The "iPhone" Story

So yesterday I decided to head out to Bellevue Square Mall Apple store to pick up a v2 iPhone.  I know that was dumb but sometimes I am dumb.  Note This story began at 5pm not 5 am.

So I get there and see the line….It was HUGE.  The store was filled with people, there was a queue out front of the store and 50 or so people in there.  I talk to the nice guy at the end of that line and he says they have plenty of stock but that was not the end of the line.  He pointed me to the what I would like to call “The Bowels of Hell” or the back of store tunnel.  I get to that queue and I once more asked the other orange shirt guys if there was going to be enough and said they had a ton of stock.  Hearing this twice I felt good so I jumped in line.  I start walking down the tunnel and walking and walking and oh there was the end of the line.

I jump in line and wait..slowly moving about every 10 to 15 minutes.  Started talking to the folks around me and everyone was excited.  Orange Shirted Apple folk were bringing water around and we just waited.  The bad part was I would lose my cell signal about every 7 feet.  I did tweet the event as much as I could.  The line in the tunnel was painful.  It was slow and not much room to do much of anything.  

Hour 1 went by pretty quick as we snaked through the mall tunnel until we reached the final turn.  Once you hit the last length of tunnel the line seemed to just creep along.  You could see the mall but had no way of getting out.  It took another 1.5 hours from that point to make it from the back of the tunnel to the mall entrance.  Once at the mall entrance you had to wait for another Orange shirted Apple person to grant you privilege to move to the next queue point in front of the Apple store.  The nice part is you felt like you where moving there.  I didn’t really think about it but I was in that line for about 2 hours.  The nice part was that Amy showed up about 730pm or so and got me a break in line to go to the bathroom.  She went and shopped for a bit.

Around 9pm the team in the store team was starting to size things up.  You could tell they were doing hard math.  By hard math I mean they were thinking of where to put the stop to the line.  The people in the tunnel where getting the Go Home.  It looked like they counted about 60 from behind me.  We snake to the front of the outside queue about 10pm, you could see people in the store still walking out with iPhones.

We get the nod and head into the store!  We thought the line part was over but NOOOOO…there was another little 8 person line in the store.  We noticed the management team was getting a bit nervous and whispering.  They started to tell us inside what was going on and people that were in the activation process looked pissed.

This piece took about 25-30 minutes for calls to be made and plans being written out.  Once that was done it was 10:45pm.  The told us that AT&T shut down the activation server for weekly maintenance.  This was not so good.  THere were people who had their iPhones on the table getting pulled  back.

So what did they do?  Well the best they could.  They had 30 people in the store (I was one) and about 60 people who made the cut in the outside queue.  They basically told us that we will get a phone just not then.  They gave us two documents, one with a manager assigned number and one that was a claim check with a serial like number on it.  We were able to select the model we wanted and provided our name and phone number.  They told us that the store would open back up at 9:30am the next morning and we could “walk right in” (more on that in a bit).

I was a bit upset only for one reason…Amy was there so I could get on her plan.  She could not be there in the morning.  They assured me that the phone would be there for me and so I settled down and got my number along with my line mates and headed out.  Nothing that could be done at that moment and you could tell that the Apple people were just as upset as we were.  I went ahead and took off, tired hungry and sore.  As we were leaving the mall the people in the queue outside started cheering and we were wondering why but didn’t hang around since we thought it was cause they were getting numbers as well.  Little did I know (found out this morning) they offered all people with numbers a free iPhone case.  This was ANY case on the shelf.

I get home and Amy and I were looking at stuff.  Made a plan that she was going to try to get me on the Authorized User List so I could go in.  That worked out so I got all her info and head to the store to be there for the 930 opening!  I did check the website before I left and they did have all models of phones in stock.

I get to the Apple store and it looked like a repeat of last night.  The queue was there full of people and the store was open!  I was shocked and they appeared to have been open for about 30 minutes.  I walk to the Orange Shirt and showed my vouchers and get to go right to the in store queue.  It looked like a repeat of Friday night.  All the folks that were close by me were also in the store so which was funny.  The couple that was behind me walked out with their phone as I got there so it was nice to see them get theirs.  

It seems that they were not really ready for all of us to show back up at opening for our phone….not sure I understand that but ok.  When I got there the number system issued was not in play yet.  I talked to a few folks in line and got comfy.  Next thing I know the manager came out and she found the numbers and got is all back in order.  This did not make some people happy as they had gotten their earlier then me.  Most people where cool about it.  Number 8 got me about number 3 and I was in line for about 15 minutes before I had my Blue shirt guy get me to the starting point.  

The process is pretty painless really.  You start on the handheld and you enter your primary account info.  You then pick your plan, port your number wait a minute or so then boom done.  The next part is the fun apple part.  They take you over to a computer and break the seal on the box.  After that its all you, they didn’t touch my phone without asking.  I picked out the Contour Case I love, I have one for my nano and my iPod.  It fit like a glove.  Once we got the case on and screen film on (I purchased that $16) It was a 1 minute iTunes Activation.  You get your iPhone bag and head on out, total of about 20 minutes.

I head out with my new iPhone happy and relieved it was over.  On the way out I saw a soccer friend in line.  He was pretty close to the front so I didn’t feel to bad.  I let him check out my phone and headed home.  3G is NICE.  Exchange Sync is NICE.  APP Store is COOL.  It has lived up to all that I had hoped for!

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