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SOS: Replacement phone mystery resolved, if not solved

November 19, 2018

Sonja Johnson doesn’t know why it was so hard to get a replacement for a smartphone accidentally broken by her college student son, especially since she’d been paying $11.99 a month per device to protect against exactly such mishaps.

SOS remains a bit confused as well, although once it got involved, one of the three companies involved in the sale, indemnification, manufacture and activation of the phone decided it knew enough to replace it.

Johnson, of Middleton, said she purchased two iPhone Xs in January from the U.S. Cellular store in Middleton, along with AppleCare phone replacement and repair plans for both. In July, her son, Max Mucks, broke one of the phones, she said, and while it entailed some hassle, he was able to get it replaced for a $99 deductible, per the replacement plan.

Then in September, Max broke the replacement phone. So in addition to urging him to buy a phone case, Johnson set about trying to help him get a second replacement, which is allowed under the AppleCare plan.

Johnson estimated her son made four trips to U.S. Cellular and Apple stores and that the two of them spent “hours” on the phone to Apple, U.S. Cellular, AppleCare and Assurant, including one 100-minute call she made to AppleCare, much of which was spent on hold.

At issue, she said, was whether AppleCare was still in effect for the latest broken phone.

SOS stepped in on Oct. 29 by sending a Johnson-authored blow-by-blow account of the hassle to U.S. Celluar, Apple and Assurant.

Representatives from Assurant and U.S. Cellular responded promptly, and a few days later Johnson and U.S. Cellular spokeswoman Katie Frey said Customer Care Team member “Patrick” was in touch with Johnson.

Frey said there was “no lapse” in Johnson’s AppleCare coverage, but a day later Assurant spokeswoman Andy Mus said the phone she was trying to get replaced wasn’t AppleCare eligible.

You see, after Mucks had broken the phones, he had activated two separate phones to tide him over while waiting for replacement iPhone Xs, and U.S. Cellular and Assurant disagree about whether this affects Mucks’ ability to get another iPhone X under AppleCare.

Johnson said that in the many conversations and correspondence she had with U.S. Cellular et al., she was never made aware that it was this underlying dispute holding up another replacement phone for Mucks.

Frey had already let SOS know that in the interest of customer satisfaction, “we have sent her a new iPhone at no cost to help resolve this issue.” Johnson said the phone arrived Nov. 6.

“I’m hoping the AppleCare transferred to this new iPhone X as Patrick has said it would,” she said. “Pending that, I’m assuming this is a done deal.”

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