Wednesday, January 02, 2008

iPhone Acquired. Palm Weeps.

Yep. After suffering yet another Treo meltdown on my recent Tucson trip, I resolved that this New Year would be free of such frustrations. And thanks to AT&T, I not only did it, but came out ahead.

For those who are not familiar with my recent Treo issues, it's developed an exasperatingly unpredictable habit of forgetting how to put audio through. The built in earpiece? Nope. The speakerphone? Nah. The Bluetooth headset? Ha! No, in fact it simply removes the icon from the screen that lets you control where the audio goes to, leaving your caller in limbo: they can hear you, but you can't hear them. Ever. More disturbingly, when I hard reset the phone, it still did it. Randomly, a day later, it stops. When I called AT&T about this, they immediately offered to send me a new unit, at no charge, and had me send back the defective one; extremely great service, as it was past warranty. The new Treo came, and within weeks, the same problem started. Enough was enough: I love the multifunction of my Treo, but sound is pretty key. So, how to get the iPhone?

I started by calling AT&T again. I explained the situation, and the CSR asked me what I'd like to do. I asked if I could receive a credit; she said yes, towards an equal or lesser phone. I asked if I could get an iPhone and pay the difference; she immediately pointed out that Apple will not let them discount the iPhone. However, she offered a credit of $200 for my Treo. In fact, without prompting, she also offered to waive the $50 fee this would normally incur, AND give me an extra $50 credit for my aggravation. This is just stunning customer service: I would get $250 in credit towards a $399 phone. How to execute this deal? Simple, she said: head down to the nearest AT&T Wireless store, have the sales rep pull up the notes, and they'd take care of it.

I headed down to the local store, where the helpful sales rep looked over the notes on my account with astonishment: he had no idea how to do this, as it would mean discounting the iPhone, which is a major no no. The manager joined us, and HE looked over the notes, sure to find something wrong, and he was astonished as well. After stuttering that he couldn't do it, I asked him a simple question: as the manager, put himself in my position as the customer; what would he expect and be satisfied to hear at that moment? To his credit, he laid it out: I could buy the iPhone at full price, knowing I could return it (unopened) within 30 days for a full refund. I could then go back to my office and call AT&T to discuss how to address it. Good plan; I paid with Amex (to protect against anything going wrong), and headed back, iPhone in tow. Note I still have my Treo at this point.

Back in the office, called and spoke with another extremely helpful CSR. She looked over my notes, called a supervisor, who authorized crediting my AT&T account $249. They asked for the iPhone's IMEI and SIM numbers, and processed the credit. I was skeptical; she suggested I log into my online account to prove it. I did, and there was my $249 credit. I asked to speak to the supervisor, thanked her and complimented her on her staff, and took the iPhone home.

So, here I sit, blogging while my iPhone syncs to my new Dell, happily. My Treo, sensing it's end, decided to spontaneously reboot twice on the ride home today, the last blowing away all software registration info. Note that I still have the Treo: potentially, I could sell it on eBay for $150; more, with the accessories I have bought, and come out AHEAD, with the AT&T credits. I cannot offer enough kudos to AT&T for not putting me through a lot of hoops and addressing the issue head on. Well done, folks.

So, look for the iPhone posts soon!

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