US Carriers are the worst part of the iPhone 6 launch

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Apple By Russell Holly Sep. 19, 2014 2:27 pm
It’s 8:10am on launch day, and I’ve decided I want an iPhone 6. A precarious position to be in, for sure, since there are folks all over the world who have been waiting in line for days. Still, I decide to try my luck and venture out into the world. The first location I head to only has enough stock to satisfy pre-orders, which makes sense to a degree. I have a backup location, however, and I arrive to discover that not only do they have plenty in stock, but there’s only five people in line ahead of me. I smugly join the line, imagining my friends and colleagues who have been sitting outdoors for hours, and fill out the form identifying myself as the future owner of a 64GB silver iPhone 6.
There’s just one problem with this otherwise flawless plan. I’m standing outside a Verizon Wireless store.
The pre-order day for Apple’s latest smartphone left systems all over the world mostly crippled as hundreds of thousands of people simultaneously attempted to digitally secure their place in line for the Apple equivalent of Christmas Day. It should be no surprise that there will be long lines and excited consumers everywhere, and I had braced myself for this exact thing. Having sat outside an Apple Store for the launch of the iPhone 5S, I thought I knew what I was getting myself into. As it turns out, when you try to buy and iPhone from a US carrier instead of directly from Apple the experience shifts somewhat dramatically.
The five people in front of me claimed to have been there for upwards of 45 minutes, and while I did not know how many people had been permitted to enter the store before the gentleman at the front of this line, it should have been a warning sign that he had not left the store by the time I was finally granted entrance.

Like many Verizon Wireless locations, my local store is a multi-purpose shop. The experience is all about having an employee walk with you through the entire purchase process, and taking every possible moment to upsell you on an accessory of some description. This is fairly standard for Verizon Wireless, and as a result this process is not a fast one. Today, however, the sales reps were doubling down on their mission to make sure you didn’t leave without an accessory.
When it was made clear that my iPhone 6 was being purchased outright with no contract, and that there would be no additional accessories and no insurance plan added to my account today, the sales rep excused herself for a moment to make sure she had the phone in stock. Frustratingly, she did not return with my phone. Instead, she returned with backup in the form of a customer specialist.
It was at this point in the experience, some 25 minutes after I had entered the store, that I remembered how amazing the iPhone 5S launch was at my local Apple Store. Sure, I had waited in line for five hours with some occasionally grumpy people, but when those glass doors slid open it was as though royalty was being welcomed into the store. I was in and out last year within 15 minutes, and in the process managed to grab a pair of cases for my phone. I left the store truly impressed with how efficient everything was.
Today, however, I find myself desperately scanning the walls of the store for an emergency exit due to the fear that Verizon Wireless employees will stop me at the door if I don’t purchase one of their glass screen protectors. Luckily they didn’t, and I left with just the 64GB iPhone 6 I had come for.

My experience is far from the only one, and Verizon Wireless is far from the only guilty party here. Nightmare stories of T-Mobile’s inability to confirm shipments and navigate their own computer systems flood social networks. News that AT&T isn’t allowing NEXT customers to put an iPhone 6 on their discounted plans have been found all over the place.
There are terrible stores all over the place, and they all have one thing in common. US carriers do whatever they can to keep up with these massive launches every year, and while some situations are certainly better than others it seems to be universally true that the best experience comes from the Apple Store itself.
Now read: Verizon will begin throttling unlimited 4G LTE data users on October 1st



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