Did your phone just stop working for no reason at all? Is your phone less than a year old? You might be able to file a warranty claim and get a working phone again.
Manufacture warranties come with the phone when you buy it and are basically a promise by the manufacturer that they will stand behind their product and resolve any issues that the phone experiences that isn’t caused by the user of the device. Not to be confused with insurance, a manufacturer’s warranty does NOT cover physical damage, liquid damage, lost, or stolen devices. It will typically cover software related issues and any known issues that might be common on that specific make and model.
Common or known issues might include bad Trackpads, trackballs, keyboard keys, bad back plates, bad hinge springs (on flip phones), bad volume keys, power issues, or any type of hardware issue that a high number of people might experience during the use of their device. Software issues are probably the most common among manufacturer defects.
So if you’re having issues with your phone the warranty is often the best solution available. How to file a warranty claim can depend a lot on different situations however. The standard warranty involves you contacting the manufacturer of your device and then sending your phone in for repair. Then after they have repaired the unit they send it back to you. The specifics of the exchange depend on the manufacturer as far as shipping times cost of shipping if applicable etc. Usually there is no charge for the repair itself as long as there is no physical damage or liquid damage on the unit. This option ill get to a little more in depth later in the article but it’s not always the preferred solution in some cases.
Some wireless carriers provide a warranty for their customers and will actually send you a replacement phone in the mail, once you get the replacement its often just a base unit, it won’t come with a back, a battery, a SIM card, memory cards, or anything of that nature. You use all of the pieces from your original phone. Then you put the original defective phone in the box that the replacement phone came in and mail the original phone to warehouse and let your wireless provider deal with it. A prepaid return label is usually sent with the replacement.
If you are calling in to file a warranty exchange over the phone then make sure you:
- Don’t call in from the phone in question
- Make sure you have that phone with you because they will most likely need to gather information from the device
- Be prepared to verify who you are. Phone companies can offer to troubleshoot phones without verifying who you are but they will not be able to replace the unit for you without making sure you’re the proper owner of the phone.
- Call when you have at least 30 minutes of free time, because they are most likely going to want to troubleshoot and try and fix the phone first. They WILL NOT just say “ok let me over night you a phone”. Also believe it or not most phone issues can be fixed with proper troubleshooting. Might sound like a hassle but this is actually the best option, if you can fix your phone then you won’t have to wait for a replacement and you keep your original instead of getting sent a refurbished unit.
- A minor thing you also might want to consider, if you have poor eyesight, is to have a magnifying glass available. The numbers on the back of the phone can be extremely small to read and they’ll need you to read numbers from the phone to process an exchange. Depending on what the issue is though might affect how they gather the info they require for example if the phone is responsive the representative might ask you to type *#06# into the dialer, as though your dialing a telephone number, and the IMEI should just pop right up (more cool star codes for mobile phones), or if the phone isn’t powering on its going to be printed on the phone somewhere.
Listed below are some of the best options available depending on the wireless provider in which you use for your service. I’ll list the best contact information and basic warranty procedure for the most of the common ones.
AT&T WSC (Warranty Service Center) Direct Telephone number is 1-800-801-1101 and is the fasted way to get in contact with a warranty specialist, but you can also dial 611 on an AT&T phone or 1-800-331-0500 and ask to be transferred to the warranty department. Depending on where you live will depend on if you can go into an actual physical location and do an exchange in person. You will NOT be able to just walk into any AT&T store and get your device exchanged. It’s got to be a special location called a DSC (Device Support Center); you can read more about possible in person exchanges and DSC’s here.
AT&T has a pretty decent warranty program, and is the provider I am the most familiar with. First if you want to save a lot of time on the call and possibly avoid the call all together you’ll want to make sure you fully backup your phone and perform a master reset on the device and wipe everything from it. If you have an Android phone you can read more about doing that here. It’s what they have most customers do which actually fixes most phone issues.
Basically you call in, they ask you some questions to make sure they understand the issue, they try and fix it and if they can’t, they check your warranty by checking your LDI (Liquid Damage Indicator), ask you about possible physical damage, grab your IMEI, and if your still under warranty they replace the phone.
The exchange is pretty simplistic. They read some terms and conditions which basically state that when you receive the replacement you have a certain amount of days to send your original phone back to ATT and that the warranty doesn’t cover liquid or physical damage. If you send your phone in and it has liquid or physical damage, or if you didn’t send a phone back to AT&T and kept them both then they charge you a pretty steep processing fee. Otherwise they offer standard shipping for free which can take 4-6 business day to arrive, or Priority shipping that can take 1-2 business days for a charge of $14.95 which gets applied to your monthly bill.
All phones sent through the AT&T warranty program and Asurion, the third party insurance provider that AT&T uses, are refurbished phones. These Refurbished phones are in like-new condition and are tested before being sent out so they should look new and work fine. Other than that there are really no hidden charges or any charges for the exchange itself.
The replacement you receive will also keep the warranty period of your original phone, or 90 days from the receipt of the replacement device. You do NOT get another one year warranty with the replacement phone (if you file an Insurance claim through Asurion then you will get a one year warranty with that replacement phone but that’s on an insurance claim not a warranty claim so you would have to pay a deductable, which I personally don’t recommend).
They send you a replacement in the mail, just a base unit, and when you get the replacement you take the pieces off of the original and put those pieces onto the replacement, put your original device inside the box in which the replacement came in, put the return shipping label that came inside the box with the replacement onto the outside of the box, and mail the device back to ATT. Pretty easy and best yet unless you chose priority shipping doesn’t cost you a dime.
1-866-406-5154 is the number you can call when having issues with a Verizon mobile phone. Verizon’s Warranty process is a lot like the AT&T warranty. Phones sent out are “Certified Like-New Replacement’s” aka refurbished, you have to troubleshoot, answer questions, and provide information for the rep taking the call. Best of all there is no cost for the replacement or replacement process itself.
T-Mobiles warranty program isn’t as appealing as AT&T and Verizon’s warranty programs. They basically refer you to the manufacture of the device in question. They can “assist you by providing you with a replacement phone and submitting your phone to the manufacturer for you”, kind of like the previously mentioned wireless providers but they charge you $20 to do so. Still, I suppose it’s better than being without a phone for weeks while you mail the defective unit in and then have the manufacture repair it and then wait for it to be mailed it back to you. Remember even though you might not have a working cell phone you’ll still have to pay your monthly cell phone bill. Contracts can really mess you up sometimes when it comes to wireless carriers. 611 from another T-Mobile phone or 1-877-453-1304 will get you in contact with a T-Mobile Customer Care representative.
Sprint doesn’t really have a mobile phone warranty replacement program. You can hop on over to www.sprintstorelocator.com/ to locate a store in your area that might do repairs. They are usually pretty friendly, at least the few that I have been into, and will take a look at the device to see if they can get it working correctly. If it needs to be repaired or replaced then there is usually a fee. If you pay the monthly fee and have Total Equipment Protection (TEP) or the Equipment Service & Repair Program (ESRP) with Sprint then they will repair it for free, as long as it doesn’t have physical or liquid damage. If you’re not enrolled in any of their protection programs you can still take it in to get fixed but it cost $35.00 per-incident to repair the device.
Cricket is similar to T-Mobiles Warranty in regards to the $20 non-refundable fee they charge to exchange you’re device as long as it’s still within the manufacturer’s warranty guidelines. You can leave your defective phone at a Cricket store and contact them periodically to check on the status of your phone. If the device needs to be replaced then Cricket also replaces the unit with a refurbished device. If you chose to return your device directly to the manufacturer Cricket can temporarily suspend your service for you.
Virgin Mobile’s Warranty
Almost the exact same as AT&T’s warranty program except you have 15 days to send back your original defective unit instead of 14 days. No charge, if the phone is still under warranty and you will have to talk to a Virgin Mobile Customer Support representative who you can call at 1.800.505.3565. They ask some questions, to make sure you are still under warranty, if the device needs replacing then they will send you a refurbished phone in the mail along with a prepaid return shipping label to mail back the malfunctioning device.
Retail Location’s Warranty
Some retail locations will try and sale you their own protection plan for a one time upfront payment, or a monthly fee. Make sure that you know what you are signing and actually read the actual agreement in writing, hardly anyone does this, and a store representative can most certainly use it against you later if you’re trying to file a claim and suddenly your phones not covered for that issue. In my experience store reps are notorious for giving customers incorrect information, if you don’t see it in writing then don’t depend on what they are assuring. And when they say “they’ll replace it with a new phone” they might not mean a brand new phone right out of the box, they might just mean new to you. So keep that in mind because most warranties will replace your phone for a refurbished, rebuilt, reconditioned, aka used phone, probably one that was experiencing problems before, was “repaired” and sent back out for exchanges or to be sold again. Not necessarily a bad thing, they supposedly test phones before re-distributing them again, but just keep that in mind.
Also an important thing to consider is that if you have purchased protection from the store to use that protection first. If you do a replacement on your phone with the manufacture or wireless provider and then try to take that phone into the store or retail location for an exchange then they can say “sorry, this isn’t the phone you bought from us and isn’t the one insured”. Each phone has a unique number and can be shown to be a different phone.
As mentioned earlier in this post, when you buy a new phone this is the warranty that comes on the unit, you don’t pay a penny extra for it. If you bought a refurbished phone and that phone only came with a 90 day warranty and you’ve owned it for more than 90 days, or if the make and model of the phone hasn’t even been out a year yet then you just might qualify for this warranty. Filing a claim directly with the manufacturer isn’t always the most preferred method or the most pleasant way of filing a warranty claim for a few reasons. I have spoken with a warranty representative from every major cell phone manufacturer of phones sold in the USA multiple times and not once hung up smiling and satisfied with the results.
- 95% or more, it would seem, are not native English speakers. Which isn’t a bad thing in most cases but there is often a language barrier that can creep up and cause some miscommunication and frustration.
- Most of these representatives don’t know how to fix phones. I can attest to this myself. Major wireless providers, and any big corporation for that matter, will contract out the responsibility of troubleshooting equipment overseas or sometimes, if you’re lucky, the US. They have the contractor give their new employees a brief 2 week course on why their wireless company is the best, they have 2 weeks of training sitting next to someone else who is taking calls during which time the new employee tries to watch and learn how to fix common phone issues, then they’re on the floor taking calls solo trying to actually fix problems and have no idea what they are doing. As far as the caller (you) are aware, the person you’re talking to knows what they are doing. So they ask you some questions, load up on their computer how to reset the phone, walk you through it, test it, and if it doesn’t work they offer to allow you to send your phone in for repair. If your phone could have been fixed through troubleshooting then this costs you a lot of extra work that could have been avoided.
- You have to send it in for repair, which means that you can be without your phone for weeks. True this is an acceptable option in some circumstances because you can often just use your SIM card in an older phone or prepaid phone while you wait, but it can still be a major inconvenience.
- Sometimes the phones come back in worse shape than when you sent it in. I’ll let you use your imagination on this one because I could write a whole new post on how frustrating this could be.
These are just a few of the many reasons I try to avoid having to file a claim directly with the manufacturer. It’s not terrible, and the issues above don’t happen in every situation, it’s just not what I prefer, and I suppose it is their warranty to begin with. In any case, if you need to contact the manufacture directly for a warranty issue, then I have listed the contact information for many of the popular ones below.
- Apple iPhone Warranty: 800-694-7466
- Samsung Warranty: 888-987-4357
- HTC Smartphone and Tablet Warranty: 866-449-8358
- Pantech Warranty: 800-962-8622
- LG Warranty: 800-793-8896
- Motorola Warranty: 800-331-6456
- Nokia Warranty: 888-665-4228
- RIM (Blackberry) Warranty: 877-255-2377
- Sony Ericsson Warranty: 866-766-9374
- Palm/HP Warranty: 877-426-3777
- Sharp Warranty: 800-237-4277
Some useful tips and information to remember about warranty
- Check your LDI (Liquid Damage Indicator) when you receive any replacement or purchase any new phone. If it’s activated call whoever sent it to you so you can send it back. You don’t want to be OOW (Out Of Warranty) when you need it, only because they sent you a phone showing liquid damage. This is very important and the 30 seconds it takes you to check can save you literally hundreds of dollars.
- Remember that your battery and charger should be covered under the manufacturer’s warranty along with your phone.
- Try the phone out for the length of the return grace period before returning the original defective unit. For example, if you have 14 days to return your phone after getting a replacement, use those 14 days to test the replacement and make sure it’s working correctly. Yes they are tested before being sent to you, BUT when it rains it pours and Murphy's Law states that “Anything that can go wrong will go wrong" so good tip to save you some possible frustration.
- In partial relation to the above suggestion, wait while you are trying the replacement before adding a screen protector to it. If you go to Zagg.com and get one of their amazing screen protectors, put it on your phone and two days later have to send back the replacement. You might be able to salvage the screen protector but it’s not designed to be removed and re-applied multiple times and is going to be a frustrating situation.
- When you get a replacement phone or a new phone for that matter, check the headset jack to make sure it’s working correctly! Most people don’t and miss the chance to return their phone under a buyer’s remorse claim. This is something often overlooked.
- When purchasing a new phone read the warranty that comes with that phone if you can, if you sign something then you can be held accountable for doing so. “No one reads those terms and conditions anyway” is not going to be a very strong excuse in any defense. Use your contract in your favor; don’t have it used against you. I have a list of a few warranty policies from manufacturers listed here, but when purchasing a phone you can ask for the most current terms for your situation.
You don’t have to take my word for it:
AT&T Warranty Program and Policies: http://www.att.com/esupport/article.jsp?cv=820&sid=KB64687#fbid=rSA_eMaQgWY
Verizon Warranty Program and Policies: http://support.verizonwireless.com/information/device_replacement_program.html
T-Mobile Warranty Program and Policies: http://support.t-mobile.com/docs/DOC-2624
Sprint Warranty Program and Policies: http://www.sprintstorelocator.com/locator/repairflyer.pdf
Cricket Warranty Program and Policies: http://www.mycricket.com/support/topic/credit-refund-warranty-and-rebate...
Virgin Mobile’s Warranty Program and Policies: http://www.virginmobileusa.com/help-support/phone-warranty.html
Filing a Warranty Claim is usually your best bet
In conclusion if you have warranty on your phone and it starts misbehaving and you can’t seem to fix it then filing a warranty claim is usually the best and most affordable option so take advantage of it. Don’t forget that physical damage and liquid damage is not covered under warranty and it actually voids the devices warranty. Whether the damage had to do with the issue or not, so make sure you invest in a good case or at the very least a good screen protector. Accidents happen and it’s better to be prepared for when they do.
I hope you found this article informative and helpful, if I have forgotten anything that you think I should add, or if you have any comments don’t hesitate to leave them below. Enjoy your device, and may your phones last for many years to come.