Customer Knows Her Stolen iPhone Is Being Sent To Apple, But Apple Says They Can't Return It

Alisa was robbed on the subway a couple of weeks ago, and now someone else has contacted Apple about replacing the phone due to a software malfunction. Alisa found out about this because her email account is still associated with it, but neither she nor the police can persuade Apple to return the phone to her once the other party sends it in for replacement.

Check out her story below. Do you think there’s anything Apple can do at this point? Also, if there’s anything to learn from this it might be that you should follow through with filing a police report if you’re ever robbed, as that might give you the leverage you need to get a company to help you. Possibly not with Apple, though.

I got robbed on the subway in Brooklyn about 2 weeks ago, my iPhone (and some other crap)was taken. I called the police who were very helpful , they searched the area for a little bit, follow protocol and all that fun stuff.

Anyways, fast forward to yesterday when I get a email from Apple that someone had filed a request for a replacement phone due to a software malfunction from Apple CareService. I suspected that since I made an appointment with an Apple genius before, the Serial number on the phone was associated with my email. I called Apple to confirm this, after Apple and AT&T transferred me back and forth a few times I had the confirmation from the two companies the phone was mine , I had the address the service request was coming from (in the email) and a phone number (from an Apple rep).

I’m so excited that I can get my phone back! Until the cops arrive at my house, they tell me that since I didn’t file a police report they can’t do anything. I didn’t file it because in order to file one, I would have had to go to a precinct downtown (like an hour away) look through books of pictures to try to ID the thief, whose face I only saw from the side for a millisecond. And really, what would a police report do for an iPhone that was stolen on a NYC subway a week before Christmas?(plus i had a final that night) The two officers also told me that even if I had a police report it would still be up to Apple and AT&T to decide how to proceed with the situation.

So I call AT&T… and over the course of 12 hours I speak to a bunch of people who are all very sorry that this is the situation I’m in, but their hands are tied — they have to honor the warranty and it does not matter that it’s clear the phone is mine. They would need the authorities to tell them to do otherwise.

So I head to the police precinct where an officer calls the rep I spoke to last (aka the authorities speaking to Apple). The officer spends about an hour on the phone with Apple telling them that once the current holder of the phone ships the phone back to Apple, they should ship me the replacement. He gets the same answer I got–they will not do anything, they do not care that the person who has the phone currently is using a stolen phone and is not using it with AT&T (AT&T confirmed the phone # I got from the Apple rep is NOT an AT&T number).

It’s not even about the phone anymore (I bought a blackberry–$600 is a TAD ridiculous for a new iPhone) its the principle of the situation, basically Apple is siding with someone who will most likely jailbreak the phone as opposed to helping a loyal customer (I’ve been using Apple products forever–iPods, Macs and iPhones (since the first gen)) who legally bought the phone from Apple and is using it with AT&T.

The whole situation is just illogical to me.

Update: Alisa wrote back in last week, a few hours after I posted her story, with the following clarification:

The police report was not filed, not due to laziness, but because the police officers told me it would not do anything for me, that it would just sit on some detective’s desk who won’t deal with something as unimportant as an iPhone. And Apple was never aware there was no police report filed, the officer never mentioned a police report to them, and they never asked for one. They automatically just said that they don’t care. At this point the necessary steps to obtain a police report have been taken.

Want more consumer news? Visit our parent organization, Consumer Reports, for the latest on scams, recalls, and other consumer issues.