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  • Why did AT&T Stop Selling iPhones in NYC?


    Reports started coming yesterday and today that AT&T had completely stopped all online sales of iPhones to anyone with a New York City ZIP code. The carrier has had some of its worst network issues in the New York City area, and initial explanations from AT&T centered around their not being able to support more iPhones in the US's largest city. Though the iPhone is once again available on AT&T's website, the company's explanations varied from changing promotions to credit card fraud, and it's still not entirely clear why iPhone sales were cut off in the first place.

    On Sunday, the Consumerist blog spread the news of how a user who entered in any ZIP from any address in New York City on AT&T's online iPhone store got a message back saying "We're sorry, there are no packages & deals available at this time. Please check back later."

    I was on the AT&T Wireless website trying to get an iPhone. However, when I put in my zip code 11231, the site says the iPhone is unavailable. This seemed a little odd so I started punching in other famous zip codes: 90210, 60609 (spiegel catalog), 02134 (zoom, an old children's show).

    For theses cities, LA, Chicago, Boston, iPhone is available. Then I looked up some other zip codes: Dallas, Miami, St. Louis, Philadelphia, San Francisco. All those cities are ok. Then I started putting in more NYC zip codes: midtown, Staten Island, the Bronx...no iPhone available.

    This is weird...AT&T has cut off New York City.
    \When Consumerist contacted the company for an explanation, a customer service representative said the reason was because New York was "not ready" for the iPhone because the city didn't have enough cell towers.

    Daphne: Welcome to AT&T online Sales support. How may I assist you with placing your order today?
    Laura: Hi, I was looking at the iPhone 3Gs and the system tells me that I cannot order one in my ZIP code. My zip code is 11231. (Brooklyn, NY) Is this true? Are iPhones no longer available in New York City?
    Daphne: I am happy to be helping you today . Yes, this is correct the phone is not offered to you because New York is not ready for the iPhone.
    Daphne: You don't have enough towers to handle the phone.
    Laura: Thank you for your help. So the phone is not available to people anywhere in the city?
    Daphne: Yes this is correct Laura.
    Later, however, Consumerist was told by a different customer service representative that the iPhone sales to New York were being blocked due to credit card fraud. When asked why just that phone was being blocked to users in just that area, the representative reportedly said "Sometimes popularity leads people to make poor decisions." Finally, AT&T spokesman Fletcher Cook told Consumerist in a written statement that "We periodically modify our promotions and distribution channels."

    Though the iPhone is currently once again available online to New Yorkers, the officially stated reason really sheds no light on why the phone had been blocked in the first place, and the apparent inability for management to propagate an explanation down to its support staff (and the apparent willingness of the reps to just make stuff up when talking to customers) is yet another black eye to AT&T's already poor customer service record, especially in New York.
    This article was originally published in forum thread: Why did AT&T Stop Selling iPhones in NYC? started by Paul Daniel Ash View original post
    Comments 21 Comments
    1. WTFDANG <3's Avatar
      WTFDANG <3 -
      Out of all the cities in United States. I thought NYC would have the best reception. I guess i was wrong.
    1. eg6motion's Avatar
      eg6motion -
      Quote Originally Posted by pauldanielash View Post

      and the apparent inability for management to propagate an explanation down to its support staff (and the apparent willingness of the reps to just make stuff up when talking to customers) is yet another black eye to AT&T's already poor customer service record, especially in New York.
      Meh, seems like more ATT bashing to me. Anyone who has worked in customer service can vouch that if you don't know the answer, and you can't find out, then you provide a feasible one as to avoid saying "I don't know" as it comes off far worse to the customer.
    1. Melech518's Avatar
      Melech518 -
      This article was already covered by other forums and sites and explained the issue in much better depth. I agree with the above poster where this seems like bashing and written in bad taste.
    1. imilad's Avatar
      imilad -
      iphone: Good bye ATT, Hello Verizon
    1. The Maestro's Avatar
      The Maestro -
      Quote Originally Posted by WTFDANG <3 View Post
      Out of all the cities in United States. I thought NYC would have the best reception. I guess i was wrong.
      No we got a lot of buildings that interfere with signal. I live in New York and regret switching to AT&T even from nextel as ****** as it was. In fact my phone just got bricked because i hadnt any service, if anyone could help thats in the general iphone forum. On another unrelated aspect writers need to spice it up and most are biased anyway so dont blame the guy, blame the person who hired him
    1. rhekt's Avatar
      rhekt -
      the reason im sure they pulled sales from NYC is due to the poor connection quality quite commonly spoke of in NYC [poor move] the fact that they reinstated sales is due to the fact that there would have been serious legal repercussions if they hadnt.
    1. southfrisco's Avatar
      southfrisco -
      Quote Originally Posted by eg6motion View Post
      Meh, seems like more ATT bashing to me. Anyone who has worked in customer service can vouch that if you don't know the answer, and you can't find out, then you provide a feasible one as to avoid saying "I don't know" as it comes off far worse to the customer.
      Well you are right that you don't say "I don't know" to the customer but do you actually think it is ok to "provide a feasible answer" even if it means making stuff up? No customer service training I've been to has ever advised reps to give out false information.
    1. rkisling's Avatar
      rkisling -
      I too have never heard of CSRs being trained to make stuff up; but I did have an interesting conversation with a CSR on Saturday.


      After dropping a call 10 - 15 times and being unable to send MMS when in Union Square, San Francisco on the 26th (was crazy busy with after-xmas sales), I called the AT&T CSR. After asking all the basic questions, she said it sounds like the network was overburdened because of the crowds. I suggested maybe they should add capacity to which she responded they aren't adding any voice capacity, all the investment is going into 4G (great, guess I should be using VOIP to make calls).

      I indicated that it was frustrating to be paying higher fees and not being able to make calls -- she replied by saying, "I hear Verizon has this droid phone."


      ->Remind me if I ever own a company to randomly call customer support to see what they are telling customers
    1. thetoothfairy's Avatar
      thetoothfairy -
      Quote Originally Posted by Melech518 View Post
      Who cares?
      I do not know how old you are but you need to learn to be grateful for each and every word on this forum...... it doesn't matter if its this forum or another one that covers things or who gets it out faster please be grateful!

      I did not think this was a polite comment nor do I think your other response was polite either in this thread.

      Remember time is worth everything in life and it took the person that started this thread time.
    1. hollow0's Avatar
      hollow0 -
      Damn that sucks for NYC :/ thank goodness for excellent reception in Tampa.
    1. metaserph's Avatar
      metaserph -
      I'm a native newyorker, now living in Tx. Cell reception has always been an issue of one kind or another in NYC, regardless of carrier. Not too many places to hide cell towers and overcrowding of highrisers. NY NY. But hey, we got great canolis!
    1. Dorkenstein909's Avatar
      Dorkenstein909 -
      I hate stupid reps who think they hav the authority to tell you whatever bs they want. and as a brooklyn native, i always have 5 bars!
    1. metaserph's Avatar
      metaserph -
      Yeah, not so bad on the "burbs".
    1. Channan's Avatar
      Channan -
      News Leak Reveals 10-inch Glass Panel for Apple Tablet

      Thanks a whole freaking lot, Paul.

      My comment on the issue [@BGR]: http://www.boygeniusreport.com/2009/...comment-720305
    1. Melech518's Avatar
      Melech518 -
      Thanks for proving my point chri$. Hey ToothFairy, see what I am talking about now?
    1. rhekt's Avatar
      rhekt -
      so to the best of my knowledge here. melech and chris are pissed off because this article wasnt written in due fashion. as it was written after an article of the upcoming tablet. as mentioned in the tablet article by chris that there was better news afoot. [Today, 07:03 AM] whereas the article mentioned on BGR [Apple iPhone inexplicably unavailable for NYC via online orders by Marc Flores on December 27th, 2009 at 6:54pm] thats yesterday. now why now. why the fit. why didnt you guys make your fit yesterday when it was news?.......not trying to cause a battle. just stating the obvious
    1. rhekt's Avatar
      rhekt -
      ok..so theres more behind these curtains here than im aware of. however, chris commented this news within another thread. before this thread was even posted. why couldnt he have just written the article then? [unless it was allready finalized who was to write the article at that time and chris was just venting his frustration] i can understand how this would be insulting. however it doesnt seem alltogether appropriate for posting [well unless all other venues have been proven fruitless]
    1. thetoothfairy's Avatar
      thetoothfairy -
      ^ Melech518 all I posted was for you to be polite and I don't feel I need to remove my post. Anything that was supposed to be behind doors then should stay there.
    1. A Retired Mod's Avatar
      A Retired Mod -
      Quote Originally Posted by Melech518 View Post
      Well I agree that these issue should remain private and behind closed doors otherwise restricted to PMs and nasty emails. The ToothFairy has ignored my PM requesting that this to remain a private issue and to remove prior posts on this thread including her own. I personally will no longer discuss any outside issues and give the thread back to the OP.
      ^^^That is enough!...
    1. aekhamsouk's Avatar
      aekhamsouk -
      Quote Originally Posted by southfrisco View Post
      Well you are right that you don't say "I don't know" to the customer but do you actually think it is ok to "provide a feasible answer" even if it means making stuff up? No customer service training I've been to has ever advised reps to give out false information.
      for sure, feasible answer is a load of $h1+...