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Apple refuses to return repaired iPhone to owner

post #1 of 189
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Apple will not return a stolen iPhone to to the original owner after the thief took the phone in to get serviced due to the victim's failure to file a police report.

After getting her iPhone stolen, one reader relayed to Consumerist the tale of her failed attempts to try to get it back from AT&T and Apple. The crime happened on the subway in New York city, after which the victim promptly called the police who searched the area to no avail.

Several weeks later the victim received an email from Apple notifying her that someone had filed a request to replace her broken phone through Apple Care. Her email was linked to the serial number of the phone so she received all messages regarding service and warranty work. After hours spent on the phone with Apple and AT&T she was notified since a police report was never filed she doesn't have sufficient evidence to get her phone back.

"So I call AT&T... and over the course of 12 hours I speak to a bunch of people who are all very sorry that this is the situation I'm in, but their hands are tied they have to honor the warranty and it does not matter that it's clear the phone is mine. They would need the authorities to tell them to do otherwise," writes the victim.

Despite the fact that she went to the precinct and had the authorities call Apple to verify her story, Apple stuck to its guns. To Apple, she has no real way of proving that she is still the owner of the phone. Apple has refused to act on her behalf and instead chose to honor the warranty agreement.
post #2 of 189
Too bad she never watched The People's Court, otherwise her actions might have been more prudent...

Moral of the story, IF your property is stolen file a police report so you have documentation for the courts. If it's not that important to do in the present, then it's not important in the future!

Live and learn, lady.

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post #3 of 189
"had filed a request for to replace her broken phone" - is this a grammatical error? Other aspects of the story are also unclear, like whether a police report was filed when she called the police to conduct a search. Without all the facts, I can't tell which side I should sympathetic to.
post #4 of 189
Quote:
Originally Posted by AppleInsider View Post

Apple will not return a stolen iPhone to to the original owner after the thief took the phone in to get serviced due to the victim's failure to file a police report.

After getting her iPhone stolen, one reader relayed to Consumerist the tale of her failed attempts to try to get it back from AT&T and Apple. The crime happened on the subway in New York city, after which the victim promptly called the police who searched the area to no avail.

Several weeks later the victim received an email from AT&T notifying her that someone had filed a request for to replace her broken phone through Apple Care. Her email was linked to the serial number of the phone so she received all messages regarding service and warranty work. After hours spent on the phone with Apple and AT&T she was notified since a police report was never filed she doesn't have sufficient evidence to get her phone back.

"So I call AT&T... and over the course of 12 hours I speak to a bunch of people who are all very sorry that this is the situation I'm in, but their hands are tied they have to honor the warranty and it does not matter that it's clear the phone is mine. They would need the authorities to tell them to do otherwise," writes the victim.

Despite the fact that she went to the precinct and had the authorities call Apple to verify her story, Apple stuck to its guns. To Apple, she has no real way of proving that she is still the owner of the phone. Apple has refused to act on her behalf and instead chose to honor the warranty agreement.

If the facts of the story are accurate then Apple is being obtuse. All Apple needs to do is ask the person who brought the phone in for service for a bill of sale from the original owner. This is not exactly rocket science. I can understand Apple being cautious but this is ridiculous IMHO.
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post #5 of 189
"Do No Evil". Heh, yeah right.
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post #6 of 189
Quote:
Originally Posted by bigdaddyp View Post

If the facts of the story are accurate then Apple is being obtuse. All Apple needs to do is ask the person who brought the phone in for service for a bill of sale from the original owner. This is not exactly rocket science. I can understand Apple being cautious but this is ridiculous IMHO.

I don't know if it's necessarily ridiculous. A used item of maybe a couple hundred dollars isn't that significant, assuming a bill of sale was made, might not be something that is saved. I don't think it's normal to expect the current "owner" to prove they're innocent, especially when the original owner hadn't followed the expected procedure of at least doing the minimum of filing a police report. For my own purposes, I usually ask for a bill of sale, but only for tax purposes.

I don't know if it's possible to get a police report so long after the fact, it seems like that would be the first think to try, if it hasn't been tried, maybe I missed that line.

I haven't had anything stolen from me in a very long time, I don't know if I would have thought to get a police report unless there was insurance involved.
post #7 of 189
God, that was entertaining.
post #8 of 189
Quote:
Originally Posted by g3pro View Post

"Do No Evil". Heh, yeah right.

It's clearly not so simple. Besides, I thought that's Google's supposed motto, not Apple's.
post #9 of 189
Not so simple, this case. Either way, it seems Apple is also bound to the Law and its associated procedures in this particular matter.
post #10 of 189
Quote:
Originally Posted by bigdaddyp View Post

If the facts of the story are accurate then Apple is being obtuse. All Apple needs to do is ask the person who brought the phone in for service for a bill of sale from the original owner. This is not exactly rocket science. I can understand Apple being cautious but this is ridiculous IMHO.

Except that the original bill of sale is no proof that you haven't gifted or sold your iPhone to someone else. Sorry, but I back Apple in this case. A police report is the only way for Apple to be sure you aren't being fraudulent.

Think of it this way, if you bought a used iPhone legally and took it in for repair, how would you like it if Apple gave it back to the original purchaser when you took it in for warranty service? If you're the victim of a crime, and want to ever get compensated for it, file a report with police. This isn't rocket science after all.
post #11 of 189
I've lost my Nokia cellphone when I was on vacation in Southeast Asia. There is no way a police would help you find your phone there in a very dense and crowded area. I knew my phone has ended up in a pawnshop somewhere, I don't care anymore. I realized how a device can be so personal and I just wished I could get my sd card back with my vacation photos.

Now that I have an iPhone, all my stuff is synced via MobileMe. Its also configured to self-destruct(erase) my personal data. But the best thing of all is Find my iPhone feature.

If this girl in the article would've read the security features of the iPhone, she'd should've used Find my iPhone and track the person down with the help of a police.
post #12 of 189
That's some customer service for you.
Citing unnamed sources with limited but direct knowledge of the rumoured device - Comedy Insider (Feb 2014)
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Citing unnamed sources with limited but direct knowledge of the rumoured device - Comedy Insider (Feb 2014)
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post #13 of 189
I'm on the side with apple. How do you know she didn't sell the phone. The buyer never registered the phone to them and the victim was still receiving emails on repairs. The victim decides she wants the phone back. Why didn't file a police report? How does apple know this is still her phone??? Go file a police report and get your phone back.
post #14 of 189
Thats just rediculous. Apple should give it back to the owner, after providing recipts or something
post #15 of 189
Quote:
Originally Posted by Rot'nApple View Post

Too bad she never watched The People's Court, otherwise her actions might have been more prudent...

Moral of the story, IF your property is stolen file a police report so you have documentation for the courts. If it's not that important to do in the present, then it's not important in the future!

Live and learn, lady.

Agreed.
post #16 of 189
Quote:
Originally Posted by AppleInsider View Post

Apple will not return a stolen iPhone to to the original owner after the thief took the phone in to get serviced due to the victim's failure to file a police report....The crime happened on the subway in New York city, after which the victim promptly called the police who searched the area to no avail.
AppleInsider.com ][/url][/c]

I am not a lawyer, but one has to assume that if she called the police, and they dedicated manpower to do a search, there is a report for that somewhere, maybe not a serial number, but certinly at least a list, something like "items stolen, 1 handbag, content of bag: wallet containing x credit/debit cards, y ID cards, and $z in cash, wireless phone, makeup, etc" or perhaps just "item reported stolen stolen: wireless phone" Or perhaps there is a 911 tape that would suffice, if she mentioned the stolen items in the call it should appear in a police report as the reason for dispatch.

Apple has evidence in the form of original sales docs that it belongs to the victim...this should be an open and shut case...
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post #17 of 189
Quote:
Originally Posted by Ireland View Post

That's some customer service for you.

Apple's customer service is the best in the industry, and AT&T is simply playing by the rules.

In this particular case it looks like Apple is following legal procedure to the letter. You can't really fault them for that.

Not sure why this is even news.
post #18 of 189
So file a report now. Stolen is stolen.
post #19 of 189
There must be more to this story, because it's ridiculous.

If her name is linked to the serial number then it's her phone. Surly she has a receipt or the original packaging which also has the serial number on it. When you take that into consideration along with the fact that the police department contacted Apple, this is a case of someone at Apple being a total douche bag.

This is poor PR to receive over a stupid situation.
post #20 of 189
I don't know why AppleInsider decided to run this article. It's so full of holes. The victim made her own choices about how she handled the situation. Why place the blame on Apple and AT&T?
post #21 of 189
Quote:
Originally Posted by coolfactor View Post

I don't know why AppleInsider decided to run this article. It's so full of holes. The victim made her own choices about how she handled the situation. Why place the blame on Apple and AT&T?

Agreed. One individual out of millions gets their iPhone stolen, fails to take advantage of the proper legal remedy, and it's news?
post #22 of 189
Get a Droid. If it is stolen it'll be returned to its owner magically. Droid does where iPhone doesn't.
post #23 of 189
Seems that the "owner of record" for a phone would be whoever is paying the bill for the phone number associated with the iPhone. So it would be (should be) easy to determine whether whoever is requesting a replacement via Applecare is the legitimate owner.

This assumes that the phone was activated at the time that it was stolen (which appears to be the case).

bw
post #24 of 189
So it seems like she should just file a police report and get her phone back...!?
post #25 of 189
I imagine the phone was stolen then sold on eBay. If they were to give the phone back to her they would be taking it away from the new owner (who is not the thief). It is a tricky situation. I'm not sure what the legal precedent is on this. If they properly escalated the issue with Apple, my guess is that the law does not work in the victims favor.

Although anyone buying an Apple product on eBay should get the serial number and check with Apple to see if it is stolen first. You should also report a product stolen to Apple. They will put it in their records. Also make sure when you buy an Apple product on eBay that they transfer AppleCare to the new owners name. There are instructions to do this on Apple's web site.

Seriously, eBay should be requiring this or at least put up a disclaimer in the Apple section of the site. I would guess that a large percentage of Apple products and video game consoles are stolen because they have a high resale value.

Everyone has had property stolen from them at some point. You do what you can to prevent it, but ultimately you just need to write it off and move on.
post #26 of 189
Quote:
Originally Posted by bw58 View Post

Seems that the "owner of record" for a phone would be whoever is paying the bill for the phone number associated with the iPhone. So it would be (should be) easy to determine whether whoever is requesting a replacement via Applecare is the legitimate owner.

This assumes that the phone was activated at the time that it was stolen (which appears to be the case).

bw

The phone contract is tied to the SIM card not the phone.
post #27 of 189
Quote:
Originally Posted by a_greer View Post

I am not a lawyer, but one has to assume that if she called the police, and they dedicated manpower to do a search, there is a report for that somewhere, maybe not a serial number, but certinly at least a list, something like "items stolen, 1 handbag, content of bag: wallet containing x credit/debit cards, y ID cards, and $z in cash, wireless phone, makeup, etc" or perhaps just "item reported stolen stolen: wireless phone" Or perhaps there is a 911 tape that would suffice, if she mentioned the stolen items in the call it should appear in a police report as the reason for dispatch.

Apple has evidence in the form of original sales docs that it belongs to the victim...this should be an open and shut case...

Your correct, you aren't a lawyer, because if any law student peddled what you just said, you're professor would laugh at you.

1) Proof of sale != proof of ownership. Items can be sold to other people.
2) Because of point one, the assailant can simply say that she sold the phone to the thief. The burden of proof is on HER to prove that she is right, not that the thief is wrong. And with millions of BS circumstances, it will easily devolve into he said/she said arguments (and instantly thrown out).
3) If something is important to go to court over, there should be a police report. Apple CANNOT believe every person that says X phone is theirs because it has their info on it. It would be way too easy for criminals to abuse that system.
4) Again, police reports!!!

I do feel sorry for this person, but let this be a lesson to everyone. If you want to get back your stuff, FILE A POLICE REPORT. Nothing other than that will 100% guarantee you'll get your stuff back should it be known where it is located. Also, keep serial numbers of everything.
post #28 of 189
Quote:
Originally Posted by g3pro View Post

"Do No Evil". Heh, yeah right.

As someone pointed out that is google's motto. Apple's is something like "do as Steve does". (and Steve does not give away any of his products for cheap)

Here is my argument in this story:

1. The phone was brought in for repair.
2. In order to be repaired your would need to scan the serial number in to see if it is still under warranty.
3. Serial number is confirmed to be under warranty, which means the phone is not too old. (which implies a cancellation fee if used under 2 years).
4. THis is a phone, and not and iPod Touch.
5. Phones have calling plans, which tie the phone with a serial number to a phone account with a phone number.
6. Phone numbers are assigned to people, who in turn have names that can be proven through picture ID.

Therefore: If a person A can provide a current monthly ATT bill (no cancellation fee), on which the phone serial is listed and or a proof of purchase, and the person B has niether ATT iPhone service nor a proof of purchase (Amazon or ebay reciept of purchase of the phone) then the phone belongs to the person A without a shadow of doubt. Couple that with a call to the police, which can be checked through phone records at police department in NY (probably pretty technologically advanced) and the phone should have been returned.
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post #29 of 189
Quote:
Originally Posted by bdkennedy1 View Post

There must be more to this story, because it's ridiculous.

If her name is linked to the serial number then it's her phone. Surly she has a receipt or the original packaging which also has the serial number on it. When you take that into consideration along with the fact that the police department contacted Apple, this is a case of someone at Apple being a total douche bag.

This is poor PR to receive over a stupid situation.

And what happens if she sold the phone? How do you take into account that? Because she'll still have the original receipt (who hands over original receipts when they sell stuff? No one.)

Someone at the police department contacting Apple is NOT the same as her filing a police report. This is a case where the law is clear. If we start bending the laws for obvious rightful circumstances, obvious criminal cases will start using the law in their favor. Don't think that what is done here is done in isolation.
post #30 of 189
I've never had to deactivated a phone, but I'd assume that the carrier would verify that the "owner of record" for a phone was the one asking to have the phone deactivated (?).

That is: if a phone were stolen [and sold on eBay] wouldn't the phone have to be deactivated by someone (either the person who stole the phone or the person who bought the stolen phone) before it could be activated [by the new "owner"].

Also, just because you bought something in good faith doesn't mean you get to keep it if it's found to be stolen goods (and the real owner manages to track you down, proves that the item was stolen and provides proof of ownership -- 'cept maybe in Louisiana, I think).

bw
post #31 of 189
Apple has no legal right or ability to seize property from someone who is in possession of a product, whether it is stolen or not. They are not the government.
post #32 of 189
Quote:
Originally Posted by bw58 View Post

I've never had to deactivated a phone, but I'd assume that the carrier would verify that the "owner of record" for a phone was the one asking to have the phone deactivated (?).

That is: if a phone were stolen [and sold on eBay] wouldn't the phone have to be deactivated by someone (either the person who stole the phone or the person who bought the stolen phone) before it could be activated [by the new "owner"].

Also, just because you bought something in good faith doesn't mean you get to keep it if it's found to be stolen goods (and the real owner manages to track you down, proves that the item was stolen and provides proof of ownership -- 'cept maybe in Louisiana, I think).

bw

Unfortunately there is no way to brick any phone with a SIM card. You can only deactivate the SIM card. With mobileMe you can remotely put a password on your phone or you can put one on yourself in advance. I'm not sure if that prevents software restore though.

Most likely the phone was sold to a new owner who had damaged their own phone. They would simple have to swap the SIM card and now the phone is working on their plan.
post #33 of 189
Quote:
Originally Posted by QuitCrying View Post

I'm on the side with apple. How do you know she didn't sell the phone. The buyer never registered the phone to them and the victim was still receiving emails on repairs. The victim decides she wants the phone back. Why didn't file a police report? How does apple know this is still her phone??? Go file a police report and get your phone back.

Apple could have asked for proof of AppleCare that they give you when you register a device. When you get that form in the mail it says to keep it for proof of coverage. When sale of a covered item occurs you have to get the warranty transferred or it is not valid for the new owner.

If she called the police & they searched for it why was no report filed?

There is a lot to this story that is missing, terrible bit of journalism.
post #34 of 189
Quote:
Originally Posted by sheff View Post

As someone pointed out that is google's motto. Apple's is something like "do as Steve does". (and Steve does not give away any of his products for cheap)

Here is my argument in this story:

1. The phone was brought in for repair.
2. In order to be repaired your would need to scan the serial number in to see if it is still under warranty.
3. Serial number is confirmed to be under warranty, which means the phone is not too old. (which implies a cancellation fee if used under 2 years).
4. THis is a phone, and not and iPod Touch.
5. Phones have calling plans, which tie the phone with a serial number to a phone account with a phone number.
6. Phone numbers are assigned to people, who in turn have names that can be proven through picture ID.

Therefore: If a person A can provide a current monthly ATT bill (no cancellation fee), on which the phone serial is listed and or a proof of purchase, and the person B has niether ATT iPhone service nor a proof of purchase (Amazon or ebay reciept of purchase of the phone) then the phone belongs to the person A without a shadow of doubt. Couple that with a call to the police, which can be checked through phone records at police department in NY (probably pretty technologically advanced) and the phone should have been returned.

It sounds like the obvious thing to do... but I'm pretty sure that is not the legal thing to do. Apple, being an entity that does not want to be sued, is going to do the legal thing.

By the way, the phone is not tied to a calling plan with AT&T. And if that were the case, there would be no reason to steal the phone in the first place. I think the phone is tied to the calling plan with Verizon, but I'm not positive.
post #35 of 189
Quote:
Originally Posted by Quadra 610 View Post

Agreed. One individual out of millions gets their iPhone stolen, fails to take advantage of the proper legal remedy, and it's news?

i know right? who cares?
i wonder if there are that many news of stolen winmo phones
post #36 of 189
Quote:
Originally Posted by JeffDM View Post

It's clearly not so simple. Besides, I thought that's Google's supposed motto, not Apple's.

Apparently it should be its motto. LOL.
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post #37 of 189
Quote:
Originally Posted by g3pro View Post

Apparently it should be its motto. LOL.

ummm.. ok?
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post #38 of 189
Quote:
Originally Posted by MacTel View Post

Droid does where iPhone doesn't.

That's really untrue. Droid can't pinch & zoom, droid can't access over 100,000 apps, droid can't talk& browse, droid can't even claim itself as a robot. WOW! It even slides out with a keyboard!! "Ooooo. Magical."
It's just cheap talk.(I've experienced a droid.)

Other than the droid, this lady should be getting her phone back. And apple & at&t does have proof. The lady must still carry and have the box with the serial number, the phone must have the serial number, the reciept must have her serial number, heck! Even at&t emailed her the serial number.
Even though you're not carrying a police report, you yourself & apple/at&t should have full proof of a purchased device and a serial number and account name from that serial number.
post #39 of 189
Can I prove ownership with a receipt for the phone? Perhaps a series of bills stating my name, address, phone listed on plan from my AT&T online account or the last bill from the month that it was stolen? Can the Police write a report from a that happened days, weeks or months ago? I would camp out at the store that the phone was left at and produce the documents and wait for the criminal to arrive. Apple and AT&T should grow some stones and do the right thing. If you can produce those documents I would challenge the criminals claim of ownership.
post #40 of 189
Calling this journalism, even though you qualify it with the
Modifier "bad" is beyond a stretch. The way this tale jumps from AT&T to Apple, one would think they were the same company.

I have sold and gifted iPhones and still have the original receipts. For some unknown reason, the second parties never asked for a bill of sale. Sounds like Apple is being prudent and the AI contributor is racking the muck a bit too deeply.

Quote:
Originally Posted by hezekiahb View Post

Apple could have asked for proof of AppleCare that they give you when you register a device. When you get that form in the mail it says to keep it for proof of coverage. When sale of a covered item occurs you have to get the warranty transferred or it is not valid for the new owner.

If she called the police & they searched for it why was no report filed?

There is a lot to this story that is missing, terrible bit of journalism.
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