iPhone 4 fail screen

iPhone 4 Pre-Order fail screen on Apple.com


It’s June 15th — Christmas for Apple geeks and iPhone lovers! It’s pre-order day for the new iPhone 4 and from many reports (and firsthand experience), it’s going pretty badly.

Read on for the Pre-Order madness >>>

Gizmodo isn’t as magnanimous, calling the iPhone 4 pre-order “a total disaster”. Follow the link for nightmare stories of iPhone preorders from both AT&T and Apple. The main culprit seems to be AT&T’s ordering system, which seems to be horribly overloaded. This is causing long lines at AT&T stores, and delays and errors when trying to order online. At one point, the ordering system was shut down today, shutting off access to AT&T Wireless and U-Verse accounts (as of 1:25 PM CDT, I’m able to access my U-Verse account, so it looks like at least the billing part of the system is back online).

Gizmodo reports of several incidents where people met eligibility, placed their orders, and accepted the two-year contracts, only to receive an email later that they would not be receiving a subsidized iPhone, but were still locked into their two-year contracts. One user’s credit card was charged $300 three times while trying to order. Other readers reported security breaches in the ordering process giving them access to other AT&T accounts — an even more serious issue given the recent iPad security breach from AT&T.

Some readers are now reporting that AT&T is giving a 2-3 week backlog for delivery of the iPhone 4.

My experience hasn’t been as rough, but it’s still been frustrating. Given the horror stories coming out of AT&T Land, I’m holding off for a day or so until AT&T gets their server issues sorted. I realize that this may land me on the dreaded “2-3 Week Backlog List”, but I’d rather wait than have my credit card overcharged, or even worse, land in a 2-year contract with AT&T with no iPhone and a complete mess of my current T-Mobile service.

[iPhone 4 Pre-Order link on Apple.com]

After reading the Gizmodo piece, I opted to pre-order my iPhone 4 from the usually rock-solid Apple website. The pre-order process was slow and buggy, even on Apple.com. I suspect this has to do with AT&T’s servers being overloaded today, rather than any fault of Apple’s.

I tried to place my order at least a dozen times today. At best, the site ran slowly. Most of the time, I got kicked out of the system with a Your Session Expired error. I got a lot of practice going through the screens today and knew what information to give ahead of time, so I’m assuming that five seconds between clicks isn’t fast enough to be eligible for an iPhone 4.

I was able to get the the check eligibility screen (and give Apple my Social Security number which makes me uncomfortable given today’s troubles) before I decided I’d be better off waiting.

AT&T takes a lot of heat for how they treat iPhone customers and how a lack of foresight (or implementation) is responsible for the overwhelmed 3G data network, dropped calls, and a perception of poor network performance. Remember when AT&T said that iPhone users “use too much data”?

Over the years, AT&T has done a lot of PR to try and assuage the iPhone community and prove that they are on our side, that they are listening to the concerns of iPhone owners. But disasters like today do nothing to assure current and potential customers that AT&T’s network and customer service issues have improved.

I’ve never had issues like these with T-Mobile with my jailbroken iPhone. T-Mobile customer service has always been friendly and knowledgeable, their tech support is awesome (and patient…), and upgrading my device — even when it was to my iPhone — was always easy and painless. Given the better compatibility of T-Mobile’s network to the hardware of the iPhone, I was hoping for a “One more thing…” announcement of iPhone 4 availability on T-Mobile this month. Sadly, no. It’s one of the things I’ll miss.

AT&T, try rebooting your system. I’ll try again tomorrow.

Did you try to pre-order your iPhone 4 today? Let us know how it went for you in the comments below.