I decided to pickup an iPhone 3G, and I knew my only chance of getting one is to go early, to the 14th Street NYC Apple store. To make a long story short, 7 hours later, I walked out of the store with a 16GB White iPhone 3G. For those interested in hearing my adventure, read on...
I woke up at 7AM this morning (Sat.) and spontaneously, I decided to head out to the Apple Store in the Meatpacking District in search of an iPhone 3G; I stopped by the very same store last night and learned that they have white 16GB versions available but they had already cut off the waiting line by then (approx. 8:30PM). To increase my odds, I picked the Apple store location that is most isolated in Manhattan and they usually have the highest iPhones available compared to the Fifth Ave HQ and SOHO store. The store opens at 9 AM on Saturdays and I arrived around 7:30AM. By then, there were already 40+ people in line. To my surprise, they started to take people in for iPhone activation by 8AM, one full hour ahead of schedule. One by one, I see happy iPhone 3G owners walked out of the store with a shiny iPhone 3G bag; by 10:20AM (almost 3 hours later), I was finally at the front of the line and was greeted by a friendly Apple staff, Ingrid, to provide an upgrade.
First hurdle: Small Business Account!
Somehow, my AT&T account kept on running into an error IRU(sp?) code, which claimed I have some sort of discount on my account. I explained to the staff that I don't have any corporate discount(s) on my account. We placed a call with AT&T and they said they will clear my account and check back in 1 hour. I come back at 12:30PM (1.5hrs. later), and still get the same error message. We placed another call with AT&T, this time, the rep informed us the actual fix did not take place until 12:15PM so it will be 1 hour from then. Somehow, when my friendly Apple staffer tried again, system accepted me. It turned out, when I opened my primary line with a year ago for an AT&T 8525, they defaulted my account as a small business account; this notation had to be removed on the account level in order to proceed.
Define iPhone Eligibility! $499 for you! (not $299)
At checkout screen on the PDA kiosk, the system prompted 16GB iPhone 3G to be $499, and says I am ineligible for an upgrade. We get on the phone with AT&T again, and this is where things got funny. Between the rep and her supervisor, they tossed out three different eligibility dates to upgrade my first gen iPhone. I told them according to every piece of information I read online and offline (Apple and AT&T site) they pretty much said all existing iPhone users are eligible for the subsidized price of $199/299. The AT&T reps said they would not be able to argue with their system and it is what it is. It wasn't until, Apple store supervisor Brian, who got on the call with two different reps before everything was sorted out. Brian informed the AT&T rep that the official rule says anyone who's purchased an iPhone before July 11th, 2008 is eligible for the subsidized upgrade. Shortly after that, my account was fixed and I got the phone for $299+upgrade fee of $18.
Happy ending, $299, 16GB iPhone 3G
In the end, I walked out of the Apple store about 2:30PM, tired, happy and grateful that I had two wonderful Apple store employees by my side to get this process completed. I am happy it all worked out in the end, but I can't be certain if my outcome would be the same had I gone through the AT&T store route... I'll be updating ths blog with more iPhone 3G user experiences, stay tuned.