There’s a lot of back and forth on whether purchasing insurance for electronic items is a worthwhile deal. We have several things with insurance in our house, specifically our flat screen TVs, an exercise bike, and a dehumidifier. All of these were purchased after careful consideration. The exercise bike was a replacement of a treadmill that had gone bad and was covered under warranty, so it worked.
One thing we never even question is our cell phones. Since I switched to a work provided phone, I receive cell phone protection automatically, as I was directed to sign up for it when choosing my plan and such.
But, the ‘must have’ rule applies for my wife. Why? Well, to put it kindly, things don’t usually end well with her and her phones!
She has the best of intentions, but every insurance we’ve place on her phones has been used at least once. In the few years we’ve been on a shared plan, she’s had three different phones, and all have been replaced.
Phone 1: Blackberry
In 2010, my wife and I both got Blackberries, literally a month or two before the bottom fell out on their usage. Nonetheless, we decided to purchase protection through SquareTrade. About a year later, my wife’s went south. It got extremely hot to the touch and wouldn’t hold a charge or do anything. Since we had the same model, I even swapped out the battery, to no avail. It was shot.
SquareTrade has us send in the phone, and their terms were that they paid us the purchase value of the phone.
Phone 2.0, and 2.1: HTC Junk
So, with $350, my wife went to get a replacement phone. She chose an Android device, an HTC to be exact. We got a good deal at the Sprint store, as they had ‘extra’ in stock of a new device that they could discount for us since it was out of contract. The deal was pretty good, though I had my suspicions on whether it was a new phone (as they said it was).
For this phone, we signed up for the protection offered through Sprint. They charged $7 or so per month.
It wasn’t more than a few months and the phone started having some serious problems. The touch pad wouldn’t work, and Sprint replaced some components and re-flashed it. This worked for a short time, but the phone started acting up again, so they replaced it (this time with a refurb). The new phone did the same thing after awhile, and Sprint acknowledged that the phone…well, it sucked. It had a slide-out and the slide-out often caused things to get mis-aligned.
It might have been replaced one more time. I can’t even remember. All I know is that this thing was ‘in the shop’ more often than a 1980’s GM lemon. Sprint was starting to get annoyed, since at this point my wife had completed her contract, and with each repair they tried to get her into a new phone with a two year re-up. We were trying to stick it out to get in sync with other members on the plan, so we kept refusing.
Then, my wife’s phone met my in-laws tile floor and the screen went into a million pieces. Since this was not a mechanical failure, a deductible would apply. Since she was now ready to get a new phone anyways and the phone was so out of date that she probably wouldn’t have been able to sell it to recoup the deductible cost, she ended up just getting a new phone.
Phone 3.0, 3.1, and 3.2: iPhone 5
By this point, she was enamored with Apple products and wanted an iPhone. We looked around and the best deal was to get the phone through Best Buy. It was $50 cheaper than Sprint could offer at any of their stores or online.
While we purchased the phone, they offered the ‘Best Buy’ protection plan. It seemed like a lot of money, around $229 for the duration of the plan, but we ended up going with it. The plan included things like water damage protection (this is important in a minute), no deductibles, unlimited replacements (SquareTrade, for example, limits you to essentially one), and even included price guarantees for trade-in at the end of your contract. Plus, the cost per month spread out over 24 months was less than the $11 offered on Apple products through Spint.
So, we purchased it.
And luckily we did.
My wife didn’t have the phone more than a couple of months when we went to a concert. She had a drink in one hand, her phone in the other, and well, it’s pretty easy to imagine what happened. Ker-sploosh.
She grabbed the phone out an instant after it went in, and everything actually seemed to work great. It never went out, the data kept working, texting was working, it accepted a charge, and it seemed she had skirted danger.
Until the next day. When she went to make a call. And she could barely hear.
This was actually kind of funny because the speaker was on top, where the phone went bottom first, yet the part that never got submerged was what stopped working.
She tried a few tricks, like drying it out in rice, but the damage was done. So, off to Best Buy we went.
She was truthful about what happened. They tried to troubleshoot it insomuch as they turned it off and on, and tried it themselves, and agreed to order her a new phone. The only downside was that it is a re-furb.
But, really, since the protection continues through the life of your two year agreement, it’s a pretty minor inconvenience.
A couple of days later her replacement showed up. She got everything transferred over and left the store, everything appearing to work fine.
Until we drove away, and the data stopped working.
Sprint is currently working to upgrade the Detroit area from 3G to 4G LTE. Around our house, it’s about half transitioned. The store had 4G LTE, but other areas are still only on 3G. As it turns out, the phone would not connect to 3G. I spent a long time on the phone with Sprint, and they tried a whole host of things, but confirmed that it was two different antennas within the phone, and speculated that the initial problem with the phone could have in fact been the 3G antenna.
Back to Best Buy. The tech tried a little more advanced troubleshooting, but ended up agreeing that the phone was not right.
Another order was placed, another couple of days went by, and another phone arrived.
This one worked great on all accounts.
Still, we’re in our third month and on the third phone. The protection plan, I would say, has already paid for itself.
Readers, do you get cell phone protection? Has not having it ever burned you?