Everyone I know hates this process. You decide to go get a new cellphone or smartphone and head to a retailer. It takes them an hour to help you pick out what you want, decide on the contract, sign all the papers, transfer phone numbers, and let you be on your way. It’s an ugly process, and I predict that the day someone figures out how to make it a 10 minute or less process that will be the company that steals all the business from someone else.

One of the questions they often ask is if you want to purchase the insurance on your phone so that, in an emergency, they can send you another phone. The cost doesn’t seem like it’s all that much, and knowing what you went through in purchasing this phone, it seems like a great idea. Well, it’s not. Don’t do it, and I’m going to tell you why.

You don’t get what you think you get. If I pay for insurance, I think I’m getting what in essence is a replacement phone at no cost. That’s not necessarily true. You get a new phone, but there’s a catch. You either end up getting a refurbished phone of some kind, most probably not the same phone you presently have, or you can select a different and newer phone at a “discount”. The newer phone you can pick up then and there, but you’ll have to wait up to 2 weeks to get your refurbished phone.

The thing with cellphones is that, for the most part, they’re obsolete pretty quickly. Notice that even the iPhone seems to go obsolete every few months with the upgrades. So, if you have your cellphone longer than 3 months, you’re just not going to get what you’re thinking you’ll get by having insurance.

And insurance costs can run between $4 and $10 a month, per phone, depending on your plan. So, you could end up paying a lot of money for something that won’t be worth what you’ve paid into; you’ll be grossly disappointed and upset with the company, and there’s nothing you can do about it.

By the way, this is a true story. My wife damaged her phone and we went to get her a new one. It was more than 2 years old, but we’d been paying insurance on both phones the entire time. She found a phone at the store she liked, but it would have cost us $40 and we’d have had to pick a brand new calling plan for another 2 years; I didn’t want that. So she found out she could get a “new” phone, which they didn’t tell us would be refurbished. They also didn’t tell us that it would be a 2-year old phone, not what she had because it was totally discontinued, and that the battery won’t hold a charge longer than 3 hours. This is through AT&T, and for the first time in 16 years, I’m thinking about changing carriers when I’m ready to purchase another phone. We did call customer service; they were nice, but there was nothing they could do.

As I said, save your money; it’s going to cost you anyway, so just get something new if you have to.

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