Best Buy Drowned 3 Of My iPods, Offers $25 In Consolation

Do you enjoy having a functioning iPod Touch? Then don’t let Best Buy get their clumsy mitts on it and hire them to apply the tricky, delicate Zagg Invisible Shield. Reader Span_Wolf writes that he thought that he had a run of terrible luck with buying defective iPods, but eventually figured out the real cause of his troubles: he thinks, and Apple agrees, that Best Buy staff’s misapplication of the fancy plastic cover damaged the devices.

He writes:

Recently I had a fairly new iPod touch break on me, so I got a replacement through Apple. Within a couple days it was clear that it was defective, so I got another one through Apple. That one too was defective, strange, but just bad luck, no big deal Apple replaced that one too. Then a shockingly THIRD replacement was also defective, but wait.. things are not as they seem.

You see when I get a new iPod I go have a ZAGG Invisible Shield put on it. They are high end plastic covers that require a very deft hand and lots of time to apply. I just pay Best Buy for the application service they offer and sit around for an hour/hour and a half while they do it. I let them do it because they guarantee it, and if they do a bad job and have to put another one on, it’s their money not mine. For the first 2 replacement iPods, I could not figure out what the problem was, and just chocked it up to a defective unit. But when I got the third unit, my replacement cover had not arrived in the mail yet, so I just used the iPod as is until it did. This one worked fine, and when the new cover came I went right to Best Buy to get it put on. An hour and a half later when the cover was put on, I put it in a box and left it there overnight so it could settle and not peal from being used too soon. The next morning when I pulled it out to use, it started featuring the exact same issues that the last two had.

That’s when it dawned on me, it was probably the guys at Best Buy with how they put them on. They soak the covers in solution, before slapping them onto the system, they spray the system with the same solution, and continue to bathe it with a special sponge soaked in it while applying it. Liquid damage seems like the most likely culprit considering the circumstances, and Apple techs agree that it probably is after I explained my thoughts to them.

I called up Best Buy to relay all this information to warn them about what’s going on and that they could be potentially damaging countless products every day with this service due to employees putting them on incorrectly, or being a little overzealous with the solution. I also explained everything to them regarding what I’ve been put through. How I’ve gone through 3 iPods, and am on my 4th as of this afternoon. The 4-5 hours total spent at Best Buy having the covers put on, the hours on the phone with Apple tech support, the hours spent driving to and having to get replacement iPods at the nearest Apple Store, having to order replacement cover after replacement cover, the cost of having them applied, etc. They said they would make a note of it, inform the store management about their application practices, and then offered me a 20 dollar gift card for my trouble. When I mentioned that 20 bucks wouldn’t even cover the price of a single one of those covers, they bumped it to 25, which I accepted as being better than nothing. One thing I will say is that Apple has been fantastic through this entire ordeal, quickly replaced every single iPod, and not once questioned me about the frequency of my replacements.

So everybody that gets a new MP3 player or mobile device and wants to protect it with one of those great ZAGG Invisible Shields, be careful about who puts on your cover, and be sure to go to either a location that specializes in it, or at the very least a Best Buy that has the special application device to ensure it is done correctly.

Interestingly, the folks a Zagg were nice to another reader who messed up the application of his cover, so the DIY route might work for you if you’ve got the skills. However, do you think Best Buy’s offer of a $25 gift card was fair?


Edit Your Comment

  1. GuyGuidoEyesSteveDaveâ„¢ says:

    If your unit was getting wet, wouldn’t the sensor have tripped? I know when I brought my iTouch in, one of the first thing the amazingly cute Genius did was shine a light and check the sensor sticker. When she saw it wasn’t tripped, she tried to start up the unit, and within 5 minutes I was walking out the door with a new iTouch.

    • ktetch says:

      Not if the sensor doesn’t trip for that chemical

      • DarthCoven says:

        The “chemical” is mostly water.

        • nosense22 says:

          and dish soap. It’s likely what they use for applying the best skins ever (similar, but cheaper).

      • GuyGuidoEyesSteveDaveâ„¢ says:

        It’s a liquid sensor. That’s why I wonder why Apple would replace it if he even told them that it was liquid damage.

      • ludwigk says:

        As nosense22 suggests, the solution is just water with a little bit of soap. It’s what Zagg says it is, and what they recommended for applying the covers before. Soap reduces the surface tension, allowing the skin to get a seamless contact and work all the air out from underneath. Over time, the water evaporates from underneath the skin because the plastic is porous, and the adhesive sets creating a semi-permanent protective layer.

    • zmnatz says:

      I hate that stupid sensor. My iPhone had a completely unrelated issue but they wouldn’t replace it because it had water damage. Solution, open up the phone (which they don’t seem to care about) and replace the water sensor with a piece of white paper. And then they replaced my phone.

    • quail says:

      Which reminds me, Lifehacker once had an article about how to order those water sensor tags for your phone battery and get your cell phone working again. Seems the tag completes a circuit and when it comes to phones, body perspiration can sometimes cause them to stop working even if the phone was never submerged.

  2. kingofmars says:

    Odd story. I’m glad apple seems to be cool with providing replacements. Speaking of zagg, they bought out goldenshellback, which provides a method of waterproofing electronics. But I can’t find anyway to order the service. Does anybody know where I can get splash proof coating?

  3. MaliBoo Radley says:

    No OP blame, as BB obviously screwed up. But he should probably give the Zagg shield a try on his own, When I had an iPod touch, I applied a Zagg shield, It took me about 2 minutes. The process is very simple and doesn’t require nearly as much liquid as described above. I have clumsy, awkard hands, but had no problem with application.

    • FaustianSlip says:

      Yeah, I was about to say the same thing. Applying the invisible shield isn’t difficult at all; paying Best Buy to do it seems like a sort of foolish way to spend money, especially when they’re just breaking your iPod over and over again.

  4. UniformOfDestruction says:

    “require a very deft hand and lots of time to apply”. Seriously? These things couldn’t be any easier to apply.

    “I just pay Best Buy for the application service they offer and sit around for an hour/hour and a half while they do it.” I assume 99.9% of that time is spent waiting for the BB employee to even start the application process. It takes all of 60 seconds to install a Zagg protector.

    I am borderline ‘tarded when it comes to doing anything meticulous with my hands — and I have never had a problem with any of the dozen or so Zagg’s I have installed. OP needs to stop waiting his time/money and give it a try himself. I blame the OP for his problems — anyone dumb enough to trust BB with something deserved epic failure.

    • Marshmelly says:

      I could be wrong, but I’m pretty sure a main purpose of this website is to shed light on problems that consumers have with stores and products. Saying the OP is stupid by going to *insert company here* isn’t really a reason or a solution. Theres nothing wrong with taking advantage of a service that a store offers…just because we’re used to them having a bad reputation doesn’t really excuse the fact that they SHOULD be reliable. There’s no way you can really spin this to be the OP’s fault when he was just paying for a service that Best Buy screwed up on.

      • UniformOfDestruction says:

        Really? Cause … I think it is a great solution. If you read consumerist enough, you realize that there are “problem stores.” These are places that are commonly reported here at consumerist as being a place where people are likely to experience an issue. BB is one of those stores. A savy consumerist readers learns to stay away from such places as much as possible. As much as this is a place to try to correct the “wrongs” that consumers experience, it is also a place for consumers to gather statistical data on the inevitability of a disastrous experience with dealing with a company. Even if you can’t avoid shopping their, you can at least avoid their sub-par and overpriced “add-on” services (such as : installing a Zagg screen that you could train a monkey to install for you).

        So … yes. You could be wrong … and I fully believe that you are in this case.

        • UniformOfDestruction says:

          And … sweet mother of god … I just committed a grammar mistake that I endlessly make fun of people for. Please kindly replace my “their” with “there”. -1 internets for me today.

    • Brontide says:

      While I agree that BB = FAIL, those Zagg shields are not quite as easy to apply as you say. The iPod touch full cover includes lots of small and complicated appendages that are hard to get aligned right and to keep stuck down long enough for it to dry right. The one on my iPhone 3gs took two or three attempts to get the back on taking a full hour or more to get right. The front is simple and went on in 2 minutes.

    • GIbhunter says:

      I work at a retail place which sells these shields, it is amazing how many people come back trying to return them because of the awful install job they had done. It seems like 1 out of 5 sold comes back a day later…

      Also, they only come with X amount of solution, so in installing them Best Buy can only use X amount.. if less should be used they should put less in the little bottles.

      Also, in doing a lot of these in my time working.. you have to use quite a bit of water because the shields are 9 times out of 10 slightly deformed so things dont line up, meaning you need to slide the shield on the surface to get it right. I have encountered 4 ipad 2 shields which had the camera hold way to high up, and the only way to make it fit is to overlap a tiny bit of the home button and even then the camera is still a tad covered.

  5. CharlesFarley says:

    Doing the same thing over and over again with the expectation of different results.


    • drizzt380 says:

      Well, he’d already paid Apple the money. When he thought he was getting a defective product was he supposed to go ‘meh’ throw it in the trash and continue on or contact Apple for a replacement?

      Unfortunately for Apple, they failed to notice it wasn’t their problem and he always got the coating before using it until now.

  6. tasselhoff76 says:

    We all know Best Buy sucks and that Apple generally has excellent customer service.

    • syzygy says:

      Yep, I was the very last person on Earth who didn’t know those two things. So thanks, but I can verify that we’ve all got it now.

  7. DarthCoven says:

    Best Buy is doing something VERY wrong if they are using as much liquid as the OP is describing. The IS only needs a few sprays of fluid on each side, and the instructions direct you to squeegee any excess fluid away from open areas like speakers or near buttons. Maybe Apple should be billing Best Buy for these replacement devices.

  8. zmnatz says:

    Why is the OP buying a new Zagg invisible shield every time. I should take a second to point out to everyone that these things have a lifetime warranty. So every time you get your iPhone replaced, take the darn thing off the old iPhone and get a new one for the cost of shipping $4. They also have kiosks in a lot of malls that will do the replacement and apply the invisible shield to your device for $5.

    • Span_Wolf says:

      That was me. Best Buy replaced the first two because I talked them into it saying that they just put the cover on the day before and it was defective. So I asked them to cut me a break, for the third one I thought it would be downright cheeky to ask for a third free cover so I DID order away for a free replacement that time. That explains why I didn’t have the replacement for the first few days for the third one.

  9. theblackdog says:

    Sheesh, what are they doing over there at Best Buy, pouring the whole bottle of solution on the touch before applying the shield?

    I think OP should try doing it themselves since Best Buy is incompetent. I put a Skinomi shield on my phone, and it doesn’t take much of the solution to get it on there correctly, you just have to be patient, and remember to spray some of the stuff on your fingers to keep them wet as you handle the shield and apply it.

  10. ShruggingGalt says:

    The $25 is reasonable since Apple is actually covering the iPod damage. I was expecting something different when I saw the headline (before clicking through to read the story on this page).

    • Raekwon says:

      Not really. He had to buy a new invisible shield every time he got a new device. The shields run $20-30 a piece so they should have at least covered his replacement ones.

      • Span_Wolf says:

        I thank you for the defense, but I only bought one of them, I talked best buy into replacing it when I thought I was getting defective iPods, and then for the third one I sent away, explaining why I didn’t have the cover for a few days. Though there is also the cost of application which honestly I only paid for once, and the month of driving around and no doubt a dozen hours spent dealing with this. Not to mention loosing all my non music and app data to the replacements since the backup feature doesn’t work when you have to update the software on the iPod first.

  11. EcPercy says:

    I use protective films from Clarivue and none of them took an hour and a half to apply. More like 2-3 minutes. No water was required either and the film has a lifetime warranty. (two films come in the package as well)

  12. csmcdonald says:

    It may be that it’s causing liquid damage, but in my experience Apple can be very quick to void a warranty if they can, and if it’s not tripping their water damage sensor when people have complained that sweat will it may not be as simple as it appears.

  13. jpdanzig says:

    Or simply buy an mp3 player that isn’t so delicate and susceptible to liquid damage. Samsung makes some nice ones…

  14. hypochondriac says:

    Some guarantee I’ve seen only guarantee the item being applied, not sure what bestbuy’s guarantee is. Wouldn’t surprise me if it only covers replacing the item being applied and not any damage caused by the application process

  15. technologiq says:

    Patience is key with the invisible shield. I’ve applied one to my iPhone 4 (pretty easy since it’s now flat on both sides) and my iPad (PITA) and both came out well but it did take about 30 minutes per device. I wouldn’t trust Best Buy to screw in a lightbulb correctly.

  16. doxed says:

    They have been doing this for a while. I picked up a Palm Pre last summer and inquired about the Invisishield since it was a pain to put on for this phone. The mobile rep indicated that they’re not allowed to put them on the Pres anymore. Her store or a few in the area broke quite a few Pres by using too much of the liquid. Seemed the phone was a bit more susceptible to issues if too much was used. When I got my Evo I noticed the same behavior but at a different store. I put on my screen protector myself but saw the employees apply a few to various phones while I was activating my Evo. I was surprised at how much liquid they put on the plastic before applying it.

  17. tresser says:

    you’re adept enough to know how to use an ipod, but not enough to apply a plastic film.


    • Marshmelly says:

      Using an Ipod really isn’t that hard and doesn’t require much patience or skill. Applying a shield could be difficult for some people, especially if they’re worried they might ruin an expensive product (although it appears Best Buy gladly offers that service haha)

    • ludwigk says:

      Applying the zagg shield requires a fair amount of manual dexterity to get right. It’s also a delicate balance of maintaining enough moisture between the layers to allow mobility and air-pocket removal, and to prevent wrinkling and smudging, but little enough moisture that surface tension will hold the skin in place while the adhesive sets.

      • FaustianSlip says:

        Seriously, having recently applied one to my iPhone, it’s not that hard. A modicum of common sense and an absence of Parkinson’s is really all you need.

  18. Big Mama Pain says:

    It’s great that people bitched and moaned about the $30 bumper to make the phone work right, but will pay the same amount for some scratch shield. I like that OP pointed out how awesome the Apple customer service was throughout his harrowing ordeal. Ugh.

  19. ludwigk says:

    These shields come with a lifetime warranty, so as long as you can demonstrate that the iPod under warranty, zagg will ship you a new cover for $3 for your new device. Just send them back the old one from your busted unit prior to service.

    I’ve applied invisible shields to 2 Macbooks, 3 iPhones, an iPod, and 2 DS Lites and never had a problem with any of them. The amount of time it takes to get right also goes down sharply as you overcome the learning curve, but the first few devices are down-right torturous to get right. I’d suggest to anyone to do at LEAST 3 small devices before attempting something like the MacBook. The first time I did a MacBook, it was just horrible. My results were still good, but it took about 2 hours of constant squinting and steady hands while manipulating wet films of plastic. When I was done, I had slight motion sickness and a headache. The second time was around 30 minutes, and seemed unbelievably fast.

    My dad, who is a doctor, used to say that I had the hands of a surgeon when I was a kid. Now, if only I had the education and medical license of a surgeon to go with that…

  20. conformco says:

    I can’t remember the name of it now, but I used a screen protector that holds on with static cling. Much easier to put than the Zag because there’s no solution to deal with. Easy to take off and reposition if you screw it up to, and no mess. Never came off, never got a scratch.

  21. anime_runs_my_life says:

    The Zagg shields are not that hard to apply, especually seeing you only really need the screen cover for the iPod touch. The rest of the shield really isn’t necessary unless you don’t plan on getting some sort of grip cover.

  22. stlbud says:

    You might get better results sharing your discovery with Apple. Since Best Buy (what an oxymoron) is a business partner with Apple and they are damaging Apple products.

    • Bibliovore says:

      I think he did — “Liquid damage seems like the most likely culprit considering the circumstances, and Apple techs agree that it probably is after I explained my thoughts to them.”

  23. Thyme for an edit button says:

    I was afraid to try the Zagg shields because of the liquid required though I saw some videos on the internet that made it look like it might not be too hard to do. Still, water plus my electronics made me nervous. Maybe try a different protector?

    I just bought a Steinheil Crystal for my phone since it doesn’t require liquid. It came with two protectors, which is good because I totally screwed up applying it the first time, but then looked for YouTube videos on how to do it. Got it on in a few minutes, no problem, after that.

    • selianth says:

      I swear by the PowerSupport Crystal screen protectors. Easy to apply, easy to get dust out from underneath (wrap a piece of tape around your finger, sticky side out, and dab), and they last forever.

  24. xnihilx says:

    I’ve applied the ZAGG shield no less then three times myself. It’s straight forward and simple if you READ and FOLLOW the DIRECTIONS. Which specifically state how to apply the “liquid” to the shield with the device powered completely off. Also, it states to let it sit for a period of time (either overnight or 24 hours) until you power it back on.

    Honestly, if the directions are followed the amount of liquid used is minuscule. The only chance of liquid getting into the device (on the iPhone) is through the ear speaker and even that is difficult because there’s not enough liquid used to have enough tension to seep through. It just sits in the ear speaker because it’s such a TINY amount. I just use a q-tip and soak it up.

    I love my ZAGG shields.

    • xnihilx says:

      Oh and for the dust. I pretty much install it with a meticulously clean work surface and make sure I’ve washed my hands plenty. I’ve not had a problem any of the times with dust. It just takes patience and proper pre-application preparation.

  25. KishuT says:

    Those shields are not that hard to apply yourself, it takes about 10 minutes to apply, then a night to cure. I have been using them for years, they are wonderful. Interesting fact, the material that it’s made of was originally intended to cover the blades of helicopters in desert storm to protect them from sand damage.

  26. Miss Dev (The Beer Sherpa) says:

    OP was too easy on Best Buy. They owed for the covers that caused the issue at the very least.

  27. amd555 says:

    If the unit was water damaged/solution damaged, then why would Apple replace it? They would have said you’re SOL and go buy an ipad instead.

  28. farker says:

    OP sounds like he got bad luck with BB that didn’t know jack about installing Invisible Shields and great luck with Apple techs being friendly and replacing a ton of iPods for him. That being said, what a hassle!

    Clearly the Geek Squad at Best Buy needs to read the instruction manual for an Invisible Shield; it’s not too terrible difficult if you’ve done a few. That’s the whole reason anyone would have them do it, they’re supposed to be the experts!

  29. coren says:

    Span Wolf, I’m curious.

    I think your explanation is a good one, but if what you say is happening truly is, why is Apple replacing iPods that have stopped working due to liquid damage? I thought this was not covered for their replacement plans.

    • Span_Wolf says:

      Well the liquid censor was not tripped, but that didn’t mean that the liquid did not get into the device in other places seeing as it was sprayed and such all over. Apple assumed that it was the most likely culprit on the last return, but since it wasn’t 100% positive I wasn’t going to be punished for Best Buy’s fuck up.