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Why Phone Stores Should Stockpile Replacements

Soulskill posted about 5 months ago | from the easier-than-having-mcdonalds-stock-replacements dept.

Cellphones 253

Bennett Haselton writes: I would be in favor of a regulation requiring cell phone stores to have replacement phones on hand, for any phone model covered by a customer's insurance policy. Then customers who have insurance protection on their phones could get the damaged phones replaced instantly, and the replacement phones that are normally mailed out by overnight mail to customers under their protection plan, could instead be mailed to the stores to replace the one they just gave out to the customer. Read on for the rest of Bennett's thoughts

My phone got wet. It wasn't a warranty issue, since it was my fault. (Well, it would be more accurate to say that it wasn't the manufacturer's fault. I was going through the Ballard Locks with some friends in a river raft that we were paddling. But taking my phone on the raft wasn't the stupid part; I had it sealed in a zippable plastic bag. But on the way back through the locks, some jerks in a rental yacht pulled up to the raft, started chatting, and then suddenly urged us to get on board and get our raft into the yacht very urgently, making me think it was an emergency and causing me to lose track of my phone. As I dug the soaked phone out of my pocket once we were all on board the yacht, we later determined that the "emergency" was that the jerks were trying to get the three women in bikinis on board their boat.)

So I gave the T-Mobile store rep an abbreviated version of this story the next day, and he said that after I paid the $90 deductible under the phone insurance policy, I could get a new phone mailed out to me by overnight mail. As much as the phone itself sucked, I really wanted a working one again, so since I could see the same model in boxes on the wall, I asked why I couldn't just take one of those, since the insurance policy entitled me to a replacement. He said it was because to save costs, their insurance provider sometimes sent out refurbished phones as replacements under the insurance policy, which are worth less because they can't be sold new.

Well, that's fair. Presumably it really does keep costs down to use refurbished phones as replacements, and while not every cost savings gets passed on to the consumer, it doesn't hurt. Then I asked if I could "borrow" one of the in-store models by buying it and using it until the replacement phone arrived the next day, then returning the borrowed phone to the store under their 14-day return policy? No, he said, at least not without paying the $50 re-stocking fee. (In hindsight I probably should have paid that for the ability to start using my phone again, but it's one of those fees that grates on you not because you can't afford it, but because you're disgusted at having to pay it.)

But, that's still fair. Restocking a phone costs money too. But -- but -- why don't they just keep a stockpile of phones in a cardboard box in the back -- the crummy "refurbished" ones that can't be sold new -- and use those to satisfy customers' insurance claims? Then customers who file a claim could walk out of the store with a replacement phone, the same model they'd always been used to, and the insurance company could mail the replacement phone to the store, to replace the one that was handed out to the customer.

They would only have to have one replacement model of each phone that had been sold recently enough to consumers to still be covered under a replacement insurance plan. That still probably wouldn't take up more space than what you could fit into a medium cardboard box. Perhaps more popular models of phones could have multiple stand-by replacement models in the store, since it would be more likely for two people to walk in on the same day looking for replacements for that phone model -- and once the replacement phones get mailed out by the insurance company, the store's supply of replacements gets replenished anyway. If the store is really unlucky, and four people walk in on the same day making warranty claims on a phone model, when the store's policy was to only carry three of that model in stock, there would be no reason to penalize the store, as long as they made a reasonable effort to have enough replacement phones in stock to handle the normal rate of insurance claims.

For that matter, you wouldn't even have to have the replacement phones all in stock at the same store. One store could serve as the "replacement supplier" for all of that carrier's retail stores in, say, a 20-minute driving radius. So when I make my warranty claim at the initial store, they can tell me to drive 20 minutes and pick up a new phone. That would have been much preferable to waiting another day.

Also, if the customer's replacement phone gets given to me instantly and then the replacement from the insurance provider gets mailed to the store to replenish the one they just gave out, there's no particular reason it would have to be sent out by overnight mail. That would bring down the cost of handling the claim, which might be passed on to the consumer in the form of a lower insurance deductible or lower overall fees (again with the optimism, but lowering costs means the savings will be passed on to somebody, even if only to the shareholders of the cell phone carrier). The more of that phone model they have in stock at the store, the more slowly and cheaply the replacement phone can be mailed out, since you only need to make sure that the store's supply of that model never hits zero. So the optimal solution would involve weighing the cost of storing two or three of a particular phone (versus just one) versus the cost savings of the slower mailing method.

This is a simple (and very first-world) problem and a modest fix, but the larger point is that there's no reason to think that the free market necessarily arrives at the most cost-effective solution in situations like this. Companies compete on cost-effectiveness in arenas that are highly visible to the consumer and likely to factor into their purchasing decisions -- the highest-megapixel camera for the lowest price, for example -- but few customers at purchase time are likely to ask about the insurance claim process (and probably very few people ask how quickly a phone gets replaced when a user files a claim). As such, we're lucky that the insurance provider sends out the replacement phone by overnight mail at all, when they could presumably mail it out by 3- or 4-day mail instead, and no free market forces or government truth-in-labeling enforcers would probably penalize them for that. But an in-store-replacement rule (or a replacement-from-some-store-within-a-20-minute-drive rule) would benefit customers more and, with the savings on the mailing speed for the replacements, possibly cost the carrier less. (Even if it did cost the carrier more to carry a small box of in-store replacements in the back room, and even if that cost did get passed on to customers, I'd consider myself ahead on the deal if it meant I'd never be without a replacement phone for more than a day.)

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Quick (5, Insightful)

qbast (1265706) | about 5 months ago | (#47816303)

... legislate away my every inconvenience.

Agree 100% (5, Insightful)

brunes69 (86786) | about 5 months ago | (#47816351)

This article is foolish. I could write the same diatribe for any object under warranty.

Car dealerships should be required to keep an inventory for every model on-hand in case my car needs to go in for warranty service for an extended period.

Home Depot should be required to keep a loaner inventory for every power tool in case I need to ship mine away for warranty service

Best Buy should be required to keep a a loaner inventory for every refrigerator model...

etc etc...

You should count yourself lucky that most cell shops offer you a free loaner phone AT ALL, because they are under no obligation to, and some do not without a fee.

Re:Agree 100% (1)

wisnoskij (1206448) | about 5 months ago | (#47816597)

I was more surprised with the free overnight delivery and warranty covering accidents.

Re:Agree 100% (4, Informative)

hawguy (1600213) | about 5 months ago | (#47816725)

I was more surprised with the free overnight delivery and warranty covering accidents.

It wasn't replaced under warranty, it was replaced under a carrier provided insurance plan -- a plan that usually costs around $100/year, yet still has a high deductible. I once bought the insurance, but when I lost my phone about a year into the contract, i found that I could get a used one on eBay for less than the deductible. If you lose or break a new model phone within the few months of release, it may be worth it, but after that, you're generally better off just buying a new phone if you lose yours.

Re:Agree 100% (1)

dotancohen (1015143) | about 5 months ago | (#47816625)

Car dealerships should be required to keep an inventory for every model on-hand in case my car needs to go in for warranty service for an extended period.

Actually, in my country (Israel) this _is_ law. All car dealerships have associated garages that must supply seven years worth expected spare parts for all new vehicles, including non-wear parts such as body parts, and to maintain that stock. I'm not sure about how the details pan out for older vehicles, but it ensures that the company cannot just up and leave us without any parts.

Re:Agree 100% (4, Informative)

brunes69 (86786) | about 5 months ago | (#47816661)

Having spare parts on hand has nothing to do with providing loaner vehicles while the car is under repair whatsoever. This (silly) article is about loaner phones, the analaogy is therefore loaner vehicles. It is common practice for dealerships to give you a loaner vehicle if your car will be in the shop for multiple days, but the loaner is just a random vehicle, not the exact same type. Just like this guys loaner phone was not the same type.

Re:Agree 100% (2)

Col. Klink (retired) (11632) | about 5 months ago | (#47816917)

The thermopile on my 16 month old hot water heater broke down on a Friday morning. The parts are still under warranty, but not labor.

I called Sears service (the warranter), told them the diagnostic code indicated the exact problem, and scheduled service (earliest available was Saturday). The tech arrived, looked at the same double-blink light pattern that I saw, and agreed that the thermopile needed to be replaced. He didn't, however, carry that part on his truck, so he had to "overnight" order it.

An "overnight" order on Saturday actually means it gets ordered on Monday and delivered on Tuesday. They ship it directly to the customer's home, which means they won't schedule the next appointment until after I call to confirm that the part has arrived. They won't come on the same day, so essentially "overnight" on Saturday means we'll see you in some 5-hour window on Wednesday.

I know I'll never order from Sears again (other service companies carry parts on their trucks), but I hadn't thought of just making it illegal to provide bad service...

Re:Agree 100% (1)

GuB-42 (2483988) | about 5 months ago | (#47816933)

The difference is that phones are small and you only need to stock a dozen models to serve most clients.

And while there is no obligation to do so, it may bring a lot of good publicity. Especially now that brick and mortar shops have to compete with online resellers. In fact, the ability to walk in and leave with your item is probably the number one reason they still exist.

Psychologically, immediate response is extremely important. If you want a good example of a company fully understanding this principle, just look at Apple stores. You can get your new shiny gadget the day of its announcement, they are always stocked, there is always someone available for you and beside the stupid launch day queues you can walk in and a minute later you leave with an iPhone in one pocket a very light wallet in the other. And of course, they do stockpile replacements.

Re:Quick (2)

Rockoon (1252108) | about 5 months ago | (#47816355)

Insurance companies should keep spare houses on hand for when my house burns down. I dont want to wait.

Re:Quick (2)

swb (14022) | about 5 months ago | (#47816653)

A lot of insurance policies do cover temporary housing, and it wouldn't surprise me if they do maintain "inventory" in the form of preferential arrangements with hotels, especially the extended stay kind.

Re:Quick (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#47816415)

that reminds me!

i got a stiff wire brush. one of them really rough scratchey ones thatll take the crome off of a bumper no problem. i took it and i vigorously scrubbed and chafed the underside of my cock. hard. the brushing action and my cock that is. took off the first layer or two of skin and got it all raw and red and bloody looking. then soaked it in rubbin alcohol.

now my cock dont get hard no more.

Re:Quick (5, Insightful)

u38cg (607297) | about 5 months ago | (#47816457)

Why in the name of Goodness does this inane stream-of-consciousness rambling get published here? And more to the point, why can't he be given an auther ID so we can filter his nonsense out?

To keep this vaguely on topic, the answer is efficiency. If that's not good enough for you, fuck off and run a retail store until you have a clue.

Re:Quick (4, Interesting)

qbast (1265706) | about 5 months ago | (#47816645)

All that ranting just because he could not get new phone *immediately*. What is wrong with this guy?

Re:Quick (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#47816747)

he's a whiny little prick and he wants everyone to know how long he had to wait because some guys got his phone wet. sad really.

Re:Quick (1)

ericloewe (2129490) | about 5 months ago | (#47816811)

It's not even a new phone, it's a crummy old phone.

Re:Quick (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#47816935)

He's a liberal. Using the Government's guns to enforce their gib-me-dat-now culture of immediate gratification and forcing others to absorb all of their expenses is what they dream about.

Re:Quick (4, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#47816553)

I agree.

It it so dumb that people think about only the cost to them and ask for regulations from the government to make life easier. They choose to ship replacement overnight because that is more cost effective then keeping a pile of refurbished phones in stock in every store.

How dose a stupid article like this make front page?

Just Buy an iPhone (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#47816723)

Oh, the guy was too cheap to buy an iPhone with AppleCare and thus the ability to get this kind of service. So he wants to mandate Apple level services. Then he'll complain about Apple level prices.

Re:Quick (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#47816879)

Fucking Bennett. Such an entitled twat, why do we all get his rants on the front page... unfilterable...

Re:Quick (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#47816951)

QUICK! Suck on Ayn Rand's Penis!

wot? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#47816307)

Was I supposed to read that?

Awww (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#47816323)

Did someone just break their phone???

I'm in favor of a free vacation for Bennett (0)

CajunArson (465943) | about 5 months ago | (#47816325)

That's right, we can send Bennett over to our friends at ISIS and he can give them annoyling irrelevant advice about the exact type of eco-aware synthetic materials that they should use in their head-chopping knife scabbards. If we're lucky, they'll chop their own heads off in sheer frustration after they're done with him, and we'll kill 2 birds with one stone.

Legislation? (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#47816347)

You're in favor of the federal government enacting legislation that would determine how a company runs? We need less government oversight, not more... especially for something as ridiculous as this. If you can't be without your phone overnight, you have some issues. If it's that important.. YOU keep a spare on hand using YOUR money.

Bad Advice (5, Insightful)

PvtVoid (1252388) | about 5 months ago | (#47816353)

Read on for the rest of Bennett's thoughts

This is pretty much always bad advice.

Re:Bad Advice (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#47816423)

soylentnews.org. It's like Slashdot, but better and without Bennett's windbag ramblings.

Re:Bad Advice (1)

jones_supa (887896) | about 5 months ago | (#47816505)

It is not better as it still uses the crusty Slashdot D1 comment engine. One has to load a new page to pop open a comment or to write a reply.

Re:Bad Advice (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#47816703)

It's still crusty, but there's a "+" button in the corner of each post that will expand the thread without reloading the page now. Not quite as slick as Slashdot in that regard, but functional enough. SN also supports UTF. Still waiting on Slashdot to do that.

Besides, I thought the important thing was content.

Re:Bad Advice (1)

bobbied (2522392) | about 5 months ago | (#47816455)

It certainly was this time... Drowns his phone and gripe because it takes too long to replace it? I want my 5 min back...

Re:Bad Advice (1)

NewWorldDan (899800) | about 5 months ago | (#47816623)

His columns aren't always terrible, but this one was particularly dumb. Oh no, I'm so god damn special that I can't wait 2 days to get my phone replaced. If it's that big of a deal, either get better insurance or buy your own spare phone.

Re:Bad Advice (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#47816745)

His columns aren't always terrible

Mods, do the needful.

Re:Bad Advice (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#47816945)

Don't you know.... Bennett Haselton is a excellent ./ troll.

He does it so well, you think it's real. But step back, take a deep breath, and you'll see it's all one big joke just to get people riled up in the comments.

John Katz 2.0.

We need less of these guys. And more PizzaAnalogyGuys.

make money instead (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#47816363)

Instead of involving the state and burdening business with yet another regulation, if such a service is so important, start your own phone insurance service that features just the thing you are wanting.

Re:make money instead (2)

tompaulco (629533) | about 5 months ago | (#47816619)

He can't do that, he would lose money. Which is why nobody does it.
The first thing I though of was that there is no way for one particular store to know that you are that person's store and therefore have to stock the phone that they have insured. So you will have to have at least one of every phone in existence that is currently under an insurance plan. Secondly, you have no way of knowing how many people are going to experience an insurance issue on a given day and come in to get a replacement phone. There are actuarials which could give averages, but the store would need to cover for the worst case, not the average.
Far cheaper for the consumer would be, instead of paying the monthly insurance and ridiculous deductible, just buy a second phone and leave it in the box.

Regulation, regulation, regulation (2, Insightful)

rodrigoandrade (713371) | about 5 months ago | (#47816369)

What's wrong with you people? Can't you take care of your own fucking problems without crying to dad..., er, I mean, government for help???

Get something through your thick skulls: regulation is ALWAYS bad!! But you'll only get once some regulation affects you in a negative way.

Re:Regulation, regulation, regulation (4, Informative)

david_thornley (598059) | about 5 months ago | (#47816539)

Regulation is by no means always bad. The one Bennet proposed is, par for the course.

Very sorry to hear this (4, Insightful)

djbckr (673156) | about 5 months ago | (#47816379)

It troubles me that you were without your phone for a few days. Really... well... NOT. What kind of tripe is this on Slashdot? This is perhaps one of the most whinging pathetic things I've heard in a while. It reminds me of a two-year-old crying over spilt milk.

Apple Stores and Stock on Hand (4, Informative)

Galaga88 (148206) | about 5 months ago | (#47816381)

I'm pretty sure Apple stores have replacement stock on hand. Anytime I've had to get my phone replaced under AppleCare+, I've been able to make my appointment, walk in, and walk out with a (presumably refurbed) new phone from a box in the back. Heck, if the replacement didn't work in the store, they had even more replacements ready to go.

This is probably the result of Apple being able to afford to keep that kind of inventory on hand in their stores. Plus, Apple doesn't exactly have a lot of models of phones. A carrier like T-Mobile or Verizon would have to keep a frankly excessive number of phones on hand for any immediate warranty replacements. (How many Samsung phones are on the market at any given time?)

On the gripping hand, it's not like smartphones are exactly *large* and would take up a lot of space in the backroom so...

I think it'd be a nice customer service perk (and part of the reason I stick with Apple) but not something that needs to be legislated. Do carriers not keep cheap loaners in stock that you can borrow (with a credit card deposit) until your actual replacement shows up?

Re:Apple Stores and Stock on Hand (1)

dugancent (2616577) | about 5 months ago | (#47816427)

Not only that, if they don't have the model you have, they will replace it with a better one. When the Wifi went out on my 16gb 4S, I walked out with a 32gb.

Re:Apple Stores and Stock on Hand (4, Insightful)

david_thornley (598059) | about 5 months ago | (#47816603)

This is the precise way it should be handled, by the market. Apple will replace your phone on the spot, so that's one reason you stay with Apple. For them, it's a competitive advantage that is apparently worth the extra cost.

Bennett wanted his phone replaced on the spot, but neither selected a vendor for that purpose nor was willing to spend $50 extra because he was apparently too stupid to leave the phone in its waterproof bag until he was on land. This is precisely what government regulation isn't for.

Re:Apple Stores and Stock on Hand (1)

Anubis IV (1279820) | about 5 months ago | (#47816959)

Bingo. What he described is not something that needs to be legislated, nor should it be. After all, there's nothing special about the mobile industry, so why wouldn't this extend to microwaves, dishwashers, refrigerators, cars, and other devices under warranty? As soon as we put it in those terms, we realize that it makes little sense to do so, since it's ridiculously expensive to keep stock on-hand in many cases.

As you said, that Apple is able to do so is a competitive advantage that differentiates them, and it's one which is largely afforded them by their slim product line and large stock of units on-hand for selling.

Apple Stores and Stock on Hand (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#47816693)

It's not hard to do for Apple... they have just a handful of models that they still support, 2-3 disk-sizes for each, and maybe a couple of colors. They have to keep loads of them in-stock anyway because they're constantly selling them, and since they're Apple-owned they get replenished at a decent speed.

So only several versions of the phone total and fast to get replenished.

Your local AT&T store would have to worry about dozens of models, with potentially multiple disk-sizes for most of them, often with many colors. Thats a LOT of combinations. Seriously, walk the floor of your local AT&T wireless store... they have as much shelf-space dedicated to phones as the Apple store has for phones + ipods + iPads + MacBooks + iMacs + etc.

Chances are they don't even have all of those combinations in stock, or perhaps just a handful that they would rather sell. Meanwhile it might take longer for them to get replenished from home office so if they did run out of model X then it hurts them because they lost a customer.

Re:Apple Stores and Stock on Hand (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#47816861)

About half of Bennett's "stories" are just petulant whining about how his Android phone isn't as nice a an iPhone.

If his posts weren't so annoying, I'd just assume that this was all stealth advertising for Apple.

Worst Article (2)

wisnoskij (1206448) | about 5 months ago | (#47816403)

This is like the worst article I have seen on /. in a while.

Re:Worst Article (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#47816483)

like the worst article or actually the worst article? that statement makes no sense.

Re:Worst Article (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#47816789)

Well, it's like the last Bennett article within the aforementioned "while", which actually WAS the worst article on slashdot.

There, it still works. Either way, Bennett's too vapid to exist without electronic distraction for two days, and so completely detached from humanity that he advocates making profit off of snuff films. I don't know why the fuck people tolerate him.

Too many "regulations" (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#47816413)

We already have too many "regulations". We need fewer, not more. If a company can get a competitive advantage offering this level of service they will. Let the market take care of itself. We don't need more two bit lawyers at the state house getting involved

No More Bennett (5, Interesting)

gauauu (649169) | about 5 months ago | (#47816419)

Why, slashdot, why, do you let this guy post this nonsense? It almost makes me miss John Katz.

Ok, time for an off-topic side story. Feel free to mod me off-topic, but I can't resist.

My kids (6 years old) came home with a book list of books they were supposed to get from the library and read. One of them was about some Dogs from some farm. So my wife comes home with the book from the library. As I start reading it, I notice the author's name: John Katz. That can't be the same John Katz can it? Turns out, yes. John Katz, after moving on from posting drivel on slashdot, is now writing children's books. And my school district was making my children read them. There's no escape!

So I'm pretty sure, once slashdot finally gets the message that nobody here cares a lick about what Bennett Hassleton thinks, he'll turn up somewhere else equally miserable.

Re:No More Bennett (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#47816509)

I love that in addition to being an admitted spammer, not understanding what spam is, having no idea how the internet works, endorsing buying cheap trivial crap for people for holidays, and who can forget supporting profiteering from snuff films, he also is such a vapid sad little person that he can't live without his cellphone long enough to get one overnighted to himself.

Re:No More Bennett (1)

wisnoskij (1206448) | about 5 months ago | (#47816543)

I am sure that Bennett also believes that the government should enact some legislation forcing school children to read his angry rants.

Re:No More Bennett (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#47816807)

this from wikipedia:

Anti-spam activities

Haselton has won 10 small-claims cases and thousands of dollars in judgments against senders of unwanted e-mail.[10] Haselton has become one of the most well known anti-spam plaintiffs in the United States.[10] Dan Birchall, Executive director of the anti-spam SpamCon Foundation, wrote, "What he's doing definitely has an effect. It raises awareness of the laws that are available."[10]

oh, the irony ...

If it is that urgent, get a second one yourself (3, Insightful)

gweihir (88907) | about 5 months ago | (#47816421)

Really, overnight is fine for most people. However, for the price of an additional phone and some surcharge, I am sure your phone shop will be willing to stockpile one phone just for you. Requiring them to have all insured phones in stock would just drive up insurance prices, even for people that do not need this.

Re:If it is that urgent, get a second one yourself (1)

QuietLagoon (813062) | about 5 months ago | (#47816587)

Mods, please mod up parent.

I'll be honest (4, Insightful)

korbulon (2792438) | about 5 months ago | (#47816431)

I don't even read this guy's posts anymore. I come here for the (mostly deserved) snide comments.

Again, someone remind me why this guy keeps popping on ./

Re:I'll be honest (4, Insightful)

frank_adrian314159 (469671) | about 5 months ago | (#47816631)

someone remind me why this guy keeps popping on ./

He probably pays Dice for the privilege. Or else Slashdot just posts him because he's click-bait, baby. And the more you hate him, the more more you click, and the more Slashdot loves him!

Re:I'll be honest (1)

Lab Rat Jason (2495638) | about 5 months ago | (#47816939)

THIS!!!! Click bait is exactly why they keep posting his crap!

I've been thinking for a while that I'd love to write a Bennet Hasselton parody where I argue in 1200 words why he is such an asset to /. but I can never debase myself to write 1200 words without arriving at a meaningful conclusion.

Yes, it would be nice. (1)

StikyPad (445176) | about 5 months ago | (#47816433)

No, it's never going to happen. It costs money to carry inventory. Stores are not warehouses.

Dear Mr. Hasselton: (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#47816435)

Go away. Please. Nobody cares what you think. You are like Andy Rooney, but the long tedious rants you spew lack his occasional wisdom or warmth. This website has really bad editors or something...

First world problems (1)

wcrowe (94389) | about 5 months ago | (#47816439)

Geez. What a pussy.

Well... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#47816451)

It does give them an opportunity to get you in store again and talking to a customer service / sales guy. They might be able to sell you a different phone, or some bonus kit to go with the replacement when it gets here...

"You'll get your replacement mailed to you overnight Sir. While you're here though maybe you should consider getting this water resistant heavy duty case and screen protector, I had a guy in here just the other day who was saying how good they were for ".

"Maybe you could upgrade to the iPhone 7 with Gorilla Glass X. It's made from mineral lonsdaleite, water resistant and won't scratch or break. You could get that for yourself and give the replacement to your wife. We'll even tie your bills together for you!"

Slashdot, home of the pathetic... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#47816459)

OP, do you still need momma to wipe your ass too?

Jesus, what's happening to this place and our country

More regulation needed (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#47816467)

I agree with Bennett. We need more regulation.

I also think stores should keep a small stockpile of phones because then I would be able to loot the stores and make a grip of money. Or maybe even get a job working at the stores and steal the phones while inside the place.

I could fit a lot of phones in my pockets.

And this is precisely why ... (1)

CaptainDork (3678879) | about 5 months ago | (#47816471)

... you are not in the retail phone store business with a ton of inventory in the back room stocking every conceivable device that's not supposed to need replacement.

Don't let your phone get wet, dumbass. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#47816477)

The world doesn't owe you instant gratification, especially if it's your dumbassery that destroyed the phone.

Keeping stock of every model covered under dumbass insurance, in every shop, for the sole purpose of handing it to dumbasses who bought insurance and then wrecked their phone, is obviously much more costly than keeping central stock and sending phones by mail. Most of those phones would never be needed.

Re:Don't let your phone get wet, dumbass. (1)

david_thornley (598059) | about 5 months ago | (#47816567)

My thought: why didn't he keep his phone in the waterproof bag as long as he was on the water? He got out of the frippin' raft, to go to another boat, and his phone wasn't sealed up?

Re:Don't let your phone get wet, dumbass. (1)

Lab Rat Jason (2495638) | about 5 months ago | (#47816955)

Dry bag baby... learn it, use it!

If having a phone is so important... (1)

91degrees (207121) | about 5 months ago | (#47816487)

Have a spare!

Personally I can bear the cost of not having a phone for a day. Forcing shops to keep dozens of phones in stock on the offchance that someone absolutely needs one the same day seems a highly inefficient way of doing things.

Perhaps instead the submitter should have seen if there was a way to pay the difference in order to get a brand new phone

There needs to be a regulation against B.H. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#47816489)

I don't like B.H. stories. Ever. I know! Let's pass a law banning B.H. from the internet! We'll definitely all be better then!

working capital (5, Informative)

Cardoor (3488091) | about 5 months ago | (#47816493)

this is purely a question of economics and $. the answer is very straightforward for those familiar with either financial accounting or microeconomics, and comes down to a concept called 'working capital management'.

To house that inventory (inventory being an element of working capital, along with accounts receivable and payables etc) of phones costs money, and do so means that you have to take into account the cost of that money. If you need to borrow it, then you have to pay interest on the balance. If you have the extra cash, then you need to take into account the opportunity cost of using your cash for inventory instead of, say, marketing or hiring another salesperson.

to use a numbers example, lets say you are the store owner, and you determine you need 50 phones on hand at any given time. you need to pay $50 upfront to house each phone, or cough up 50 x 50 = $2500 upfront. When a customer comes in for a replacement, you give them one out of your inventory, and then need to order a replacement to top-you-off back to a standing inventory of 50 phones. The give-out/re-topping off is a net money neutral transaction (at least theoretically), but as you will always have to top off your inventory, you will never see your $2500 again unless you liquidate, which as long as you're a going concern, you won't do. Add onto that the fact that holding that inventory exposes you to obscolesence risks, and so your inventory, even in a liquidation scenario, might only be worth, say $1000 to you. So you have capital risk in addition to the costs of funding the inventory. Now multiply that $2500 by the however many thousands of retail shops you care to (and/or increase the number of phones needed in inventory) and you start talking real money.

Now if the manufacturer wants to finance the whole shebang instead of the retail store owner, then great. but SOMEONE has to finance it. and it's much easier (and cheaper) to make the customer wait and only order them as-needed.

Re:working capital (1)

OzPeter (195038) | about 5 months ago | (#47816763)

this is purely a question of economics and $. the answer is very straightforward for those with a clue and comes down to a concept called 'working capital management'.

FTFY and also identified the root cause of the issue at hand.

How about a different kind of legislation? (2)

tompaulco (629533) | about 5 months ago | (#47816535)

How about legislation to make it illegal for companies to sell insurance on phone for $10-$12 a month and then charge a $90 deductible on a phone that is now several months old and could be bought on the internet for $50?

Re:How about a different kind of legislation? (1)

wisnoskij (1206448) | about 5 months ago | (#47816659)

Probably why they allow 100% customer fault warranty claims. At that price they are actually making money on every warranty claim.

Re:How about a different kind of legislation? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#47816713)

Why would anyone sign an insurance contract without reading it? You read the contract, you note the $90 deductible, you calculate the second-hand value at $50, you don't buy the insurance. Fairly simple, no?

Plus, why would anyone insure a phone at $10/mo when its second-hand value is only $50 anyway? You're expecting to destroy two per year?

Maybe we need legislation that forces idiot consumers to read contracts before signing them, and that forces people to apply basic probability theory where it's appropriate.

Re:How about a different kind of legislation? (1)

wisnoskij (1206448) | about 5 months ago | (#47816761)

Actually, I think you have a point that can be refined. If the deductible is higher than the cost of the replacement that is just misleading advertisement. Everyone assumes that having issuance means that you are protected in some way, not that filing a claim is actually profitable by the insurance company.

Whiner. Wanker. And... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#47816545)

WTF is utter crap like this even doing on ./ ?

spo86e (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#47816555)

may do, may not task. research OpenBSD leader Theo

Is there an "ignore Bennett" checkbox someplace? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#47816561)

Honestly, one person gets his phone wet, decides every cell phone reseller in the country should change their business model because he cannot wait one full business day, and it's a worth a headline on /. ?

Instantly?!? (1)

QuietLagoon (813062) | about 5 months ago | (#47816565)

... Then customers who have insurance protection on their phones could get the damaged phones replaced instantly...

Not instantly, first you have to get to the phone store.

But nit-picking aside, this is an incredibly stupid idea.

... But taking my phone on the raft wasn't the stupid part;

That's debatable. If the phone is as critical to your life as you say it is, taking the only phone you have on a raft is stupid, ziplock or not. As you found out, stuff happens, even to things in ziplock bags.

Re:Instantly?!? (1)

wisnoskij (1206448) | about 5 months ago | (#47816697)

perhaps the government should legislate that every phone sold comes with a spare encase your first one breaks.

Re:Instantly?!? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#47816773)

I personally favor a an app that monitors both the moisture sensor, and the GPS so that in the even that your phone gets wet a drone can instantly be dispatched with a new phone to your location.

Or you could just get a waterproof phone... or even a otter box to store your phone in while doing things near water...

He didn't pay for the service he wants (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#47816575)

The price and terms of the service did not include that stocking policy.

Overnight seems a pretty good compromise.

Perhaps the gentlemen should consider that he has an addiction.
    Two possible options
          Cold turkey
          Get some spare phones for emergencies

What's REALLY dumb about this (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#47816581)

... is that he could have got a replacement immediately, subject to a $50 restocking fee, which he agrees is reasonable.

But what he wants is regulation which allows him to do the same thing, more or less, but not subject to the restocking fee. So he wants RETAILERS to take some responsibility of INSURERS, but without being paid to do it.

Why was this even posted? Who gives a shit about this guy's shit? This is the kind of crap you want to see (or ideally don't even want to see) on Facebook. Maybe his friends care. But on Slashdot? Really?

Three women in bikinis (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#47816585)

Pics or it didn't happen.

Don't get it. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#47816589)

I am the poster child for 'system acceptance' yeah yeah sure but, come on, THIS IS EMBARRASSING BULLSHIT.

Should we also say they can't make a profit? (1)

elijahjoel (1605547) | about 5 months ago | (#47816601)

Really? They should be forced to incur the cost of excess inventory because you can't live with out your phone.

Boo Hoo Hoo, Bennett is such a whiny little fuck! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#47816611)

Bennett broke his phone by being a stupid piece of shit, now the special snowflake doesn't want to wait for his replacement phone to be shipped, so he feels the government should step in and make him entitled to a same day exchange. Cry me a river!

If the cellphone industry were to face such regulation, they will respond by simply discontinuing the insurance altogether. Then Bennett will be spilling his tears on slashdot like a 3 year old arguing for government mandated free cell phone insurance attached to all cell phones plans because he is such klutz who can't take care of his phone.

Seriously Dice, Stop publishing anything by Bennett. He's a useless arrogant prick who thinks the world should revolve around him!

Loaner phones? (2)

RatherBeAnonymous (1812866) | about 5 months ago | (#47816633)

You can't legislate good customer service. Besides, the inventory overhead would be unreasonable.

But, this is T-Mobile he's talking about. They use SIM cards. The store could just program a SIM card, slip it in a random unit someone traded in last month, and let him walk out of the store at least being able to make phone calls. Heck, they might not even care about getting the loaner unit back, depending on its resale value. It's the sort of courtesy that encourages repeat patronage.

Not journalism (3, Insightful)

knapper_tech (813569) | about 5 months ago | (#47816637)

This is clearly an opinion piece. A quick scan makes it look even more anecdotal and presumptuous than I had expected. It's not April 1st, and this is terrible.

Can...? (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#47816655)

Can we pass a regulation requiring them to give me a pony, too? I've always wanted a pony, too. Perhaps the government can help!

#firstworldproblems (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#47816675)

Seriously dude?

1) You're lucky enough to go on a rafting trip with 3 chicks hot enough to induce a passing boat to try and pick them up
2) You're clueless enough to fall for their "emergency" shtick, and careless enough to misplace your phone in the process
3) You're lucky enough to have insurance on your phone, allowing you to replace it VIA OVERNIGHT MAIL for $90

And you're complaining about having to wait the 1-2 days for the replacement?

Seriously. Journey back in time with me to the not so distant past. Say, 1993, when I was probably about the same age you are now.
Here's your phone.


No insurance. No overnight replacement. Enjoy.

Leave your Phone (1)

GoJays (1793832) | about 5 months ago | (#47816683)

This is a horrible article.

First, you shouldn't have brought your phone on the raft in the first place. Leave it at home or in your car or whatever. Second, Are you that addicted to your device that you need to have a replacement instantly? It's a phone, not your life. Third, if it is that important to you, maybe you should purchase a second phone, for the next time you decide to take your phone for a swim and stop blaming companies for not backing up your stupidity.

You don't need LEGISLATION for this petty issue! (1)

King_TJ (85913) | about 5 months ago | (#47816707)

The *real* problem goes far deeper, my friend. If the cellular companies in America didn't standardize on selling the handsets instead of the service, none of this would even matter anymore!

In a more sane scenario, you'd simply buy a used cellphone off Amazon or eBay, or off a buddy, or a classified ad in the local newspaper ... whatever. It wouldn't matter what make or model you selected. You'd bring it in and say, "I'd like to put THIS phone on my plan, please?" and they'd do it. (Heck, maybe they'd even charge you $10 or $15 for their time to have to go in the computer and update the information. Fair enough.) Phones wouldn't be "carrier subsidized" and marketed to death as a reason you should go with Verizon, AT&T or whoever.... and "carrier locking" phones to only work on their network wouldn't exist either.

Sure, you *might* still opt to buy insurance for your particular cellphone? But chances are, if things worked like I described above -- it wouldn't make a lot of sense except for the most expensive of handsets. (Despite the millions of cellphones produced every year, the current system makes almost half of them unusable with your current phone carrier and contract, right off the bat, because you need GSM or CDMA depending on who you're using. Then you've got all the carrier locked phones out there that you can't use, thanks to an artificial restriction placed on them. And with some of the "second tier" carriers like Cricket Wireless - they opted to use at least one special frequency band that isn't supported on many phones at all, other than the ones they provide you with.)

Running A Quick Numbers Check (1)

Bob9113 (14996) | about 5 months ago | (#47816715)

the larger point is that there's no reason to think that the free market necessarily arrives at the most cost-effective solution in situations like this. Companies compete on cost-effectiveness in arenas that are highly visible to the consumer and likely to factor into their purchasing decisions

That is an important point; one that is worthwhile to highlight regularly. There are many who believe that the theoretical ideal free market can be closely approximated by a laissez-faire real world market. It cannot, and until we deeply internalize that reality as a society, it is good to continue repeating the lesson.

As such, we're lucky that the insurance provider sends out the replacement phone by overnight mail at all, when they could presumably mail it out by 3- or 4-day mail instead, and no free market forces or government truth-in-labeling enforcers would probably penalize them for that.

While I tend to agree with your previous point that lack of perfect information about insurance coverage implementation at time of purchase leads to a distortion favoring poor insurance service, I think your 3- or 4-day hypothesis proves that the free market is, in fact, having a regulatory effect on cell phone coverage. And it doesn't really surprise me, either -- every time I've had a bad cell phone replacement experience, I have told everyone I know that boned me. That kind of negative publicity does have an effect, as evidenced by the overnight service.

But an in-store-replacement rule (or a replacement-from-some-store-within-a-20-minute-drive rule) would benefit customers more and, with the savings on the mailing speed for the replacements, possibly cost the carrier less. (Even if it did cost the carrier more to carry a small box of in-store replacements in the back room

You may be right, but you may be underestimating the inventory size involved and the cost of keeping so many phones in stock. If it is common for phones to remain under coverage for two years (probably an underestimate), then each store or region would have to stock every phone that is currently for sale and all those that have been out of distribution for up to two years. I live in Phoenix, figure it takes 15 regions to cover the Valley of The Sun, four providers, 20 current models and another 20 out-of-distribution. That's 2400 cell phones, or something like a quarter million dollars. Multiply that by something like 100 to cover the US (rough population multiplier), and we're up to $25m, or an annual cost of $2.5m at 10% cost of capital.

Now, how about the other side of the equation: What we'd be saving is 24 hours of cell-phone-lessness, maybe once every couple years per cell-reliant person. Call that 50m people (140m taxpayers, 3/4ths have little cost to being without a phone for a day, and some non-taxpayers have a significant cost). At once every two years, that's 25m days of high-value cell-phone-lessness per year. $2.5m annual cost over 25m saved high-value days equals $0.10 per saved day of high value cell-phone-lessness.

(obviously the math is more complicated, but there are additional factors in both directions)

Hmm, not what I was expecting. The back-of-the-envelope numbers actually make your proposal look like it is within the limits of credibility, and worthy of further investigation.

I was expecting to find your idea to be impractically expensive, but that's the great thing about science; casting doubt on my preconception is just as good as confirming it.

Thank you /. (2)

Syphonius (11602) | about 5 months ago | (#47816741)

And I mean the crowd, not the admins.

For voicing all the thoughts that immediately jumped into my mind as soon as I saw this on the front page.


Le sigh... (1)

blueshift_1 (3692407) | about 5 months ago | (#47816777)

This really made it to the main page of /. But that aside, thinking a ziplock bag would protect your phone is ridculous (even if you had double wrapped it). That's why they make very nice (and not that exensive) drylok bags that are meant for that sort of thing. And what it comes down to is that it's absurd for them to keep that much inventory on-hand. And lets be honest, getting a replacement electronic device from warranty/insurance issue would take far longer. The phone industry is far ahead of the rest of the tech world.

regulation regulation regulation (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#47816787)

Why do progressives feel that more regulation solves every problem or inconvenience? As if the attitudes of businesses towards their customers can be mandated from the omnipotent government.

The real solution to this problem is heavy competition. Phone stores that treat their customers better win out.

Automotive analogy (2)

Scootin159 (557129) | about 5 months ago | (#47816801)

Because everything needs an automotive analogy.... "Car dealers should keep one of every part in stock for every car that's currently under warranty"

This would be completely unrealistic for a car dealership to do, so instead they stock only the parts used most frequently, and then just rely on the manufacturer to have an appropriate stock at regional/national warehouses. It's been this way for years, and yes it's an inconvenience for the day or two (or ten) that it takes the parts to come in, but it is what it is.

Perhaps the better plan, again taking a lesson from dealerships, would be to have "loaner" phones on hand to let you borrow while you wait for a "new" phone to come in. Of course, dealers seem to never have enough loaner cars, and I'm sure the phones would be the same thing - they'd also need to address the concern of getting the phones back (perhaps have warranty phones shipped to local store, and only given out upon receipt of the loaner?).

Seconded (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#47816803)

I have stopped buying insurance with my cell phone plan, because it's effectively useless. Sure, it covers most of the kind of damage that normally leaves me phoneless, but to file a claim I have to send in my phone and be without it for up to two weeks. Regardless how much the store clerk agrees with me, they still have to send it in to procure a replacement for me, so the result is the same: No phone. As i am always on the move because of my job, and said job needs me to be available via phone, this is a no-go for me. I have been using a phone with a cracked screen for ages, since it still works fairly well and the lead-time on a replacement is simply too big, despite the model (Samsung galaxy Note 2) is relatively common among local consumers.

Tip for scandinavian customers: Elkjøp does in fact keep replacement for all consumer-electronics to replace waranty failures as well as insurance covered damage. I buy most of my damage-prone electronics from them, as the insurance is dirt cheap, and it covers ALL damage short of the phone disintegrating out of existence (My 2 year old kid had a tantrum once and threw a laptop into the floor on purpose. Covered!)

The OP must be a lib (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#47816847)

And wants Big Brother to take care of him cause he is too stooped to look after himbself. .

Insuring a phone - stupidity (1)

Frankie70 (803801) | about 5 months ago | (#47816883)

I think it's stupid to insure a phone. You insure stuff whose loss or destruction will bring you financial ruin. Not every other stuff.

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