AT&T Stops Online iPhone Sales Due To Network Quality (Or Sales Fraud?) [Update: Available Again]
AT&T has halted all online sales of new iPhone handsets for all persons registered as residing in New York City. Anyone with a zip code registered in New York has not been able to purchase an iPhone online. It has been confirmed in various calls, and attempts to make an online purchase with a NY zip code have failed. An AT&T representative has said over the phone that it was to avoid increasing the strain on AT&T’s network in that area, but further comments point to the possibility of online sales fraud as the culprit.
Laura Northrup, journalist for the Consumerist, spoke with an AT&T rep over the phone. The conversation:
Daphne: Welcome to AT&T online Sales support. How may I assist you with placing your order today?
Laura: Hi, I was looking at the iPhone 3Gs and the system tells me that I cannot order one in my ZIP code. My zip code is 11231. (Brooklyn, NY) Is this true? Are iPhones no longer available in New York City?
Daphne: I am happy to be helping you today . Yes, this is correct the phone is not offered to you because New York is not ready for the iPhone.
Daphne: You don’t have enough towers to handle the phone.
Laura: Thank you for your help. So the phone is not available to people anywhere in the city?
Daphne: Yes this is correct Laura.
Many were outraged at the idea that AT&T might change prices on their data plans to discourage heavy data usage. Some tech sites even suggested that AT&T stop selling iPhones in the areas that have the heaviest traffic to preserve network quality for current users. Nonetheless, many are shocked that this could be the case.
It may not be, however. Another possible explanation is that AT&T is that it has something to do with an online iPhone sales fraud that’s based in New York.
AT&T has yet to release an official comment on the situation.
Update: Looks like AT&T backed down and is now offering iPhones online again. It’s not all that surprising, given the disproportionally large fuss it incited.