The Case Conspiracy

Look at any cellphone provider’s web site for a new phone and you will see they are only charging you a fraction of what that phone actually costs. At least according to them that is. I’ve heard the iPhone we all bought for $199 actually costs the carrier closer to $600. So how could they possibly be making any profit?

Welcome to (trumpets please) The Case Conspiracy.

You know you’re not leaving the cell phone store without a lecture on the need to protect your device. This includes the dreaded extended warranty doomsday diatribe, followed by case coercion, and for the finale the screen protector prophecy. After all, to replace your device is hundreds more than you paid, and how stupid would you be knowing you’re going to drop it at some point without having protection in advance.

I confess I caved on my iPhone having heard horror stories of shattered screens and inadvertent personal flotation devices, further reinforced by the spare no-frills prehistoric folding phone my salesperson whipped out as evidence of his current impending repair. I went for the hat trick, getting the case-screen combo and the extended warranty. I couldn’t wait to read the list of exclusions for the warranty because it just sounds so perfect in the store…whatever happens, wink-wink, we’ll fix it! Really? So basically if I actually carry the phone anywhere it likely isn’t going to last, so therefore I should pay extra in advance to pre-repair it, when it’s something that isn’t going to last as long as I expected in the first place. Great, where do I sign!

Had I not been in a hurry to transfer everything to my new iPhone and get back to work I may have thrown my phone against the store wall before I left just to see if they’d honor the extended warranty right then and there. Given my ongoing frustration trying to type on glass, I could certainly see myself exercising my sidearm fastball relay-into­-the-wall after the umpteenth incorrect auto-correct and random fat finger cut and paste yields yet another SENT nonsensical response.

But I digress.

So my theory is each cell phone manufacturer owns a case supply company whom they give exclusive rights to producing their uniquely formed series of covers for their devices. That $20 rubber cover you bought costs about 30 cents to make. Sell a few million of those in a bunch of colors and you’re quickly making up the so-called lost margin. This is why instead of including a cover with the device you’ve no choice but to buy one. Not sure? Go read the fine print on your warranty and you’ll see the exclusions for anything outside of a defect, normal wear and tear, or proper handling…unless covered by a suitable case. It’s clearly stated in plain olde English in standard 2 point Helvetica font on page 497: thou shalt buy a case for thy cellphone and thou shalt not bear false witness against thy carrier if thou droppeth thy phone.

Again, (trumpets please) welcome to The Case Conspiracy. Nightline here we come.

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