Report: AT&T resumes selling iPhones in NYC

By CNN's John D. Sutter


NEW YORK (CNN) -- AT&T caused a ruckus Monday morning after it reportedly halted online sales of iPhones to New York City residents.

The incident sent Web rumors flying. Some bloggers speculated that AT&T couldn't handle the Big Apple's wireless data traffic. Others blamed an alleged case of fraud, which may have prevented safe online transactions.

AT&T (T, Fortune 500) issued a cryptic statement that seemed to indicate that a marketing campaign or routine change might be behind the online sales blackout to people with New York City ZIP codes.

"We periodically modify our promotions and distribution channels. The iPhone is available in our New York retail stores and those of our partners," said an AT&T statement issued to CNN.

But by Monday afternoon, the issue appeared to have resolved itself. The tech blog Gizmodo reported that AT&T's Web site again was selling iPhones to New Yorkers. CNN also was able to access iPhone sales pages through AT&T's Web site about 3:45 p.m. ET Monday.

AT&T spokesman Fletcher Cook declined to comment on the apparent change.

Earlier in the day, CNN tried to purchase an iPhone while using a New York City ZIP code and was shown this message:

"We're sorry, there are no Packages & Deals available at this time. Please check back later."

When other ZIP codes were entered, the site led to an iPhone sales page.

The sales issue affected only AT&T's Web site; the wireless company continued to sell iPhones and iPhone data service plans through its retail stores, according to the company.

News that New Yorkers were unable to purchase iPhones online from AT&T set off a number of Web rumors, and a few bloggers contacted the company's sales and service representatives for clues.

Laura Northrup, a writer for The Consumerist blog, wrote late Sunday afternoon that she spoke with an AT&T sales representative who blamed the online iPhone sales halt on poor wireless coverage.

"AT&T has apparently found a workable solution to the reported data congestion in New York City," Northrup wrote.

She quoted the AT&T sales representative as saying "the phone is not offered to you because New York is not ready for the iPhone. You don't have enough towers to handle the phone."

Other bloggers found the logic behind that assertion to be questionable, and an exact cause for the stopped sales remained unclear Monday.

Some blamed an alleged problem with fraud.

Writing for the MediaMemo blog, Peter Kafka says an AT&T service representative told him that new iPhones for New York City had to be purchased through a retail store, not through the company's Web site or over the phone.

"AT&T service reps have been telling New Yorkers like myself that it won't sell us the phone online because of fraud problems," Kafka wrote.

He did not elaborate on the nature of the fraud.

PC World's Tony Bradley suggested that the incident is another public relations misstep for AT&T, regardless of its actual cause.

"Cutting off sales of the iPhone in N.Y. alienates a huge pool of consumers and tacitly admits that the critics are right -- the AT&T network can't handle the iPhone," he wrote. "At least, not in New York." To top of page

Frontline troops push for solar energy
The U.S. Marines are testing renewable energy technologies like solar to reduce costs and casualties associated with fossil fuels. Play
25 Best Places to find rich singles
Looking for Mr. or Ms. Moneybags? Hunt down the perfect mate in these wealthy cities, which are brimming with unattached professionals. More
Fun festivals: Twins to mustard to pirates!
You'll see double in Twinsburg, Ohio, and Ketchup lovers should beware in Middleton, WI. Here's some of the best and strangest town festivals. Play
Index Last Change % Change
Dow 16,982.59 22.02 0.13%
Nasdaq 4,444.91 -4.65 -0.10%
S&P 500 1,978.91 0.57 0.03%
Treasuries 2.49 0.02 0.89%
Data as of 5:06pm ET
Company Price Change % Change
Apple Inc 99.02 1.35 1.38%
Facebook Inc 74.92 -0.27 -0.36%
Bank of America Corp... 15.50 -0.09 -0.58%
Dollar Tree Inc 54.87 0.65 1.20%
Family Dollar Stores... 75.74 15.08 24.86%
Data as of 4:03pm ET

Sections

The SEC fines the Massachusetts gun maker for bribing officials when trying to secure sales contracts with overseas military and law enforcement agencies. More

New annual report from U.S. government shows the long-term prognosis for Medicare has improved thanks to slower health spending, while the outlook for Social Security remains unchanged. More

Online dating site OkCupid found its users were more likely to have conversations when it told them they were more compatible than in reality. More

Actor-founded This Bar Saves Lives had Hollywood connections, but learned Start-Up 101 the hard way. More

Ali Ewoldt has performed in Broadway musicals and TV shows. Her days consist of auditions, rehearsals, and being on stage in front of hundreds of people at a time. Here are journal entries from a day in her life. More

Market indexes are shown in real time, except for the DJIA, which is delayed by two minutes. All times are ET. Disclaimer Morningstar: © 2014 Morningstar, Inc. All Rights Reserved. Disclaimer The Dow Jones IndexesSM are proprietary to and distributed by Dow Jones & Company, Inc. and have been licensed for use. All content of the Dow Jones IndexesSM © 2014 is proprietary to Dow Jones & Company, Inc. Chicago Mercantile Association. The market data is the property of Chicago Mercantile Exchange Inc. and its licensors. All rights reserved. FactSet Research Systems Inc. 2014. All rights reserved. Most stock quote data provided by BATS.