Posted by: Debbie Abrams Kaplan | May 30, 2014

Fun with phones

This story is about what happens when you put your husband’s cell phone in a Ziploc bag, put it in a dry bag and then in a canoe. And then you paddle that canoe into some bushes (on accident, of course), and three people get stuck in the bushes with branches in their faces, and they capsize.

Soaking wet, they grab everything they can and miraculously get all of it back into the canoe (except one person’s flip flops – one will be recovered later, but not both). The dry bag contents do not stay dry (apparently not folding it over tightly enough before fastening it, and then submerging the bag in water doesn’t keep dry bag contents dry – lesson learned. Also don’t bring your cell phone on the river. Fortunately mine was in the car). The Ziploc bag does not keep its contents dry, even though Ziplocs seem to work just fine with food in them. Go figure.

This is not the boat that capsized.

This is not the boat that capsized.

Submerging the phone in rice for several days doesn’t work. Of course you don’t have a cell phone insurance plan (read my story here on whether extended warranties are worth it). But you figure that since you’re 9 months into your contract, surely they’ll have some kind of deal for you if you extend your two year contract.

Are you laughing yet?

How hard could this be?

I went online to see our options, and started a text chat with the Verizon person. Her goal of signing us up for the Edge plan failed, since our current phone was dead. At that point, she couldn’t help me. She told me to call customer service or go into the store.

So I went to Costco, where I usually purchase my cell phones. Miraculously there was no line. Turns out wholesalers can’t help either, unless I wanted to buy a new phone for $500-600. She said to call Verizon customer service, and they’d go through options with me, including offering pre-owned phones that would be cheaper.

I finish my Costco shopping (I got a new camera – guess what happened to the one I brought on the river?) and called customer service from the food court. I figured I may need to stop at a store on the way home – let’s get the phone call out of the way.

Why it took 30 minutes on the phone for them to figure out my options is beyond me. I am certainly not the first person to call mid-contract with a water damaged phone. My options were: 1. buy a new phone for $500-600, 2. buy a certified pre-owned phone, or 3. connect a Verizon phone someone else isn’t using, for free. He gives me a few pre-owned phone options ($320-$350) and says I can order them online, and it’s warrantied for a year. That seems good. Except he was wrong. On both counts.

Unfortunately no one on Freecycle or Facebook offered me their working Verizon smart phone (go figure), so I went online to order the pre-owned phone. Except they’re only warranted for three months. Hmmm…that’s not good. And this is what I’m offered online:



The other two offerings were not phones (a tablet and a wireless device). I can’t believe that Verizon has no other available pre-owned phones. And these two appear to require a new 2 year contract, which we’re not eligible for. So I call. And wait.

The customer service person sees the same screen and says “oh, we have lots of phones available,” I’m not sure why they’re not listed. And she proceeds to rattle off the names and prices of a dozen phones. Then she says something that makes me stop. I can get a new Samsung Galaxy 3 mini for $250, new or refurbished. Wait, a new smart phone for $250, and with a 1 year warranty? All Mark needs it for is to make calls, answer occasional emails and play Words with Friends.

Yes, I want the $250 new phone. But she says I should go to the store to get it, so I can have it right away and not have to wait the 2 business days of shipping.


So I hang up and drive to the Verizon store at 4 p.m. on a Friday. Miraculously, there’s no line. Yes, they can sell me that phone. But no, it’s not in stock. No store has it in stock, because they’re phasing it out. They have to order it. It will be 2 days for shipping.

Jeff tells me to go home and ORDER IT ONLINE. Uh no, Jeff. You will be ordering it for me from the store. NOW.

So he does. And he tells me to sign, that I’m agreeing to a new 2 year contract. Uh no. The whole point of paying full retail price mid-contract is that you don’t have to extend your contract. Duh. So he goes to check with his boss, and it turns out I’m right. I should work at Verizon.

Then he offers me a $10 monthly insurance plan, where I’ll only have to pay a $100 deductible to replace this new $250 phone. I do the math. If I pay one year of the insurance $120) and a $100 deductible, I”m pretty close to a new $250 phone. I decline the insurance.

Now we wait for the phone.


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