July 04, 2009

We are going to get on the road to go to Phoenix and hang out with my family for the Fourth of July by four on Friday and this ends up not happening. So we are going to get on the road to go to Phoenix by five and then while waiting for the elevator I pull my iPhone out of my pocket and it slips out of my hand and files to the tile underneath my feet, screen first, bouncing a few sickening times. I pick it up, terrified of what I might find. The top part of its face, where the earpiece is, is completely shattered. Little shards of black glass are missing. The entire face is slightly dislodged. It is not what you want to see.

We get lunch and then everyone is nice enough to accompany me to the Apple Store. Dan is going to come in particularly handy as he is great negotiating in general, the guy you want at your side in situations like these, and he also has a working knowledge of the arcane AT&T iPhone upgrade structure. The thought is, maybe this doesn’t have to be all bad. Maybe I can get a new 3GS for less than the full price a sucker would pay. If I’m going to have to spend money anyway, I figure, I might as well spend a little more and walk away with something I can use to take videos of my testicles and e-mail them to people when we’re in the same car.

Dan ends up not getting to the store until I’ve already put my name in as a guy who needs his phone repaired. Dan tells me that this may have been a tactical error, he’s not convinced I even needed to put my name in. I tell him that the guy I talked to said “Screen replacement? A hundred and ninety nine bucks. You okay with that price?”and I responded “We’ll talk about it later,” which I thought was a cool reticent maneuver he’d be proud of me for, but he is not convinced I should have done anything before he got there. I feel the fool. There are no actual appointments left and my name is on a standby list and I’m told several times it should only be a half an hour but it’s almost an hour before another guy tells me, “Yea, standby, it’s always at least an hour,” and I kind of snap at that guy about how his other co-workers kept telling me a half an hour, and then I feel kind of bad about that. We are several hours behind our estimated departure time at this point. Dan has talked to another employee about my situation and the prognosis is not good. Nothing is going well.

Finally my name comes up. Dan and I go up to the counter and we tell our guy my deal. He tells us that it will be two hundred bucks just to replace the screen. Alhough I have AppleCare, I broke it, so it isn’t covered. He says he understands that this sucks. He is sorry. Dan asks if I’m eligible for an upgrade. I tell the guy when I bought my phone. He says he doesn’t think I’m eligible, but I’m welcome to go on Apple’s website and check. He spins his laptop around to face me. I put in a bunch of information and the widget comes back saying that after I pay the balance of my current phone bill, I will be eligible for an upgrade. It isn’t a free new phone, but it’s a new fancier phone for less than the sucker price. Our employee is surprised by this. I go on AT&T’s website and pay my bill.

As I’m doing so, Dan and I commiserate with our guy. “Did you ever think you’d have to be dealing with people’s phone bills?” I say. “No,” he says, “it’s like a glorified phone store now.” We tell him we can imagine how much it must suck to have their hands so tied by a phone company. He is clearly passionate about the place he works and sad to have seen it drifted away from what it was when he began.

I go back to Apple’s website and tell it I paid my bill and it comes back and says the upgrade it promised me, well, now it’s more expensive for some reason. I spin the laptop back around and show this to our guy.

“Hmm,” he says, “that’s weird. I’ll take this for a second.” He takes my phone and disappears into the back. Ten minutes elapse. I was not planning to buy a new phone but maybe if I end up paying less that full price I will feel okay about it. I am bummed that my shitty hands have put us this far behind schedule and set me back a few hundred bucks. A guy next to us, an older guy with lots of shopping bags, is trying to convince an employee to put a ringtone on his iPhone for him, because his laptop got stolen and could the employee just plug his iPhone into one of their store computers and put a ringtone on there? The employee is politely declining. The guy says they did it before, he came in here before and an employee did it for him.. “That employee was me,” the employee says, “and we’re not allowed to that anymore.” I have a headache.

Our guy comes back. He sets an iPhone down on the table and places a piece of paper next to it. I turn the iPhone over and see that it is my old phone, scratches and imperfections and all, with a brand new screen. The piece of paper is a receipt for screen repair. The charge is zero dollars. “Sign here and here,” our guy says, “and have a nice night.”

I sign and ask the employee his name. He tells me. I thank him as profusely as I can without blowing the atmosphere of “this is something I don’t do, you should be on your way.” It is a triumph. I feel rescued. I feel I was in the presence of a retail samaurai, a man of principal.

This is how you can end up with exactly what you had before, now five hours behind schedule, and feel like a champion. Like you came out way ahead. I am good as new, for nothing. This is how somebody can charge through the smoke and chaos of customer service and sweep you up and put you on the back of their white horse. Employee whose name I won’t write because I don’t know how okay the move you pulled is with your superiors, you were excellent. You saved a dumb man from the consequences of his dumbness and for that, sir, fucking cheers.

Posted by DC at July 4, 2009 10:27 PM

...and then you broke the phone again in the parking lot. Iris in on you mugging. "That's Life" plays.

Posted by: Dyna Moe

I really commend you for having the presence of mind not to blow said dude's cover. That is easily the worst part about giving anyone prohibited freebies.

Posted by: tyler

So you going to take pictures with your newly recovered phone and post them on twitter? Cause that's what i'd do if i had an iphone...

Posted by: IVcents

Did a show in Tucson a couple of months ago at U of Arizona. You kids gotta be wreckin' shit out there! Love reading the blog bro, keep it up! your former student
Tim de la Motte

Posted by: Tim

There's some independent company that offers iPhone insurance in case you drop your phone but I can't remeber the name of it offhand. Also you need to purchase it within 30 days of your phone purchase. Just something to know about for next time. And in keeping with the last two weird comments, purple monkey dishwasher.

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