The last time a zip caused me this much pain, I caught my…uh…you get the idea

I knew that this ZIP code change was going to screw me up somehow, I just didn’t know that it would prevent me from using the coolest thing ever (the iPhone…Miles Davis is now a close second).

No matter how hard I tried, I couldn’t suppress the tech geek in me (I work in IT after all), and I inexplicably found myself at the 5th Avenue Apple Store at 6pm on Friday. Working two blocks away didn’t help. Within an hour, I was back in my office with my new iPhone, attempting to activate it.

Apple and AT&T allow you, nay, force you to activate the iPhone via iTunes so that Apple can sell it in their stores, rather than just in AT&T stores where you would activate it before you left, just like every other mobile phone. As I entered my information into iTunes, my co-workers, who were still in the office, began to drool near the device, and I promised them that I would let them touch it after it was activated. I figured it would take 30 minutes. Boy was I wrong, and all because of a supposedly simple ZIP code change.

When I got to the billing information screen, I entered my address as normal, with a 10021 ZIP code (it changed on 7/1 and it was 6/29). After submitting, iTunes prompted that my ZIP code was invalid for the street address and forced me to use 10065. Okay, I guess it changed in their systems, so it must be good to use it. Submitted my revised address, with my new 10065 ZIP code, and was greeted by the worst screen I have ever seen in my life:

“AT&T does not offer wireless service in your area.”

“What the? Yes you do! Your billing department knows about the ZIP code change, how come your service department doesn’t?” is what I said to the mythical AT&T support person in my monitor. I tried it a few times, but each time I was presented with the above error message. I started to panic. I thought about calling AT&T support , but figured my best bet was to stop by one of the two AT&T stores on my walk home since I assumed the wait time would be shorter.

After explaining my situation to a sales associate (there’s a reason their title starts with “ass”, by the way) I was told that she couldn’t help me and that I should “make up an address in a different ZIP code” to get past that screen. After walking away without a real solution, I realized that that was actually the correct solution after all. All I had to do was register with my office address (10022) and then change it after the activation goes through.

I attempted to do just that. I got further than I did before, and thought I was home free when I had to agree to two very long legal documents about using iTunes’ service and AT&T’s service. However, surprisingly, this was not the case. The next screen told me I failed the credit check (my credit’s fine), that I had to go to an AT&T store to get it straightened out and they would give me a special number that would allow me to continue the activation. It was now about 8pm, so I trudged the two blocks to an AT&T store.

Turns out a red flag was raised with the “Fraud Prevention Department” because I was using an unknown billing address. “No $#%@! Your stupid system wouldn’t let me use my real one,” is what I almost said to the sales associate, but I figured that pissing her off might not be the best course of action at that moment. After explaining the whole ZIP code fiasco, she understood and explained it to her FPD, and about 15 minutes later, I had that special code in my hand without.

While I was in the store getting things straightened out, my friends called and I met them after leaving the store to go to the movies (“Live Free or Die Hard”…actually quite good) and didn’t get home until about 2am. I attempted to activate it again now that I had my special code, but it said that the code was not valid. I called AT&T and was told that they couldn’t do anything since I had to prove my identity in person at a store and that I would have to go back to the store on Saturday. Aaaarrrrggggghhhh! This is why people hate phone companies.

Let me take the time to tell you that you can’t use any features of the iPhone until it’s activated on AT&T’s network. Not one feature. Not the iPod portion, not the calendar, not the Wi-Fi, not the camera, nothing. You can’t even see the signal strength! The only thing you can do is unlock the screen and make an emergency call. I considered calling 911 to see if the thing actually worked, but I quickly abandoned that idea because getting a visit from the police at 3am might not be the best idea when trying to get this thing activated. I didn’t need to create any additional roadblocks seeing as they were popping up without my help just like moles in that Whack-A-Mole game at amusement parks.

After waking up on Saturday and having the necessary cup of coffee, I headed back to the AT&T store on 3rd. I spoke to a sales associate (again, “ass” in the title) and was informed that he couldn’t help me and that I had to come back in 30 minutes to talk to the manager. I explained that one of the associates helped me the night before, but he was clear that he had no clue how to do what I needed and that I needed to come back. Double-sigh. I went to buy soap and toilet paper and went back to the AT&T store to talk to the manager. I explained everything to him and he called the FPD and got them to issue me a new number. I immediately went back to my apartment and attempted to activate the phone for the umpteenth time. After about 15 minutes, it looked like it actually went through. I was actually surprised. The time was about 11:30am.

I immediately got an e-mail that said that my activation would take some time, and I would get additional e-mails about my activation, so I went on about my day as normal. Every few hours I would check my e-mail and plug the phone into the computer to see if it was activated. At about 7pm, 24 hours after the initial purchase, and 8 hours after the activation confirmation, I had still not received an e-mail from AT&T, so I called them to make sure everything was okay and that they didn’t need anything else from me. I was told, by an associate of course, that they were backlogged and that they couldn’t do anything until I got an e-mail with an order number. Sigh. I went out and got home around 10pm and constantly checked for that e-mail until 1am, to no avail.

I have never waited for a single e-mail with such anticipation in my life. That time I asked the hot brunette at work out via e-mail…not even close.

I awoke on Sunday morning to find that I had received that magical e-mail at about 1:30am. After having my requisite cup of coffee to function in human society, I called AT&T to inquire about my order. The time was about 11am. After being on hold for about 10 minutes I was again told that my activation was on hold pending credit approval. Ugh. I explained the issue with the ZIP code change, the office address situation, and the check numbers to the very nice woman with a slight Canadian accent, and within an hour, not only was everything straightened out, I actually had a working iPhone. Thoughts of proposing marriage raced around my head.

To recap…it took me 41 hours, four trips to two different AT&T stores, three calls to the Fraud Prevention Department, several cups of coffee, and a few hairs off my head to get my iPhone activated. All this because the Postal Service decided to change my ZIP code.

By the way, that brunette that I asked out via e-mail…it took less effort for me to get her to spend the night, but truth be told, the iPhone is waaay sexier, more fun, and more useful.

Comments are closed.

Terms of use | Privacy Policy | Content: Creative Commons | Site and Design © 2009 | Metroblogging ® and Metblogs ® are registered trademarks of Bode Media, Inc.