Asurion. They suck.

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A long time ago, in a land far away (Georgia) I finally decided after years of resistance to purchase a cellular telephonic device. I resisted because I thought cell phones were faddish with all their cameras and bluetooth and other doo-dads, and I didn't like how it seemed that people bought them for the sole purpose of making themselves look better and/or cooler (picture yourself in the late 90's). So when I got a girlfriend, I quickly realized that having a cell phone might actually be useful.

Off to the mall we went in hope to find the phone of my dreams. I didn't want a camera or anything... I just wanted a good phone, something that I would not regret buying. I decided on Verizon as the carrier for many reasons, namely that they have (and still have) the best coverage... and at the time, my work used Verizon service... and Verizon to Verizon was free.

I settled on the Motorola V710... Even though it had a camera, it came with many other features like an external memory slot, mp3 playing capability (and the ability to make any mp3 under 30 seconds a ring tone), and a really loud speaker. With the plan it was $200, but if I were to purchase it alone, it would be $399. They offered me insurance at $4.99 a month, that if I lost the phone then all I would need to do is pay a $50 deductible and then *BAM* I have a new phone... Just that easy. Since I never had a cell phone before, and wasn't used to carrying one around, I was very scared that I would lose it. I decided to pick up the insurance plan because $399 (plus tax) was a lot of money. I bought the phone December of 2000. The price for the insurance went up to $5.99 a month in February of 2001.

As time went on, I grew to love my V710. It would get reception where other phones wouldn't. I found that I had the capability of switching networks manually (I could put it in analog-only mode). It was weighty, so I always knew when I did or didn't have it in my pocket. I also found that it remembered tons of text messages, and the last 90 of each incoming, and outgoing calls (most phones were limited to 30 for both total at the time). I dropped it countless times from significant heights and the phone kept on ticking... bumped, dented, and bruised.

Five years passed. The insurance was now $6.99 a month (don't know when it changed... just noticed it on my phone bill one day). The protective ring around the camera was completely gone (the camera still worked... just a lot of dirt would get in there and it looked like crap). The battery was now at the point where it needed to be charged every day. It was time to use my insurance. My Asurion insurance. It didn't take much thought to realize that by this time, I had spent more on the insurance that I would have if I'd bought a new phone at the day of purchase... I called them up and told them my minor problems and they were happy to send me a replacement (after I paid them another $50 as the deductible).

Two days later I got the replacement phone. It came with a padded envelope, postage paid to ship them my old phone... After getting the phone book transferred, I took a last picture of the phone that served me so well, put on a frowny face, sealed it in the envelope, and shipped it to Asurion.

Bye bye, phone.

My old Motorola v710

It didn't take long for me to realize that the phone they sent me wasn't new. When I initially signed up with them, they told me they'd replace all phones with new ones. When I called them, the woman on the phone said it might be a refurbished phone and there was no way to guarantee that I'd get a new phone because the V710 was no longer being made. Fair enough. As long as it works.

The first thing I noticed (other than it being not new) was that the rubber flap that covers the external memory slot and the headset port was very flexible and loose. Almost like it was made of the same plastic as a Zip Lock bag. The second thing I noticed was that the phone casing didn't quite line up right, and would squeak-grumble if you squeezed it. In addition to that, (as time went on) I noticed that the light on the screen wouldn't go out when the phone was closed, like my last one. Also, the most annoying of all, when you closed the phone, the battery would dislodge for a split second, thereby resetting the phone. I ended up folding up a piece of paper and sticking it in the battery compartment to prevent this from happening (and this misaligned the plastic even more).

All this is still okay with me... I'm not happy, but I'm not unhappy either.

The first thing to go was the rubber pillows that keep the phone from closing hard. This negated my folded-paper fix and made certain that the battery was dislodged every single time, unless I was super careful when I closed the phone (required two hands). Not a big enough deal to go through the whole number transfer and rigmarole of getting a new phone... so I kept quiet. The second thing to go was the nub that you pull on to pull the antenna out. That's okay, I can still get my fingernail in there and pull the antenna out. I kept quiet.

Then, static started happening during conversations. Initially I assumed it was the other person... but then it got really really bad and consistent with every phone call... In an attempt to fix it, I took the back of the phone off and noticed that the antenna was completely out of the conductive collar when it was pulled out. Somehow, the collar had cracked and hooked onto the mount clip and the antenna was completely out of it. I would say that this was the cause of the static, but nothing I did with it would make the static go away... [UPDATE: I got a new (used) V710 and found that the collar was the same way on the working phone... So, even though it looks bad, the antenna not touching anything is perfectly normal when pulled out partially.]

Defective Asurion Replacement
Click image to get super larger one.

Finally, less than two months after receiving the phone (I bet you thought it was longer, didn't you?) I broke down and called Asurion for a replacement. The phone was defective, and still under warranty. The first lady was very nice and accommodating. She apologized for the inconvenience, etc., etc. making me feel like I was glad I bought the insurance. But then she asked for my credit card number so they could charge me for another deductible. (WHOA WHOA WHOA!) I reiterated to the lady that the phone was defective, and needed to be replaced for free, under warranty. She connected me to her manager. The manager was friendly, but very firm in that since there were parts broken on the phone then it could not be covered under warranty. I was in disbelief. I explained as clearly as I could that the parts that broke, broke under normal use and I in no way neglected the phone. I also explained that I had been paying every month for four years without making a claim. She argued with me saying it had only been three years (it turns out by that point it had actually been five years).

The manager apologized for the inconvenience (again), and asked if I still wanted a replacement... For $50. She offered similar phones that were not the v710 that I could try my luck with. I declined and hung up. The very next thing I did, was call Verizon and cancel the recurring payment to Asurion. What a racket... Send people complete pieces of crap, only to turn around and charge them $50 to replace it.

On eBay - do you know how much a brand new v710 cost at the time? $50.

So for me, this was a hard lesson learned, and I hope you learned from it too. Cell phone insurance is pointless. By the time you need it, you can buy your phone from eBay for the same price as the deductible (and definitely even less if you take into account your $7 a month)... And even if not you can probably get a better phone from your service provider for the same price (with an extension of your contract).

And here is where it turns into
a rant about Verizon's phone software.
(Completely unintentional.)

I went to the Verizon store and asked the friendly representative what phone most closely resembles the v710, and he pointed out to me the Motorola K1m KRAZR. It is pretty much a piece of crap... Not necessarily the phone itself, but more because sometime over the last few years, Verizon decided to use their own software on the phones instead of the software that Motorola installs on them. Comparatively, Verizon sucks at cell phone software development, especially where text messaging is concerned.

Text messaging issues... Motorola's software remembered custom words. If you were to type out "YAAAAAY" one time, the next time you typed "YA", "YAAAAAY" would appear (and you'd hit right to complete the word). This was also true for ":)" and ":(". Not only that, but you had a choice... a word selection section at the bottom of the screen that you could scroll through and select, so that if you typed ":" you would see at the bottom ":) :( :D" (assuming you had already used them in a previous text message, as they do not appear on default). They would even appear in the order that you most used them in. Verizon's software doesn't remember anything you type. It is a huge pain in the ass to use. The auto-word generator doesn't use apostrophes, so if you want to type "don't" you need to type "3, 6, 6, iTapEN, 6 (for "Symbols), 9 (for the apostrophe), 8", whereas with Motorola's software you just need to type "3, 6" and then "don't" appears on the bottom of the screen and you select it. There is also no way to capitalize the first letter in mid-sentence without going through the menu. Motorola had a separate button for capitalization that didn't care what typing mode you were using. It was the asterisk key, and if you hit it once, it would automatically capitalize the next letter you typed, and then immediately go to lower case after that, until you added a period. Well, Verizon has Abc mode, but it only capitalizes after you use a period. So if you wanted to type someone's name you would have to go into "all caps" mode *just* for the first letter of their last name, and then go back to normal Abc mode. It's like trying to tie your shoes with one hand.

Not only that! But there is no apostrophe to select with the 1 key. It isn't there. You have to go through the detailed menu (iTAPen, Symbols, 9) to use the apostrophe. What makes it even more retarded is that the ` key appears when you use the 1 to scroll through other characters. It's almost like someone who has no understanding of English wrote this software. ... Dwell on that for a bit.

Interface bugs... When someone calls me and leaves me a voice mail, upon opening the phone I have a message "1 New Voicemail" and the options of "Listen Now" and "Listen Later". If you choose "Listen Now", it doesn't let you "Listen Now", but instead gives you another message. "1 Missed Call", with the options of "View Now" or "View Later". If you choose "View Now" then it will allow you to view the missed call, but you never get to listen to your voice mail. Why do they even bother asking me if I want to Listen Now if they won't let me?

Motorola had an address book feature, where you could organize different names into different categories... as many categories as you wanted. Scroll through them with the * and # keys. When I needed to call my girlfriend (now wife), I would hit the Phone book hotkey, *, and then the call button, because she was at the top of the list. Verizon has no such feature. Instead you get one big bloated contact list to scroll through. You can type the name out (just like a *shudder* text message) and get to who you want to call that way... but that's just annoying.

Finally, a minor issue with the main menu. There are no number keys that correspond with the top five tabs. I hate hitting the left and right arrows on the phone because the buttons are very close together, and aren't raised at all. I always inadvertently hit another button in the process, and the only way to avoid it is to use my fingernail. The number keys are slightly bigger than the buttons at the top, and if I could navigate the menu using only that I would not have typed this paragraph.

The worst part about Verizon's software, is that there's no apparent fix for it. I've played with newer Verizon phones and many of these issues seem to have gone away in newer software versions, but no one at the Verizon stores knows how to update the software on a phone. I've tried the "*228" thing but that doesn't make anything different. Bastards. I should have just cancelled the insurance and kept my original v710. There's always the option of getting another one on eBay... I may actually take the plunge one of these days (they're down to $30 now...)

This concludes my Asurion Sucks/Verizon Phone Software Sucks page. I hope you found it useful. Thank you for making it all the way down here.

This page of course, is not approved, endorsed, or associated with the Asurion corporation.