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back to article O2 buckles under 3G iPhone demand

O2 customers reported that the firm's activation system crashed this morning as they raced to get their new 3G iPhones, but the telco insists everything is going swimmingly. One reader in West London told El Reg that the manager of his local O2 shop said the computer system for activating iPhones “has crashed, and it’s the same …

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Paris Hilton

Sorry Steve, Gave up waiting

Yup after an hour and half wait, I decided to give up waiting for the 'technical issues' to resolve themselves.

Why Paris, well I'd leave her standing.

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Jobs Horns

Well that went well...

Same happened in East Grinstead - a queue of about 30 people already by 7:40. The doors opened at 8:02 as promised with plenty of iPhones available. 25 minutes later and nobody had come out. The manager tells us that the system is b0rked and it's taking 15-20 minutes per customer. They had about 35 8GBs and about 6 16GBs. Needless to say, I had a cat in hells chance of getting a 16GB so I walked.

Carphone Warehouse in Grinny had similar system problems and they only had about 3 iPhones (were meant to have more but didn't come in). Was trying to "instant delivery" for Tuesday but they went out of stock at the warehouse during the process.

O2 were totally shambolic this week, particularly on Monday and Friday.

Bummer. It's gonna be a long long wait.

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Stop

liars!

I have just picked up my shiny new 16GB iphone from the O2 store on the strand london, where they are just filing out all the paperwork and sending people off with UNACTIVATED phones.

apparenlty it coudl be a couple of DAYS before they get thru all the paperwork and data inputting and actually get around to activating our contracts.. this has been going on since 8:02 this morning and its 10:30 now.

how exactly is this "swimmingly" ? i have a brand new phone which i have paid for, that i cant use because their systems have crashed YET AGAIN

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Frustrating...

Just spent a very annoying 2 hours stood being bored in the Carphone Warehouse branch, High Street Kensington. I was maybe the 7th person in line and got straight to a cashier, everything went fine until the credit check started and then there was lots of shrugs, waiting around and general annoyance.

You'd think they might have had slightly more robust infrastructure.

Oh, and they're totally lying about the system problems not happening. The store I was in were trying to ring O2 and sat on hold long enough that it cut them off. Every other Carphone store was reporting similar issues.

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Unhappy

20 minutes my ar*e

I waited 2 hours and was told it could be another 2 hours before my upgrade could be completed.

At the Chesterfield store (which opened at 8:00) 1 person managed to walk out the door with a phone at 9:36

The second was at 9:49.

meanwhile the other 20+ people (me included was still waiting).

Interesting approach to the problem, deny it exists!

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Flame

I experienced the same problems...

I've just come from the larger of the two Milton Keynes stores, and can corroborate word-for-word all the accounts of problems in this article. The tills are slow, and the service registration system is glacial. The national point-of-sale system, which they call Gateway, is not technically *down*, but merely "having operational difficulties" - i.e. a transaction which should take 1-2 seconds is taking 15 minutes, and failing altogether 4 out of 5 times.

I was 10th in the queue. Two people in front of me gave up and went home, five got their phones, the others were still being seen to when I left at 10AM, by which time only six phones had successfully been sold. Fifty odd people behind me, who had been in a good mood having been told that this store actually had enough stock to supply their requirements, were turning sullen as I left, and extra security staff were just arriving. 5 of the 15 staff in the O2 store had nothing constructive that they could do but sit around. The staff in the store, who were generally professional and helpful, but apologetic and powerless, were furious at the problems, claiming they had already warned head office that this would happen, and were ignored.

Overheard conversations between staff suggest that they had been warned *not* to let unactivated phones go on pain of disciplinary action, however (according to a friend queueing in the other MK store) the other store was already doing it and the main store was about to start as I left.

No problems, O2? Try talking to your own staff!

[Flames, because that's what O2's Gateway server must currently look like.]

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Unhappy

O2 Debacle

I waited in line outside o2 in Wilmslow in Cheshire, one of only a handful of people at 7:15 this morning. A sign in the window stated that due to demand they would not be upgrading any existing iPhone users and will only take new contracts! I spoke with the manager who informed me they had no upgrade sims? What upgrade sims? News to me and contradicts what I’ve read on the O2 and Apple web sites.

Up the road at the Carphone Warehouse they had taken pre orders during the week so if you’re name wasn’t on their list, you didn’t get a phone! So much for fair treatment for all and first come first serve!

An absolute joke and I have to say a huge disappointment for an existing O2 iPhone user.

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Jobs Halo

Same here

I joined a merry queue at O2 Cheapside (thats London to the rest of you) at 6:20 as number 10 in line. By 8:02 there were a good 60-70 people in line.

Around 7:30 the lovely manager came out with coffees and teas - I think they did this for everyone in line eventually (their coffee machine must have been wheezing after a while though - it sure took a while).

They promptly opened the doors and let in 6 people at a time. Within minutes the manager came out and said the systems were crashed and that they would be doing it on paper so to expect it to take longer.

Well I walked out 45 min later with my new phone (16GB) - unactivated. Its now synced with iTunes but waiting for an activation of the SIM card. Flying spaghetti monster only knows when they'll get around to doing all that data entry...

Some muppets showed up without proof of adress and were turned away but otherwise they served both new contracts and upgrades.

Well I'm happy I got mine... but when can I use it????

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Anonymous Coward

At the Regent Street Apple Store too.

I can report that Apple's flagship store of Regent Street was beset by the same problems. Lots of customers (myself included) left empty handed, much to the delight of hoards of journalists and news crews outside the store. I gave 4 or 5 interviews on the way out.

Better yet, O2's customer registration system (the one that went down) is web-based yet somehow only manages to run on Internet Explorer. As a consequence, all the of iMacs that were being used to sign up customers were running IE under VMWare fusion.

Off-message or what? I can't imagine that Apple corporate is going to approve. I can't help feeling that somebody at O2 is about to receive a new orifice.

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Dead Vulture

Meanwhile in Madrid...

The Mothership is having problems, too. The shiny new Telefonica shop in downtown Madrid opened at 10... only to get their systems down a few minutes later. It seems only a couple of people got out with their iPhones working.

It's been said in several sites and forums that besides, there's almost no iPhone to be bought anywhere in Spain.

Why aren't we surprised at all...? ¡Bravo, Telefonica!

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O2 are clearly retards..

As the title says. How can they mess things up several times in one week and not learn from any of the other mistakes!? Fools.

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I'm through with standing in line

I was stood for an hour waiting to get mine - some people had been stood there since 6am. The local O2 store only had 21 units (5 of which were 16Gb models). They had no White versions.

Carphone Warehouse up the road only had 2 units!

O2's payment gateway and something called URU or UIU was not working. In the end, they had to fill in a paper form and take my details (even though I was upgrading from the first gen iPhone).

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Carphone Warehouse don't care about their existing customers

I waited ages in line at my local CPW store, they then spent an hour doing the wrong credit check on me; as a new customer rather than existing CPW customer, despite me telling them many times. They then realise their mistake when the check goes through, and they tell me the system is down for existing customers and can I come back later.

No apologies, no attempt to put their mistake right, nothing. Is it any wonder the high street is dying when it's staffed by idiots.

They're basically saying they have you on a contract and they'll treat you anyway they like.

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jai
Silver badge

phew

i was a bit gutted that i wasn't able to queue up this morning for upgrade my old iPhone to a new one - but reading on the forums about all the trouble people are having and how quickly the stock is running out in the shops that are able to use the system, i'm kinda glad in the end.

think i'll wait till next week and try and upgrade then

odd that we've not heard from Webster yet - i guess he's stuck in a queue as well, waiting to get his one

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Scenes from a CPW

Same story at 10am in CPW Loughborough Road, Nottingham. About a dozen people waiting for credit checks (02 also require a credit check for an upgrade and the shop staff told me that credit checks for new customers are computerised, whereas for upgrades a real person has to approve it)

Anyway, there is currently a 4 hour wait for approvals, 02's internal systems are "down" and the pre--ordered phones (including mine) are on a Citylink truck "en route" with no ETA.

The shop had 2x16GB and 8x8GB (all black) in stock at 8am, all those are now sold to walk-ins as soon as their credit checks are cleared.

What fun. Ugly scenes abound elsewhere, so I read.

Tim

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Unhappy

Common sense?

Similar experience....queue of folks outside an O2 store. Staff inside looking out at us all. Would have thought common sense from the O2 staff to go outside, quickly ask who wanted what i.e. 8gb or 16gb and to tell the queue how many of each they had in stock. But no....they're quite happy watching the lemmings wait outside.....great customer service as usual from O2. And what is it with ensuring their systems can withstand the expected volumes? Bad planning all round...infact it appears NO planning.

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Stop

Anyone wondered where the Operations Director at BAA went?

Terminal 5 culpurit didn't go to O2 by any chance ?

OR will there be another Operations Director receiving a large payout ?

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Coat

Timing problem?

O2 don't seem to be the only ones with timing problems.

"I experienced the same problems... "AC left the store at 10AM, 15 minutes after the comment describing his experience was left.

Gavin Berry suffers less, being merely [at least] 5 minutes out of sync with reality. He apparently "was still waiting" at 9.49am when he posted at 9.45am.

Am I missing something here, or are these guys just O2 haterz leaving comments to rile us up?

And those of us who were still waiting at 5pm next thursday for the O2 POS computers to come back online are the ones who really got it bad...

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Anonymous Coward

Do they never learn ?

Gave up after queing for an hour (from 8.02) - at that point 3 iPhones had 'left the building', by my calculation I'd have to wait till after midday to even get close. Nice of O2 to send lucky individuals out with a distinctive bag - might as well have 'mug me for a free iPhone' on the side.

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Jobs Halo

@Adam Foxton:

@Adam Foxton: I was the AC you mentioned first, and my times and comments were genuine. I can only assume that either the Vultureclock is off kilter, or perhaps it's something to do with local timezones...

[Saint Steve because this one actually isn't his fault]

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AF
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@ Timing Problem

Three letters: G. M. T.

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Happy

Sweeet

Well I got to Canary Wharf at 06:15 and there we're 7 people in front of me, by the time the store opened at 08:02 there we're about 130 people lined up waiting, I was there till 09:00 while the sales guy tried to submit my application, it kept busying out, in the end he said he would keep one aside for me, I have just phoned him 11:38 & he has just confirmed that it has been submitted ok, and I can collect mine now :), he said at the moment theres a 60% success rate for submitting applications all over the UK :(, also I believe they had 200 Iphone's in store, sure there all gone by now though :(

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Flame

O2 is owned by Telefonica Movistar, who has screwed up even worse

Just read this:

http://the.firehou.se/2008/07/11/telefonica-movistar-completely-screws-up-iphone-launch/

and consider yourselves lucky! The way this launch day has been hyped for weeks, and the complete incompetence of whoever was in charge with shipping out the damn phones are equally huge.

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I think im one of the lucky(ish) one's

I got outside my local O2 store in swansea at 8.02 on the dot, thankfully there were only about 20 people waiting. Yes there were delays due to systems falling over, but we were getting served. They were plying us with tea and coffee whilst we all waited patiently.

When i finally got into the store 2 hours later, i was told i could have my spanking new iphone, but as seems to be the common trend........it would not be activated.

They cannot enter upgrades onto the till due to a technical fault (which conveniently isn't effecting new sales)

There also seemed to be more iphones than customers rather oddly, they had roughly 50 iphones but the queue was nearly gone when i walked out of the store with my iphone in my sweaty palm.

It may not be working but at least i have one, if i have to wait to activate it, so be it. I still have one of the coolest gadgets ever made, happy days.

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Confused.

Why not wait a week and then buy one?

Never understood 0 dayers.

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Dead Vulture

New product

New product comes out, high demand, difficult to get one initially, news?

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All was ok for me...

I queued for about 30 mins in the metro centre gateshead, got my phone (was an upgrade). The guy took some details, phoned up someone to check I was eligable for upgrade (System was down : there was an ASPX error message on screen - didnt get a chance to read it..). No credit check, no hassle.

Manager was totally in control of the sitauation.... Couldnt have gone better.

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Dead Vulture

Frustrating

I've had a successful pre-order since 8.12am on Monday for the 16GB iPhone - considering the problems I just thought I'd phone O2 to make sure my order is going to arrive today.

Turns out that despite me asking directly if I'd get my phone today and taking the day off work to be in to collect it they don't have enough stock for the pre-orders.

If anyone has a pre-order I'd phone to ensure you're still going to get it, as it sounds like, from what the guy said, I'm not going to be the only one in this situation.

I also asked if they are going to send out any notification to the people that are waiting - "we were told that emails are going to be going out to those that are unsuccessful, but I'm not sure if they will be".

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Could be a Long Wait

Just got this from the O2 Website

"Thank you for your interest in iPhone 3G. We are experiencing unprecedented demand for the device and whilst we are confident that all customers who want iPhone 3G will get one by the end of this summer"

Look on the bright side - at least it did not say next summer

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Glad I didn't bother.

My 16GB iPhone is on order with CPW. I toyed with the idea of taking the morning off to brave the queues at the local store, but I imagined it would be a nightmare.

How right I was.

I'm considering cancelling my order, due to this debacle. The inference being that if O2 can't even run an ordering/activation system competently, what hope of receiving quality ongoing service?

Also, my housemate turned up this morning with a brand new, just released, touch-screen Windows-mobile based phone on Orange which impressed the hell out of me. Then there's the impending deluge of Nokia N96's to consider (which I could upgrade to whilst retaining my current provider). Even the phone from Openmoko is an attractive offer.

Sure, the interface on the iPhone is slick, connectivity is excellent and features are good, but it doesn't yet seem to be worth going through all the hassle to obtain a unit.

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Sitting in the Apple store in London

Waiting.....

Still waiting....

Big Queue.

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Coat

Got Me One...

Arrived at the local O2 store at 8.40 as it was due to open at 9am. Number 9 in the queue. After 3 people walk out with an iPhone, we get informed that they've only got 8Gb versions left. Disappointed, I decide to go ahead with it anyway. Turns out they only had 13 iPhones IN TOTAL, so I was one of the lucky few to get one.

But, computer problems meant I was able to leave the store with an unactivated iPhone, and was told to turn it on tonight as by that time I should have been given a number by O2. Reading this makes me wonder just when I'll be able to use it!!

Not a great start to my life as an iPhone owner. Though I think the blame needs to be shared by Apple as well. They clearly over stretched themselves to launch this simultaneously in so many new and existing territories, and it doesn't do O2 any favours to receive so little stock.

Oh, and how come Carphone Warehouse seem to have been allowing people to pre-register the phones this week? Hardly a case of first come, first served now, is it?

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Paris Hilton

GMT vs BST

Don't you love it when people try and be clever (looking at you Adam Foxton)?

Note the posts are timed using GMT (it even says it after the time), whereas we are actually operating on British Summer Time at the moment...Thus it is entirely possible for someone to have been leaving the O2 store at 10am BST, and then post a comment here 45 minutes later at 9:45 GMT.

Incidentally I queued from 8am, store (Lincoln) opened at 9am, left store at 10am, but my phone is also not activated as the credit-checking system was down. They had about 8 16GBs and 30 8GBs.

Paris, cos surely even she'd have noticed...

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Chocolate muffins

I queued up from 7:15 am at one of the O2 shops on Oxford Street (London). Just before they opened the doors, the shop staff gave everyone in the queue chocolate muffins and free O2-badged water.

I was about #30 in the queue and was finally served at 10:15 am. We weren't told the systems were down until we were inside the shop, but the staff happily took our details manually and let us all leave with (paid for) unactivated iPhones. Allegedly we'll be connected within 48 hours, and "hopefully" today. The lady who served me said it was exactly the same story when the first-gen iPhone was released.

The manager told me they had around 100 units, of which around 20 were 16 Gb. I guess I was one of the last ones to get a 16 Gb then ...

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Adam Foxton..

maybe its because we all (most of the posters in london/nottingham/milton keynes) live in the UK , which is currently on BST... and the comments timestamps are all in GMT, so are an entire hour different? so picking 5 mins here or there is stupid?

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Gates Horns

Apple Store has loads - O2 say musn't sell them

Just called my local Apple store and they've got loads of iPhones of all sizes and colours (yes - I was offered a white one). However, unfortunately they've been told by O2 they're not allowed to sell any of them because of the O2 system issues. The Apple guy sounded quite annoyed that their big UK launch had halted before anyone even managed to buy one.

Oh well guess I'll go in and get mine on Monday - by then I might be able to activate it while I'm in the Apple store, rather than relying on someone from O2 to type across all my hand written details correctly.

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Paris Hilton

You only have yourselves to blame

O2 couldn't manage to provide a decent basic telecomms service before they landed the iPhone deal, so why expect them to come up trumps now?

I used to have a pay as you go account with them and lost count of the number of texts I sent that were never received or took hours to arrive (with the recipient also on O2). And you could often find yourself unable to get a connection at busy times in parts of the city.

Maybe they've upgraded their networks a lot since then, otherwise when you do get an iPhone it won't matter whether it's activated or not!

~~~

Paris, cos she knows how to network properly.

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Rob

Pboro

I think Mr Otway is a just bit peeved he didn't get in the queue earlier

O2 shop in peterborough were doing the paperwork and leave with it unactivated thing, i was only 4th in line so it didn't take long (although that little midget git off harry potter turned up when there was about 20 odd people in the queue and was let in before the shop even opened - and they let him buy 2!!!!)

Something about their network did crash as it was only about 5 minutes after the first lot of us had entered the shop before everyone was like o noes the gateway is down! queue lots of huffing and puffing and use of the word 'contingency' like it made them clever

Though I had to say they were all very pleasant, they brought us all orange juice, coffee and a bacon roll thing as we queued

Yes it's only an upgrade, but it you don't get one now you'll be waiting god knows how long, so I'm quite happy to get up an hour or so early to pick up a shiny new phone on my way to work, albeit one virtually identical to one i already have, plus the sooner I can sell my old one the better,

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Stop

O2 gets it wrong again

Having failed to upgrade my iPhone on Monday thanks to countless time outs of the O2 website in the final stages of upgrading I decided to go along to my local store this morning. According to O2 my local store wasn't opening early for iPhone sales. So I went along in plenty of time for its normal opening hours only to find out that it had opened an hour earlier than advertised. So I've wasted my time this morning. Thanks O2 for having an over complicated inadequate pre-order system and thanks for getting the launch details wrong for my local store!

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Paris Hilton

O2? Not a chance in hell

I posted a few weeks ago that I wouldn't touch the iPhone with a barge pole as long as it was an exclusive to O2.

Glad to see I was right. :)

Paris, because I would touch HER with a barge pole (fnar, fnar!). ;)

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Rob

@ Mark Oswell

Man, that's utter rubbish you've been lied to, they don't give you a new SIM when you upgrade from a 2g iPhone, they give you an empty sim pack booklet thing, i don't know what's in it but i assume it's useless, you just swap you old sim over

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Unhappy

Pants on fire

Same story here in Manchester. O2 manager sent all the iPhone upgraders packing (after queueing in the rain of course) as they had "not been sent any upgrade SIMs". The new customers were busy filling out paper forms but nobody had managed to get a phone by 8.30 when I left and the crowd of 30 or so people had dwindled to 10. I called customer services who can't apparently sell them online or over the phone as they have run out and don't have a mechanism to order at all at this point, "please try an O2 store". However the operator did tell me there was no such thing as an upgrade SIM and I should have been able to put my existing iPhone SIM right in. So either O2 are liars, incompetent, or my preferred option: both. Gah! A small comfort to me was a mate who was waiting in a Carphone Whorehouse tells me that nobody was getting any 3G loving there either due to similarly titsup systems...

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Chesterfield Carphone Warehouse (@ Gavin)

I figured the 02 store in the town centre would be busier than the CPW, so I went there instead. Sure enough, by 8.45 when I left, only 1 phone had actually left the store. However, the nice chaps informed us that once we had started the credit check process (which was indeed broken, or tediously slow) the phone you had requested was earmarked to you, and so "safe" from being resold until the credit check was abandoned or cancelled.

As such, we all left the store for them to complete the checks after the rush was over, and I just got a call saying mine was all finished, and I can pay for and pick up my phone whever I want.

Altogether, I'm happy with the whole process. Anyone who isn't, needs to get perspective. I heard all the people moaning in the queue (15 minutes for me, big deal) about how "you would have thought they would be prepared" etc is just silly.

This is a once a year thing, and unlike a website where you can buy extra bandwidth for periods of time etc, the scope of the systems for performing credit checks etc will be geared towards being just about good enough for general usage, plus say 20%. No-one is going to quadruple the capacity of their systems for a 1 day rush. It's not as simple as hiring more staff to flood the systems even more. It may require new servers, extra licenses etc, plus all the associated third parties doing the same. CPW don't do credit checks, they run it through experian, or equifax, and they pay for a certain SLA. It would be foolish and cost a fortune, just to stop a few people (relative, to the number of overall 02 customers) having to use patience?

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Paris Hilton

@Adam Foxton

Comments are timed from GMT/UTC.

British summer time = GMT+1

So waiting at 9:49 BST [08:49 GMT] and posting at 09:45 GMT [10:45 BST] are quite, quite possible.

Paris - because even she knows the difference between GMT and local time.

Steven R

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Q? What Q?

There was nobody outside the Harlow o2 shop this morning. Good job too, because they closed for a 3 month(?) refurb on 3 July. The branch manager there must have a crystal ball and I bet he's chuffed to bits.

I really hope o2 get a good stuffing over this. They naffed me off the other day when I tried and then had the cheek to text me with an apology and a linnk to website that tells me all about the iphone but doesn't give the option of ordering the sodding thing.

Am quite loathe to hand o2 a large wad of money now - but what choice do I have?

Apple need to take this on board as well. They've pissed off load of potential switchers and customers.

(Rant over - I feel better now)

Ian

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No problems here

I queued up at 6am in Aylesbury, only to find no queue at the Carphone Warehouse. The O2 shop was closed for refit, and that's probably been for the best. I was in at 8.02 and walked out at 8.15 with 1 (of 2 in total) 16GB iPhone 3G.

No activation required (as far as I am aware, it certainly didnt seem to be done in the shop), just a single signature on a computer printed contract and a simple credit check to content with... Easy peasy?

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CPW - High St Ken

I was first in the queue there, for some reason the queue outside O2 was already 16 people long but no one was at the CPW store, and managed to get in and out in about 15mins and activated the phone at work which is now working so quite pleased that I managed to avoid all the hassle.

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Flame

Apple Store Regent Street

Apple Regent Street now taking people in the queue's details and which iPhone they want, so that one is reserved and you can come back later to sign up. They'll be in touch when O2's systems are back working again. Thankfully it meant I could get to work safe in the knowledge there's an iphone with my name on it :) Apple were geared up for demand, they had >60 machines for doing the activation, but all suffered from the website not working.

But O2 are a joke!

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