Phone manufacturers, service providers, and third parties are happy to provide you with insurance on your cell phone. However, accident protection is usually not included – or makes the insurance plan prohibitively expensive.
HTC is attempting to distinguish itself from the competition with the “Uh-Oh” Protection plan. Consumers who buy a new HTC One M8 can claim a free replacement phone during the first twelve months of service. That not only includes cracked screens, but also water damage, including the dreaded plunge into the toilet — an “uh-oh” moment if ever there was one. The program eligibility will switch over to the M9 model after August 31st, 2015.
The offer even applies through a switch of carriers, and given the trend toward carriers enticing consumers to switch by paying off their early termination fees, this policy could be a big advantage for HTC. According to a March 2015 survey by Google Insights, 69% of the respondents with damaged phones noted that the damage took place within the first year after purchase, 25% continued to use the damaged phone, and 47% of the respondents opting for repair spent at least $100 on the repair.
To take HTC up on the offer, you will need to send the old phone back (it’s your call whether you would rather buy a new phone instead of fishing your old one out of the toilet). You can have a replacement the next business day if you are willing to accept a temporary $299 credit card hold until HTC receives the damaged phone. Otherwise, you can use a prepaid mailing label supplied by HTC and receive your replacement within two days of HTC receiving your old one.
If you are replacing the phone and not the carrier, simply swap the SIM card from the old phone into the new one and you will be prompted from there. If you backed up the phone to the cloud, you should be able to restore your settings.
There are some limitations on the protection program. The “Uh-Oh” policy may not apply if the serial number has been erased, modified, or made illegible. Unauthorized modifications/repair and battery tampering void the policy. Finally, the policy will not cover damage “caused by use not in accordance with the user manual, or rough handling beyond normal use.”
Translation: Do not hit your phone with a hammer just to get a new one. If your accidental damage is unusual in nature — say somebody runs over it with a car — you may have a tough time getting HTC to agree to a replacement.
You are also limited to one free replacement in that twelve-month period after purchase, so try not to drop your phone in the toilet more than once.
What if you do not need a replacement phone during that time? HTC will reward you by giving you $100 off the purchase price of your next HTC One. Not only is this a good customer service move by HTC, it is also a savvy one. People may prefer to keep phones with a minor cracked screen in the short-term and cash in the $100 on the next upgrade instead, thus cutting down on HTC’s total number of redemptions.
If you are both an Android system user and a klutz, you may want to consider HTC’s new program. Rules and conditions may be found at http://www.htc.com/us/uh-oh-protection/terms. You may still have to fish your phone out of the toilet, but at least you will get a free new phone in addition to soggy hands.