Playing chess with the Red Check: or, why Verizon’s insurance plan covers … nothing

I’ve had my BlackBerry PRIV for almost two years now, and it’s a fantastic smartphone.  Probably the smartest smartphone out there.

And last Wednesday, the dummy who owned it dropped it off the edge of a table.  Chuck is a dummy.

Yep.  Crack in the screen.  Nasty one.

But not as nasty as what I had to go through with Verizon’s phone insurance company, Asurion.

First off, my BlackBerry PRIV fell out of my hand and bounced off the corner of a metal table.  I saw the crack on my screen and hoped against hope that it was just a scratch on the plastic screen protector.

No dice.  The phone hit in such a way that it caught the edge of the table, and the crack went through the side of the glass bezel on my phone.  I could still use the phone, but now I have a nasty spiderweb-like crack in the glass that – every time I looked at the phone – seemed to get larger and larger.  In fact, I’m thinking that the plastic screen overlay strip is the only thing holding the glass together right now.

Okay, this is why I pay extra for a cell phone protection plan through Verizon’s insurance company Asurion.

I call Verizon.  “I dropped my phone, the glass is broken.  Can you help me?”

“Oh, I’m sorry that you’ve had damage to your phone,” the representative said, almost reading word-for-word from whatever flow-chart script Verizon customer service representatives are told to use.  “Let’s get you set up with a claim through Asurion.”

That’s fine.  I’m okay with them either repairing or replacing my PRIV.  Besides, Asurion offers next day replacement or fast repair on my phone.  That’s why I pay $11/month for insurance on it.

But of course, now I’m dealing with Verizon.  Every time I deal with Verizon, it’s like playing a game of competitive chess.  I have to protect what I’ve earned from Verizon – unlimited data for life, the right to purchase my own cell phone and not be tethered to Verizon’s choices.

Let’s start the opening gambit.  I move first.  Pawn to King 4.

I get transferred to Asurion.  After about ten minutes of wait-hold music, I hear a faint, “Hello?”

Really faint.  Like someone was trying to communicate through the walls of a jail cell to the inmate three cells away.

I explain what happened to my phone.  The woman takes my information and gives me a claim number in case we get disconnected.

“Well, Mr. Miller, we can replace the glass, that would be a $29 deductible, or we can replace the phone, that would be a $179 deductible.  Which phone do you say you have?”

“I have a BlackBerry PRIV,” I reply.

Silence.  Knight to Queen’s Bishop 3.

“I’m not showing that’s the type of phone that you own, sir.”

“Yes it is.  I’m calling you from it right now.”

“That’s not what we have on our records, sir.”

“Trust me, I know how much I paid for this phone, I had to buy it at full retail price.”

“Sir, you need to call Verizon and have them tell you exactly what type of phone you have, because what you’re telling me isn’t what’s on our screen.”

“Well, what phone do you show on your system?”

“I can’t tell you, sir, only that it’s not what you told me you have.  You need to call Verizon and have them tell you what phone you have, and then you can call us.”

And with that, she hung up on me.

Let that sink in.  The customer service representative for Verizon’s phone insurance company hung up on me when I tried to file a claim to deal with an issue for which I paid insurance to prevent.

Knight takes pawn.

This is not good.

Okay, I have Asurion’s direct line now, let’s call them.

I punch in the insurance claim number.

“I’m sorry, but that claim number does not exist within our system.”  Click.

Oh no.  That’s not happening.

Bishop takes Knight.

I call Asurion.  Fifteen minutes of hold time.  And I get another customer representative.  And this time, I can hear her voice, loud and clear.

I explain what happened to my phone.

“Do you have an insurance reference number?”

I recite it for her.

“Oh.”

Oh?

“I see what happened.  So you own a Rimpriv phone, sir?”

Rimpriv phone?  Wait… oh I get it … BlackBerry’s parent company is Research In Motion, their initials are RIM.  I explain this to the insurance representative.  The situation is cleared up.  The insurance claim is reinstated, and now it’s time for me to receive the benefits of the insurance plan I pay $11/month for my BlackBerry.

“So what can we do for my phone?”

“Well, we can replace the screen for $29, you would take your phone to one of our certified repair technicians.”

“Okay, let’s do that.”

Rook to King’s Rook 3.  May have to use the dreaded Maroczy Bind at this point in the game.

A few minutes later…

“Mr. Miller, we can’t do that.  You own a BlackBerry PRIV, right?”

At least we’ve confirmed it’s not a Rimpriv any more…

“We don’t have the parts to replace the screen on your BlackBerry PRIV.”

The phone’s been out for only 18 months and you don’t have any shops that can repair the phone?  The phone’s only 18 months old?

“You know, Mr. Miller, if you had an iPhone, this would be so much easier for us to resolve.  Or possibly a Samsung Galaxy.  Have you ever considered looking into either of those phones?  I mean, owning a BlackBerry in this day and age is …”

Wow.  This is not good.  Pawn takes Bishop.

“Okay, so what are we looking at in terms of replacing the phone?”

“You would pay $179 for the deductible, and we would pay the difference.”

“Ugh.  So I send you $179 and we take care of it, right?”

A few more moments of silence.

“Right?”

“Um … Mr. Miller, we can’t replace your BlackBerry PRIV, either.”

“Why not?”

“Well, honestly, Verizon doesn’t stock the BlackBerry PRIV any more.  We would have to ask you to purchase the phone directly through a third party carrier, and after you purchase it, you would send us a receipt, and then we would send you a check – minus your $179 deductible.”

Queen takes Rook.

“Come on now,” I groaned.  “You’re telling me you can’t find a phone that was just put on the market eighteen months ago?”

“Well, there are used BlackBerry PRIV phones on Amazon.  They’re only about $200 apiece.  You could buy one of them.”

Okay, let me get this straight.  I pay $11/month every month to Verizon so that I can get Asurion phone replacement / repair coverage.  And now I’m hearing that Asurion will neither repair my phone, nor help replace it?  Unless we consider $200 minus a $179 deductible “replacing?”

“It would be so much easier, Mr. Miller, if you went to a different phone.  Perhaps a Samsung Galaxy.  Or maybe the new iPhone.”

Jesus Christ.  I don’t want the new iPhone.  I don’t want a Samsung Galaxy.  I want my freakin’ BlackBerry, and so long as Verizon offers it as a viable cell phone option, then that’s what I want.  And for Asurion to basically tell me that all the insurance I paid on my phone was essentially worth only a $20 reimbursement towards a new phone …

Wait.

Wait a second.

Wait a wait a wait a second…

I’ve got an idea.

First, I’m going to castle my King and Rook, and…

A quick scan through my blogs.  Last July, I wrote about BlackBerry’s new KEYone cell phone.  I could buy that.  And to avoid the “bending” issue that could cause the screen to bend out of the case – although the person testing the unit probably tried to bend the phone with the same strength as Hercules bending cage bars – I could put this KEYone in a protective case to keep the phone from bending.

I originally didn’t purchase the KEYone back in July, partially because of that bending issue, and also because there was a two-month wait for unlocked CDMA-based KEYone phones.  Verizon’s network is CDMA-based.

A quick peek at Amazon … well, what do you know.  There’s a week-long Cyber Monday sale on the KEYone.

Queen to King’s 5.  Check.

Okay …

“So here’s what I want.  I can get a replacement phone for my PRIV, right, and you’ll cover it … right?”

“We can replace your PRIV, like I said before.”

“Well, how about this.  Your first representative hung up on me.  I’ve had to jump through hoops and squirm under rails and do a freakin’ limbo that would make King Kamehameha applaud.  How about this.  I can purchase the BlackBerry KEYone, which is the next generation of the PRIV.  And you’ll reimburse me for the phone if I purchase it outright … right?”

“I don’t know, Mr. Miller … I mean, it’s not the PRIV, we would only replace the PRIV for you …”

“If I owned an iPhone 6 and it broke, you would help me get a newer model iPhone, right?   I wouldn’t be stuck with a replacement iPhone 6, right?”

“Yes we would.  We would replace your iPhone with a newer model.  Do you want to get an iPhone?”

Oh no you don’t.  My pawn will now take your queen.   Another check on the black king.

“So here’s the deal.  I do NOT want to get an iPhone.  I do NOT want to get a Samsung.  I am NOT comfortable with using either phone.  I am very comfortable with the security and durability and quality of a BlackBerry phone.  I want to purchase the BlackBerry KEYone.  And since Verizon doesn’t stock the KEYone as a purchasable option … I will buy an unlocked CDMA version and integrate it to the Verizon network.  I will pay for the phone, you will reimburse me the full cost – minus the $179 deductible.  I’ll have a new phone, you’ll feel like you won, I’ll stay a loyal Verizon customer, you’ll still get $11/month out of me, and everything will be sunshine, lollipops and rainbows, just like the Lesley Gore song.  Right?”

Knight comes in to protect queen.  Another check to the Red Check.

A few moments of silence.

“Let me discuss this with my supervisor.  I think we can agree to this.”

Say it with me, kids.

Checkmate.

With that, I ordered the BlackBerry KEYone – my seventh BlackBerry of ownership – and faxed over the receipt to Asurion, who promise to reimburse me – minus the $179 – within seven to ten business days.

In other words, if I’m going to get a new phone, I’m going to get the newest BlackBerry model out there.

Now this will be an interesting turn of events.  I’ve never owned an “unlocked” phone before.  I wonder how well it will work with Verizon’s “locked” network.

Guess we’ll find out soon enough, won’t we?

And as for the PRIV, once I get my contacts and other personal info shifted over to the KEYone, I’ll place the PRIV in a desk drawer and let it stay there.  Right next to my old BlackBerry Q10.

Just in case I ever need to re-activate one or more of them. 😀