Cell phone hell.

Last Monday, I dropped my cell phone into a puddle during a wind and rainstorm while I was on the way into a church meeting. I got into the meeting, realized I didn’t have my phone with me, and figured I had left it at home. I then sat down and enjoyed a FOUR HOUR meeting. When I went home, I searched for the phone. Not in my car, not in my room upstairs, not in the kitchen charging, not in my jacket pocket, not in the room where I had been packing T-shirts… No clue where it was. Decided I must have dropped it in the parking lot at church, because Jerry had called me on the phone prior to coming home from work, and I obviously had it then. And the only other place I had been was at church. So that left….. church.

So, at 11:15pm, I drove back down to church (because the other option was to lie there awake, pissed off, and wondering what the hell happened to the phone). I went, equipped with Jerry’s cell phone and a Mag Lite so I could a) search for the phone in the dark parking lot, and b) clobber anyone who was stupid enough to come near me while I was holding it and in that state of mind.

I pulled into the parking lot, and saw the phone glinting in the streetlight, submerged in a 3/4″ deep puddle of rain.

At home, Jerry took it apart and shook out the water, and I called the phone insurance company. I have been paying a monthly fee to have insurance on this phone (The PuddlePhone), which covers stuff like this.

SO. They (Asurion) take all the information, and my replacement phone will be delivered Wednesday, and I have to be home to sign for it. Lucky for me, Wednesday is the day of the PSAT, so all of my Wednesday morning tutoring sessions have been cancelled. I received the phone as planned, charged it as instructed, and activated it. Then I was talking to my mom on it later, and the screen went white and I couldn’t get it to do anything. I popped the battery out, back in, and turned the phone back on. It rang (Jerry this time), but I couldn’t answer it. Screen went white, but the Asurion Phone kept ringing until I popped the battery out again.

Off to Verizon I went on Wednesday evening, since the instructions that came with the phone said that “if you have problems, contact Verizon Wireless at….” — well, I interpreted that to mean, simply, Contact Verizon Wireless. And since I wanted to talk to a human face-to-face, I chose to go to the STORE rather than call the 800-number. Apparently, this was my 2nd mistake (the first being dropping the PuddlePhone on Monday evening).

At the store, the woman behind the desk in the technical services section declared it a display problem, and swapped out the Asurion Replacement Phone with a Verizon Replacement Phone. Because the phones are not shipped with batteries, she put the Asurion Battery into the Verizon Phone. Happy with the exchange, Elaine left Verizon and went home. Third mistake.

On Thursday, the phone still did the same things — blank screens, ringing that I couldn’t answer, randomly dropped calls with a subsequently dead phone. However, the PuddlePhone started up great and seemed to work fine. So I went back to Verizon, and waited in line for thirty minutes to have the tech guy (a very nice guy named Harold) tell me that Verizon wasn’t supposed to have replaced the phone since it was an insurance replacement, and defective replacement issues need to be taken up with Asurion. He put the PuddlePhone battery into the Verizon phone, moved over my phone book for free, told me to call Asurion to resolve the situation, and sent me home.

So I finally called Asurion today, and they told me to go BACK to Verizon to find out the ESN (part number) on the Asurion phone (that was exchanged at the store Wednesday night), so that they could decide what to do. Whatever they would do, I was told I would have to ship back the entire defective replacement, including the phone part that apparently worked. So now I’m supposed to ship back the PuddlePhone and its battery, and the Asurion phone and its battery. Except that I don’t HAVE the Asurion phone anymore, so I have to go back to Verizon and get the information about that phone, and call Asurion from the store to make sure everyone has given everyone else the required information to complete the transaction.

Back at Verizon, I spoke to Harold again, who took me over to a floor manager (not the store manager, mind you), who looked up the ESN of the Asurion phone. They gave me the ESN of the PuddlePhone instead (but I didn’t know that yet). I called Asurion from the Verizon store, as instructed, and Harold, the Asurion rep, and I had a conversation that basically ended with me finding out that the ESN didn’t match the one Asurion had sent me, and Verizon had voided the warranty on the Asurion equipment when they exchanged the phone Wednesday night.

So now I’m out the $50 deductible, I still have to return the PuddlePhone and its battery (which works) by Thursday, or I will have a $300 “non-return charge” for not sending back the damaged equipment; the Asurion phone’s battery doesn’t work, so the Verizon phone is useless to me. And neither Asurion or Verizon will replace the battery, both pointing at the other and saying, “They need to resolve it.” And none of the Verizon stores in Huntsville HAVE a battery for this model phone, nor does the regional warehouse. So I can’t get one (at least not from Verizon — we have found them online). And the Verizon warranty was voided when I dropped the phone in a puddle, so they can’t/won’t replace anything for free anyway.

I was so patient and nice to Harold while he helped other customers that he found a Free Phone in the back (a glittery blue thing, and big) that I could use “until January,” when my contract is eligible for an Early Upgrade. No problem! I was all set to take it, until he told me that it didn’t do text messages or pictures, both of which are functions on my current phone. Um, no. I don’t want to downgrade when Verizon made as much of a mistake as I did in this mess. So Harold asked that I come back tomorrow when there’s a manager on duty, so that I can get the situation resolved by people who have the authority to resolve it. Fair enough. So I’ll be there tomorrow morning at 11:30. Lucky for me again, my morning tutoring has been cancelled by the fact that Parent-Teacher Conferences are tomorrow, so the kids don’t have classes, so I don’t tutor.

Here’s where I’m confused, though: I’ll accept some of the blame for taking the Asurion phone to Verizon, which I shouldn’t have done, apparently. But why should *I* have to pay for a new battery (which I can’t get locally) or a new phone (and at full-retail, no less, since I’m mid-contract), when a Verizon employee is the reason behind why my warranty with Asurion is now void? This makes no sense to me. Harold couldn’t really help me with this, and the story is so confusing at this point that I think he wished that the Earth would open up and eat me, even though I was being nice (VERY nice), given the circumstances. I’m not mad at him, I’m not mad at the girl who exchanged the phone (she was just trying to help), I’m not mad at Verizon, and I’m not mad at Asurion. I basically just got myself wound up in a lot of Red Tape, and unfortunately I just have to get myself out of it.

But damn. A deadline, since I have to ship the PuddlePhone back by Thursday. So I MUST go deal with this tomorrow. And I MUST have a new battery or a new phone by Wednesday, when I leave town for 6 days. *sigh*

And, turns out, the PuddlePhone worked just fine once it dried out. And that’s the most annoying thing of all, really. Apparently submerged phones usually don’t work for very LONG after they’ve dried out, so it’s probably just as well, I guess.

5 thoughts on “Cell phone hell.”

  1. You definately should call the Verizon cancellation department. I know you don’t want to cancle your service, but had I done this with Sprint when our phones went dead before our contract was up, it would have saved a ton of trouble. Anyway, talk to the head supervisor of that department and see what they’ll do. Chances are, they’ll send you a replacement (with a battery) no problem. We recently went through hell with Sprint (too much to go into here), and that’s the lesson I learned.

  2. Batteries for this phone go for $26.95 in online stores, and $1.99 plus shipping on eBay. At some point it will be cheaper to buy another battery on our own that have you burn your time.

    Hopefully the manager will be able to do something.

  3. Update: I went in to speak to a manager this morning, and a battery had mysteriously appeared overnight.

    So now I have a new battery, no cost to me, charging. And the PuddlePhone and PuddlePhone battery have been returned to Asurion.

    All is well in Cell Phone Land.

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