Smartphone warranties are a dark and terrible financial magic that most smartphone owners don’t even pretend to understand. Almost all of us have been stiffed on a phone warranty at some point in our lives for frustrating and difficult to understand reasons. The reasons for this are simple – smartphones are expensive and fragile, and the market is competitive enough that margins are slim. The average smartphone need to be replaced more than once.
Simple economics suggest that, for all of those warranties to be honored, the cost of the warranty would have to be so high that nobody would buy it.
This doesn’t mean that you have to be screwed, though. There are some simple steps you can take that not only extend the lifespan of your device, they also maximize the odds that, should the awful day come that your phone starts to smoke or core-dump, your warranty will be honored, and you’ll walk home with a brand new free replacement.
1. Waterproof your Device
Most smartphone manufacturers include small stickers inside the body of the device which react to the presence of moisture by turning red. Unfortunately, even if your smartphone is never directly exposed to water, these stickers are sufficiently sensitive that they are often triggered by ambient environmental conditions.
If you live in a moist climate, they can be triggered by the humidity in the air. Otherwise, leaving your phone on the sink while you shower can trigger them.
No major smartphone warranties will replace a device which shows water damage. This is one of the biggest ways companies avoid paying out warranties. A sealant coating or a waterproof case can save you a lot of trouble down the line (along with being generally durable and high-quality cases. This step alone will eliminate a lot of possible warranty trouble in your future.
2. Reset Your Device to Factory
Most warranties won’t allow you to return devices which have been rooted, jailbroken, or otherwise modified. Fortunately, if the phone isn’t entirely trashed, it’s usually possible to put the phone into recovery mode and erase its memory completely, destroying all the evidence. Google your model of smartphone to find detailed instructions on resetting it.
3. Hide the Peripherals
Quite a few third party peripherals void the warranty, so don’t hesitate to remove them and any apps that interact with them. The goal here is to appear to be just another naïve smartphone owner, offended that your phone has stopped working.
Try to radiate innocence and pretend that you’ve never done anything creative with your device. There is no reason to provide them any excuse to deny your claim.
4. Consider Ditching the Warranty
Smartphone companies have a captive base of customers tied into contracts – as a result, there is little or no pressure for them to maximize the value of their warranties. This is not the case for third-party smartphone insurance companies. Investigate them, and check out their rates.
Often, they are superior to the warranty you’ve been paying for. If you’re sick of jumping through hoops just to get the warranty you paid for, consider taking your business elsewhere.
5. Negotiate Like a Pro
If, after all this, they are still refusing to honor your warranty, it’s time for you to negotiate. Be nice – there is no reason to raise your voice or be unkind at any point in this process. Pretend that you are Mr. Rogers: patient and kind, but persistent. If the employee tells you that they cannot honor your warranty, ask politely to speak to the store manager.
Explain your issue to them, mention how long you’ve been with the company, express your disappointment in your warranty policy, and ask them if they’re willing to work with you. Often, if you’re nice but make it clear you’re going to be a pain in the butt, they’ll be willing to work with you just to get you out of the store.
If they really can’t help you, ask them if there’s anything they can do. Sometimes, you can at least eke out waived fees or free peripherals.