I need to rant a bit.
So I decided not to get an iPhone 4 after trying for awhile. Going by the normal iPhone update schedule, the 4 would have been halfway through its life cycle at that point, making it more worthwhile to wait for the next model. Turns out the launch of the next model (the iPhone 4S) is happening 2 months later than everyone was expecting, but whatever. The reason I hadn’t managed to procure the mythical iPhone 4 was because I didn’t want to spend my time hunting around for stock (which was invariably nonexistent whenever I called around, even months after launch).
This year, all the Canadian carriers with the iPhone introduced a reservation system online so people wouldn’t nuke their call centers trying to get an iPhone. I’m with Fido, so I think great, I’ll just reserve online and that way I won’t have to call around for stock. Reservations opened today at 6am EST, and I actually got up to make sure I could get my order through before the system got hammered (the siren call of the magical iPhone).
Fido’s system went live a bit before 6, and I quickly completed my registration — almost. Each time I tried, I could get to the last step where I would be greeted with a blank confirmation page. No confirmation email sent. Fine, I think. Their system’s obviously busy, but I’ll keep trying. Blank confirmation page after blank confirmation page later, I check twitter. People reporting success. Is it just me? Half an hour rolls by. Now I’m getting an error message: “An unexpected error has occurred” and it tells me to sign out and back in again. I check twitter again. More people reporting success, also people reporting their reservation queue numbers. It’s already past 100. I try different browsers to no effect, I just wait a while to no effect. Now I see people reporting the same issue I have. Phew, it’s not just me. But why are we the unfortunate ones? What have we done to raise the wrath of this uncompassionate reservation system?
Nobody knows. Tech support is working overtime replying to the angry mob, telling people they’re listening, the team is working on it, send us your account info. They handled it very well actually, I’m sure it was a rough day to be in customer service. Meanwhile, I see more people tweet about their procurement of The Golden One. They’re #200 in the queue, #450, #1034.
Well eventually someone sharp solves the problem – If your email address is not entered in your account beforehand, the reservation won’t go through. I check my account and sure enough, my email’s not there. This is very strange, since I get an online bill regularly through that email address. Maybe billing is separate from account info or maybe my email address was deleted at some point, I still haven’t figured it out. But here’s the kicker: when you preorder, there’s a spot to put your email address in. You would think that’s enough, right? Nope, apparently it needs to have an existing email address. But it doesn’t even use it! It says right on the flaming page you can enter any address you want and it will ignore your stored contact info!
What an incredible amount of time and money wasted over such a simple thing. For the ENTIRE DAY tech support was supposedly looking into the problem, fielding angry phone calls, angry emails, angry tweets, letters with anthrax before a customer just happened to figure out the problem. If someone had just had the foresight to imagine the possibility that the customer’s email address might not be correctly stored, and put in an extra line of code THAT BLOODY TOLD PEOPLE THAT WAS THE PROBLEM, many headaches could have been avoided. A message saying “unexpected error” is about as unhelpful as a screen door on a submarine. Apparently it even stymied the people running the thing.
So at the end of the day, I’m #2372 in the queue for an iPhone 4s. Had I been able to reserve successfully at 6 am, I would have been under #100, maybe even under #50. And it’s not that I’m so important I need one before anyone else has one, it’s just that I kinda feel entitled to a better spot. Imagine trying to line up for a movie but the staff won’t let you in and they won’t give you a reason. Nobody else knows why either, until someone figures out they’ll only let you line up if you’re wearing black socks. So you go put some black socks on, but by this time the line’s so big you have to wait for the next showing. You’d feel a little put out.
Luckily there aren’t a huge number of people with Fido and my 2372nd position is nationwide, so that number probably isn’t as big as it sounds. I’m just amazed that a company this big (Fido’s owned by Rogers, who have the same reservation system) could miss something so huge. And not know what the problem is, until one of their own customers figures it out.