Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Replacing a Stolen iPhone

Yesterday my daughter's 32 GB iPhone 3GS was stolen. She set her purse down for a moment while walking with a friend in a park and when she looked back it was gone.

It contained minimal cash, no credit cards, but it did have a $299 iPhone 3GS 32 GB. We filed a police report and searched the web for the possibilities, finding much contradictory information. What should you do? Here's my experience:

1. The credit card we used to buy it does not offer purchase protection - no luck.

2. Our home insurance deductible is larger than the iPhone price - no luck

3. Apple Care does not cover stolen iPhones - no luck

4. Apple and AT&T do not offer replacement insurance on iPhones - no luck

5. We stopped by the Apple store and found out that the retail price of a 32GB iPhone is really $699, but AT&T subsidizes a new purchase with a 2 year voice/data contract for $299. If the iPhone is stolen, AT&T customers can check the Apple website to find out if they are eligible for"early upgrade pricing": $299 (8GB), $399 (16GB), or $499 (32GB) with a new two-year contract. Thus, to replace a stolen $299 iPhone 3GS 32 GB costs $499. At least that's better than $699. Thanks for the additional subsidy AT&T.

Here's the language from the Apple site

"Requires new two-year AT&T wireless service contract, sold separately to qualified customers; credit check required; must be 18 or older. Existing AT&T customers who want to upgrade from another phone or replace an iPhone 3G should check with AT&T or use www.apple.com/iphone/buy to find out if they are eligible for early upgrade pricing: $299 (8GB), $399 (16GB), or $499 (32GB) with a new two-year contract.

For those who are not eligible for an early upgrade or who wish to buy iPhone as a gift, the prices are $499 (8GB), $599 (16GB), or $699 (32GB). In CA, MA, and RI, sales tax is collected on the unbundled price of iPhone."

Tomorrow we're going to call our home insurance agent to ask if there are any affordable riders to our policy that cover iPhones.

We're going to check on the purchase protection capability of all our credit cards to better plan for future purchases.

We're going to chat with Apple about discontinuing the AppleCare extended warranty on the old iPhone, since we no longer own it.

Thus, if your iPhone is lost or stolen, expect that you can get early upgrade pricing at the Apple store with a partial subsidy from AT&T. Definitely try to buy your iPhone with a credit card that provides purchase protection. Check your homeowner's policy for affordable coverage.

While I'm discussing iPhones, a lesson learned from using an iPhone in Japan. We found the 3G service to be excellent and making phone calls between our US-based phones (2 iPhones and 1 Blackberry) was simply dialing a local US call.

Data roaming, however, is extremely expensive - $5.00 per megabyte. You definitely want to buy a pre-paid international roaming plan which costs about $1.00 per megabyte.

From AT&T

"Purchasing an international data package can significantly reduce the cost of using data abroad. AT&T now offers four discount international data packages. The 20 MB package is $24.99 per month, the 50 MB package is $59.99 per month, 100 MB package is $119.99 per month, and the 200 MB package is $199.99 per month. See the AT&T website for details and international roaming rates."

Also, here a few tips for minimizing international data roaming cost

The iPhone is a great device. Keeping it affordable takes work!

Addendum:

1. We're applying for new credit cards that offer purchase protection
2. Applecare was very helpful and refunded the purchase of Applecare on the stolen iPhone
3. Our insurance agent is investigating options that are affordable. More to come.

12 comments:

cbmd4u said...

Great info on Stolen or Lost iPhones. Thanks John.
Historical Tidbits on 2007 iPhone roaming in UK
Called to get best rate on Voice 1.29 reduced to 99/m
Data was way too knew and no one knew.
Not turning OFF all automated data streams meant
random connections to Tmobile,O2, Orange etc.
Needed for Maps function primarily, but not meticulously turned of the rest of the time. Allowed
others to check various features.
$1,500 data roaming fee on return. ATT and Stores had many very Poor options (ie Retro data plan to
reduce fee to 1200?) Many Store visits, customer service calls. Only thing that worked was ATT CEO
letter, CNBC on air report on dissatisfied iPhone cust.(threat) eventually a call from ATT corp saying
they would eliminate all roaming charges x 1
Chris Bickford @ cbmd@san.rr.com

barakthecat said...

Do you have a MobileMe account? Then you could use the "Find my iPhone" feature to try and track the device, or at the very least, wipe the phone.

Apple really should offer a one time "find my iPhone" feature, pay them $20 to send out the homing beacon and text message, then if the phone isn't found/recovered in a week, wipe the device.

Bernz said...

http://www.mobiledefense.com/ is a cool little app that's good for all sorts of tracking, but I would see that this would be useful if a phone is stolen. Like Lojack for your phone. There are probably other similar apps, but this is the one I knew off the top of my head.

Mike LaChapelle said...

It's too bad that AT&T won't disable stolen iPhones. It would make them much less attractive to steal.

http://www.nytimes.com/2009/09/07/technology/07kindle.html?ref=technology

Anonymous said...

wonder if you could of turned on the AT&T launches child locator service?

Dan said...

It is worth mentioning that Sprint offers a Total Equipment Protection program for ALL their phones, even their top-of-the-line Palm Pre. Had this happened under Sprint, you would have been assessed a $100 deductible.

It's ludicrous that neither AT&T or Apple offer this for their customers.

Anonymous said...

When my son's dorm room was broken into, we tried to use the purchase protection from our credit card to recover cost of a new 60Gb ipod classic. After more than 11 months of hassle, the purchase protection was still unresolved; the underlying insurance company was demanding a statement from the credit card company showing only the purchases made for that "virtual account number" (which we usually use for any online purchases). The virtual account numbers, however, are generated for a single use, and simply shown on the line following the transaction on the regular credit card statement.

The surprising happy ending occurred when the credit card company issued a credit, saying we shouldn't have to put up with this kind of nonsense with the credit insurance company.

Expect a lot of hassle if you try to make a claim.

dining_phil said...

As a new iphone user I signed up for Mobile Me.

It does allow you to wipe the phone remotely of personal information and locate it on a map. There's a sixty day trial. The Apple store looks very suspiciously at any wiped phone, checking the original serial numbers, purchaser, etc.

Here's my IT security suggestion for the next one. Use the Apple corporate config tool, and set a security policy, including password reset, and server access.

There's also app called Undercover for iphone recovery.

pdaguy said...

Check out Safeware insurance. I see that they now insure iPhones. I think it is around $82 per year.
http://www.insuremyiphone.com

Yuliya said...

One option is to add a line of service for $10/month, sign a new contract for 2 years, and get a 3GS 16GB for $199 (or new and refurbished 3G for a lower price - $50 for 3G 8G refurb). You will want to put the number from you lost/stolen baby on to the new line and get a new number for the additional line. You CAN have a family plan for 450 mins, even though they tell you that 550 is min. Also, to get rid of paying for the data plan for both lines (since you now have iphones listed on both, and data plans are mandatory for them), you will have to buy a $30 prepaid (cheapest) phone from AT&T to be listed as the equipment on the line with no data plan. Or, you could bring really ANY AT&T phone working or not working in to put as the equipment for the non data plan line. I just completed this procedure so I know that all of this is possible but will take lots of arguing and a call to the "I want to close my account" line.

Yuliya said...

One option is to add a line of service for $10/month, sign a new contract for 2 years, and get a 3GS 16GB for $199 (or new and refurbished 3G for a lower price - $50 for 3G 8G refurb). You will want to put the number from you lost/stolen baby on to the new line and get a new number for the additional line. You CAN have a family plan for 450 mins, even though they tell you that 550 is min. Also, to get rid of paying for the data plan for both lines (since you now have iphones listed on both, and data plans are mandatory for them), you will have to buy a $30 prepaid (cheapest) phone from AT&T to be listed as the equipment on the line with no data plan. Or, you could bring really ANY AT&T phone working or not working in to put as the equipment for the non data plan line. I just completed this procedure so I know that all of this is possible but will take lots of arguing and a call to the "I want to close my account" line.

Anonymous said...

Hi! I just wanted to thank you for this post. I had my brand new iPhone 4s stolen while I was traveling overseas, and came across this 2009 blog post while I was contemplating how to replace it. I had never heard of purchase protection, but I checked and indeed my credit card company had it! I just received a check in the mail for the amount I paid for the phone, which is only 1/3 of the cost of replacing it since I'm already locked into a 2-year contract, but it's much better than nothing. So thanks very much for the tip!