Verizon And Asurion Cast Me Into Smartphone Replacement Purgatory

Smartphone replacement purgatory is a dreary and tragic state. When the tiny and fragile creatures called smartphones are defective, people who have come to depend on the pocket-sized computers and who are trapped in data plans are stuck. Their warranty or phone insurance plan might provide them with a replacement, and sometimes that replacement works fine. Other times, that replacement is just as their original phone, throwing the customer into a cycle of replacements that never ends. This is what happened to reader B. when she got a Motorola Droid less than two years ago.

The only possible explanation is that this model of phone is allergic to B.

My Verizon Wireless Motorola Droid phone has been replaced ten times under warranty in less than two years. Reasons include an Android update that bricked the phone, the Android operating system spontaneously erasing itself, and defective screens.

Most of the replacement Droids have been shipped by Verizon’s phone replacement insurance carrier, Asurion, since I did obtain one insurance replacement from them. I started with a Motorola Droid X. After five or six warranty replacements, Asurion shipped me a Motorola Droid Razr instead of the Droid X, upgrading me from a 3G to a 4G phone. When the Droid Razr quickly died, Asurion sent me an HTC Rezound instead. The Rezound had a defective screen, so I returned it and asked for another Droid Razr, which Asurion shipped – cheerfully and quickly, as usual.

In less than four months, the Razr’s screen stopped responding. I took it to an official Verizon store, where the manager did the usual hard reset and then declared the phone deceased. She dialed the phone to order a replacement device. I discovered much later that we were actually speaking with Verizon, not Asurion.

The Verizon phone rep told me that my current Razr was no longer under warranty, although Asurion distinctly told me the refurbished replacement device came with a new one-year warranty. Eventually, Verizon agreed to ship me yet another refurbished Razr “as a courtesy.” I then asked about the warranty for the new phone. It took 45 minutes and many conversations with various reps to get an answer: The new warranty is only for 90 days!

This was the final straw! Every Droid phone I’ve received has invariably stopped working. Now, I am completely out of luck after 90 days. The store manager and each of the numerous phone reps I spoke with tried to solve my problem by repeatedly reminding me that I am “eligible” for an upgrade, should I wish to pay another couple hundred dollars to be locked into yet another nightmarish two-year cycle of defective devices. I refused, and told them to ship the replacement Razr. As a final insult, Verizon tried to charge me for overnight shipping, but waived the fee at my insistence.

For now, I will remain with Verizon, since the alternative carriers are far worse. However, I refuse to get trapped in a contract, or to purchase Asurion “insurance” again. At $6.99 per month plus a $100 deductible, an insurance replacement from Asurion costs $183.88 to replace a one-year old phone with a used, “refurbished” replacement that, in my experience, has repeatedly proven defective. When purchasing new devices, I will take my chances elsewhere.

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