When I received my black iPhone 5 last week, I was shocked by its beauty. Apple did a great job on the design, and in my opinion, the “Black & Slate” version looks the best. I was so excited to have my hands on it after a week of anticipation, until I noticed a few small scratches around the edge.

I was confused as to how my new iPhone 5 already had been scratched, especially right out of the box. This definitely wasn’t Apple’s style, and surely it was just a fluke. After some light research on the Web, I found that several others had experienced the same problem. The issue had already been dubbed “Scuffgate” by the community of people who had also been shipped a pre-scratched iPhone 5.

MacRumors recently polled a forum thread regarding this issue. Surprisingly, 36.44 percent of iPhone 5 buyers from the poll received one in the exact same condition. Additionally 10.02 percent said that their iPhone 5 scratched shortly after they received it.

36.44 percent of buyers said that their black iPhone 5 was scuffed out of the box.

The scratches on my iPhone weren’t huge, but that wasn’t the point. Apple had sent me a damaged device, and those little silver “scuffs” showing through the black anodized aluminum would end up driving me insane.

Let’s get one thing straight, aluminum will scratch. Even the “White & Silver” iPhone 5 will, but it’s the contrast between the black aluminum and the silver beneath it that makes it so annoyingly noticeable. I already knew that the black aluminum would eventually scratch off like Apple’s colored iPods, but I would like to be the one to scratch it.

Exchanges Can Be A Nightmare

Initially, I had placed my iPhone 5 preorder with Verizon. I called them to explain the problem, but they didn’t give me many options. I could either completely return the iPhone for a refund, or send back the first one and pay for another that would be shipped when more are available in October. Either way, I’d be without an iPhone 5. I just wanted to exchange it for a white version and put this problem behind me. I also tried returning the scuffed iPhone to the Apple Store. They were more than happy to give me a replacement, but they could only swap it out for an identical black version because I hadn’t purchased it from Apple.

Here’s the problem: Verizon was out of stock, Apple was out of stock, and the return policy for Verizon is only 14 days. If I truly wanted an iPhone 5, I would have to return the one I had immediately, or risk falling outside of Verizon’s return period. If I returned it, I’d be stuck without an iPhone until they were in stock. In the end, I just returned the black iPhone to Verizon for a refund.

After the return, I was lucky enough to walk into an Apple Store and purchase a white model. All of this could have been avoided if I had purchased it from Apple in the first place. With their 30 day return policy, I would have had a larger window to exchange it for a new one.

Fortunately, I did end up with an iPhone 5 in pristine condition. Even though my problem was eventually rectified, that doesn’t excuse the fact that Apple is shipping damaged devices.

Don’t Avoid The Issue

What’s going on here? Before you even say it, I really don’t believe this has anything to do with Steve Jobs’ absence. Apple has been releasing flawed launch day products for quite some time, but this just happened to be a major cosmetic issue. That doesn’t make it okay, but it’s happened before … even on Steve Jobs’ watch. Hopefully Apple will refine their manufacturing process to prevent this from occurring in the future.

If this has happened to you, I suggest telling someone about it. Take your scratched iPhone 5 back to the retail store and exchange it. Make sure the employee processing your exchange knows about this issue. I’m not pointing fingers at anyone in particular, but complaining on a forum won’t fix the problem. Take action by making phone calls, sending emails, and visiting the store.

Like it or not, eventually the “Black & Slate” iPhone 5 will scratch due to how it’s manufactured. If you can’t handle little silver scratches on a black iPhone, you should probably purchase a white one or get a decent case.

Buyers beware, “Scuffgate” is real.