For many people, a smartphone is a lifeline, so being without it can be a real hassle. It’s one of the reasons phone companies offer protection plans to cover you if your phone gets lost, stolen or broken. But are they worth it?
When Scott Rose cracked his smartphone screen, he was relieved he had a protection plan with Bright Star Protect offered through Fido’s website. His phone was supposed to be fixed within three to five days.
But Rose didn't actually get his phone back until 75 days later—and it was still badly damaged. The screen was cracked and the phone would not turn on. To top it off, he was told he was going to be charged an extra $64, despite the fact he had paid $11 a month for his protection plan.
“It was terrible customer service,” said Rose.
Tech expert Andy Baryer advises against protection plans.
“I don’t buy protection plans for any electronics whatsoever,” said Baryer. “I think it’s a waste of money.”
In addition to monthly fees, there are processing fees up to $200 per claim, and if you need a replacement phone, you could end up with a refurbished one.
“It might make more sense to take it to a local repair shop,” suggested Baryer.
“We can do a [smartphone screen] repair for about $90 plus tax,” said Alfonso Yervis at Yolo Repair in Yaletown.
Yervis says his business can do the repair in about half an hour, or one to two days for a more serious repair on any computer or device.
“I don’t think anyone should have to wait more than one to two days, tops,” said Yervis.
Being without a phone for more than 2 months meant Rose had to be resourceful.
“No loaner phone was offered, ever. I had to get kind of creative and use Facebook, Gmail, and borrow other people’s phones,” said Rose.
And when he got his phone back he says he thought it was in worse condition, with damage to the side of it.
After McLaughlin on Your Side got involved, Fido apologized and promised to get to the bottom of the issue. It reimbursed Rose three months of cell service, refunded all his protection plan fees and gave him a new phone.
But after his experience, Rose says he would not buy a protection plan again.
A protection plan might make sense on a really expensive phone, but most people upgrade their phone every two years anyway. If you’re one of those people, keep your old phone as a backup. If something goes wrong, you can always reactivate it and ride it out until your next upgrade.
A Consumer Reports survey found only one in five people who bought a new phone made a claim on their protection plan because their phone was lost, stolen or broken.
A protection plan might give you peace of mind, but you need to do the math to ensure it’s right for you.