My iPhone 4 Tale of Woe

I picked up my iPhone 4 yesterday at the AT&T store. It had to be AT&T because of a complicated plan that included upgrading to a family plan, giving my wife the 3GS, and porting two numbers over from T-Mobile. I planned thoroughly for this. But what I didn’t expect jumped up to bite me big time, , and my iPhone 4 is now almost useless.

I couldn’t pre-order my iPhone 4 and pick it up at an Apple retail store because of all the complications. Thanks to my new 3G Microcell, it became practical to dump T-Mobile. T-Mobile (and Sprint) provide the only usable wireless signal out in the country where I live.

So my wife and I decided that she’d finally dump her Moto RIZR, inherit my 3GS on a family plan, and we’d port our T-Mobile numbers over to AT&T. It wasn’t too bad, it only took two hours to do all that in the AT&T store. I would have gone faster if I’d realized that we were adding a second AT&T line in the family plan and that requires a credit check.

Unfortunately, I’d forgotten that I have a credit check lock via Equifax, and I didn’t have my password with me. Fortunately, Equifax asked me enough personal questions to verify my identity and unlock the credit check block. But it did chew up almost 30 minutes. Meanwhile, other customers in the store jumped in ahead of me, and I had to continue working with a different AT&T sales rep. I’m not complaining about AT&T sales people, however. They were terrific.

While one sales rep, Melissa, was taking care of my porting, I mentioned to the store manager in Lone Tree, Colorado that TMO had written about the free 3G Microcells AT&T was giving out for customer retention. I lamented that I paid for mine the first week it came out.

“No problem,” David said, and promptly credited me for the full US$150 that I paid for the Microcell. I won’t have to pay an AT&T phone bill for two months.

I was very pleased with Erica, Melissa and David. They’re great people and very knowledgeable. Kudos. The long time spent in the store was simply administrative: Equifax delay, porting two T-Mobile numbers, buying AppleCare, perusing iPhone cases, and getting the Microcell credit.

The Big Gotcha

Little did I expect, however, that when I got home, my iPhone 4 would be almost useless.

That’s because I needed to log into my 3G Microcell account and authorize two new numbers. However, because I changed my iPhone number, ported over from T-Mobile remember? my management account was gone. It didn’t recognize the old mobile number; that one was extinguished. And AT&T’s Microcell management site didn’t recognize my new mobile number either.

It’s as if AT&Ts website developers never expected a 3G Microcell customer to change the wireless number. I called the 3G Microcell support people late Tuesday night and spent an hour with a wonderful fellow named “Johannes” (in Seattle). He did his mighty best to fix my account access, but could not. He ended up writing a ticket to request that my 3G Microcell management account now be linked and authorized to the new number.

Unfortunately, he said it might take four or five days. AT&T will call me on my land line when they’ve fixed it all up. Meanwhile, my unlocked T-Mobile iPhone 1 is disabled because my T-Mobile account is terminated, and I can’t make or receive calls on the iPhone 4: no Microcell. That is, unless I leave the house, walk up the hill 500 meters, and get a usable signal.

Sometimes, no matter what you do to plan ahead, the technology gods will bite you.

AT&T takes a lot of crap, but this team at Lone Tree, Colorado has been terrific to me. Too bad the AT&T webmasters didn’t plan for a situation like mine. I’ll report back when all’s well.