How I Got Verizon To Credit Me $300 And Admit My Phone Had No Water Damage

Success!

When Justin’s phone failed, Verizon Wireless insisted that there was water damage to it, and billed him $299 after initially sending a warranty replacement with no fuss. Then, a month later, Verizon sent the administrator of the account, his mother, a bill for the replacement phone. It had water damage, they insisted, even though the moisture sensors remained un-tripped. Justin babied that phone, and resented the “abuse.zip” file name that Verizon gave the compressed set of pictures that they sent him as proof. So he employed the executive e-mail carpet bomb.

Justin initially sent this letter to us asking for addresses to send his missive to, but he was able to find the needed addresses himself with a little legwork (finger-work?) online. Here’s what he sent them.

Dear Verizon,

I’m writing to contest a $299 charge for a replacement phone issued in August. I am disputing your service department’s claim that there was water damage to my phone, and assert that there was no water damage to the phone while it was in my possession. I am asking that the $299 charge be removed from my account.

The backstory: After experiencing issues with my phone (it repeatedly believed it was plugged in when it was not), I began to research and troubleshoot the problem. After determining that the charge port was not dirty (I cleaned it with air), bent (any micro USB plug fit fine), or disconnected internally (the phone charged and transferred data properly when plugged in), I then performed a factory reset of the phone to rule out any software as cause of the problem. Afterwards, I was still having the issue, so I determined that I was experiencing a hardware defect. I discovered that this was a common issue specific to this model (Verizon Galaxy Nexus) of phone that many others online were also having. Consensus from the online community was that the only solution was to get a replacement.

I spoke to the Verizon and found out that I was within 1 year of the initial purchase of the phone (by about 2 weeks!) so I qualified for a warranty replacement. No questions were asked by the service department at the time I was issued a replacement. I simply described the problem to them and what I did to troubleshoot it and they determined that it was indeed a hardware problem. I received the replacement phone, returned the defective phone, and have since had no issues.

In early September, my mother (who is also an admin on the account) received a bill for $299 for the replacement phone. We did not receive the initial email from the service department (the one claiming water damage) since it was sent to an out-of-date email address. After calling Verizon, they told us about the water damage and I was shocked. The photo they produced showed bright green marks of corrosion in the charge port. I refused to believe that this was the same phone since I would have noticed such extensive damage when I initially investigated the problem. The Verizon operator insisted that since there is evidence of water damage to the phone, that we were on the hook for the $299 or risk getting our service disconnected. I asked if the water damage indicators inside the phone showed evidence of any water damage and they said no. I asked to speak with a supervisor and the supervisor (who was extremely polite and professional!) agreed with the original operator I spoke to. At this point in the phone call, I had to consider my options going forward (we had insurance on the phone through a third party), so I ended the phone call to do further research.

I just today received the full set of photos from the Verizon tech who analyzed the defective phone upon receipt (I did not appreciate the “abuse.zip” title on the file – I loved that phone and never abused it!). There were 5 photos of the box the phone was returned in, 1 photo of the serial/model numbers found underneath the battery, and 1 photo of the charge port (the photo I saw before, showing the corrosion). There are no other photos of the phone showing evidence of water damage. If the water damage indicators were not triggered, then how can a tech claim that the phone’s issues were the result of significant water damage?

I called again and spoke to another Verizon tech and they said they would re-open the investigation on the damage to my phone. I decided to give the system one more chance before sending this letter, and have since not been contacted. Today my mother received a text message on her phone saying that our service is about to be disconnected. I called your customer service again and was informed that no reinvestigation had been initiated into my case and that no hold was placed on the charge on my account (there were no notes on the account that my previous conversation even took place). I am being told that there is no such thing as a reinvestigation into a damage claim and that the initial assessment stands. At this point, I feel like I am getting the run around and have lost faith in the customer service you have provided.

I stand by my claim that there was no water damage to this phone while it was in my possession. If it received water damage in transit, or once it reached your facility, then the damage is not my fault, and I should not be assessed the $299 for the replacement phone. I realize that without close-up photos of the phone before I sent it in, that it is your word against mine. And in that case, I would like to point out that I have been a loyal Verizon customer for over 10 years humbly request that you clear this $299 charge from my account as a gesture of good faith.

How did things turn out? Well, they were so anxious to fix the problem, they refunded him twice.

I emailed my letter to that address and got a response from [redacted]. After discussing the issue with an executive customer service rep, they fixed the problem so quickly that they accidentally credited the $299 charge twice!

I was so happy that the issue was resolved that I decided to let them know that they made a mistake :-)

Thanks again Consumerist!