Sunday, May 3, 2020

Ugly Visit to the Verizon Store in Selma TX

Saturday was just a bad day.  I've recently been having battery problems with my iPhone X.  Early last week, I used it half a day and was checking my email, and it went blank.  No low battery warning or anything.  So I went online to see how much Apple charged for a battery replacement.  It was reasonable, so I sent my iPhone in for service.  The Apple stores here, like everywhere but China, are still closed.

Friday mid-day, I got the iPhone back.  They have you do an erase before you send it in, and they also have you pull the (Verizon) SIM card from the phone.  So I put the SIM back in the 'repaired' phone and went through the phone restore process.  I used an iCloud backup.

Then, for some reason, the phone did an update to IOS 13.4.1.  I had done that a week earlier.  Was this a replacement rather than a repair?  They did the service awfully quickly.  Once the update was done, the iPhone wanted to do a cellular activation.

The activating message stayed on the phone for quite some time, then it told me it failed, and I needed to connect to a PC running iTunes or a Mac. At this cellular activating stage, there is no way to get out of the 'activating' cycle, you cannot get to the home page or any of your apps.  The phone is pretty useless.  I found out later, if you pull the SIM out, you can get to the home page and the phone will do everything except use cellular.  You know, everything except make phone calls and texting.

So I hooked it up to my PC, and it tried activating through iTunes.  Another failure.  I hooked it up to my Mac and used Finder (the newest MacOS does not run iTunes).  Activating through iTunes resulted in another failure.  So I left the phone for the evening and tried to relax.

Saturday morning I got up and got on the Verizon chat support line.  They took me through a bunch of stuff.  Part of which also showed that the IMEI on the iPhone was not the same number as before I sent it off for repair.  I was pretty sure this was a replacement iPhone, though Apple had not told me that.  The support guru finally told me to take the iPhone into a Verizon store and get a new, free SIM.

So off we (my wife and I) went to the Verizon store in Selma.  The closest one that was still open.  When we got there, there was a Verizon rep outside the door taking a look at people's phones.  After a few minutes, I got my chance.

Please take the following as a paraphrased account.  I do not have perfect recall.

I told the 'gentleman' about my problem.  That Apple had replaced my battery and now the iPhone wouldn't activate cellular service and the Verizon chat support had told me to come in and get a new SIM.

He looked at my phone, which was on the Update to IOS 13.4.1 Complete page (where the activation starts after pressing the Continue button.)  He told me I needed to update my phone and handed it back to me.

I told him I had already updated my phone and gave it back to him.  I told him the IMEI didn't match what Verizon had on their device page, and re-emphasized that Verizon tech had told me to get a new SIM.

He told me it didn't matter what my IMEI showed, and that a new SIM would not make a difference and handed the phone back to me.

I was starting to get pretty heated.  I don't like going to ask for tech support in person, as most don't have a clue.  But this guy wouldn't even take me in and try to solve the problem.

So I asked to speak to the manager.  He said he was the manager, and he had 20 years of experience.  That it wasn't a SIM problem and that it was a phone issue.  And he handed the phone back to me again!

I asked him to pull the SIM, he did, and I showed him that the iPhone was fully functional except for the cellular activation.

At some point during our conversation, I think about now, he had hit the Continue button and saw the attempt to activate.  He also saw that the phone go to the Connect to a PC or Mac page.  So he told me to take it home and connect to a PC or Mac.

I told him again that I had done that, also with the Verizon chat tech, and they had told me to go to a Verizon store and get a new SIM.  I was pretty heated, and my voice was probably fairly loud.  We were outside the store and people were lining up behind us.  I drove 25 miles to this store at the Verizon tech support's recommendation, and this guy wasn't even going to try a new SIM.

He finally said to come into the store, but that my wife could not accompany me.  They had a guard on duty inside that was locking and unlocking the door.  The Verizon guy said they were only allowing one person in the store at a time.  Seemed there were half a dozen Verizon people in there, but nobody but me as a customer.

Well, he pulled out a new SIM from the back of the store and put it in, and it behaved the same way as the previous SIM.  He told me to take it home, connect to iTunes or a Mac and get back on line with a tech rep.  I asked him whether he meant Verizon or Apple, and he said Verizon.

So I went home, connected the iPhone to my Mac, and called Verizon support on my wife's phone.  They went through the whole story again, had me hold for a bit, then told me they would connect me to Tier 2 support who had more troubleshooting ability.  I was on hold for an hour listening to their music before I gave up and hung up.  Then I did a bit of troubleshooting on my own.  I tried a reset and this time I didn't do an iCloud restore, thinking maybe the previous restore had somehow messed up.  Didn't do any good.  Had the same cellular activation problems.

So I decided to go to my media room and watch some TV to relax.  I got there and tried to turn on my projector.  But it's status lights wouldn't even come on.  The projector had failed too.

I did not go to bed happy yesterday.

Today I got up and connected to the Apple support chat line.  I like chat because I can be exact and don't forget anything, and it is easier to stay cool.  They are always very polite!  Anyway, I went through the problem with support person #1.  After a while, she transferred me to her supervisor, support person #2 that claimed to have more tools and expertise.  After a while, he said he needed to transfer me to phone tech support, and he scheduled a call in about 5 minutes.  He said I should have iTunes up on my computer, and that he thought they could fix the problem from their end.

Apple support person #3 called on schedule, and I went through a lot of the story again.  He went off and did some checking.  Then pointed out that they had replaced my iPhone rather than repaired it, and that he believed the replacement iPhone was defective.  So they are sending me another replacement iPhone.  That's where I am in the process today.

I want to point out that the Verizon store manager was correct about it being an iPhone problem rather than a SIM card problem.  At least, that seems likely.  I hope it isn't a bug in the new IOS 13.4.1.  But that manager was the rudest customer service rep I have ever encountered.  I sure hope his employees don't follow his lead on how to make their customers happy.  The Verizon chat and phone support people were nice though; despite not providing useful help.

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