Random thoughts about nothing

How not to treat your customers - the Apple and Vodafone NZ example (iPhone 4)

, posted: 1-Aug-2010 17:32

I am sure that everyone knows by now how much of a disaster (for interested buyers) the iPhone 4 launch in New Zealand was. The well publicised off again on again "launch" has angered many that were in the market for a new iPhone 4, some of whom were also looking to contract themselves to Vodafone New Zealand on a postpaid plan. What follows are my own personal experiences and views on aspects of the launch.

I won't go too much into the launch aspect of the iPhone 4 - this has been well covered in the media and internet forums. My main points are summarized below however:
  • Apple announced that the iPhone 4 would launch in New Zealand on Friday 30 July
  • Vodafone "promised" further details about the iPhone 4 in the leadup to the launch, but failed to deliver on this promise (in my opinion)
  • In the days before the launch, retailers were referring interested customers to Apple, saying that there would be no Apple announcement on where to buy the iPhone 4 on Friday morning until - Friday morning itself
  • Despite rumours of a "cancelled launch", some desperate buyers still queued for hours at Apple resellers where iPhone is usually stocked. And who can really blame them? Until that point there had been no *official* word that there would be no sales of the iPhone at retail outlets
  • Friday morning came and still there was no announcement from Apple about where their customers could buy an iPhone 4
  • On Friday morning, Vodafone apologises to those that had queued for hours, telling them that the iPhone 4 was not going to go on sale
  • Only hours (minutes really) later, the rumour mill starts to distribute the news that Vodafone NZ plans to sell the iPhone 4 from 12pm. Vodafone stores give this information to enquiring buyers, but most would not hear "officially" from Vodafone HQ until an email and TXT starts to circulate to those that had signed up to Vodafone's website promising "up to date" information on the iPhone 4 launch. Many people only receive this email after the 12pm launch - some receiving their email or TXT late into the afternoon/evening.
  • Apple at some stage (I don't really care to try and work out exactly when official word was released to the public) announce that iPhone 4 would be available on their website store "later in the evening". It turns out that this simply meant to place an order for an iPhone 4 with an estimated shipping date 3 weeks away, and a further estimated 5 days to arrive from the courier.
I don't know what was happening at Vodafone HQ or Apple NZ (oh to be a fly on the wall) but whatever it was has caused long term damage to both brands in my opinion. And rightly or wrongly, Vodafone New Zealand is going to shoulder most of that brand damage. How did Apple and/or Vodafone New Zealand manage to treat their customers with such contempt? The answer is (again in my opinion) because they knew that people would buy the iPhone 4 regardless of how the launch was handled. And sure enough they were right - by the end of the day all iPhone 4s in New Zealand had sold out.

My issues with Vodafone's treatment of their own customers doesn't end there though, unfortunately. Even once the launch eventually happened at 12pm on Friday 30 July, the problems did not end there.

Prepaid customers with Vodafone were denied the right to purchase a handset, even at the outright RRP. Vodafone ultimately have the right to sell the phone to whoever they choose, but not being upfront with customers in the lead up to launch is How to lose friends 101. I suspect that Vodafone don't really care about annoying their prepaid customers though.

Having dealt with their prepaid customers, next in Vodafone's firing line were their "valued" postpaid customers.

iPhone users are among the most prolific early adopters and gadget upgraders in the world, and I am sure that Vodafone realize this. Customers who purchased iPhone 3GS from Vodafone last year, having served over 12 months of their 24 month contracts, did their homework and referred back to the terms and conditions of their contract, and conferred with Vodafone sales representatives. According to the Vodafone On Account Terms and Conditions (a 25 page document found here), clause 2 (a) (iii) under "Commencement and Term" says: If you resign to a new term before the end of that fixed Term, you may have to pay early resign charges. You may obtain details of any early resign charges by referring to our Website or by contacting Customer Services.

The iPhone plan page on the Vodafone website adds: Sometimes it makes sense to renew your Vodafone contract before it ends. If that's possible on your contract, an early resign fee may apply. Then follows a table which says that early re-sign is "Not avail" less than 12 months into an iPhone contract, but after 12 months the early re-sign fee is $150+GST.

Vodafone representative confirmed to customers in the week leading up to launch that under iPhone 3GS contracts signed just over 12 months ago, an early re-sign was available for iPhone 4 - pay $150+GST as an early re-sign fee, and then sign a new 24 month iPhone plan for a subsidised iPhone 4. Makes sense to me and from my reading into Vodafone's own terms and conditions it appears to be clearly allowed for.

Enter #2 in the queue at the Dunedin Vodafone store, who waited for hours to re-sign with Vodafone only to be told "sorry, you have to be in the last x months of your plan in order to be allowed to re-sign". I'm not sure if he was told 3 months or 6 months, but it did not take away from my dismay at the whole situation.

So Vodafone, not only did you lead prepaid customers up the garden path by not telling them that the iPhone 4 will only be available at launch to postpaid customers, you go on to tell customers who appear to be eligible to re-sign with you (I am not a lawyer) that they are not allowed to do so even when this contradicts all the information they have been provided from Vodafone?

What a great way to annoy your most loyal customers who probably are in the habit of upgrading their devices on a yearly basis - it doesn't take much work to keep these loyal customers but you would rather waste their time and effort instead? You know what they say about how much it costs to keep an existing customer compared to winning a new customer…

Sadly I am not finished with the whole secret shroud over information to do with the iPhone 4. At times when I went to sign up for mine on a 24 month contract I felt like I was appearing in a spy movie. I asked to see the lists of plans and device prices on each of the various plans (as appears on this Vodafone webpage), but was told that they could not show it to me. The table of pricing was taped to the main store counter desk, and staff were extremely careful to ensure that this secret plan pricing was not in public view. I kid you not - the pricing information that I required to make a decision on the plan and device I wanted to purchase (readily available on their website) was "not allowed" to be shown to me. When it was pointed out that surely we needed to know the pricing and that we needed confirmation that it did not differ from the pricing on the website, we were referred to an instore netbook to look up the information from the Vodafone website ourselves.

In the end I walked out of the store with the phone that I wanted on a contract that I feel reasonably happy about, but remarkably the problems did not end there. I had to return later when I discovered that I could not connect my iPhone to the internet, only to be told that it would be up to 3 business days before this would be activated because I was going from prepaid to postpaid. A Vodafone representative later told me via their support forum that it would actually be done overnight (he was right), and that in the near future it is hoped that this process will be faster.

If all of the above did not convince you that Vodafone doesn't appear to really care much about what you and I think, just look what happened when I raised the issue of a "hidden" charge being billed on my account. It seems that the heavily promoted "FaceTime" video calling feature requires the sending of a TXT to the UK when you initially set it up. It is only once you have set up your phone that you are made aware of the charge, and furthermore if people have problems with FaceTime and are advised by Apple to "reset" the FaceTime setting on their iPhone, another TXT is sent and charged for.

I readily admit that 20c to send this TXT (30c on prepaid) is negligible compared to the $1099 retail value of the device. But it was raised not as a matter of 20c, but more as a matter of principles and hidden charges which could add up over time for users that have problems using FaceTime. And one which could conceivably be investigated and resolved for Vodafone NZ customers (I note that Telecom New Zealand is said to already be working on a related issue).

Matt East's response to me via the official @VodafoneNZ twitter was "It's 20c ^ME", and subsequently directing me to the music video "If you don't want an iPhone 4 don't buy it". Humourous responses for sure but I'm not sure that Apple will see them in the same light. Even if the whole debacle over iPhone 4 does not have Vodafone removed as an aligned wireless carrier, for consumers' sake I hope that iPhone 5 becomes available on another New Zealand network as well. It would be great news for the many who have chosen shift their business after the poor treatment they have had after years of loyal bill-paying.

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Comment by marmel, on 1-Aug-2010 18:24

Very well said. It would be nice for vodafone to front up and apologise for the mix-up regardless of whose fault it was, it was their customers that suffered.

It's amazing really that they allowed a launch of such a high profile product to turn into such a shambles.

I mean how hard would it have been for them to open a few stores at midnight, maybe throw a few sausages on a BBQ?

Hopefully Apple have really sat up and taken notice of the complete indifference Vodafone had towards those customers wanting to purchase on this occasion and will choose their carrier partners carefully in the future.

Comment by Mark, on 1-Aug-2010 18:37

I think part of the issue is that Apple themselves are also indifferent to their customers, bottom line, if you want the iPhone4 and you dont get it on launch day... you're still going to buy it when it comes out right? So their profits look the same.

Vodafone are more agile then their competition, have good addons, good marketing and are overall a reasonable company, but I agree the complete SNAFU they have made of the launch (and the weeks preceding it) was embarrassing for Apple AND Vodafone NZ

Comment by caldazar, on 1-Aug-2010 18:44

I don't care who's fault it is.

It was Vodafone's responsibility to communicate with their customers, not Apple's.

I'm astonished by the lack of concern Vodafone has to it's existing customer base. Things are going to get harder and harder for them and their arrogance is going to cost them big time in the long term.

Vodafone did not have to say what the problem was, they just needed to communicate and set expectations.

Complete failure. I bought an Android phone yesterday and in the process of cancelling my $80 monthly contract with Vodafone.

Comment by Riaan, on 1-Aug-2010 20:32

Well it was a crappy launch in UK to, and vodafone & O2 are just as bad as each other, but in my view Vodafone has always been more corporate, and they never gave a rat's a** about customers, they have a very hard legal line, and they make no exceptions, even if they are wrong, so I will never join them and I am the worst kind of customer they could have as I'm a disgruntled one and will deter all my friends to go with them, good 'ol word of mouth hey? ;-) FYI Cadbury has gone from vodafone to O2, so it's not just us individual customers that are leaving its big business too!

Comment by muppet, on 1-Aug-2010 20:55

This post made it to the front page of Google News. Nice!

Comment by guest, on 1-Aug-2010 21:18

Great post ahmad. I feel extremely sorry for the guy who was #2 in line and was not "allowed" to resign for another 24 months because he signed up just last year. That is atrocious!
I would have been in the exact same position if I decided to queue up and I probably would have cancelled on the spot without resigning.
I also feel sorry for the guy who's got a phone with a broken microphone. I do not agree with Paul's answer that there's nothing they can do. Surely they would make an exception and give him a 3G or 3GS loaner phone while he is waiting for a replacement unit?
I totally blame Vodafone for the whole disaster. They know it's difficult to deal with Apple, so why are they getting on the high horse? Not telling customers what's going on shows what lame cowards they are. If there was a problem with the delivery of the phones, why not tell people? Everyone would have been fine with a delayed launch if they had known.
It's great that people like you take the time to write up their experience. It gives people like me the chance to make informed decisions about mobile phone providers. I would have resigned my contract with Vodafone for another 24 months to get a new iPhone, but after this debacle I am going to keep my 3GS and will not resign with Vodafone.

Author's note by ahmad, on 1-Aug-2010 22:11

Thanks for the heads up muppet 

I hope this doesn't come across as a "personal" attack on Vodafone NZ because that is not the intention.

Comment by Wompy, on 1-Aug-2010 22:15

Very disappointing. Personally I'm pleased I spared myself this chaos and 'upgraded' to Android before the iPhone 4 came out. I luckily also sold my iPhone 3G before the iOS 4 debacle too, now some sucker from trademe can update that and turn it into a laggy brick.

Can't live without multitasking now. :/

I'm disappointed in Apple, they seem to be making more and more mistakes and getting offside with their customers. They were once well ahead of anyone else in the smartphone arena, now their lead is narrow to questionable. Also their market share has plateaued while Android has explosive growth. :/

Honeymoon over? Is this a symptom?

Now in this debacle I don't think Vodafone is largely to blame. Generally they at least do an adequate job of looking after their customers and they do know how to handle a release. So much has gone wrong with the iPhone 4, it seems there's some kind of curse.

This smacks of upstream supply problems, and Apple just not providing information. Certainly new releases do not sit in boxes out the back of the store for a week, they arrive just in time.

Vodafone appeared not to care... I bet this because they had nothing to tell anyone.

I wonder what happens when people start trying to return shattered iPhones, will Apple replace them? Consumer guarantees law here is pretty specific "must be durable.." "..fit for a purpose..." it says. Fragile glass and the antennagate problem kind of run a foul of our law.

I learned to stop fretting and love the 'droid. I'll wait to see what happens with the iPhone 5 =)

Comment by Cameron, on 1-Aug-2010 22:15

Well said, thank you. I've already been in to voice my concerns in person to Vodafone. I was pretty gutted really. I was approx 20th in line at Queen St store. I was on a non-iPhone contract, and was about to finally move to iPhone. I'd done all my research, and was all set to pay $200 in break fees, but then was told I couldn't do that to sign to iPhone on Friday. I nearly just signed a brand-new contract and then cancelled my existing one (same cost), but didn't cause I figured they'd shaft me on my number or something.
Turns out they only ad 50 phones in total at Queen St anyway.
My rant is at http://sqwi.sh/uA

Author's note by ahmad, on 1-Aug-2010 22:26

Thanks for your comments Cameron. It is just another of many confirmations that customers being denied "legitimate" re-signs was not an isolated incident and suggests that this was dictated from Vodafone HQ.

I note that you say you have been promised the re-sign with an iPhone from the next batch to arrive, which again is further evidence that you are contractually entitled to do the re-sign but Vodafone chose instead to snub their existing customers unless they were very close to coming off contract.

Comment by Get over it, on 1-Aug-2010 22:29

Bro get over it, it's just a iPhone. Get a life!

Author's note by ahmad, on 1-Aug-2010 22:34

Comment from Cameron via his blog:

The, actually very nice, marketing lady told me that it was a corporate decision to not allow “paid” re-signs for the “initial launch” due to supply. She was apologetic, and I was aware it wasn’t her fault – she was just the messenger.

Comment by Wadeoo, on 1-Aug-2010 23:39

Good article. I fully agree. Even though I wasnt waiting in line, I can imagine how people would have been treated as customer service is not Vodafone's strong point. But complaining about it isnt going to do anything. You need to boycott Vodafone by buying the Phones on the apple store or overseas and jailbreaking/unlocking them. Then put a prepaid sim card in so you dont get ripped off on the iphone plans or go to a different network and your away laughing.

Comment by Wadeoo, on 1-Aug-2010 23:42

Good article. I fully agree. Even though I wasnt waiting in line, I can imagine how people would have been treated as customer service is not Vodafone's strong point. But complaining about it isnt going to do anything. You need to boycott Vodafone by buying the Phones on the apple store or overseas and jailbreaking/unlocking them. Then put a prepaid sim card in so you dont get ripped off on the iphone plans or go to a different network and your away laughing.

Comment by insane, on 2-Aug-2010 01:52

Well to be honest its about time that account customers get recognised for their loyalty for once ahead of pre-paid customers.

While I don't wish anyone to waste their time standing in line and be told that they cannot re-sign based on someone not understanding the  T&Cs we have to remember its just a phone.

At every launch there is alawys someone who misses out on buying an apple item, its the same at each launch.

I myself went a got an Android phone also on Friday, no queue to wait in and I can hold my phone anyway I like :)

Comment by Wieland, on 2-Aug-2010 02:43

I'm ok with my 3GS, so am not directly affected. 2º are starting their 3G data plans now. They seem keen to appear squeaky clean. If given a chance to offer iPhone 5, they may offer contracts that don't require a law degree to interpret. Have Voda become too fat and Apple too arrogant? - Time for a change? I'll vote with the comment of 'Get over it' (above).

Comment by Rimu, on 2-Aug-2010 05:24

Perspective, people. So you'll need to wait another week, big deal. There are other people in the world who don't have running water in their homes ffs

Author's note by ahmad, on 2-Aug-2010 07:46

Rimu here is the perspective:

This is not about how long someone needs to wait for their iPhone 4. If stocks are obscenely limited - say so. If prepaid customers won't have a chance of purchasing the phone, don't hype it up and make them believe they do. If you are not going to allow your valued loyal customers to re-sign, then don't tell them they can and then deny them when they have spent hours of wasted time in queues. If you have information for your customers that is reasonable for them to have - let them have it.

For the record I've lived in a house without running water in it. People there were content with their lot. I was content with my lot. 

Comment by magu, on 2-Aug-2010 08:47

I'm am deeply outraged by Vodafone's lack of customer relationship management skills. Simple things that, done right, would have made this launch much better:

- Better (and earlier) announcements.
- Allowing more than 1 or 2 people in the store at the same time.
- A better way to handle the big queues. Auckland's Queen St store's was almost 100-people long. Had they given out tickets, people wouldn't have waited there only to hear "no more phones" shouted by a head through a glass door.
- Be upfront about it. Customers don't want to be lied to. Is there an issue with supply? Say so. At least people will sympathize, and not loathe, your PR team.

Heck, my CATS can do a better launch than that.

I do want an iPhone 4, but Vodafone is almost convincing me NOT to buy it.

Comment by wiifm69, on 2-Aug-2010 09:03

Nice article,

I can share my thoughts/anger on the debacle that was 'launch day' Friday 30/07/2010.

Me and 3 others decided to queue up outside Vodafone lampton Quay (random picure shot @ 7am http://twitpic.com/29sgft ), we started queueing from around 7am that morning. The line grew to be around 12-15 people strong by 8.30am when Keryn the manager of the Vodafone store walked in and coyly said

"Are you here for the iPhone lauch?", "There is no launch, we have no iPhones"

The crowd tried to find out simple answers to simple questions like 'why', 'when will they be on sale', 'when is the official announcement', 'wtf is going on'.

Keryn played the 'i don't know' card, ran away into the store, and left the line wondering wtf is happening.

We mob then moved on to JB-HiFi Willis St as there had been mixed rumours they had stock from Australia, a staff member came out and said they have no stock.

We larger mob then moved onto DSE Featherston St only to be told a similiar story.

The mob mostly disbanded but a few of us hung around until 9am for the Vodafone store to open, only really to be sure, and then went back to work as we were sure the launch was cancelled.

@ 11am we had heard mixed reports that there was going to be a midday launch, but we had heard so many rumours that day, that I was not going to pay attention to anymore. Turns out I should have just run straight back to the line at Vodafone Lampton Quay because at 11.30 Vodafone finally announced a midday launch.

I got into line, as was position 34. It turns out Vodafone only had 30 32GB models in stock, we could get an iPhone but only a 16GB. Having wanted to 'future proof' the device there is no way I was going to get the 16GB model.

Keryn Took out names down and is apparently going to call us when they is new stock.

TL;DR; What a nightmare of a launch! Why could they not have done something like the iPhone 3G launch?

My 2c

Comment by Jason, on 2-Aug-2010 09:25

Thanks for writing up my friday =) I don't think I've ever been so disappointed by a company as I did with vodafone on friday. I seriously considered asking the women telling existing customers we can't resign to just cancel our accounts on the spot. They let us stand in line for over half an hour before coming out and quietly telling people to leave.

Comment by Ford Saunders, on 2-Aug-2010 10:03

Boo hoo, Your product was pushed back some undisclosed amount of time. Is it really the end of the world?

Author's note by ahmad, on 2-Aug-2010 10:33

@Ford Saunders - no it is not the end of the world at all.

Being told it is coming and having a day's queueing waste because when you get to the front of the queue that you aren't cool enough to buy it might be for some though.

You did read the article didn't you? Or did you just make that as a generic comment?

That said we are an open community here and welcome fanboys of all affiliations with warm hugs.


Comment by GaR, on 2-Aug-2010 10:41

Crappy treatment of their customers, for sure.

I don't see it changing though, since the customers are quite happy to bend over and take the shafting. They buy the product and sign the contract anyway, so VF has lost nothing except some goodwill that in my opinion was attached to Apple rather than Vodafone anyway.

If more people told them to stuff it, and went and bought a competitor's product (there's a plethora of good devices available now) or even stuck with their older model, than maybe there'd be some incentive for Vodafone to sort their PR out.

But no, Apple product sales seem immune to factors that would result in just about anything else being shunned by the market.

Comment by Taika, on 2-Aug-2010 11:21

You're spot on, it's a perfect example of rubbish customer service, but VF still got customers signing up/re-signing on the day. The launch probably looks perfect to them on paper.
I can only hope that those who signed up on the cheapest plan only so they could get their phone on launch day go ahead and terminate the contract in the next 1-3 months and switch to another provider.

Comment by oxnsox, on 2-Aug-2010 11:32

It's hard to be involved in the Voda / Apple debate and avoid emotion from any angle.

And perhaps Voda did sign away far too many rights when it negotiated it's distribution agreement with Apple in NZ... but does that excuse them for lack of, or poor, communication.... I don't think so.

Clearly there was a stock or stocking issue, otherwise there would have been more out there. Did Apple not supply, or did VF not order, enough.... As neither party is bound to tell us, we'll never know.

Managing who could buy what was going to be available is a Voda fail. It would have been easy and honest to  advise that stock was limited initially, and therefore only on account, or new and upgrading,  customers would be supplied. Failing to make clear distinctions on eligibility not just across the Vodafone retail channels, but also within them, is not just poor marketing, it's bad communications.  (And yes I understand the internal and external confusion because VF understandably have different policies for re-signs at different times thru your contract)

Would communicating better with the public (that restricted stock dictated restrictive sales) have breached any VF/Apple agreement???
 It would be nice to think it unlikely, however if it is the case it shows how high the stakes were for both parties.

But if Voda had walked this line, and communicated these initial restrictions, imagine the outcry from all those that would have been left wanting till more stock arrived.
Would those outbursts of a mismanaged launch have been any less damaging?? Is adding to the hyperventilation seen as effective  marketing or poor customer support??

And it appears (because things changed on the VF website) that there may have been an issue on pricing that contibuted to the Voda/Apple finger pointing and delays......

Still if Vodafone is the Communication icon it supposes to be, it could have done enough to move the perception of the launch from a shambles to a sham, and saved a little face along the way.

Pre-supposing another Telco could have done more or better is simply self comforting speculation.  As ultimately things are done 'the Apple way'.

Author's note by ahmad, on 2-Aug-2010 12:01

@GaR your points are 100% valid. There is however growing anecdotal evidence that people are prepared to tell Vidafone to get lost by cancelling long term business relationships as well as "geeks" choosing to order from Apple and use their device on XT or 2degrees instead.

Vodafone's handling of this suggests to me that they don't really care because overall they are still going get net benefit despite these cancellations.

It just shows how small our contribution to the telecos actually is when it doesn't affect their bottom lines. I suspect that corporate business is where the big money lies.

Author's note by ahmad, on 2-Aug-2010 12:07

@oxnsox you make very valid points about "what if" VF had been more upfront and would it just be a different flavor if PR disaster.

Personally I think it would have even helped to come out and say "stocks are limited and we don't know what is what right now - we will update you". Just make sure you actually update customers in a timely fashion.

Comment by dclegg, on 2-Aug-2010 13:32

FWLIW, both my wife (who will soon be the proud recipient of an iPhone 4 ordered directly from Apple) and myself are looking to switch to 2Degrees from Vodafone. This decision was in part influenced by the abysmal handling of Friday's launch. Say what you will about Apples blame in this, but there are many aspects where Vodafones lack of communication rests squarely at their feet.

She is in a position to switch immediately, but I still have $100 of prepaid credit to use first. Thankfully this credit was gifted to me from http://www.twitter.com/VodafoneTreats, so I feel they're actually paying for my patronage of their service. :-)

Comment by motorwayne, on 2-Aug-2010 14:28

Someone should be fired at VF.

When questioned,they don't even have the decency of legitimizing the smallest of complaints, but instead accuse the complainant.

They appear for all intense and purposes to come across as smug and self servicing.

I'm 80% there with not renewing my contract with them. 

Comment by Psychrn, on 2-Aug-2010 15:26

I must have been very lucky then oN Friday.
I'd heard through various contacts that there were going to be problems on the Friday.
I went down to the nearest VF store which is in Chartwell , Hamilton at around 8 am
Sign outside saying non will be sold today.
I continued to follow the irc chat & also iphonewzealand discussions when I got back home.

I went back to the store just after 11am.
Btw I am just on the 12 months into my last iPhone 3GS contract where I also upgraded from the 3 G
About 11.30 it was suggested we complete the paperwork in readiness for 12 mid day.at this stage there was about 8 in the cue but after 11.30 it started to buid up to about 25 by 12 mid day.
The man shortly before 1145 told me I had an Iphone 4 out the back.
It seems I was lucky re the resign- mine was only just over the 12 month threshold.
I asked the consultant inshore about stock and he intimated that some in the cue would miss out suggesting only 20 or so.

It certainly was a roller coaster ride over the 24 hrs & I consider myself lucky.
I felt sorry for others that were loyal customers who missed out.

Comment by Lee Howard, on 2-Aug-2010 16:12

Just curious, which Android phones did everyone buy?

I'm stuck in Hawkes Bay so doubt iPhone 4 will ever get out here...

Comment by paragonOfGeek, on 2-Aug-2010 17:18

@Lee Howard: I purchased a Nexus One on the 21st which was the first day vodafone offered it in NZ and it was in my had by 9:10am the next day.

I couldn't be happier, the platform is open and easy to use. Very responsive and google goggles is heaps of fun, and sky map is really cool. So many other good apps to use.

Unfortunately I haven't had time to write any apps yet, but I should find some time soon.

Comment by Bazza Formez, on 2-Aug-2010 18:10

Have to agree with a couple of the comments above.. the tone of your tale makes it sound as if something really dreadful has happened in your life. The bottom line is, you didn't get your technology hit on the day you expected it. Who cares ? Does it really matter ? It really tells the tale of how deeply spoiled we are in the west.. if we tried to relate your upset to someone in the third world living with real pain (war, disease, starvation) .. they simply wouldn't get it. You had a bad hair day. Get over it.

Comment by cat, on 2-Aug-2010 18:48

To the people saying 'Children are dying in Africa' etc - I'm sure there are blogs for that too.

This is a blog about tech issues, so it's quite relevant to talk about the tech issues of the day.

Personally I plan to get an iPhone 4 when my contract runs out in September - means I don't have to worry about not being able to get one Right Away, and I can avoid the $150 fee :)

Author's note by ahmad, on 2-Aug-2010 18:57

@Bazza in case it wasn't clear enough already in the article and my comments - I wasn't personally inconvenienced at all. I didn't queue. I just walked in and got one. Simple.

This is simply how I saw launch with regards how a couple of companies treated their customers. Like you I think about the bigger picture rather than just how someone affects me personally.

Comment by hedge, on 2-Aug-2010 21:57

I think its funny that you say its your opinion that the two companies reputations have been permanently damaged. Lets take a look at this from Apple's perspective: "Guys, we need to sell 20,000 units in NZ to break even and we have 100,000 units available. Lets plan to sell about 50,000 units." They sell all 100,000 units on the spot. What message do you think they got from that? "Oh man, we sold all 100,000 and people want more. Lets figure out how we can fix our reputation in NZ" Are you kidding me? The fact that they sold every single unit they had speaks way louder about their reputation than your "opinion" Its my opinion that Apple's reputation is doing a bit better than yours. PEOPLE LOVE THEM! (all numbers where pulled straight out of mid-air so please do not think that these were official sales numbers. I have no clue how many they had but I know they are all gone)

Comment by Top Bloke, on 3-Aug-2010 10:53

Interesting that Apple seems to escape most people's ire. For some they can do no wrong.
It seems obvious to me that Apple NZ/OZ did not have and probably never had enough stock on order.
Vodafone would have been in the position of having to postpone the launch until more stock was available, however I suspect Apple couldnt even give them a date, hence they decided to release what they had. Why do Apple have no stock? - probably because demand in the US & elsewhere was high. Or possibly due to the Antenna problem Apple are holding back inventory so it can be diverted to the US market once they re-engineer the antenna.
So Apple release a faulty product - people still buy it. Apple then offer a rubber case as the fix.
Can you imagine Toyota selling a car that dosent work and then they give you a bicycle as the fix?
NO they recall it and they sort the problem properly.

Comment by Matt, on 3-Aug-2010 12:02

I have had my own difficulties with Vodafone, eventually resulting in me leaving them for 2degrees. I live in Campbells Bay on the North Shore - a well built-up suburban area where, in certain parts, there is zero or 1 bar of Vodafone reception. Despite repeated calls to Vodafone's call centre asking when this will be improved for my household and all my neighbours I have had no communication back whatsoever. Nice one Vodafone.

Author's note by ahmad, on 3-Aug-2010 12:15

@TopBloke I don't buy the Toyota analogy. If the Toyota didn't drive, or wasn't safe to drive, and you indeed had to resort to a bicycle, then the analogy would be valid if the iPhone 4 could not make phone calls, or dropped out every call, or could not connect to the internet because of the antenna, or posed a serious safety risk for those using it.

Check out Twitter which is full of iPhone 4 users. Sure, some are having problems, but it certainly isn't rife. Personally I have been able to replicate the antenna issue if I deliberate set out to do so, but it doesn't affect my day to day usage.

Furthermore Apple have confirmed that the 30 day right of return for the device is extended to New Zealand users.

Having said all this your points about Apple with regards stock and being at least partly to blame for the whole launch debacle are entirely valid.

Comment by TopBloke, on 3-Aug-2010 12:27

Author - my analogy was part tongue in cheek to be sure, but even for minor vehicle problems such as a faulty airflow meter - Motor companies often recall.
I just think Apple's arrogance in handling that issue was typical. Eg they readlity accept all the free publicicty the media give them every time they release a new product, however as soon as it turns negative - deny, deny, deny.

Author's note by ahmad, on 3-Aug-2010 12:41

I don't disagree with making an analogy as you have, but again I would only expect a recall of a phone (any phone, not just one produced by Apple), if it really was dropping calls left, right, and centre, and reception was abysmal.

It has not been my experience but don't just take it from me - have you heard repeated consistent reports from the 100 New Zealand iPhone 4 users about antenna problems?

How much Apple were to blame for this we will never find out but you are right in that they are likely to get off scot free regardless!

Comment by oxnsox, on 3-Aug-2010 12:51

You're looking at it all wrong... That simply means you are special, you're a 3percenter rather than with the majority.

There are always going to be be pockets (like the dip in Campbells bay) that get no coverage... it happens across all networks at different locations, tis the nature of radio waves and physics.

And I appreciate Ahmed that the thread is about 'the experience', in reality it's 'the experience' of those that couldn't wait... for what ever reason.

Comment by John, on 1-Sep-2010 18:19

I am sooo annoyed at Vodafone. Their service in this regard has completely sucked. I managed to find out early they werent launching in the morning, and then got the text that they wre at select stores, so I get to Lamton Quay just after 12 and join the end of the queue. Doesn't appear to move for over an hour. But they must have got through some as they managed to sell out the 32GB, then said they had 18 16GB phones left. I was just in. Ten I get to he counter, with only 5 days to go on my contract it would cost $150 extra. Well, OK, I really wanted a 32 GB anyway so I put my name on the wait list and left. Phone in the middle of August, nope, no stock. Might be some on the 1st September. Call them up again, nope, no stock. Scew them, I've just ordered one from Apple. I even got an email with the delivery date, and the dock has already shipped. I don't know if I'll even stay with vodaphone now. XT or 3degrees might have better data plans.

Comment by wycip, on 16-Sep-2010 09:58

I couldn't agree with you more.  For the face time sms issues I was confirmed by apple with case number that vodafone NZ should waive all those face time setup charges.

Comment by wycip, on 16-Sep-2010 09:59

I couldn't agree with you more.  For the face time sms issues I was confirmed by apple with case number that vodafone NZ should waive all those face time setup charges.

Comment by wycip, on 17-Sep-2010 11:58

If you are still concern about the charges regard to the face time activation. Please contact Apple 0800-MY-APPPLE. I called them today, the apple rep said it's weird that the activation sms is sent to UK instead of a local server (i.e. Vodafone) and asked was my phone purchased in the UK (it was purchased from Vodafone NZ).  The case is now referred to their senior advisor and look into it.    cheers

Comment by Andrew A, on 26-Oct-2011 11:49

Stupid people are good making things complicated. It's just a fucking cell phone! What the fuck is the point making things so hard? A bunch of idiots.

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