On my way back from work today I stopped by my local Cingular (now at&t) store to ask the salespersons there a few questions about the iPhone. I had planned on waiting in line, getting an iPhone, then selling it on eBay to turn a quick profit (grad school is expensive) so I asked questions about the contract, the activation, and the return policy. Here are the things I learned from my visit about which you might not already know:
1. We all now know that activation of the iPhone is done through iTunes, so buying the iPhone will be as simple as walking into an Apple or at&t store, giving them you money, and walking out. However, if your credit isn't up to snuff you'll need to make a $100 deposit in order to activate your phone. You can do this either at the store on through the iTunes activation.
2. You can't use your iPhone, at all, until you activate it with at&t. As one of the sales associates put it "It's just a $600 paper weight if you don't activate it." So if you plan on playing around with it before you sell it on eBay, you can't unless you activate it and sign a contract.
3. If you activate the iPhone, you can use it for three days before you can return it without being charged a restocking fee, cancellation fee, activation fee, and monthly service charges.
4. If you activate the iPhone, you can use it for 14 days before you can return it without being charged the cancellation fee, the restocking fee.
5. If you activate the iPhone, you can use it for 30 days before you can return it without having to pay the cancellation fee of $175.
6. If you activate the iPhone, keep it for more than 30 days and decide you want to cancel your service and return the phone you have to pay for everything above.
Now here's the kicker...
7. If you activate your iPhone, and decide to cancel your at&t service YOU HAVE TO RETURN THE iPHONE! It wasn't clear how long you have to keep your service in order to keep then phone when canceling.
So, if you want to sell your iPhone on eBay DON'T ACTIVATE IT before you sell it. I know the temptation will be intense to open up that beautiful little box and play around with the iPhone, which you can only due once it's activated, but if you do you won't be selling your phone on eBay.