The free Sprint iPhone 4: just try to actually get one

iphone4About a year and a half ago, I got my son a Samsung Android phone (the Intercept.) The phone was inexpensive, either $49 or $99, but it turned out to be a real piece of crap. Android notwithstanding, the phone was just junk. It randomly loses connectivity, boots very slowly and runs the battery down very quickly.  He really wanted-and still wants-an iPhone.  Well, he is now eligible for an upgrade, and since Sprint carries the iPhone 4 with a zero to me upfront cost, I thought I would bite the bullet and retract my no Apple stance and get him the phone he wanted. Soooo….

I go to Best Buy to get the phone.  What a mistake. First, the store looks like it is on the verge of closing. The front section, where the checkouts used to be, was sparse. Two counters and some displays. It looks like they are having supply issues and have spread out the stock. It just didn’t feel fully stocked. Not like a normal Best Buy. The mobile area, however, was very busy. We waited, approximately, 10 minutes before someone asked if we needed help.  I said yes and they replied it would be a few more minutes. That was fine, I know phones take too much time. Then, a manager type asked what I was looking for and I explained I wanted the Sprint iPhone 4. He said ‘oh, we are out of stock. The closest store that still has them is in Colonial Heights.’ Well, that store would have been a 45 minute drive by the interstate, which we did not want to do. So, we left.

I thought, surely the Sprint store would have them.  The closest Sprint store was just a few minutes away, so we went there. Upon telling the sales guy what I wanted, he explained that ‘Apple has pulled them all back and you must order them online.’  Well, it seems that is not quite accurate. A check online (I missed this nugget when it happened) reveals that Sprint has discontinued them from the retail stores, but they are still available online.

While having dinner, I decide to try the local Apple store. So, I pull out my HTC Shift and lookup the number.  Finding the number to the local retail store on Apple’s site was an exercise in frustration. They have the retail stuff buried. But, I did find it and called the number. After be quizzed by a male-sounding Siri like automated answering service, I was finally transferred ‘to the right specialist. Only, I was not. A pleasant sounding female voice told me there were five calls ahead of me. After waiting nearly ten minutes, and still having five calls ahead of me, I just hung up. 

I tried calling the Target just across from where we were eating.  Not only do they carry phones for Sprint, they carry the iPhone 4 and 4s. Great! “Oh, you said Sprint!?  Sorry, that one is out of stock and I don’t think we are getting any more.”  Well, damn.

Another call to the Apple store ended in frustration as well.  With seven calls ahead of me for another ten minutes, I just hung up.

Now, I was resigned to the fact that I would have to order the bloody thing online.  Sprint is making a big deal about carrying iPhone but only the ones that cost any real money.  I know they have sunk nearly five billion dollars into this phone and they do need to recoup some of that cost upfront, but, seriously, I might have been open to upgrading to the 4S, but not now. I am determined to stick with the 4 just because of the hassle.

And, Apple, if you want me to visit your stores, make them more available on your website and on the damned phone.  Oh, and why the hell can’t I find out, online, if a product is available in my local Apple store? Seriously, Wal-Mart does it. Target does it. Certainly, your developers can cobble something together. Right? Oh, yeah…maps…maybe they are busily fixing the maps. Yeah, that must be it.

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