Almanac

- August 20, 2008

Miles Files: iPhone, iGroan

by Miles McMullin

Hours waiting in line, more hours driving around in the car, drastic overpricing, and a final product with significant flaws. ... I was not trying to get a malaria vaccine, but the new Apple iPhone 3g, which I planned to buy with my birthday money.

When Steve Jobs announced this product, I never thought I would be spending hours in line to own the hottest new gadget. I was wrong.

I started my quest on July 14, the third day after the product was released. I was hoping the rush would be over and I would only spend an hour in line.

Instead I spent three hours in line that day at the Apple Store in Stanford Shopping Center. Although Apple employees were handing out water to ease the situation, I was not happy.

When I finally got to the front of the line, I learned I had to be 18 years old to buy the iPhone — you have to be the primary account holder on the cell phone account and you need to be 18 for that. I had just turned 17.

Therefore, my mom had to buy the phone and she was not with me. I had not seen this information anywhere online nor had any of the employees told me. So I had to leave the store without my phone.

People now advised me to wait a few weeks for the hype to die down, but getting an iPhone became an obsession, and I would not stop until I had it in my hands.

The next two days I woke up an hour before the stores opened at 10 a.m. and called the three Apple stores in Palo Alto and Burlingame to make sure they had the iPhone in stock. On the second day of my calls, I was told the Apple store on University Avenue in Palo Alto had my phone, so I went there.

I waited 90 minutes before I was informed they were sold out of the color I was looking for. I wanted the 16gig black phone. So I left again without a phone.

On the third day, I called and learned that the Apple Store at Stanford Shopping Center had the phone. I waited in a line outdoors in 90-degree weather for more than three hours. The employees told me I would probably get the phone, and if the store did sell out, they would tell me before I got to the front of the line. So I waited.

The man right in front of me got his phone. I then became the very first person in line, and waited 10 minutes more before they told me they were sold out. I wasn't served water that day, and had risked dehydration for nothing.

The next day (now July 18), I called the Apple Stanford Store and learned they had three black 16gig phones. I alerted my mother that this might be the day, and rushed to the mall and waited in line for two hours.

I called my mom about an hour into the wait and pleaded with her to come and meet me as I felt this was the day. I was right. I was successful. I got my phone.

However, I was charged $499 instead of the advertised $299 due to a computer record glitch that said we did not qualify for the $299 price. They said I had to buy it for $499, then go to an AT&T store and get them to give us the refund of $200.

My mother about went insane. But she told me I had to get my refund so this glitch forced me to drive around for four hours to all the different AT&T stores in Mountain View, Palo Alto and Burlingame to get the refund I was due. I finally got the $200 credit certificate at the AT&T store in Palo Alto on Page Mill Road.

The story does not end here. When I finally started to use the phone, problems arose. Many application errors appeared, and I had to restart the phone multiple times.

In addition, using the Internet isn't much quicker than on the old model, and the new 3g network doesn't have great range. But I do have the newest gadget on Earth.

I learned one lesson from all this: Never trust a man who wears a black turtle neck in the middle of July.


Miles McMullin is a resident of Woodside and a senior at Crystal Springs Uplands School.

Comments

Posted by jennifer jones, a resident of Woodside: Kings Mountain/Skyline
on Aug 27, 2008 at 10:19 pm

Crazy lines and horrid heat made participating in this search insane...


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