Thursday, 24 June 2010

iPhoning it in

The advent of the home computer, combined with widespread internet access, ushered in what became known as 'the information age'. Now, thanks to facebook,Twitter and the blogosphere, we live in the 'too-much-information age'. Everybody loves to share...

The upside of all this, is that consumers are now more empowered than ever before to celebrate the brands they love and denigrate the ones they don't. So it's in that spirit that I choose to change the direction of this blog for the day, and share my feelings around a negative brand experience. If this sounds dull, feel free to go read Digital Spy, and check back again tomorrow for the latest update on Lindsay Lohan's SCRAM bracelet.

A few weeks ago, I proudly blogged from the queue outside the flagship Apple store at Westfield, Shepherd's Bush. It was my first experience of the launch-day hoopla that tends to surround the release of any new Apple product. Although I'm generally averse to standing in line (not very British I know), I was willing to make an exception to be part of a rare social phenomenon.

As a result, when Steve Jobs made his keynote address several days later to announce the imminent arrival of iPhone 4, I realised that I'd caught the early adopter bug. Three weeks ahead of the launch, and I was already consulting my diary to see if I could wangle a late start on the 24th to enable me to stand in line with my fellow devotees. After all, a new Apple launch inspires the kind of worshipful pilgrimage usually reserved for South Americans when someone spies a likeness of the Virgin Mary on a partially cooked tortilla.

Actually, 'early adopter' doesn't quite cut it, when it comes to describing Apple products. The term is usually reserved for those brave souls who are willing to weather the teething troubles and embrace fledgeling technology before it catches on with the mainstream. With Apple, it's an altogether different mindset - more like the woman who signs her prospective children up for private school before her husband has even taken his pants off.

So anyway, there was I trying to calculate my best option for snapping up the shiny new iPhone on launch day, when I received a call from Carphone Warehouse three days ago. They told me that I was a 'priority customer' and as such, was eligible for an upgrade - would I like the new phone delivered on launch day? That's a little like asking Katie Price if she'd be willing to do it in front of a TV crew.

Today was the big day. My friend Drew spent five hours outside the O2 store in Islington, waiting to buy his phone in person - apparently the queue moved so slowly that at one point, a woman realised she'd left her wallet behind, walked home, found the wallet, and returned to take her place in the queue. It hadn't moved.

Meanwhile, I sat at work, checking the clock in the hope that my childish impatience would inspire the DHL delivery people to speed my package on its way. At 2pm I called Carphone Warehouse to double check that my order had been correctly processed. The customer service agent not only reassured me that my phone was en route, he even took the opportunity to up-sell a package of screen protectors.

By six o'clock Drew had finally arrived at work, blooded but unbowed, and displaying his prize like Conan returning from the battlefield. Unfortunately, my iPhone was nowhere to be seen. After half an hour of being passed around like a joint at an after-Prom party, I was finally told that I wouldn't be receiving my iPhone today. A clerical error had meant that a number of iPhones had not been dispatched from the Carphone Warehouse warehouse.

Now, I know that, in the grand scheme of things, this is not a major issue. There are fingerless orphans making the iPhones who have much bigger issues to contend with than the late delivery of their latest consumer durable.

However, the real issue here is that I was denied the true joy of being an Apple-apostle. The queuing, the banter, the palpable excitement, the body odour - it all contributes to the sense of occasion. By opting for the convenient shortcut, I denied myself the true Apple brand experience. And I lost out.

If you want to be part of the brand, sometimes you have to learn the hard way. And if you want your phone to arrive on time, don't ever order it from the Carphone Warehouse. Now, share this story with as many people as possible so that I can feel like I accomplished something with my immature sulking...


  1. Absolutely unbelievable. Hope it arrives today.

  2. It's a phone. In the grand scheme of things it means nothing at all. So why get your knickers in a twist about it? Am writing this from the queue at Percy Ingles, their fresh filled cream horns are to die for.

  3. Thanks Will - nothing like a bit of pastry-fuelled perspective to make everything feel better!