Service After the Sale

Apparently, there's technology out there somewhere. (Monte Dutton photo)
Apparently, there’s technology out there somewhere. (Monte Dutton photo)

I’m sure the employees at the nearby cell-phone “store” dread to see me coming. Maybe they’ll forget by the next time.
It frustrates me that technology is supposed to make our lives easier, and it doesn’t. It plunges everyone into a black hole of communications with impersonal recordings, interminable periods on hold, and a barely finite progression of repeating account numbers and “last four digits of your ‘social,’” only to have to repeat them again, over and over, every time they get transferred to another “service representative.”

By Monte Dutton
By Monte Dutton

My iPhone died on Saturday, and I had to drive to the next town, where a person there revived it long enough for me to get back home, where it died more or less permanently. Back I went today, having been connected to the world via a backup for most of two days.
I’m about to go on a trip. A man and a woman were tinkering with my dead phone, saying to each other things like, “Naw, won’t work no more.”
“Sho’ won’t.”

“Well,” I said, “I’ve still got my previous phone, and it’s fine, and I like it, and the only reason I bought this one is that another version was coming out, and I was told I could get that one for, like, 10 bucks, so just activate this phone (handing him the old one), and I’ll pick up the other one when I get back from my trip.”

“We don’t fix phones,” the man said.

“What do you do?” asked I.

“You have to make an insurance claim. You just have to call the insurance company, and give them your credit-card or debit-card number, and they’ll send you a new one. It’ll cost a 150 dollars.”

“Wait. A hundred and 50? It’s dead. I only paid 10 bucks for it.”

“That’s the deductible. That phone sells for $649.95.”

“Well, I’ll just go back to the old one,” I said.

“It’s 99 cents. Or, it would be if you were eligible for an upgrade.”

“Wouldn’t that be a downgrade?”

The man and woman both shrugged.

“When am I eligible for a … grade? Down or up. Either one.”

They looked at their computer screens and said, almost in unison – there was a slight delay with the woman – “November.” It was like a P.A. echo: “NoVEMBERber.”

Sometimes it's hard to follow directions.  (Monte Dutton photo)
Sometimes it’s hard to follow directions. (Monte Dutton photo)

Then the man got the drop on his partner. “Oh, that’s for the backup phone. This phone is eligible in August of 2016.”

“So, just to recap,” I said, “being fully insured, the phone that went graveyard dead and I paid 10 bucks for can be replaced at the low, low price of $150, but if I use the old one, and it lasts until August 2016, I can get one for 99 cents.”

“See, it’s different if you’re not eligible for an upgrade,” the woman said. “The latest iPhone is $1,249.95.”

“Does anyone actually pay that?” I asked.

“We have people come in here every day looking for them,” the man said. “I just sold one at about two o’clock.”

Gee, I thought, and I can get a slightly older one than that for $150, thanks to it being fully insured.

“You know, let’s say you own a baseball card, and there’s a listing that says it’s worth $10,000. You follow me?”

“Yeah,” they both said.

“You’ve still got to find a guy with $10,000 who wants to buy it.”


“I’m not that guy,” I said.

At this rate, I’ll be back to a rotary dial by “upgrade time.”

Maybe I can afford a new iPhone if I can get my third novel published. You can help me by clicking here:


One thought on “Service After the Sale

  1. Had that same problem a couple of years ago. AT&T solved the problem by giving me another line. I bought the cheap iPhone activated it, had the number transferred to the new phone, changed the broken phone to inactive for $10 per month and I was out maybe $15 until my renewal in the Fall. Might work for you unless you have VZW. They simply refuse to help. That’s why I left them.

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