Chicago Student Stuck in ‘Blame Game' Over Broken iPhone

A Verizon customer who thought she was trading in her broken iPhone for a new one, quickly learned the phone she received might not have been the authentic device she thought it was.

The customer, Jes, who asked that her name not be used for privacy concerns, said her iPhone 5 stopped holding its charge, so the 23-year-old college student exchanged her defective device for a refurbished one---free of charge under her warranty plan.

But she says she was later informed by an Apple employee that the device she received in the mail was not an authentic iPhone.

The young customer had the phone for only 48 hours when an accidental drop left her screen completely shattered. 

“No more than three feet and it just shattered,” Jes said. “I thought that was kind of weird because I’ve had iPhones for years and they’ve never cracked this bad, I don’t think it’s like a normal iPhone.”

She took the phone to the Apple Store in Deer Park and says instead of a service repair, an Apple employee at the Genius Bar gave her a tutorial on why her device was full of unauthorized, third-party parts.

“He was like ‘this isn’t an Apple phone,’ I was like what do you mean it’s not an Apple phone?” Jes told NBC5 Responds. “Then he’s like ‘the whole case is just one piece…the Apple logo is not mirrored…the font is completely different…the iPhone logo itself isn’t bold… this is a crappy matte finish… parts have been glued on to make it look like an iPhone, like this isn’t even real.’”

Jes says the Apple employee then offered to put his findings in writing, which she took directly to a Verizon store, where she was instructed to call Verizon customer service.

“We talked to about eight or nine different reps about this,” she says. 

After four frustrating hours, Jes says she was finally forwarded to a supervisor.

“All he says is, ‘What we need to do is you’ll pay $150, we’ll replace it with your insurance, and that’s about it… If not, we’re beating a dead horse and you can call it a day,’” she says. “I was like I’m not paying for your mistake.” 

Jes says the supervisor also accused her of attaching the fake parts. 

“And he was like ‘this isn’t our fault.’ I was like- then whose fault is it? Are you blaming your 23-year-old college student? I send you a real phone and in exchange you sent me a knockoff.”

After the call with Verizon ended, Jes reached out to NBC 5 Responds for help.

After our inquiry to Verizon, Jes says she received “tons and tons of apologies” from Verizon’s executive office and that wasn’t the only thing. 

“I met with the district manager, and he went above and beyond and gave me a brand new phone from the store,” Jes says. “He comped the entire cost of the $780 phone.” 

A spokesperson for Verizon later told NBC5 Responds the company examined the phone and found that the device was “100% compliant” and “bottom line: Apple made a mistake when sending that letter.”

The company says it is now working with Apple to “retrain and reinforce” its employees on what a Verizon refurbished phone looks like.

In a statement, Verizon told NBC 5 Responds:

“Our examination has confirmed that the smartphone in question does contain 100 percent original Apple parts, in accordance with VZW’s detailed refurbishment process. Verizon strives to provide the best customer experience for all our customers at every touch point. We sincerely apologize that did not happen in this situation and are happy to share that we resolved the issue to the customer’s satisfaction. We’ll continue training with both Apple and our own employees to help ensure that all our processes provide Verizon customers with complete confidence in a great experience.”

For its part, Apple echoed Verizon’s commitment to partnering between the two companies, but declined to comment on the letter given to Jes by its employee.

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