Cell Phone Replacement Rules: Tip-of-the-Day #236


I just had my cell phone stolen on a business trip to Paris of all places, and was devastated. Beyond the loss of personal data (photos of the Eiffel Tower and Louvre that I hadn't yet synced with my computer) the sudden realization that I "took a pass" on the total equipment coverage came flooding back and I became wholly aware that I was going to be on the hook for a nearly $800 replacement.

I wasn't yet eligible for an upgrade and outside of picking up a refurbished phone, my options for inexpensive replacement were severely limited.

I tried to get my company to pick up the replacement cost, given the phone was stolen at a company sponsored event but that effort came up empty. Then I sat down for some serious brainstorming. On principle alone I was not going to pay $800 for a phone. No way, Jose. I'd rather go without and have people reach me by owl. But I quickly learned that the things we've become incredibly accustomed to are sorely missed when unavailable (a phone call confirming last minute dinner plans, for instance).

I phoned my carrier (Verizon) and a very helpful man in the customer support group let me in on an industry secret that apparently many in my same predicament have employed. Here's the scoop!
  1. Add a second line to your existing plan (make it a "family share" - it only costs $9.95 to add it). 
  2. Adjust your account settings (choose a new voice and data plan - it's a little different from an individual plan). 
  3. Choose your phone of choice and pay the "new subscriber" price, not the replacement cost. In this case, a savings of $600.
  4. Add the total equipment coverage to your new plan and you'll never have to face this debacle again.
Carriers have us over a barrel when it comes to plan pricing, contracts, and device replacement, especially when most folks decline the insurance. But this is a nifty way to get around it. At least once.

Bonus: you'll get the latest/greatest device, in this case the iPhone 4S. ;)