• 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.
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