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Home » The Case Of The Frankenstein Phone
July 12, 2016

The Case Of The Frankenstein Phone

The Case of the Frankenstein Phone

The Dramatic Opening

Have you ever felt like there is something tricky going on behind the scenes with some companies that you work with?

Lori Granberg, the owner of Union Colony Insurance, wrote a blog back a year ago about a frustrating experience she had with Verizon as her son was going to Japan. Read this previous experience here:

But for Lori and Reilly, their story didn’t stop a year ago. Lori and Reilly thought that their poor customer service experience with Verizon was the most frustrating part of their journey because of bad communication and bad training within the company.

Come a year later, it seems that there is another case, with another company, that is a lot more concerning than just bad customer service communication…

The Casualty

After their whole ordeal with Verizon and getting a phone for Reilly in Japan all the while trying to set up a business account with Verizon, Reilly found himself with a lost phone while in Japan…

“When Reilly lost his cell phone in Japan, we used the insurance and requested a replacement phone.  A new refurbished phone appeared and we had a horrible time with it.  We returned it and got a replacement.  It worked good enough, but since Reilly is a techy kid, and the phone was acting up, we took it to Apple to have it looked at.

This is what Apple told us:  It was a “Frankenstein” phone.  It looked like an iPhone, but it was constructed of off market parts, not of Apple parts.  So I had been paying $9 a month insurance, plus a $150 replacement fee for a “Frankenstein” iPhone!

I could purchase a $40 iPhone knockoff off the internet…. This phone looks like an iPhone but doesn’t perform as an iPhone.

I figured that I paid $474 for a phone that is not worth $40.”


The Sleuth

 Reilly, being the sleuth that he is, found out exactly why his phone was a “Frankenstein” phone.

  “The apple technician I worked with called my former iPhone a ‘Frankenstein’ phone. He explained that this iPhone was not an iPhone at all, but a number of different components put together and called an ‘iPhone.’”


“Asurion sent me a phone that had a faulty screen. When I went in to the Apple Store, the technician told me that the touch screen registered my touch when my fingers were not on the screen at all. And this was the phone that I had been sent by the company…This was the same problem that I had with a different iPhone. I had the exact model of phone, but I went to a third party company to get the same problem fixed (the touch screen exhibited odd behavior). I don’t know how my new insurance phone started experiencing the same problem.”


Further Research

According to the
Better Business Bureau, when it comes to Asurion’s replacement phone policy, they will:

  • Replace phones with same make and model.
  • In instances that this is not possible, they will substitute with a like-kind make and model.
  • Many replacement phones are fulfilled with refurbished equipment using ONLY genuine original parts and software and are tested to meet cell phone company standards.
  • If they cannot get the same make and model, they work closely with the cell phone companies to get a phone that will be comparable in terms of features and functionality.

In this case, did Reilly get what was promised to him? The Apple Technician told him he was given a “Frankenstein” phone. Read about “Frankenstein” phones here:

  • In 2014, a UK newspaper reported about “Frankenstein” phone scams from China. Read the article here.
  • China has been known for lack of protection of intellectual property from restaurants to electronics. See examples from CNBC here:

Case Solved?

This story of Reilly and his phone begs many questions:

·         Are there a good number of people getting Frankenstein phones as replacement phone even though promised a quality, same make and model replacement?

 ·         Is Asurion making a significant profit margin by giving customers a $40 phone replacement while customers are paying insurance on an over $400 phone?

 ·         Does Apple know about this? Do they know that an insurance company is misrepresenting their product by replacing their products with Frankenstein phones?

 ·         Does Verizon and other cell phone carriers that partner with this insurance company know about this? Does Verizon know their phones are being not being replaced with phones with the same functionality and features as Asurion promises?

 ·         Does the Better Business Bureau know that this is happening? Have there been similar complaints against Asurion?

As an insurance agency, we don’t believe in shady practices. Our goals are to help and support our community and not focus only on how to make as much money as possible.  

Do you have a similar story about getting a product that wasn’t what was promised? Please share in the comments. 

UPDATE (8/24/2016):

This comes from Insurance Thought

“New cell phones come with a manufacturer’s warranty covering defects or malfunctions. Consumer groups don’t recommend buying [a] monthly supplemental coverage due to consumer complaints including “fine print” exclusions, hidden deductible fees and refurbished replacement phones.”

We agree with this…

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