Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Why Buying Insurance for Your Smartphone Is a Must

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During the five years I have been living in New York, I dealt with all major phone service providers except for Verizon, and from my own experience, I know that you always need to examine your bill for charges that should not be there, or go to the T-mobile store rather than to an authorized dealer like Ameritel. But the most important thing is to get insurance for your smartphone. Here is a story I wish someone told me before I got myself into all this hassle.

I became a T-mobile customer for the first time in April 2010. My boyfriend and I got a family plan for two years and received two Blackberry Bolds (both of them worked well for almost two years). In September 2011 my boyfriend decided to get the new Bold, with keyboard and touch screen, and he bought it from an authorized T-Mobile store for full price. Three months later he decided to get an iPhone and gave me his new Bold. I canceled his line and registered the new phone with my line. Our contract was to expire in 6-7 months, and I only paid half of the cancelation fee; however, to keep my line running, they made me renew my contract for another two years. I didn't understand why I had to do that, but I just got a new phone, and I was happy to stay with the company for another term, since I liked the service and I had never had any problems with T-mobile.

In March 2012, my Blackberry Bold did not turn on. I did not drop or put water on it, and it looked brand new. For some unknown reason, the software stopped working without a warning. I went to the T-mobile store, and since I didn't have insurance, they gave me a cold shoulder. They said the phone had been purchased for another line (both lines were in MY name anyway, so what's the difference), so basically, according to them, I didn't have the right to claim warranty on it. To make matters worse, I couldn't find the receipt to prove the purchase, and neither could the store where the purchase was made in September. The best suggestion of the store's clerk was to take advantage of my upcoming upgrade (meaning to buy a new smartphone and forget about the old one, for which my boyfriend and I paid over $600).

I was outraged by the treatment and the refusal to honor my warranty. I even called RIM, and I told them that the phone came out 6 months ago, and that there has to be some kind of a warranty for up to a year. I was told that they agreed with service providers like T-Mobile that the providers would be responsible for the warranty. The bottom line was, no matter what I did and whom I called, my problem was not solved.

As a result, I went to AT&T store and purchased an iPhone 4S (which cost me $200, compared to $300 for a Samsung Galaxy T-Mobile offered me WITH UPGRADE). When I called customer service to cancel my contract, they miraculously "found" my Blackberry Bold purchase and were willing to work with me (when I called or inquired in different stores, they claimed they didn't see the purchase in their computers as though it had never happened). This was after three days of me having no phone, calling the Customer Care, and going back and forth to various T-Mobile stores.

It was tempting to agree to their conditions and get a new Blackberry Bold, but at the same time, I felt nauseous thinking that I would have to deal with T-Mobile customer service again if something happens. With a sigh of sadness (money lost on Blackberry) and relief (no more T-Mobile), I said, "No, thanks," and went on to exploring my new iPhone.

And by the way, because I canceled my T-Mobile contract, I was hit with a $200 cancelation fee, which would not apply to me had they not prolonged my contract for two years at the time I canceled my boyfriend's line for a known-only-to-them reason.

As of now, I have been an iPhone user and an AT&T customer for over 6 months. Four months after I got the phone, the speakers stopped working. I did have Apple Care, and I contacted the company. Polite and helpful representatives attempted to solve my problem over the phone on Sunday evening, and when it didn't help, they made an appointment for me to visit a store for a possibility of repair or even phone replacement. The following day I went to the SoHo Apple Store, and my speakers were replaced within an hour. "You don't have to pay anything; it is covered by the warranty," I was told. I didn't have to go around with a poorly functioning phone longer than 24 hours, as I had to with T-Mobile.

So it all comes to this: if you know you're dealing with T-Mobile (for example, if their prices are more appealing than AT&T's), you need to get insurance. Otherwise, if something happens to your smartphone, you're in a sinking boat in the middle of the Atlantic. 

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