One iPhone 4 owner’s horror story

Preface:  I have always like Apple products, so this is generally a story about the process of dealing with devices and services while moving from one country to the other.  I am finding that the “open” Internet is very segregated, especially at borders between countries.  I personally find this whole process rediculous, as I would consider Apple USA and Apple Canada (and by extension iTunes USA and iTunes Canada) being the same company as they are all owned by Apple.

I was one of the happy ones who picked up their iPhone 4 on opening day.  I waited outside our local Apple Store at Woodland Mall in Grand Rapids, MI, USA.  I did the whole overnight thing and generally had a great time.  My wife even bought pizza for the few of us that were waiting out the overnight.  Even the rain didn’t dampen my spirits.  My personal batteries lasted right until I hit the warm mall for the last 30 minutes before store opening.  I had a reservation for one but I wanted to get two phones, so I was the first person in the store (second in line, but people with reservations got in first).  Paid cash, got Applecare and a black bumper for both of them.  Cool, went home happy.

Now, we were working out plans to move to Canada.  So I started researching unlocking the iPhone and taking it to Canada with us.  Apparently, in Europe, they allow Apple to unlock phones through iTunes.  Cool, maybe Canada can do it too.  So I call Apple, and after explaining everything, and dealing with multiple levels of support, I was informed I had two options. One being to return the phone.  Not what I was looking for.  I did have another option that was apparently new.  I could bring my phone into a Canadian Apple Store and exchange it for a Canadian iPhone.  Cool!  I got a case number and made sure that was notated on my account.

The immigration process snowballed fairly quickly and three months later I’m U-Hauling it to Canada.  A week later we are in the Southgate Apple Store in Edmonton, AB, Canada.  We followed instructions and brought in the phones, with all the swag.  Talked to an Apple Store employee who went to get the manager.  The manager said the only thing they had was exchanging for repair.  No US to Canada exchanges allowed.  Ok, I might have lost my patience here.  After explaining everything, he asked that we email him the case number and he would follow up with us within 24 hours.  Get home and email him the case number.  To his credit, he did follow up, with a voice mail saying he was right, he couldn’t do anything.  Joy!

On the phone two weeks later after I calmed down a little with Apple Canada.  After being passed around like a rotten egg for a couple days I finally got a guy who read the notes and could read between the lines and see that I wasn’t trying some scam or something.  He took ownership of the issue and after talking with his supervisors at length, he found a partial solution.  He offered to allow us to return our US phones for cash (which is how I bought them) in the form of a check.  So, he put it through saying we should receive the UPS labels via email the next day.  We waited a couple days and emailed him back because we didn’t see anything.  Apparently, he just saw that just before we emailed.  Anyways, a day later we got the UPS labels.  Two days later, our beloved iPhone 4s are on their way back to Apple Canada for refund. (Note: That was a couple of weeks ago, and the check still isn’t here.  I’m optimistic, and guessing they are buried behind Christmas mail.)

Ok, so no phone in Canada is not good.  Ten days after the iPhones went buh-bye, we stopped at Southgate to look at phones.  We signed up with Bell for a Samsung Galaxy S Vibrant.  Yes, I’m a traitor getting an Android phone, so I’m guessing the rest of this is just bad karma from buying the enemy’s phone.

One of the reasons I bought from Bell was that the salesperson said that we could deal with ANY Bell store if we had issues.  Off to the Bell store in South Edmonton Common.  Thinking it would be easier to deal with a Bell store over a kiosk for this, we go in and talk to one of the salespeople.  Informed we can only exchange at the same Bell location.  Huh?  Great, off to the mall on Boxing Day weekend (ok, Monday, but close enough).  We get a very pleasant (/SARCASM) woman at the Bell kiosk.  She informs us that only the girl who sold us the phone can exchange it.  I raise my voice a little, not yelling, to inform her what the salesperson had told us.  She informs me that my yelling a her will make her not help me and that any continued yelling will result in security being called?  WTF?  Now I’m ready to yell, but my wife steps in and we get another person over to help us to exchange the phone.  Uh-oh.  No iphones at the kiosk.  Only choice it to return the phone.  But, with a 14 day return policy that limits you to 30 minutes of talk time and some unspecified data limit you know I ran into an issue.  Apparently, even though I used wifi at home and at Grannies house, I somehow went over some undisclosed data limit.  Long story short, we got passed it, but I was not allowed to know how much data I used or what the limit was.

Off to the newer Apple Store at Southgate Mall.  I was informed there that you need an appointment to buy a contract iPhone.  But, you have to get the appointment before the store opens that day.  You cannot get an appointment in store for the next day.  WTF?  The only way to get one that day was to pay full unlocked price.  Joy!

Next off to another multiservice kiosk.  Only iphone was a 32gb Rogers phone, and they don’t have the cool $55 student plan.  Next.

Find the phone we want at Virgin.  They have the $55 student plan.  Two out of three so far.  Go to sign up.  They have Supertab, so no contract, per say.  Uh-oh.  They want something Bell didn’t ask for.  A $250 deposit.  ARGH!  The phone gods don’t want me to have an iPhone.  This is obvious.  Ok, now my $150 Canadian Visa gift card that I tried to use with my US iTunes account comes into play.  The Candian Visa card wasn’t accepted as payment on a US account, BUT they did put four $35 holds on the card making it useless.  Now, on top of a $250 deposit, the $150 I planned to use as the money for the iPhone is tied up because Canadian funds can’t be used in the US Itunes store, and the $80 in Canadian iTunes cards can’t be used in the US iTunes store.  ARGH!  It all goes to Apple in the states, so WTF can’t my money go where I want it to go!

Thank god Apple makes good hardware and software, because the limits in their services are giving me insane!

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