Apple Replaces Shattered iPhone After Customer Drops It

Someone in Apple’s iPhone Support department just got the crap haunted out of him by three ghosts, I’m guessing, based on what happened when David called to explain that his wife had dropped and ruined her brand new iPhone.

I wanted to write and tell you about a recent experience I had with Apple Customer Service.

I purchased an iPhone 3G S (32 GB) for my wife when they debuted and today I decided to get one for myself. While at the AT&T store I picked up an OtterBox for my new phone and one for my wife’s because I had heard how great they were. When I got home my wife picked up her phone to put it in the new case and it slipped out of her hand, landed on our tile floor, and shattered the screen.

I called Apple iPhone support (1-800-MY-IPHONE) with my Apple Care Plan number and told my story to Michael. We joked about the irony of dropping and breaking a phone while putting it in a protective case. He asked me if I had any other Apple products. I told him that we own several. Over the years we have purchased three laptops, an iMac, and 4 iPods in addition to the two phones. He put me on hold for a few minutes and came back to tell me that they were going to replace my wife’s phone for free. I was amazed. The damage was entirely our fault, but they opted to reward our loyalty with a free repair.

I know that not everyone is a fan of Apple or their customer service, but it is because of service like this that I am and will continue to be an Apple customer.

Here are the two lessons I’ve learned from this:

1. Buy an Apple Care plan if you want to cover all your bases. In reality, despite what I just typed I never buy extended warranties; I’d rather assume the risk myself, and accept that there are times when I’ll have to pay for repairs or replacements. But lots of our readers swear by Apple Care plans and say they saved them lots of money. Just to be clear, though, the Apple Care plan explicitly states it does not cover damage caused by the user.

2. (This one is more important.) When dealing with a company, try to find a way to communicate that you are a steady, predictable revenue stream for them. Smart companies know that it makes sense to throw the occasional bone to a devoted customer, because in the long run it’s cheaper than spending money acquiring new customers. The wrong strategy is to be obnoxious or threatening about it; the right strategy is to quantify how much you’ve spent in recent years, if possible, and to try to get the company to see that it’s a smart business decision to keep doing business with you.

Also, as a general rule, if you’re clumsy try handling electronic devices in “safe” areas: on the couch, or over a kitchen table or desk. As we saw in the Droid packaging problem last month, your first interactions with a new device–or in this case, a new OtterBox–can be unpredictable, so it’s wise to make sure you’re in a safety zone at first.