From Gizmodo: AT&T’s online ordering system collapsed today, with Apple and AT&T sales folks reverting to tried-and-true technology: paper. They had to write down pre-order requests.
I corroborated the collapse of the online ordering system, by logging in to my AT&T account and attempting to negotiate the pre-order option. Note that AT&T is providing a telephone number for “non iPhone related upgrades” but gives no number for iPhone-related upgrades. This snafu affects all upgrades, not just iPhone4 pre-orders.
Yesterday, I said that it’s past time for the federal government to step into the quagmire that is the mobile telephony/data market and provide regulatory action that forces AT&T, Verizon, et al into a more competitive marketplace. I’m repeating that list of recommendations:
The sector is too sheltered from competition (oligopolistic structure with duopolies in some markets); the regulators are too enamored of flawed “free market” thinking, thinking that doesn’t work when the market doesn’t have “free market” structural characteristics; and consumers are left with high-cost service, relative to Japan and Europe.
One step in the right direction: force competition, like in Europe.
Free customers from phone-or-device/service lock-in.
- Require that monthly service fees for phones that are not subsidized by a carrier be less than the fees for phones that are subsidized by the carrier.
- Require that early termination fees on subsidized phones be prorated based on the remaining time left on contract.
- Require that companies sell data plans a la carte for all data devices (see Virgin America for USB modems and the iPad for handhelds).
- Prohibit discriminatory data pricing based on device. (iPhone data plans are more expensive than data plans for other smart phones on AT&T’s network.)
- Require carriers to share networks, to reduce infrastructure surplus.
Do these things and prices will come down and service should get better. Eventually.Are you listening, Congress? Are you listening, Obama?
A just-released CNN report (4.39 ET) states that the problem has been resolved (“computer systems at the [NYC] store were back online”), but my experience (no change in that screen capture) suggests otherwise.
AT&T, of course, is blaming the collapse on an iPhone4 stampede.