Interview with Nicole (Nikki) Ibsen, Customer Service Advocate (not pictured)
Customer service representatives are more than claims handlers and insurance information providers. Insurance claim representatives are professional life savers and the 911 operators of destroyed devices and human devastation. In the words of Nicole (Nikki) Ibsen, a customer service advocate for Protect Your Bubble, reps are self-proclaimed “personal technology grief counselors” who respond to claims that range from “pretty ridiculous” to “absolutely haywire.”
Here are some of the most interesting claims we have received.
1. Mechanical Malfunction
A customer called in to say his phone wouldn’t run, which doesn’t sound completely absurd at first. “He took it to his carrier and the carrier replied, ‘it’s not working because you have too much adult material saved on here,” shares Nikki. Because the breakdown was outside the manufacturer’s warranty and wouldn’t be covered, the customer was left with no choice but to file a claim. Protect Your Bubble covered the claim because the damage was reported as a “mechanical breakdown” causing a “mechanical malfunction.”
Lesson: Phones are not designed to be overloaded as a pornography repository.
2. Up in Flames
You’d think the first thing a person would worry about when their house is on fire is precious heirlooms, invaluable photographs, the family pet or even a newborn baby. But for a couple PYB customers, their phone was their biggest, number one concern.
Caller: “I need to file a claim because my phone is in my house, and my house is on fire.”
PYB: “Can you call us back? You have 30 days to file a claim. Perhaps, get the fire situation sorted.”
Lesson: When your house is on fire, first call the fire department to save your life, not your insurance agency to save your phone.
3. Lost & Found
Happy and positive stories are somewhat few and far between, explains Nikki. People who call to report their lost, broken or damaged phone are already frustrated and distressed. But one of the best heartwarming stories Nikki’s ever encountered was when she received a call from a woman who had filed a claim about a missing iPad two days previously.
“I need to cancel my claim,” she said. For data collection purposes, Nikki asked why.
“Well, it’s this guy. He found my iPad and posted a picture of it on Craigslist. One of my friends saw it, and she sent it to me on Facebook right away. I contacted him, and I got it back. It saved my life, I swear, because I got that from my daughter at Christmas, and it would have broken my heart if I had to tell her I lost it. He was the most wonderful human ever.”
Lesson: Believe in the goodness of people, always.
4. Chew Toys
Nikki has heard more times than she can count, “my dog loves chewing on things, and not just her chew toys. She prefers things slightly more expensive.” [cue laughter]. And if your four-legged furry companion is a golden retriever, chihuahua or dalmatian, keep a close eye on your smartphone or tablet. The aforementioned breeds are highly prone to chewing apart pricey devices—and not even saying sorry about it.
Lesson: Trust no one, especially your pet.
5. Broken Engagement
Cell phones have developed the reputation of being an accessible, projectile object for expressing anger—in a relationship, while driving a car, on the freeway.
The “my girlfriend threw my phone against the wall” is a pretty typical, day-to-day story, but one customer’s story went beyond “phone hits wall.” At first, she was hesitant to share how her screen cracked. Nikki explained that she had to continue to inquire about how the incident occurred because of the policy clause “malicious intent,” which means if you willfully break your phone because you’re in a bad mood or received an upsetting text, PYB isn’t required to cover it. After prodding for more details, the caller finally opened up:
“My fiance dropped it down onto the freeway, and I had to run across the freeway to get it. Now he’s in jail. I don’t think we’re getting married anymore.”
From there she shared the entire demise of her relationship, including the time when he threw her TV under the train tracks. “It was nuts,” says Nikki.
Lesson: Throwing a TV under train tracks is a giant relationship red flag. Walk away before your phone takes a hit too.
Stay tuned for Pt. 2 next week!