Just trying to order Dish’s Project Genesis 5G service is an odyssey

On Tuesday, Dish Network announced that its “Project Genesis” 5G cellular plan was available to the public in over 120 US cities after a month of testing in Las Vegas, Nevada. According to an agreement with the government, which you can read about here, they had to start it by June 14th. Otherwise there is a risk of fines running into the millions.

After years of following Dish’s progress, we decided to order a phone to try out the service, which is powered by new technology and claims to offer unlimited calls, texts, and data for just $30 a month. (There’s also an interesting gameplay and rewards system in the mix.) The task of testing it fell to me as I live in Spokane, Washington, one of the cities where the service is rumored to be rolling out. But registering for the service turned out to be no easy task: at every single part of the process, we encountered problems, bugs, and inexplicable behavior of the Project Genesis website. We have reached out to Dish for comment on these issues, but have not yet received a response.

The problems started pretty much as soon as I clicked on launch.genesis5g.com. When I clicked the “Order Now” button, I was prompted to enter my email and home address. But when I did that, the site told me I didn’t have a valid address – not that the service wasn’t available at my home, but that the address I entered (correct, I checked multiple times) wasn’t right.

It didn’t seem to be limited to just my building; My colleagues and I tried entering addresses in several supposedly supported cities, but the website told us they were invalid. To be clear, this was not a situation where we formatted the addresses incorrectly. (The Project Genesis website suggests addresses for you and lets you fill out the form automatically.) It said that the addresses it had intended were not acceptable.

When you click on the suggested addresses, they appear to be entered exactly into the field. The site would reject her anyway. (PS: no, that’s not my address; it’s a park nearby.) And no, I don’t know why it’s listed twice. This seems to be a common error on the site.

After dozens of attempts to enter my address, I was finally greeted with a screen saying Genesis is live in my area. The site then asked me to select which device I would like to order with my service. You can choose from a black Samsung Galaxy S22 with 128 GB of storage and a WiFi hotspot. The phone isn’t full price – it’s just $399 instead of the normal $749 MSRP – but there doesn’t seem to be an option to just order a SIM card kit for those who already have it, either an S22. According to a support FAQ page, “devices are exclusive to Project Genesis,” meaning you can’t bring your own phone, even if you’re sure it supports all of Project Genesis’ transmission technologies.

But I had come this far, and I wasn’t going to let something as small as $400 for a new phone I wasn’t even supposed to need get in the way. I opted for the S22 and the Project Genesis Smart 5G Unlimited Plan, which is the only plan available for smartphones.

Finally I got to the checkout page… and it was broken too. No matter what I tried, there was no way to enter my apartment number. The Address 2 field looks like you can add information (such as an apartment or unit number), but clicking or attempting to access it with the Tab key produces no results. The website address fields are fully linked to the address you entered on the home page. Of course, if you enter a unit number in this field, it will not be visible anywhere when you get to the payment page. And yes, I tested this on three different browsers to confirm that the issue occurred in each.

No matter what I tried, I couldn’t fill in the “Address 2” field.

(I went into the web inspector to disable the lock in hopes that the stored procedure handling this intake form would just read the data from the field, but the fields are set to read-only as is my browser couldn’t change – another big brain plan foiled.)

Since apartments, townhouses, and lots of condos seemed like a no-go, I thought about shipping it home to my mom. She lives across the country, but Dish says the ministry lives in her town and her address is just one line. After trying to enter their address enough times (the verification system was still on the Fritz), the site accepted them and showed me the message: “Project Genesis is coming up in your area soon!” That’s certainly interesting when you think about it that her town was included in the list of “120 plus” places where Genesis lives, but whatever – it was clear that I couldn’t put the phone through her house to me.

Out of ideas, I jokingly texted my wife, Becky, asking if any of her friends who own a house would be willing to accept a package for me. Not knowing the ordeal I was going through, she asked what on earth I wanted to send that couldn’t be sent to our home or her place of work.

YOUR WORKPLACE! Becky gets stuff shipped there all the time, and it’s a self-contained building with no unit number.

I almost held my breath and entered her work address on the Genesis website. After a moment’s thought, the system accepted it and I was able to select and schedule a phone for the millionth time. Finally I was on the checkout page, with an address that didn’t need any additions. That’s it. The last hurdle. I entered my credit card information and clicked the Join Project Genesis button.

My Apple Card declined the transaction and said it was suspicious. “Lol,” I said dejectedly. “Lmao.”

Email from Apple stating that the charge was denied by Dish.

I can’t really blame you, Apple and Goldman.

Well, to be fair, Project Genesis’ form doesn’t actually split the billing and shipping addresses, so there’s a very good chance my card marked it because the address the system was trying to use wasn’t the address is under which I registered it. Luckily, Apple lets you push a button and say, “Let that through.” I tapped accept and resubmitted the Project Genesis form.

The transaction was deleted – “You’re in!” declared Dish’s website, telling me that I was on my way to “experience the nation’s first 5G intelligent network”. I received an email with my order details (which also said it’s possible that my device personally delivered from one of Dish’s ambassadors, this might be interesting) and another email with a temporary password for the Genesis app so I can log in and “start earning exclusive rewards”.

Reader, this temporary password, and the instructions for using it are both invisible: black text on a black background. Can’t wait to get this phone and start testing this network.

I have not deleted the password. This is what the email looks like.

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