June 25, 2018
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Long line, long waits as U.S. Cellular begins offering iPhones

By Nick McCrea, BDN Staff

BANGOR, Maine — U.S. Cellular customers, along with some hopeful converts, came out in droves Friday, hoping to get their hands on the company ’s newly launched iPhone offerings.

Stores across Maine opened an hour early Friday, the first day U.S. Cellular made iPhones available to its customers. People lined up at the doors waiting to get the latest iPhone 5S, 5C or the older version, 4S.

“It’s really exciting and we’ve had a great response from customers,” said Jason Shank, area sales manager for U.S. Cellular. He oversees nine Maine stores from Augusta to Presque Isle.

Locally, U.S. cellular employees and managers could say little about the iPhone sales, as only employees with certain training are allowed to talk to media. Stores were busy for much of the day.

Customers at the Broadway U.S. Cellular store said the location sold out of the iPhone 5S early in the day, but some bought the smaller, slightly slower 5C.

John Knowles, 27, arrived at the U.S. Cellular store near the Bangor Mall at 10 a.m. Knowles, who is from Calais but lives in Bangor while attending school, picked up a 5S for his wife, but it took him more than three hours to finally walk out the door with his new purchase at 1:15 p.m., he said.

“I was excited to hear U.S. Cellular would have iPhones, but I thought it was a little overdue,” Knowles said.

The long waits stemmed from a few sales personnel serving a lot of customers. After making a sale, an associate would set up the buyer’s new phone and service plan before moving on to the next customer.

Knowles owns a Samsung Galaxy S4, which he’s happy with, but his wife is an iPhone fan, so the new phone that took more than three hours to buy is for her, Knowles said

A short drive away, at the Broadway U.S. Cellular store in Bangor, Tammy Violette walked in to purchase her new iPhone around 1:15 p.m. She walked out with a 5C in less than 15 minutes, she said. The 5C is offered in more colors. Violette opted for the pink one.

The 5S is selling for $199 with a 2-year contract, with the 5C coming in $100 cheaper. The older 4S sells for one cent with the same 2-year contract, according to U.S. Cellular’s website.

Customers at the Broadway store, which was busy for a midmorning on a Friday, were greeted by an employee saying “be with you as quickly as we can.”

Shank didn’t know how many of each phone had been shipped to Maine U.S. Cellular providers. He also said he likely wouldn’t have first-day sales numbers available Friday.

Demand for the new phone offerings is high, Shank said, adding he has heard customers are being understanding and patient about the waits.

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