhone activated I have to contact the appropriate person at my company with the right authority (fat chance that will happen on a weekend, Friday 6pm realize of a product, and nobody considered this, either the did and decided to let the pain happen or the didn’t, either way it’s rather poor product release consideration. So the right person has to contact AT&T and either allow to list the iPhone as a regular device or Release my number (without penalty I’m told). Given there is no corporate discount either option works for me, I just want to play and show off my $600 useless phone. I should also add, my phone account already runs at about $120 per month, I have unlimited data already, so it’s not like switching to an iPhone I would actually be paying more from my account. The operator could see that, so where is the problem. If I had a phone on a corporate account without unlimited data already I could see this being an issue.

I also find out on this call another piece of information I didn’t know. The iPhone is an non insurable device. I’m not sure exactly what that means, but I take it AT&T offer phone insurance, except for the iPhone. Does this mean it won’t last the distance of say 12 months.

Overall the operator was as helpful as she could be, she was courteous and provided all the information I needed, but not with the result I wanted.

AT&T and Apple have done a piss poor job of the release for “individual users” that simply have there phone account paided differently. It’s been a rather unacceptable experience. I’m disappointed in the process and now a full 2 days later I still have a useless iPhone that I can’t activate.

And for the record, I went to the iPhone website to make a complaint. You think after looking at all the contact details I could find a link to do this. Seems, they may not be happy with people making complaints.

Update You can read the final conclusion at iPhone activation – Finally after 3 days