Genius Bars and 14 Day Guarantees

A recent trip to an amusement park resulted in one lost-but-found-yet-water-logged iPhone.  We still do the two-year contracts on Sprint and with five months left to go, a new iPhone was not in the cards — or so I thought.

Given the day and age that we live in, a destroyed phone is actually a handicap in productivity.  That’s because the phones that we have are really much more computer than they are phone.  Apple really did succeed making the cellular phone a “feature.”  As I write this connected to free Wi-Fi (via a VPN of course!) during a layover in Charlotte on my laptop, how important being connected to the internet is scarcely recognized.  We just take it for granted.  As we should.

One thing about having an iPhone and other Apple products is that there is a convenient ecosystem involving things that run iOS and MacOS.  Coming from someone who use to be a devoted and die-hard PC guy not even 10 years ago, I’ve come to realize that a cohesive software ecosystem that simplifies your life is actually worth paying a premium for.

For example, when we lost the phone originally, we immediately put it in “lost mode.”  This put the iPhone in a locked, low powered state that displays a message and phone number of your choosing should someone find it.   It also allows you to see the phone’s location if it is available.  You can also make it play a sound that basically amounts to a loud sonar ping.  Lastly, if worse comes to worse, you can erase the contents of the phone altogether.  You can do this for anyone in your “family” as long as all involved consent to it.

Within minutes I was able to lock the phone down and get its location.  That was the easy part.  The hard part was dealing with mother nature and amusement park employees.  The phone fell out of a pocket.  No, it wasn’t my pocket, nor my phone.  It survived the drop, but no one was going to look for the phone in the rollercoaster area while the park was open.  And, just our luck, a nice rain storm that went on for a couple of hours just so happened to close down the rides, but also prevent looking for the phone.

iPhone vs. Android

One found water-logged iPhone later, I’m looking at Sprint’s website for the cheapest off-contract smartphone I can find.  It was a $120 LG Android based phone.  $120 with no contract!!!  That’s pretty dang reasonable.  Plus Sprint provides a 14-day guarantee on the phone.  If you don’t like it, get your money back within two weeks.

One new Android phone later and life has some assemblance of getting back to “normal” for our family.  Except as time goes on, you realize all the little things that made you buy an iPhone to begin with aren’t there.  Location sharing and iMessage are a couple.  We use the iPhone, in part, to keep track of our teenager. As you can now guess, it was her phone that took the expensive thrill ride. iMessage is Apples encrypted messaging system with guaranteed delivery.  Unlike normal text messaging that goes through your cell service provider, which is neither secure, nor is there any way you know if, or when, you’ll get the message.

So we stroll into the Apple Store and explain what happened.  There was no way to fix the phone because it was on when it was water-logged and circuits were fried.  However, the Genius Bar has some new phones on-hand without all that fancy packaging, adapters, and earbuds that you can buy at a very nice discount as long as you hand over your old phone for recycling.  Was it as cheap as the $120 Android?  Heck no.  However, it was something our teenager could pay for out of her own paycheck hopefully as a life lesson.  Plus, Sprint honored their 14-day guarantee and we received a refund for the LG that same day.

As someone who’s been in the technology field for decades, I really appreciate the internet world we live in.  I also appreciate the availability of $100 Android phones off contract, even if I took it back!

Thanks Sprint.  Thanks Google.  Thanks Apple.  I appreciate you!

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