By Steve Moran

In general I think extended warranties are a scam. But in my life I am particularly hard on cellphones and fitness trackers. I can’t seem to keep a fitness tracker working for even 24 months. It is worse with cellphones.

I am now on my fourth Samsung S22 Ultra since I purchased it new, about 30 months ago. Two failures were not my fault (except maybe aggressive wear and tear), and one was totally my fault — dropping a two-week-old replacement on the pavement and shattering the screen.

The most recent failure happened last week, and I have no idea why. I was in the middle of a text conversation, and it simply quit sending and receiving.

The Usual

I started with the stuff I could do myself: updated the software, turned the phone off then on again 38 times, cleared the cache. Then I went to the AT&T store, and they fiddled with some settings, and it worked again. For 15 minutes.

I called the technical service line and worked with a tier 1 support person for close to an hour as she went through her playbook. Finally I was handed off to a tier 2 person, who spent another 45 minutes trying to troubleshoot, with no more success.

Back to the store for a new SIM card. Worked again for 20 minutes.

Each new interaction required a bunch of steps working through a complex set of phone prompts.

Replacement 4

I had now invested four+ hours in getting my phone working and was pretty frustrated. They finally agreed it needed to be replaced and told me that it would still cost a couple hundred dollars, even with the warranty plan. Except that I could see on the screen that it was still under a replacement warranty from the last replacement and should cost me nothing.

We tussled about that for a bit, and then they finally agreed I was right.

The agent promised a phone would be shipped out that evening and I would have it by noon the next day. Seemed like it should be first thing in the a.m., but I was too exhausted to argue anymore (part of the plan, I suspect).

The Next Day

I waited for my shipping confirmation and tracking number. Nothing. The next morning I got an email saying they had received my request and letting me know when the phone would be shipped, along with a tracking number. All this I got when the phone should have been in my hand.

I was frustrated like crazy ….

On the Hunt — Make Me Feel Good

I went hunting for ways to contact the executives of Asurian, the insurance arm of AT&T. I found four leaders and sent very frustrated messages wondering how a leader can be okay with this kind of customer service.

I was shocked in the best kind of way when I got a call from someone in the executive office who said they had checked on it and that by that time the phone was in fact on the way and offering to continue to monitor the shipping until I received it.

It still took until the end of the day, the next day, to get the phone, so in reality they did nothing — but that one phone call took me from feeling bad to feeling good about Asurian and AT&T.

What’s Key Here

What’s key here is that simply by having someone from the corporate office pick up the phone and tell me she would take care of it, my whole attitude changed in an instant.

Senior living can learn from this. Stuff goes wrong a lot, for many reasons. Sometimes it is someone’s fault, and often it is just a collision of circumstances. Imagine that in your senior living company, you had someone who had some real authority to get to the bottom of problems and fix them when possible.

Families would love you more; team members would love you more — even if you ultimately did nothing more than what would have otherwise happened. It would change how they talked about you and how they felt about you.

That would mean less tension, better storytelling, and fewer lawsuits.

If you are doing this in your organization, I would love hear more about it and write about.