AT&T stops, resumes online iPhone orders in NYC

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AT&T has upset potential customers in the New York City area by temporarily stopping online orders of the Apple iPhone with little explanation.

The phone, which could still be purchased in AT&T and Apple stores throughout the city, was unavailable for at least one day online before being made available again sometime Monday afternoon.

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Exact reasoning behind the short ban is unknown, but AT&T reportedly said it’s due to “increased fraudulent activity.”  However, an article posted on Consumerist.com indicates an Apple representative said “New York was not ready for the iPhone” because NYC doesn’t “have enough towers to handle the phone.”

question21Consumerist also received the following statement:  “We periodically modify our promotions and distribution channels.”

The news story is bizarre, with media and bloggers receiving varying statements by AT&T, as Apple not surprisingly remains quiet about the issue.

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I don’t like the timing of this news announcement — especially if “fraud” is being blamed — as AT&T has already received criticism for disappointing 3G coverage in New York City, San Francisco, and other major metropolitan areas.  If fraud is such a big issue for AT&T, wouldn’t the wireless provider also cut back on RIM BlackBerry sales at some point?

I’m not sure if we’ll ever learn the real reason AT&T temporarily stopped selling the iPhone to online shoppers in NYC, but interested consumers can now make the purchase.  For a company that doesn’t want Apple to jump ship to Verizon Wireless, AT&T certainly isn’t doing itself any favors.

AT&T’s network currently supports 11 million iPhone owners, and 70 million other customers.

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