Since it arrived in my life back in December, I’ve said at least a dozen times that if my iPhone were lost, stolen or destroyed that I would break down in tears. Unfortunately, that declaration was severely tested this past weekend. I may have suffered several hours of stomach-churning angst as a result, but I surprised myself by not shedding a tear.

Saturday night ended the way most nights end, with me curled up in bed listening to music on my phone as I drifted off to sleep. Once I realized that I was spending less and less time in the conscious world, I turned off my phone and put it in its usual place in the drawer of my night stand. Flash forward 6 or so hours, and I woke up to the blazing sunshine of a new day. I reached for my phone to check the time (it has replaced my clock radio as my alarm clock), and was greeted by a strange white screen. My half-sleeping brain was confused. Had I somehow turned on the flashlight app? It basically floods the screen with white light for use as an emergency light if the power suddenly quits. I fumbled with the phone, trying to close the flashlight app so I could just check the time and roll back over to sleep. The white screen persisted, however. There didn’t seem to be a way to turn it off. Finally, I accidentally dragged a finger across the bottom of the screen and heard the familiar click of the phone unlocking. Wait, what? That meant my phone wasn’t stuck in the flashlight app! That white screen was the home screen of my phone!

I sat up in bed now, the panic and puzzlement having quickly washed the sleep out of my brain. I fiddled with the phone a bit more and realized, yup, that white screen was the home screen, and when I unlocked it, the white screen had four neat dark columns right where the rows of apps would be. At this point, klaxons started going off in my head. I think I even mouthed the words “don’t let it be water damage!” As any iPhone owner knows, water damage is the big “out” clause in the phone’s warranty. If your phone has been exposed to too much moisture (and there is a sensor inside that indicates this is so), you are no longer covered by warranty.

I bolted up out of bed and ran (literally ran) to the computer to consult the Oracle at Google. As I typed “iphone white screen” into the search bar, Google helpfully suggested “iphone white screen of death.” My heart leapt up into my throat. That just couldn’t be a good sign. As I read through suggested articles on various and sundry Apple forums, I received all kinds of advice on how to revive my phone. Unfortunately, none of them worked. All I could do was let out a long sigh and make an appointment with the Apple store to bring my phone in at 11, which was four long hours in the future.

At 10:30, I bundled Sam into the car and headed for the mall. I wanted to be at the store bang on at 11, and be the first person through the doors as they opened for the day. I was off by 2 minutes, but when I told the cute girl at the Genius bar i was there for my 11:00 appointment, she dutifully checked me in on her iPad and told me they would be with me in a minute. Sam and I wandered off to check out the iPad display. That minute turned into ten, then thirty, then forty-five. I had kept making eye contact with the girl at the counter to remind her I was still in the store and waiting, but by this point she was off visiting with friends in the corner of the store. Sam started making comments that it had not taken this long for his mother to get her Mac looked at. Then, I noticed the screen that listed the names of the next several appointments. My name wasn’t up there. Shit.

I must have looked a bit anxious as I approached the Genius bar (can I just say that’s the most pretentious name ever? Thanks.) cos one of the guys behind the counter came right over and asked what was up. I told him I thought I had been forgotten, and that I had checked in for an appointment 45 minutes ago and never been called up. He looked at the appointment board and said “hmm, it looks like your appointment has been closed.” At that moment in time, my impression of Apple’s customer service took a severe dip. It must have shown on my face, because he offered to have a look right away.

I sat down and gave him my phone. He touched the screen, frowned, and mouthed the word “wow.” Uh oh. After trying to reset it several times, he disappeared to the back room to check the touch screen’s integrity. As he emerged, the look on his face told me there was no miraculous, Lazarus-like return from the dead. I held my breath while he delivered the verdict. “Well, it’s not water damage…”


He went on to explain that, while they normally would try replacing the screen and have me come back in a day to pick it up, they were just going to replace the phone as a token of apology for having my appointment closed. My opinion of Apple’s customer service bounced right back up. Within minutes, I had a new device in my hands and was on my way back home to restore my settings from a backup. After four hours of angst and an hour in the store, I had been made whole again.

As an aside, the people at the Apple store are very friendly and helpful, but I find them a bit creepy. They all seem to display the same serene, yet unsettling smile of someone who has either been indoctrinated into a cult or given an ice pick lobotomy. But I digress…

~ by schlippo on June 1, 2010.

3 Responses to “iAngst”

  1. You’re lucky. I’ve never head a “white screen of death” iPhone story end with the upset customer actually getting what they walked in for…a solution.

  2. Apparently, I got lucky. Having to wait so long was a pain in the ass, but it did cause them to skip directly to the “just replace the damn thing” step in the customer care process.

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