A smart plan for when disaster strikes

Geoff Meeker
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Like most every calamity, this one resulted from an unfortunate series of events.

First, it was a hot, humid day so I was wearing a light pair of shorts — with no hip pockets.

Second, I was on call to a client and had to keep the cellphone on my person, so I placed it in the chest pocket of my shirt.

Third, I walked into the bathroom and noticed several chunks of grouting on the floor beside the toilet. I bent down for a closer look — and the iPhone 5 in my shirt pocket fell out, landing with a splash in the toilet which, it should be noted, contained “clean” water. If it had been a centimetre narrower, that phone would have went straight down the drain. As it was, the device was only half-visible in the drain pipe.

In a second, I had my hand wrapped around it. And here’s the fourth, most tragic circumstance: the phone didn’t move. It was jammed in the pipe and would not come loose, no matter how hard I pulled.

Seconds ticked by as I tugged and yanked on that phone. Finally, I stuck my hand down the pipe behind the device and yanked forward. It came loose at last.

I shook out the water and prepared a baggie full of uncooked rice, but already knew it would be futile.  I calculate the phone had been submerged for about eight seconds. There is just no way it could survive such an immersion.

One full day later, the phone was still dead. In fact, droplets of water flew out when I shook it.

I had had water incidents in the past that I have written about, but the H2O exposure was limited to a second or less.

This time, my luck had run out.

I remembered purchasing some sort of extended warranty when I purchased the phone in October of last year, so I paid a visit to the Bell Aliant store, recounting to the shocked counter clerks every lurid detail of the incident.

After regaining her composure, the clerk called up my account and printed a receipt.

“You’ve got the AppleCare warranty,” she said. “This gives you a total of three years of coverage in the event of any kind of breakdown — including damage caused by liquid exposure.”

There was a $50 replacement fee, she explained, and Apple would charge an unspecified amount on my Visa which would be removed after the damaged phone was returned.

She gave me the 1-800 number for Apple and I was out of there, feeling like the weight of the world had been lifted. After all, the replacement price for my 64 GB iPhone was a hefty $900 — a financial hit I was pleased to avoid.  

I called Apple and things went pretty much as described. Wyatt, my helpful contact centre guy, didn’t blink at the water damage thing. He said a new phone would ship out immediately, and that I should receive it within two business days. I was instructed, upon receiving the package, to place my old, damaged phone in the shipping carton and use the included label to ship back to Apple — on their bill. There was that $50 fee, plus about $1,200 — much more than the actual purchase price of the phone — would be placed on my Visa until they received the old phone. (They sure do care about getting that kaput phone, no doubt to prevent fake claims and likely for refurbishment.)

Everything went as planned. It took three days — not two — but I soon had a brand new iPhone. I connected it to my computer’s iTunes program and, five hours later, all content from my old phone had been restored to the new (including about 25 GB of music).

The point of all this? We all know to be careful with our phones but I’m living proof that accidents happen. I generally refuse the extended warranty on most things I purchase, especially large appliances (which, if they are going to break down, will do so several days after all warranties have expired).

However, small pieces of complex and expensive technology are altogether different. They are subject to all kinds of abuse just through normal handling, including being dropped, knocked about in pocket or purse and even the occasional dip in the toilet. A few will have manufacturing defects.

The AppleCare warranty costs $99 but it covers all these things, providing peace of mind for three years (at which point, many owners will want to upgrade to the newest model, at a deep discount). And it covers not one, but two, phone replacements, which should be sufficient, even for a klutz like me.

If you operate a business you can claim the warranty as an expense, but it’s worth buying even without the deduction.  I also recommend that parents buying iPods, iPads and iPhones for their children toss in the AppleCare warranty, for obvious reasons.

I have written before about protective cases for iPhones. I may just revisit that subject, with a specific focus on waterproof cases.

Finally, don’t forget to flush and always put that lid down.

 

Geoff Meeker is public relations consultant who has always had a soft spot for technology. He also writes a blog about local media, which is hosted at www.thetelegram.com.

Organizations: Apple, Visa, Bell Aliant

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