9 AM: I load Apple's tech support Web site and think OK, this looks fine, I should be able to do mail-in service on the iPhone.
9:15 AM: I finally realize that there is absolutely no way to get their Web site to send you a replacement phone. Dock, cable, television output cable, you name it: all of that stuff you can do, but not the phone itself.
9:16 AM: I call Apple.
9:20 AM: I get a tech support agent on the phone with an indeterminate accent (Spanish?). It takes about thirty minutes to finally get her to understand what the problem is: the dock connector is faulty, which means that cables connected to it will not provide a steady connection. She offers to send a replacement cable: this is not a good answer. Then she suggests that Apple will not support using the iPhone with any third party connections (e.g. the one in my Scion), so I remind her that not even Apple's cable connected to my MacBook Pro will work consistently. She puts me on hold to talk to her supervisor.
9:50 AM: She agrees that the phone will need servicing, and there is absolutely no way to do this unless I go to an Apple Store in person. Yeccch. She makes an appointment for 3:30 PM at the Fashion Valley store.
3:25 PM: I arrive at the Fashion Valley store, having struggled mightily against heinous traffic and the reconstruction of most of the parking into $5 "premium parking" and $8 valet parking.
3:30 PM: Finally, I am assisted: it is fucking madness inside the store, crammed to the rafters with customers. I note that all the staff is under 30. The guy at the main register has the same haircut as that one dude from Project Runway. It's horrifying.
3:31 PM: I am told that there is no record of a reservation/appointment/whatever they call it. It is suggested that I go wait in line in order to make a reservation for sometime later in the week.
3:35 PM: After checking in the back for a few times, they're 100% sure they cannot help me. I am of course growly and (predictably for me - ask Dan) lose my temper somewhat. I suggest that Apple have fucked up and that I would like to know what they can do to fix my problem without my having to either call AppleCare for another forty-five minutes, brave the Fashion Valley mall, or buy another phone. The Apple staffer assures me that AppleCare is entirely different than the Apple Store and that they are in no way responsible for someone having made a mistake, somewhere. She then entirely seriously suggests that I could just cancel my contract with AT&T and buy another phone, which really doesn't improve my mood. She also suggests that I just drive to another store. I then laboriously remind her that it's about $250 to cancel the contract, or $5 in gas to drive to another store, and hey, you know, this is my second busted iPhone and I really don't want the hassle.
3:45 PM: Again, predictably, saying "you fucked up" in a moderately loud voice, especially when you're kinda Kaczynski-ish to begin with, will get a manager to assist you. Brian, who has apparated from the back room, is pleasant, apologetic, and says he'll try to bend the rules. I offer to just leave the phone and take the SIM and maybe they can mail me a phone that works when the crowds die down a little bit? He says no, they can't do that, but hang on, I'll see if I can jump the queue.
3:50 PM: A hipster in an orange shirt quickly swaps out the iPhone for a new one. Total time: about two minutes, including paperwork.
4:00 PM: I finally make it home. On the way home, I am momentarily depressed that I own a shitty yet fashionable phone with poor voice quality, a terrible camera, a supremely uncomfortable design when it comes to using it as a phone, a moderately good E-mail client, a decent Web browser, super crappy headphones, and (worst of all) the baggage that comes with owning a fashionable electronic device. I wonder what the hell I was thinking, and of course realize that I was getting tired of a Windows phone that didn't answer calls very well and had an entirely unstable Internet connection. On the whole, the iPhone is lovely but oh man: it's seriously lacking. I really should have spent the extra money on a N95 or something - I now realize that what I want to do most is be able to take good pictures with it and have it fit against the side of my head without pain. I don't care if it plays music or whatever - even that's frustrating because my Shure headphones want a $39 adapter to work with the damn thing.