Some of you will remember that I cracked the screen of my new Samsung Galaxy S3 phone a month ago, when the phone was just two months old.
I was walking along the sidewalk, it slipped out of my hands, and hit the pavement glass-first.
Since then I got case for the phone… but that’s not the subject of this post.
When I purchased the phone I had intended to use the Chase Ink Bold card to earn 5 points per dollar spent at my telecommunications provider. I’m not sure why, but I grabbed the Sapphire Preferred card instead. That was some points left on the table, I guess I’m far from fallible.
After the cracked the screen, though, I was wishing that I had used my Starwood Preferred Guest American Express because of the legendary purchase protection that that card, and some other similar Amex products, offers.
But it gave me an opportunity to test out a purchase protection claim for the very first time., so it was a great learning experience.
Ancillary Benefits on Credit Cards, Do You Know All the Benefits Your Cards Have?
Talking to folks around my office most don’t realize that there are all sorts of benefits that come with their premium credit cards, such as:
- Premium travel benefits, such as Visa Signature Hotels
- Travel accident insurance, buy your travel on the card and there’s a modest payout if you die on the trip (!)
- Trip cancellation coverage, buy your travel on the card and some emergencies and cancellations may be covered
- Trip delay, baggage delay and lost luggage expense reimbursement
Lot of folks who pay attention know they receive collision damage coverage on rental cars, though most cards offer secondary coverage only (picking up eligible charges that your own insurance company doesn’t pay, such as deductibles).
And then there are three common items related to consumer purchases made on premium cards:
- Purchase protection is supposed to cover the cost to repair or replace broken items, usually in the first 90 days after purchase
- Extended protection may add a year to a product’s warranty
- Price protection may refund you the difference between what you paid for something and a lower advertised price in the 90 days after your purchase
I imagine all of these benefits, along with things like ‘access to exclusive events’ are great come-ons to get people to apply. Or at least someone once thought they would be. Other cards added similar benefits so they could say that they were just as good as their competitors, and that in general card companies don’t get rid of them for that very same reason. Everyone offering some version of these coverages bundled with premium credit cards like Visa Signature, World Mastercard, and many American Express products is some sort of equilibrium even though very few consumers even remain aware of the benefits — or think to use the benefits when the need arises.
Submitting a Purchase Protection Claim for My Phone
After the incident on August 23, I have a need for purchase protection and there was some disagreement on the comments of this blog whether I would get anything out of it.
A few hours after my August 24 post, I rang up Chase Sapphire Preferred since that’s the card I used to make the purchase. They put me in touch with the “benefits department” which is actually a different company that identified themselves as “Enhancement Services” (1-888-320-9961).
I spoke with Sarah there who was very friendly in describing the benefit — that I had coverage during the first 90 days after purchase, that I must submit a claim within those 90 days, and that the maximum benefit was $500 — and what I would need in order to submit a claim:
- Copy of receipt for the item
- Credit card receipt or statement showing I had used the card through which I was claiming coverage to make the purchase
- A repair estimate, repair bill, or statement that the item could not be repaired
- My home owners insurance declaration page (so they could determine that my claim wouldn’t otherwise be covered by other insurance)
I was told I would get an email about the claim within 24 hours, but it arrived instantly.
No problem, I had a copy of my receipt in my email folders, I printed out the relevant redacted portion of my credit card bill, and I went online to my insurance company website to print out the insurance declarations page.
I also quickly got a written estimate for repair, fortunately there was a repair shop near my office and they even had the glass for my phone in stock. So I had an estimate to include in the package as well. I filled out their claim form and shipped everything off that day.
Request for More Information #1
I sure thought I had given them everything they wanted, but on September 4 I received an e-mail response from Enhancement Services noting (2) deficiencies:
- That the declarations page for the insurance I submitted was for my policy which renewed August 27 and thus was not in effect on the date of the incident (August 23).
- I needed to submit a repair estimate
The first one was my bad, I went to the website and printed out the declaration but hadn’t noticed it was for my new policy about to start and not for my old one that was ending (which covered the date in question). I couldn’t get the old one online, so I had to ring up my insurance agent who emailed me what I needed promptly. (I didn’t look into whether my home coverage would actually apply, since I have a $500 deductible on the policy so it wouldn’t offer a payout in this case anyway.)
The second item though vexed me somewhat. I had sent in a repair estimate! So I sent it to them again, and this time I sent in my actual receipt for the repair. I had my phone fixed the same day I wrote the blog post about the crack. I left it with the repair shop for about 45 minutes and it was fixed, good as new.
The cost was $329 plus tax — I understand it can now be fixed less expensively than that — but I had a receipt, and could therefore document the actual cost to fix the cracked screen.
So I sent along both the estimate and the receipt, figuring at this point I should be good.
I faxed everything back same-day.
Request for More Information #2
On September 8th (they must work weekends!) I got another request from them.
Thank you for submitting your completed Chase Purchase Protection claim form. We have carefully reviewed the information provided to date and note that additional documents are required to promptly process your claim. Please assist us by providing the following:
• A copy of the repair estimate from the manufacturer or authorized repair facility. Otherwise, a statement from the manufacturer or authorized repair facility that the item being claimed is not repairable. Samsung has fixed pricing for their repairs please contact Samsung for a repair estimate.
Umm… okay. I had sent them the repair estimate, twice.
But this time they had clarified, Samsung has fixed pricing for their repairs please contact Samsung for a repair estimate.
They didn’t like the estimate I gave them, or the actual receipt. They wanted an estimate from the manufacturer.
That was a bit annoying and I didn’t get around to dealing with it until September 14, when I finally contacted Samsung. They informed me that they could provide me with a price quote over the phone but that they do not provide written repair estimates.
My reply back noted that I had provided an estimate, a receipt, and that now they were asking for something that the manufacturer said was impossible. And I got a bit forceful in my closing:
The cost to fix the phone is, by definition, what I actually spent to fix it. You have also received photographic documentation of the damage, a signed statement, proof that the product was paid for with an eligible credit card. There’s no possible dispute that the damage is a covered claim, or that it would be reimbursed by other coverage.
At this point you are asking for duplicative information that the phone manufacturer states is impossible for me to provide. Continuing to ask for this information would be bad faith.
Ten days later after my frustrated response — and exactly one month after filing the initial claim — I received the following e-mail:
Dear Gary Leff:
I am writing to alert you that your claim under the Purchase Protection Claim has been paid. The check has been issued in the amount of $314.99.
• This represents full settlement of the claim.
You will receive the check in the mail within approximately 7-10 business days.
Should you have any questions please contact us.
The repair was $329 plus tax. But the amount the paid was, I think, the amount actually charged to my card when I purchased the phone. My contract was re-upped at the time of purchase. There was a rebate after-the-fact. But the value of the benefit wasn’t going to be up to $500 but up to $500 not to exceed the actual purchase price charged to the card. And that’s what I’m getting back.
So I’m getting my claim, and I have my Chase Sapphire Preferred Visa to thank for that.
Let me say that again: I did something stupid or at least careless. I broke my phone. It was 100% my fault. And yet about 20 or 25 minutes of total effort got me $314.99 to pay for that. Thank you, Premium Credit Card’s Purchase Protection!
Still, for purchases of this sort I probably should have used the Starwood Amex — it doesn’t just have the purchase protection option but also return protection where I can submit a claim if the merchant won’t take an item back. And it has higher limits — $1000 instead of $500 per occurrence, and up to $50,000 per cardmember year.
The good news — since my phone is now 90 days old — is that Samsung (per the woman there who wouldn’t send me a written estimate) will replace cracked glass for $179 all-in (although I would be without my phone for a few days). Of course I hope I don’t break it again!