Apple’s usability issue has left me without a phone

Update Aug 2022: Our twins came 2 months early, a few days after I got the “we can’t help you either” message back from Apple. The last few months have been very hard with our babies in the NICU for a month. I finally found the time to take the phone to the Apple Store in Roseville, CA. I explained the situation to the genius rep who was extremely empathetic. She said let me get my manager to help out. The manager arrived and said I feel your frustration but I can’t help you either. I asked can you please just recycle the phone? They said sure we can do that. So that’s how it ended. For no fault of mine, Apple bricked my phone and refused to honor their contract of giving me a replacement while charging me for the Apple Theft and Accidental Damage protection the whole time. I thought it was just slipping through the cracks for some reason. But to finally have the manager of the Apple Store in Roseville tell me to my face he can’t help me either I have nowhere else to go. Online support asked me to send the phone to Apple HQ. Apple HQ asked me to take it to the Apple Store. Apple Store said they can’t do anything either and helped me recycle the phone.

Update Feb 2022: Apple headquarters shipped the phone back to me saying I didn’t provide enough information and that they can’t help me either. They asked me to take it to an Apple Store. I’m at the hospital right now with my pregnant wife with two twins on the way. I don’t have the capacity to follow up at the moment.

Original story:

My phone was cracked so I decided to get it replaced using the iPhone Express Replacement service. I have used it in the past and I value it because it means no disruption. I get the new device, I get to activate it, and only then I ship my old phone to them.

So I started at Apple’s website to follow the instructions to do so. I clicked on the first link to “Confirm your coverage”

It took me to a page where it asked me to enter my serial number and hit continue.

It then told me that my device was indeed covered. However, this is where the issue began.

There was a “Start Claim” button prompting me to click on it if I had accidental damage, theft, or loss. This conflicted with the instructions on the support page. But because this was the official status page for my device, I thought it made more sense to follow instructions for my device.

So I clicked on “Start Claim”.

I don’t have screenshots of what happened afterwords.

  • I checked a box that said that “Once you submit your claim your device ownership will be transferred to Assurant who will then handle the next steps.”
  • Then I hit continue
  • Then it asked me to insert the date for the incident, so I entered it
  • Then I got an alert on my other Apple device to confirm that I was filing a claim
  • Then it asked me to pick one of only two options: [ ] Theft or [ ]Lost
  • On the prior screen, I was asked to click on Start claim for accidental damage, theft, or loss coverage, but now it was only showing two options with no option to pick accidental damage
  • So I canceled the claim process. I never completed it. I never picked either of the options, I never clicked [Next], I never provided the required description of the incident etc.
  • I then switch to contact Apple Support about setting up express replacement
  • While I was chatting with Apple Support, my iPhone suddenly shut down
  • I thought it had lost power, so I plugged it in and tried restarting it
  • But it restarted with a strange progress bar
  • And 120s later it came back on completely and it was fully reset / erased

I received an email from Apple saying the following:

The device is now in lost mode. Apple says they can no longer do an express replacement until I can either remove the device from lost mode, or remove the phone from my account. I am unable to do either of those things as I get an error message saying “This phone has been reported as lost / stolen” and nothing happens.

I am a computer engineer. I have tried every single thing possible on every device I have to try all combinations and I drew a blank.

I have talked to both Apple & Assurant, both are clueless what to do.

This has started a pillar to post interaction where Apple says this is Assurant’s problem. Assurant says it’s Apple’s problem. Both call each other and pass the buck to the other party and transfer me and then I get transferred back.

I have also spent hours screensharing with a senior Apple tech who says he has never seen anything like it in 4.5 yrs.

I finally asked him what his estimate is for how long it will take. Because if it is going to take longer than a few hours then I really need to think of a plan B. I had to cancel multiple meetings and stall a lot of work because of this.

The Apple technician I spoke to was very nice. And smart. And he suggested that the only way to resolve this is to send the phone to Apple with a note explaining what happened. So that’s what I am doing now. I will print out this blog post, and put it in the box that I will be shipping to Apple.

Apple’s customer experience is really good. It is something I appreciate and value. But I unfortunately have run into the 0.1% cases where it’s not stellar.

What I would like to see is:

  1. At a bare minimum, I should get a new phone in return for the cracked one (minus the deductible). Honor the replacement warranty that I am paying for. It’s not my fault that the glitch in the flow has put this phone in some twilight zone.
  2. But to be honest, the cascading effect this has had on my productivity, the stress of dealing with all this when I literally am paying a premium to not have these gaps and bumps, I don’t know how to quantify that all. As the founder of a pandemic startup who has 10 other things on his plate that are way more urgent, this has been an extremely unsettling and stressful thing to deal with.

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