My day started at 3:50 a.m. That’s when I got up before dawn to go stand in line at the local AT&T store for the new iPhone 4. It’s the second time I got up at 4 a.m. over the last week. The last time was the Apple Store’s “successful failure” of the iPhone 4 launch last Thursday. “Successful” as they sold all their iPhones… “failure” because the Apple Store doesn’t know how to push through any magnitude of customers. Apple should take notes from AT&T on this one, with AT&T being a properly set up and efficient shopping experience. All while not rushing you out the door.
At the Apple Store (which I won’t mention exact location other than to say NW IL), I was number 200 in the walk-in line. It was a line that didn’t move but 20 feet in an hour. We were all told there was enough iPhones, just that the line would last through the afternoon. Despite arriving at 5 a.m., I called it quits at 10:15 a.m. as the line just was moving slower than a queue line for a major attraction at a theme park.
It was quite a different experience at the AT&T store in Algonquin, IL this morning. I got there at 4:15 a.m. and was twelfth in line out of 60+ others that would arrive by the time the store opened at 7:00 a.m. Like the Apple Store experience, I quickly made “line buddies” and we talked for the remainder of our wait until the store opened. Once opened, the store’s staff quickly took the first 10 customers, and within 10 minutes, I was in as well. Eight minutes later, I headed home with my iPhone 4. AT&T had multiple counters setup with the line moving steadily, and thus they get a big win in my book for doing it right.
You can’t beat the people in line for being honest with their iPhone 4 launch week experience. I was the only one who attempted to get an iPhone at an Apple Store, but almost all said the local Best Buy had been downright rude to people inquiring about iPhone 4 with a snarky “good luck finding one” reply. Duh…you sell accessories for the iPhone…it’s only logical that you should expect availability questions on the actual device that uses them! Even those that called Radio Shack stores to inquire on availability received some hostile treatment…likely from stores that got hundreds of calls for the meager two-10 units they were allocated from Apple. But regardless of conditions, rude behavior is just not how you treat a potential customer. It’s not how we do things here at OWC…even if you don’t buy from us today, we want you to remember the friendly service you received so that you might consider us again in the future. For OWC it’s not about going “above and beyond’, it’s just doing it the right way to begin with. For sure, I will never go back to that Apple Store for a new product launch or even ask Best Buy if they’ll have any units allocated to them.
Granted, I’ll give it to Jobs and Co. that AT&T wasn’t deluged with 500+ people like the Apple Stores were on launch day, but the AT&T line at least moved on a consistent basis. Judging from the speed of things, AT&T looked like they could handle 60-80 customers an hour which is very respectable and an “express lane” compared with Apple’s meager shopping experience. While AT&T doesn’t get props often in relation to their iPhone partnership, they deserve it on this one!