Although they are not supposed to have waiting lists, many stores still do, as you mentioned. The store near me says they will not put me on it because they reached 50 people on it and stopped there. I don't know, however, if they will be able to use these waitlists on the date of release or if they will be worth anything. Grrrr, this is frustrating. All I want is my iPhone on day one.That's correct about the list. Even though there's a circular, something like 65% of the ATT locations will email you when there's one available for you...I read this on maccentral.com. I don't think the stores will confirm it, but if you walk in and ask, they might do it. They did for me.
re: data plan... I think you're right. I currently have a Treo600, but no data plan because it was always too expensive. I would on occasion send an email in an emergency. I tried using the web once and it cost me something ridiculous like $3 for 10 minutes-forget that. I'm really looking forward to having a phone with WiFi though.