Great Moments in Customer Service

Back in November I bought two iPhones. One for me, one for Allison. Since we were both eligible for upgrades (and Allison was switching to my plan) they cost the introductory price of $199. Not bad for a little rectangle with more computing power than anything that existed until, like, a couple of years ago.

I got mine, activated it and was and have been happy ever since.  Then Allison’s showed up, shipped to me. I was going to San Antonio the following week and was going to bring it to her but she was so eager to get it and I was so eager for her to have it I figured I’d ship it to her so she could get it earlier. Without ever taking it out of the box I slapped her address on it and sent it to her via Priority Mail.

Big mistake. Because it never got there. Just disappeared into the ether. Probably stolen by a postal worker. But the biggest mistake was all mine: I didn’t track it or insure it or anything. Just stupid, but I didn’t even really think about it. I’ve never had anything lost in the mail so I figured this thing would be fine too. And it wasn’t. One of the dumber things I’ve ever done.

I followed up with the postal service. As of now that’s still unresolved. They really have no clue and, because I didn’t buy insurance, they have no incentive to find a clue.  Then I followed up with the insurance company that covers the phone, Asurion. Their position: even though I have insurance for all the phones on my account, no device is covered until it’s activated and since Allison’s phone has never been turned on they don’t have to cover it.  Seems stupid – I have proof I bought it – but that was their policy and they were sticking to it.

So I called Verizon. Mostly to tell them about the phone being lost, but also to see if I couldn’t buy another iPhone from them at the $199 price.  Their position: sorry, you only get one at that price and since it wasn’t their fault it’s lost – it got to me just fine and then I shipped it off and lost it – the best they can do is to sell me another one at full retail. Which is nearly $700. Christ on a crutch I wanted no part of that.  The next best thing they’d do is to try to persuade Asurion to cover it anyway. They’d contact them and call me back, but they literally told me not to count on anything good happening.

As of this morning it was two weeks since Verizon said they’d do that and I hadn’t heard anything, so I called them.  While I was on hold, I started tweeting random things. Not out of anger, really, just out of boredom. Stuff like this:

// And this:

// That last part was because I was thinking about how I could game the system by, say, having my mom get an iPhone at the promotional price, decide she didn’t like it, keep the phone, go back to her flip phone and then have Allison “buy” the phone from her and activate it on her number. Which could’ve worked, probably, even if I hadn’t thought it all out yet.

But then something interesting happened:

And then, after some back and forth:

// Which was rather surprising.  But not as surprising as the fact that, after I responded, my phone rang and the woman on the other end said “Hi, I’m calling from the CEO’s office of Asurion, and we want to help you solve your problem.”

Long story short: Asurion agreed to make an exception in my case and cover the lost/stolen phone even though, per policy rules, they didn’t have to. Two minutes on the phone and they had another iPhone ready to ship to Allison. She’ll get it tomorrow.  I’m gobsmacked.

Of course, I’m also pretty sure that neither Verizon nor Asurion get involved in this via Twitter if I don’t have over 14,000 Twitter followers. Not that I’d start raising hell or anything, but I guess they don’t know that.  Either way, I’m sitting here this evening feeling pretty satisfied, even if it’s because, as far as social media goes, I’m part of the 1%.

Craig Calcaterra

Craig is the author of the daily baseball (and other things) newsletter, Cup of Coffee. He writes about other things at He lives in New Albany, Ohio with his wife, two kids, and many cats.

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