If you're looking for a lesson in how to piss off customers, just look to Optus. Perhaps it's just a side effect of offering better iPhone deals than the other major carriers, but reports are flooding the internet of customers who, not being able to get their hands on an iPhone, signed up for a raincheck. And despite being told they'd be waiting as little as five days for their phones and that they wouldn't be charged until they had their hands on their iPhone, are now receiving bills and being told that they will have to wait until September before they will receive the phone.
Forums like MacTalk and Whirlpool are filled with stories of disgruntled "customers" who after discovering the long wait involved with their raincheck, have tried to cancel their order, only to spend hours on the phone to Optus' customer support without resolution.
Even The Australian has heard reports of the shenanigans, today running a story entailing the now repetitive story. Speaking with an Optus spokesperson, the confusion seems to come from the terms around the raincheck itself. From the Oz:
According to the policy, customers can either connect to an advertised plan; order the advertised mobile phone and use alternative equipment until the advertised mobile phone is available; connect to the advertised plan, order the advertised mobile phone and suspend the advertised plan until the advertised mobile phone is available; or connect to the relevant advertised plan and buy a different mobile phone that is in stock.
But a few people we spoke to made it clear that they weren't aware of the different options available with the rainchecks. Giz reader Tim tells us:
"Myself and hundreds of other people missed out on iPhones on launch day (all around Australia), and signed up to the Optus "raincheck" with promises of delivered phones within 5 days, and that the contracts wouldn't start billing until we received our phones.
Turns out these were empty, empty promises - we're all being charged a nice large iPhone contract bill, and the latest news is that we may have delivery - sometime in September! From 5 days to 60 days?
Some of us have tried to now get out of the contracts as clearly Optus aren't fulfilling their end of the deal, yet we've been given the runaround - being held on "customer service lines" for hours, and then being flatly told by barely audible foreign call centre works that we can't do anything about it.
The lack of stock is understandable here: it's a popular product, there are only limited numbers being produced worldwide and we have four networks competing for stock (along with the Sydney Apple Store). What isn't understandable is the complete failure of Optus staff to be open and honest with its potential customers. And charging for a product that hasn't been delivered is abhorrent.
There are some reports on the MacTalk forums of customers being offered refunds after kicking up a fuss about being charged without receiving their iPhone - if you're in the same boat, don't even think twice about demanding your money back.
And for everybody else thinking about signing up for a raincheck - it's probably a wise decision to hold off, or if you live in Sydney, go and queue up at the Apple Store - you'll almost certainly walk away with an iPhone, there'll be no confusion about which raincheck option you chose and you'll avoid spending a few hours on the phone to Optus customer support.