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 16,408.54 -16.31 -0.10%
Nasdaq 4,095.52 9.29 0.23%
S&P 500 1,864.85 2.54 0.14%
Treasuries 2.72 0.08 3.19%
Data as of 7:39am ET
Company Price Change % Change
Bank of America Corp... 16.15 0.00 0.00%
Facebook Inc 58.94 0.00 0.00%
General Electric Co 26.56 0.00 0.00%
Cisco Systems Inc 23.19 -0.02 -0.09%
Micron Technology In... 23.91 0.00 0.00%
Data as of Apr 17
Sponsors

Sections

Spencer has been a supporting member of the "Good Morning America" cast for the past three years. More

Obamacare sign ups hit 8 million, though final enrollment remains to be seen. More

Office for iPad move is a symbolic victory for Nadella's Microsoft, but the company is still weighed down by many of the same old issues. More

Schwinn, Trek and Cannondale are all iconic American bicycle brands. But none of them are made in the United States. More

As Detroit moves closer to reaching a bankruptcy deal, retired civilian workers are poised to be left worse off than firemen and police officers. More

Market indexes are shown in real time, except for the DJIA, which is delayed by two minutes. All times are ET. Disclaimer LIBOR Warning: Neither BBA Enterprises Limited, nor the BBA LIBOR Contributor Banks, nor Reuters, can be held liable for any irregularity or inaccuracy of BBA LIBOR. 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.