A Mobile Phone Warranty Isn’t The Same Thing As Insurance

S. went to buy an iPhone from Best Buy, and let the salesperson talk her into Best Buy’s warranty rather than AppleCare. That more expensive warranty covers accidental damage, but it’s not an insurance plan, which would cover lost or stolen phones. The salesman didn’t make this clear to S. And that’s really too bad, because as she left the store with her new phone, she was robbed. The warranty, of course, didn’t cover the theft.

Last week I purchased an iPhone from Best Buy and the salesman convinced me to buy the 229.00 warranty because it covers unlimited replacements for 2 years.

I specifically replied I thought you can only claim 1 lost or stolen phone per contract. He replied with this unlimited warranty your phone will get replaced unlimited times even if you drop it in the toilet. (Unfortunately, I took his reply to include the lost or stolen phone
would be replaced).

I purchased my iPhone and placed it in my purse then left the store and walked a few feet from the door to my car at 11:00 a.m. on a sunny day.

A robber in the store watched me place the phone in my purse and when I reached my car outside he robbed me.

I returned to the store and told the manager what had happened. The store will not replace the phone that I owned for the two minutes.

To my shock I was told their cameras did not record the theft because the angle does not point towards the cars in the parking lot.

I am angry because they have a huge screen at the door that gives people the impression that their parking lot is under camera surveillance recording BUT obviously IT IS NOT.

The local police should know whether those surveillance cameras are recording the parking lot or not. Depending on how much effort they put into investigating the stolen phone, they would be able to obtain the footage.


Edit Your Comment

  1. shufflemoomin says:

    Come on, really? What does it matter what someone SAYS you’re signing up for. Why sign ANYTHING unless you read what you’re agreeing to? It’s not considered cool, but I’m going to strongly and squarely blame the OP and hope that they learn to read damn documents before legally agreeing to them.

    • msbaskx2 says:

      It’s not only cool, it’s 100% warranted in this instance.

    • Overheal says:

      Interestingly, in the last 18 months I’ve only seen one customer request to read the Terms in full before deciding against a protection plan. Everyone else will ask you for the face value; and about half of those will ask you if it covers theft, to their fairness.

      Some products do help against theft but I don’t know of any aside from some form of legal insurance that do cover proper theft. Find My iPhone, or Geek Squad’s Locked and Found, can only help you locate a lost device; Debt Cancellation Protection on a credit card can eliminate any remaining balance from a purchase due to theft but not typically the full amount; and of course with laptops a good ol’ fashioned cable lock can do the trick in most cases – but you’re far better off with a laptop, especially in college, just treating it like a bomb, and the library as an Airport: don’t leave it down anywhere, for any length of time.

      Slightly off topic: There were no witnesses to this woman’s parking lot robbery?

  2. PupJet says:

    I think that the first mistake was buying from BestBuy. The second was falling for the warranty gimmick. I’m sorry but “He replied with this unlimited warranty your phone will get replaced unlimited times even if you drop it in the toilet.” == “Gimmie your money for something we’ll never cover because your an idiot.”

  3. balderdashed says:

    “As she left the store with her new phone, she was robbed,” the article says. The truth is, when she bought her phone and that warranty from Best Buy, she was robbed.

  4. SgtGrumbles says:

    What’s the point of bringing up AppleCare? She would of received the same response with that.

  5. PunditGuy says:

    The type of behavior she wants from Best Buy is an open invitation for fraud. Walk out of the range of cameras, hand phone to friend, walk back in and claim to have been robbed. Rinse and repeat to drive down the unit cost of your newly acquired iPhones.

    • CheritaChen says:

      Exactly. No one would have an unlimited lost/stolen replacement policy like that, and the OP was foolish to think that’s what she was hearing. The employee sounds like the typical retail guy trying to make commission on that plan–he didn’t correct her, but then, he didn’t lie to her, either.

      Sucks that she got robbed, of course.

  6. Elyahia says:

    Well at least she has a lawsuit against Best Buy for failure to adequately protect/secure the premises.

  7. JanC says:

    Apple’s Icare does not cover theft either. My husband bought the Icare plan and his phone was stolen from work within one week. Bottom line is don’t buy an Iphone. We bought my phone through Sprint and Sprints warranty will cover theft.

  8. ntropy says:

    call the credit card company, they may cover theft of your purchase within the first few days. Also cancel the best buy warranty and get your money back as its pro-rated.

  9. glp1233 says:

    Total bummer.

  10. AustinTXProgrammer says:

    If you can’t afford to loose $600 on a lost/stolen/broken iPhone you probably shouldn’t buy one. BUT.. If you really want the phone and can’t afford to risk the loss you can protect against accidental damage and such via Squaretrade without being ripped off by Best Buy.

    • Overheal says:

      Squaretrade does also not cover theft.

      I would love to hear from anyone about any serviceplan product that Does in fact cover theft. Geek Squad Protection, AppleCare+, and Squaretrade certainly don’t.

      • wellfleet says:

        My Mastercard covers loss or theft for 90 days after purchase for full item cost.

        • Overheal says:


          And yes I should have thought of that. Amex does similar. Nothing I know of for 2 years though.

          I wonder how that would work though in this situation. She would have only paid a fraction of the Phone’s actual cost; assuming she has similar CC protection would they pay for the replacement of a phone at full price? Seems doubtful.

  11. wellfleet says:

    My beef is with “the salesman convinced me to buy the 229.00 warranty because it covers unlimited replacements for 2 years.” The OP needs to take responsibility for herself and her decisions. She misunderstood what the salesperson said, and didn’t read the T&C. I don’t understand why this is even a thing.

  12. ahnonnimmus says:

    I work as a manager for a major electronics retail chain and sell iphones among other products. All associates are trained to quickly and succinctly inform customers of what warranties cover and what they don’t – to simply say the phone will be “replaced unlimited times UNLESS LOST OR STOLEN” adds perhaps a second to the conversation, but makes a huge difference to the customer – customers still buy the plan, as no one expects to be robbed, but they do see themselves dropping their phone and breaking the screen as a realistic possibility. Keep in mind most of the time as a customer there is no paperwork to sign when buying a warranty and you usually receive the fine print after the warranty is already purchased, if at all. If this had happened at my store, it would have been difficult to just replace the phone no questions asked, but the customer would definitely have been told that loss or theft is not covered before they purchased, and I’d be making a call to corporate to find some way of helping her if at all possible.

  13. 180CS says:

    Problem #1: You bought an iPhone.

    Problem #2: You bought it at Best Buy.
    (Really, you read the consumerist, and you went to Best Buy? Really?)

    Technically, this means that the guy in the parking lot was the third person to rob you today.

  14. Overheal says:

    From Applecare Terms and Conditions for an iPhone:

    “ADH coverage only
    applies to an operational or mechanical failure caused by an accident from handling that is the result of
    an unexpected and unintentional external event (e.g., drops and liquid contact) that arises from your
    normal daily usage of the Covered iPhone as intended for such Covered iPhone. ADH coverage does not
    include (a) protection against normal wear and tear, theft, misplacement, reckless, abusive, willful or
    intentional conduct associated with handling and use of the Covered iPhone, (b) protection against any
    other act or result not covered by the Plan, as described in Section 4.2 below, or (c) any resultant
    damage to the Covered iPhone that arises from one or more conditions described in Section 3.2(a) or (b).
    You will pay a $49 (U.S.) dollar service fee plus applicable tax for each ADH claim, and may be asked
    to provide an explanation of where and when the accident occurred with a detailed description of the
    actual event. A claim will be denied if you fail to pay the service fee or fail to provide information relating
    to the accident when asked.”

    So what’s the story here?

    • Overheal says:

      “(iv) The Plan does not apply to a Covered iPhone that has been lost or stolen. This Plan only covers a
      Covered iPhone that is returned to Apple in its entirety.”

  15. Overheal says:

    PPS there shouldn’t be any reason that the store can’t refund her the cost of the 2 year protection plan, with or without the phone. However, there isn’t anything they can do about the lost device itself.

  16. FarfalleAlfredo says:

    She should be able to identify the guy who robbed her on the internal security video if he was watching her make her purchase and followed her out of the store.

    Whether she read the agreement or knew fully what it covered, Best Buy failed to protect their customer while on their property and they should be held liable to replace the phone that was stolen on their property.

  17. realtalk says:

    She does realize that she can return the warranty for a full refund? Also there was no way for her to get the Apple Care before getting robbed anyways so she was screwed either way.

  18. realtalk says:

    She does realize that she can return the warranty for a full refund? Also there was no way for her to get the Apple Care before getting robbed anyways so she was screwed either way.

  19. AgentPurple says:

    None the of the warranties at BBY cover Theft. Its stated in the T&C when its purchased. I have had this Argument with Clients all the time when I worked for Geek Squad back in the day.

  20. jb1992 says:

    AT&T’s insurance covers theft and loss. $10/ month, covered for theft, loss, any kind of damage. $199 ded, though. BUT if you had to buy the phone outright, it’d be $600 or so.