When Buying A New Cell Phone, Ask About The "Buyer's Remorse" Period

Jason bought a couple of new Sidekick phones, but quickly discovered that he and his wife couldn’t live with the abysmal battery life. He called T-Mobile and found out that he had a 14-day window during which he could return the phones for a full refund. Before he sent them back in, however, T-Mobile offered to send him two more batteries via expedited shipping to see if the experience would improve. Jason agreed and tested the new batteries, but still wanted to return the phone. But now he had a problem: he was one day outside his “Buyer’s Remorse” period and T-Mobile wouldn’t let him.

Fortunately, Jason was able to resolve the issue. He wrote a detailed, very civil email to T-Mobile’s executive support department—


—and CC’ed The Consumerist. Someone from T-Mobile called him early the next day and waived the deadline:

I received a call this morning from Timothy in the Executive Response dept – they are going to issue a full refund as a “one time courtesy”. :)

He admitted that the 2-3 day number that they give for batteries is a very over-the-top estimate. “The manufacturers charge the phones, and leave them on a desk until they die. There is zero usage during that time. Phones like the Sidekick are very well known for having only about 24 hours of battery life, because they are constantly sending/receiving data – whether you are actively using them or not.”

We think it’s great T-Mobile did the right thing here, since by encouraging Jason to wait to test new batteries, they helped push him past the 14-day return deadline. Not everyone may be so lucky in getting fast and rational customer service, however, so you should read up on the return policy no matter where you buy your phone.

Howard Forums is a great place to look for this information if you can’t find it on an official carrier’s website—here’s T-Mobile’s policy, for example. You should still verify the policy with the carrier at the time of purchase (from a printed document or a CSR, not a salesperson), so you’re certain to have the most up to date information.

“Buyer’s Remorse AKA Trial Period for T-Mobile”
(Photo: Gizmodo)


Edit Your Comment

  1. AaronZ says:

    Yeah! Well that’s what they get for going with T-Mobile.

    >>Wait, that’s not right, they didn’t go with t-mobile in the end.

    Ok, how about – It’s their fault for buying a Sidekick!

    >>But, they wouldn’t know it was bad until they try it.

    So, we’ll just have to go with the old Consumerist chestnut..

    “Comcast Sucks!”

    Yeah, that’s the ticket. When all else fails, blame it on comcast. :)

  2. Parting says:

    All multimedia phones, like Sidekick, have a poor battery life compared to a regular cellphone made for calling only.

    More stuff is on your phone, more chances that you’;; have to recharge often.

  3. adamondi says:

    A 14-day buyer’s remorse period is way too short, in my opinion. It usually takes more than a week or two for the shine to wear off of a new toy — I mean, cellphone — before you really start to find out that you don’t like it after all. And since other carriers offer a 30-day trial period, I think it is lame for T-Mobile to only do 14 days.

  4. Terek Kincaid says:

    Wow, a whole 24 hours on a smartphone? That’s pretty good, acutally. My old Moto Q only goes about 10. My Touch goes all day, but I do have to charge it overnight. I get push mail, which kills it.

    As functions go up, battery life goes down. Sounds like this guy wasn’t ready for the “space phone” lifestyle ;P

  5. redhelix says:

    Chalk up another reason not to buy phones from carriers. T-Mobile is a GSM network; you can buy perfectly good, perfectly new unlocked European versions of popular phones for less than half of what the carrier will charge you. AND the return policy is more realistic.

    Before it went for a drink, I had a full-featured Windows-based smartphone with flip-out querty keyboard and mobile Microsoft Office suite. It also had mp3 and video playback via Windows Media Player mobile.

    The price? $80.

  6. North Antara says:

    <– OP.

    I actually did stick with T-Mobile. They’ve been great to me in the 2 years that I’ve been with them. I got the phones for a very low price, without a contract extension, so I jumped on it pretty quickly (twice). I’m quite happy with T-Mobile, and not just because of this.

    As for AaronZ’s comment… Yes, Comcast does suck! :)

  7. chiieddy says:

    @redhelix: The return period also applies to not having to pay an ETF on your contract. Regardless of the battery charge issue, he wouldn’t have gotten his data that he didn’t like the battery life without using the phone on a plan.

    In addition, T-mobile will unlock their phones, for free, on request after a certain usage period. I believe it’s 3 months, but don’t quote me on that.

  8. valarmorghulis says:

    @chiieddy: I’m 90% sure that it is 3 months (90 days).

  9. algormortis says:

    @chiieddy: it depends on who you get. if you load a prepaid phone with $100, prepaid service will give it up with no problem. postpay accounts and flexpay accounts are less…simple. Supposedly it’s 3 months. But here comes my INSIDER TIP: Call in the middle of the night. You know, when it rolls straight to a CS rep who obviously has no queue. They seem to be the happiest CS reps and have the fewest issues with keeping people happy.

    Furthermore, the “unlocked” argument is great other than when we’re talking sidekick. See, the sidekick doesn’t have much worldwide support other than from us T-Mobilies. In other words, given that Danger has less than zero support for the thing, our own dang sidekick support is almost legendarily crappy (a black mark, sadly…), they use a lot of stalling tactics to avoid getting in trouble for replacing the phone. Some sidekick support is back in the USA and they’re much better (can your accusations of jingoism, i’m an immigrant) but generally you’ll get 27. They’re dreadful. They support data cards, too, and, uh, will pitch the problem to HotSpot when it’s an EDGE connection issue, or say that the card is unsupported in connecting to non-tmobile hotspots (bulls**t) to avoid any responsibility.

    As usual, cue the “i’m really sorry my company can be so stupid” rant.

  10. Youthier says:

    Didn’t Jason think that’s WHY they sent the batteries? I agree that 14 days is probably too short and I’m glad T-Mobile did right by him but when if they offered to send me batteries, I would feel pretty confident they were trying to stick me with a phone.

  11. jamar0303 says:

    @redhelix: You can also get nice Japanese phones that do way more than any US phone can. Fujitsu makes a nice “swing” phone (screen can swing to one side or the other for horizontal viewing when flipped open) that also has biometric security and a decent “privacy mode” (completely hides stuff you don’t want to see instead of just locking out- people snooping around can’t even tell it’s there).

  12. ceriphim says:

    The only consumer protection law California’s ever passed that I’ve been a fan of: You have 30 days here instead of the standard 14. I returned my phone and cancelled my contract 28 days after I signed up because my company switched our corporate phones to unlimited text messaging.

    Thanks California! Now quit screwing me as an employer…

  13. Oface says:

    @redhelix: Not to sound like a complete and total retard, but are you on some kind of plan with a company?

  14. jamar0303 says:

    @Sheargenius79: I’m not him, but it doesn’t sound like it.

    Oh, and an interesting thing about T-Mobile’s network locking- they only lock the phone to their network, not by region. That means that you can buy a locked T-Mobile phone in Europe and use it with your American T-Mobile SIM. It can save you a bit of money.

  15. gravion17 says:

    As a Tmobile rep, listen to me when I tell you this…..DON’T EVER BUY A MOTOROLA PHONE!!! they are not worth the material that they are made of…and by law, every carrier offers at least a 14 day Buyer’s Remorse..not every body is going to up front about it…