Activating Apple Pay over the phone

20 Oct 2014

Automated Apple Pay activation for both Citi and Wells Fargo went down soon after Apple Pay launched earlier today, so I decided to try activating the old fashioned way — over the phone. Here’s what happened.

Citi (Credit Card)

I called the activation number, (855) 569-6553, and waited on hold for almost an hour. Clearly, I was not the only person who ran into problems. While I was waiting, I imagined the conversation between Apple and Citi.

Apple Engineer: Hey, make sure your servers can handle the launch day load. We send a lot of traffic.
Citi Engineer: Don’t worry man, we got it!
Apple: Are you sure? I heard you’re generating the device-specific number with a Commodore 64.
Citi: Actually, it’s still a punch card system, but I’m sure it’ll be fine! Anyway, we’re scheduled to upgrade it soon, in 2035.

Launch day. After three customers try to activate within a minute of each other, the service starts slowing down. Citi Engineer overclocks their IBM System/360, causing the punch card to catch fire.

Anyway, when the representative finally picked up the phone, I found out the real reason for the delay. To verify my identity, she asked me for my:

I bet people can launch nuclear missiles with less verification. Anyway, Apple Pay verification didn’t go through, and she told me to check back later.

Wells Fargo (Debit Card)

Wells Fargo sent me three Passbook notifications and one email saying that Apple Pay was ready to use, except it wasn’t. I switched to phone verification and called their support. As it turns out, the number they gave Apple was the general account info line for grandparents who refuse to use that newfangled inter-net thingamajig.

After poking around the menu and confirming that yes, I’m sure I don’t want to check my account balance, I finally got to the “I need help” prompt:

Robot: “Please use a short phrase to describe what you’re calling about”
Me: “Apple Pay”
Robot: “You’re calling to stop a payment. Is that right?”
Me: “No, Apple Pay.”
Robot: “You’re calling to close your account. Is that right?”

The machine taunted me a few more times before it bailed and transferred me to a representative…who told me to try again later. No Apple Pay for me. :(

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