“Droid. Droid. Droid.” I couldn’t force my phone to stop making that incessant sound. “Droid. Droid. Droid.”
I wrapped the phone in jeans, wrapped the jeans in towels, threw it into the back of my closet, and slammed the door for good measure.
It wasn’t enough to muffle the voice.
“Droid. Droid. Droid.” I was living in a Stephen King novel.
I assumed my phone had a weird glitch my patented method could solve: turn it off and turn it on again. As my phone rebooted, a baritone voice announced: “Droid.”
So far so good. The phone is supposed to say “Droid” once — just once! — before loading the main screen. The manufacturers must be afraid I’ll confuse it with an iPhone.
But the main screen never loaded. The phone jammed itself into a booting loop, with the baritone chanting “Droid” every few seconds.
Okay, techies, I know what you’re thinking. I could have removed the battery to end the incessant “Droid” chant. But I had painstakingly painted French tips onto my nails and I wasn’t about to mess up my manicure prying off the phone cover. Gentlemen, mock me all you want. Ladies, I know you understand.
I took the phone to the Verizon store. The minute I walked in, every patron turned to stare. “Droid. Droid. Droid,” kept emanating from my bag.
“Oof,” said the Verizon employee in a suit standing by the front door. “That’s bad.”
Another employee named James came to help “fix” my phone. Well, actually, he didn’t try to fix it at all. James took the battery out and then put it back in. The phone cried, “Droid. Droid. Droid.” James shook his head.
“Your software crashed,” he said matter-of-factly after spending less than 15 seconds with it. “You need to buy a new phone.” He led me to the product display.
“Wait a sec,” I said. “That’s, like, $250.”
He shook his head. “You should have bought a warranty.”
Extended warranties are the most profitable service that tech retailers sell — which is precisely why I as a consumer know not to buy it. According to SmartMoney, retailers earn a 40 to 80 percent profit on warranties and insurance. Consumer Reports says extended warranties are usually not a wise buy, especially for small items like phones.
“The cost of the premium over a year, for example, would be $50 or $60. Tack on the deductible ($50 – $125), and you’ve paid as much as you would have to buy a new phone,” Consumer Reports wrote about smartphone warranties.
James, apparently, had a different opinion. “You can get an extended warranty on your new phone,” he assured me.
“I’m not buying a new phone. Can’t you look into fixing this?”
He shook his head again. “Nope. But we’ve got some great new phones here … ”
Disgusted, I went home. I may look like a Clueless character with my French nails, but I’m no idiot.
My D.I.Y. phone fix took 5 minutes. Well, actually, hunting through tech forums to figure out what to do took about an hour. The fix itself took 5 minutes. It required me to:
- Pop the battery out.
- Wait 2 minutes. Put the battery back in.
- Simultaneously hold the “power” and the “down” volume buttons.
- Release the “power” and “volume” buttons when a white screen appears.
- Press the “volume-down” button twice.
- Press the “power” button once.
- Ta-da! My phone is fixed.
Weird, I know. But it’s nothing I wouldn’t do for $250 bucks.