I am writing to express my deep frustration about AT&T's way of doing business and overall ordering process. Let's start from the beginning.
My parents went to visit the AT&T store in Clackamas mall in Portland intending to buy their lovely daughter an iPhone 4S for Christmas. Of course the store was sold out of these phones, as most of Oregon and Washington was at the time. They were then sold a $200 gift card by a rep named Alicia, and told that they could use the gift card to order the phone online (no problem right?). Very grateful, they put the gift card in their daughter's stocking and Christmas morning was a happy one.
Enter 3 days after Christmas when I tried to purchase the phone (using my upgrade).
Attempt #1: I call the local (Seattle SouthCenter mall store) to see if they have any in stock. Nope. "Can I order one over the phone and pick it up at the store (since I'll have to go back to the store to program it anyway)? Nope. You must come down to the store to order in person, then they will send it to your house, and then you can come back a second time to program it. Instead why don't you go online to order directly (that way it will ship to my house, and not my parents)? Failure #1
Attempt #2: Try to purchase phone online (using upgrade). I learn that you cannot order phones with gift cards (why didn't rep #1 tell me this?), and even if you could, you cannot have it shipped anywhere except where the bill is sent (in this case to a town about 5 hours away, but why did rep #1 tell me otherwise?). Failure #2
Attempt #3: Instead of purchasing the phone with the Gift Card, let's see if I can pay the phone bill with the $200 gift card instead and just order the phone with a credit card. Failure #3 – you cannot pay a bill with a gift card and therefore buying the phone with the credit card is not the best option here (still leaves me with a useless $200 gift card).
Attempt #4: I call AT&T corporate for overall clarification about how this can be done best. Customer service rep (Tara) first says that yes you can order online with gift card, "Can you double check please?"… oh nope sorry. Then she proceeds to tell me that you can pay your bill with a gift card if you use one of the kiosks in the mall, but that I'd have to double check with an actual store (weird, you don't know the rules about your own retail establishment?) So I call an actual AT&T store. Failure #4
Attempt #5: I call the AT&T store in the Bellevue Square mall. Again, a very nice rep that knows nothing. I explained the issue about having a gift card that can be used for nothing, and she tells me that I CAN use it to pay my bill. "Can you double check please?"… oh nope sorry. Very frustrated, I ask if I can just return the gift card, since it is obviously worth nothing. Nope. You cannot return gift cards either (which was not made CLEAR to my parents when they first purchased it in Portland). Ok so really what are my options now? Wait until there is an actual iPhone 4S in stock at one of the stores. "So when do you expect a shipment in and is it possible to reserve one?" We can't tell you that information and no you cannot reserve one. So at this point, my only option is to call back every day until I hear that there is a phone in stock, then leave work to purchase one ASAP with my gift card? Yes. I would call this Failure #5.
Since I still really want this iPhone 4S, I am now must call the local AT&T stores EVERY day between 12-4 to see if they got any in (as no store can tell me when an expected shipment might be – BS). Guess we'll see how long it takes to get my phone. The effort needed has definitely been enough for me to thoroughly HATE AT&T.
Lessons learned from this:
1. Do NOT buy AT&T gift cards unless you wish to purchase $200 worth of accessories.
2. Gift cards can ONLY be used IN STORE. They can NOT be used to pay your bills or order anything online (including any phones or upgrades).
3. Gift Cards can NOT be returned. EVERY sales person should be explaining this to customers when they purchase, as they are basically useless at AT&T.
4. If you do not already have an UNLIMITED data plan, your bill WILL be increased by purchasing the iPhone 4S.
5. AT&T stores will not tell anyone when they are scheduled to receive shipments or what will be in those shipments. Instead they will suggest calling back in EVERY day to check (preferably around 1pm to see it they received anything).
6. AT&T will also not put anything on hold (I am not as surprised by this, as an iPhone is a hot commodity right now), but they should be able to tell you when they arrive.
7. If you do not personally care about the "Talk and Nav" feature in the iPhone (allows you to talk and text/use internet/ect at the same time – a feature that Verizon iPhones do NOT have), I would switch to Verizon in a heartbeat!!!