Sep 20, 2011

A Dead Phone, Sprint, and Insurance

My phone had been acting flaky for a couple of months now, but I'd been too lazy to take it in to be looked at. After all, I was pretty confident it would work fine in the store and I'd be send home with a pat on the head. One example is while driving down the highways of Chicago in rush hour traffic not knowing exactly where I was going I'd take look over at my Phone/GPS only to figure out that it had locked up and hadn't updated itself for a couple of miles. And then during my last workout with RunKeeper the music had an awful lot of small skips in it which I attributed to other programs doing updates. However, on Sunday it all came crashing down when my Epic 4G became lifeless. No worries I thought... I have the insurance... which is something I'd rarely buy, but with issues I had when I first got a cell phone it seemed like a reasonable expense. When my wife needed it about 8 years ago it sure was nice to be able to go to the store and have it all taken care of on the spot (and in here case she got a phone upgrade, too!).

Ok, so on Sunday I call the Sprint store that I purchased the phone at and explain that the phone has stopped working. They asked me if it had water damage and I said 'no'. They told me I could bring it in the next day and if necessary they had 'loaner phones' to keep me connected. Well, I needed to get this taken care of so I asked if there was any way I could do so today. They gave me the address of another store that was about a half hour's drive and I was off. I took the phone in and after about a 20 minute wait they took a look and immediately concluded 'water damage' and they showed me some fogginess in the lens and corrosion on the USB connector. They kept the phone to hand off to the tech and told me it would be 90 minutes. Fortunately they didn't make me stay at the store so I was able to keep myself entertained for the next hour before going back.

Upon returning the fetched me my phone and told me again that it was 'Liquid Damage'. Ok, I'd heard that... what can we do. I was told to go through insurance. I asked about loaners. No. Warranty. No... 'liquid damage' is apparently my problem. I've had better conversations with my cat. I'm upset at this point as I'd had to drive around and gotten nothing in return for my efforts so I call 'my' store back, but despite a 5 p.m. close time they were apparently out of there at 4:30 p.m. as I had to leave a message. A message that still has not been returned (and no... I wasn't obnoxious... I asked whether the protocol that was followed where one guy decides it's 'Liquid Damage' despite the fact that I hadn't abused the handset forces me to use insurance).

Ok, fine... insurance time... actually I thought insurance was taken care of at the store. Sprint seems to be able to bill me for it... so why can't they do the swap for it? I start to apply for my claim and then I hit the payment tab... $100 non-refundable payment! Now I'm sure this is all there in the current insurance documents and things have simply changed since I first started doing insurance, but that coupled with the fact that I had no phone for two days translates to a racket to me. I already pay $8/month for insurance or $96/year on two phones for a total of $192/year. I haven't had to use it in at least 8 years. Add $100 to the mix and if I lose a phone every 2 years I'm still ahead of the game as I'll get a new phone on the spot in the store PLUS it'll be the latest and greatest model which clearly isn't a one year old Epic 4G.

So I email Sprint corporate about this after being essentially forced to pay the $100 so that I can get back on the network... after 2 days without a phone. They respond with the usual how sorry they are... they can't refund it because it's charged by another company (i.e. we have a relationship so close to them that was can collect money for them, but...) ... so I force the question of "Is this how it's supposed to be?". A customer has a phone for a whole 5 months which goes bad, and then Cristin at your store decides all by himself that it's 'Liquid Damage', and therefore no warranty for me? They won't answer that.

So what have I learned from this and what wisdom am I trying to impart?

First, DO NOT buy the insurance unless you have a hobby of losing phones. Even then I think it's limited to two replacements before they drop you. The Insurance for phones, as with most stuff, is a rip off and simply a money maker for them. I just cancelled mine... savings $192/year.

Second, I've been trying to think for the life of me how I could have caused water damage. The only thing that really hits me is when I work out with RunKeeper I sweat. Perhaps some sweat got into the USB area? I can't explain the fogginess in the lens though. Consequently, I have returned to using my old Motorola Droid for workouts as it plays my music and executes RunKeeper just fine. Consequently, I'm not sure I'd be using my expensive phone to exercise with anymore... use that recommendation as you will.

Third, my Sprint Store stinks at calling me back. This is the second time I've had to leave a message and someone hasn't called me back. The first time was due to a billing error. I don't know how much of a reflection this is on individual Sprint stores vs corporate. Corporate generally is very quick about responding to emails although I'm still waiting (it's been 24 hours) to an answer to my most recent question regarding protocols.


  1. Sorry to hear all this.

    I really enjoy your blog (not few of your recomendations ended up being installed on my phone) but it seems you don't have a lot of luck with android/your android phones lately. :) Here in Germany there are ways to insure just about any gadget even including water damage. Often (depends on a few conditions) for a lot less than what you pay. Either directly with an insurance company (best if part of a bigger contract)or at some online stores which offer this service with decent conditions. I insured my camera + lenses at the store I bought them and had no trouble getting replacement when I dropped my lens into a puddle of mud. I'm sure there's some kind of no-ripoff insurance available in the US, too.


  2. NEver get the store/company insurance of the thing you get. Call your own insurance company and ask them to insure your phone. Should give you better results, but not the service of getting a new phone asap. but then on the other hand, you didn't get that now. So Take that as you will :)