O2 has been accused of favouring new customers over existing iPhone users on the release of the 3G version of the device.
The iPhone upgrade section of O2’s website crashed on the pre-order release day, meaning that new customers were able to get their hands on the 3G iPhone, while existing customers lost out.
The hitch has caused resentment among some loyal early adopters of the device, with popular technology chat forums flooded with complaints from original iPhone users.
The issue arose after the operator created two different sections of the site for customers to pre-order the handset - one for upgrades and the other for new customers. However, the upgrade section was down for large parts of the day, while the site for new customers faced less problems.
Customers have been told that they should still be able to secure the device when it hits stores from 11 July, but both Carphone and O2 admitted that they had no stock of the white 3G iPhone prior to the launch day.
The problems have led some existing iPhone customers to allege that O2 has given new customers priority. One Macrumours chat forum member said: ‘O2 have behaved appallingly to their existing iPhone customers. I just hope they realise this, take note of the anger in the many forums and ensure these customers are looked after. More importantly, I hope Apple are aware that O2 are losing some faithful followers and early-adopters.’
Mobile also received complaints. One iPhone customer said: ‘The fact that O2 refused to take orders over the phone when the website wasn’t working was appalling. Neither myself nor six of my friends managed to get an upgrade.’
Original iPhone customers paid up to £269 for the device, as well as paying for expensive tariffs that cost upwards of £35.
Steven Shurrock, consumer sales director at O2, said: ‘There were a few problems with the site and some customers experienced a bit of slow down. We invested a lot in the site but the demand was huge.’
O2 said it had invested ‘several million pounds’ to increase the order capacity of the site, and the processing capacity was increased by over 250 times its normal rate.
However, at times the site still couldn’t process the sheer weight of demand for the most eagerly anticipated phone of the year.