Amazon, Reliant Cellular: iPhone Buyer Beware

An iPhone Buyer Beware Story: Late last October (2018), my parents bought me an “Apple iPhone 6s 128 GB International Warranty Unlocked Cellphone – Retail Packaging (Rose Gold)” from Reliant Cellular. It came in its retail packaging. Package looked unopened. iPhone and charger looked new. It wasn’t a counterfeit one. But it was only when the charger pin fell off several months later, and I took it to an authorized Apple retailer that I discovered it wasn’t new.

Lodging the Complaint

Amazon said only the official purchaser could lodge a complaint. Peachy. I had to wait for my parents to be available to call Amazon then help them with the call. Amazon forwarded the complaint to Reliant Cellular, saying that they would help us if we got nowhere. Reliant Cellular wrote, “Yes, there is no 1 year warranty advertised or sold with the product. There is only a 30 day return policy and 60 day exchange” which is also deceptive as retailers don’t offer 1–year warranties. Apple does.

My parents emailed Amazon that they had gotten nowhere. Amazon ignored them.

So I wrote a Customer Review with a one-star rating. Amazon rejected it, so here it is:

Customer Review of Reliant Cellular iPhone 6S

My parents bought me this iPhone 6S 128GB Rose Gold as a birthday gift late last year. The condition was labelled as “new” and “retail packaging” was in the title. That told my senior parents that buying this iPhone from Reliant Cellular was the same as buying directly from Apple, meaning the warranty offered by Reliant Cellular of 30-day return and 60-day exchange is the same as any retailer offers NOT a substitute for Apple’s standard 1-year warranty.

Reliant Cellular product page for iPhone 6S 128GB Rose GoldUnfortunately, I discovered that Reliant Cellular deceives innocent customers with its labelling when my charging cable suddenly fell apart from corrosion.

iPhone 6S charger cable showing corrosion and pin corroded off.

I discovered later, it was happening within the iPhone’s lightning port when I went to take it to an authorized Apple dealer to find out what happened. They also told me that the purchase date was one and a half years prior to my parents purchasing it from Reliant Cellular. I was shocked. I told them to check again as I just couldn’t believe it.

Reliant Cellular didn’t tell my parents the official purchase date. By omitting this essential piece of information, they knowingly allowed us to assume the purchase date associated with its serial number was the same date as it was bought.

I didn’t think Amazon would allow deceptive labelling of products. If a person sees “new” and “retail packaging,” they’re going to assume it’s new as in new on the date purchased. No customer would know it’s been sitting around in a warehouse, perhaps in a humid environment — which would lead to the premature corrosion happening — for well over a year before being sold to them.

When Apple’s warranty has expired and the product has been sitting around for longer than the warranty period, then the product should not be labelled as “new condition,” and “retail packaging” should be explained as “sitting in warehouse for years in its packaging.” Reliant Cellular offered my parents no remedy. Amazon didn’t follow up. My parents are not savvy in the ways of achieving good customer service, and since I’m not the official purchaser, I can’t follow up. I had to buy a replacement charger, which corroded within a month. I’ve now bought a wireless receiver case and wireless charger, which is a pain to use, but at least I can still charge my iPhone. I’m out almost $100, which I can’t afford. My advice: don’t buy from Reliant and don’t buy electronics from Amazon.

End rejected Customer Review.

Amazon’s Twitter Response

I began posting my review on my Twitter account and said I’d be copying it to all my online presences. Amazon Help saw and replied quickly:

That’s a nice bit of sophistry.

The issue is the item itself is being sold as something it’s not.

The age of the smartphone being sold matters when describing this product. Reliant Cellular is selling this iPhone 6S as new when it was purchased so long ago, the Apple warranty has expired and humidity during storage may have affected the lightning port so I can’t use chargers with lightning connectors anymore.

Jacking up the price is quite the bit of chutzpah. But then they know Amazon won’t allow reviews that reveal the iPhone is not as advertised, only good ones or a low rating with no comment.

Update 14:22:

Amazon should require Reliant Cellular to put in plain English in a prominent place that Apple sees this iPhone as having been purchased over a year earlier and so its warranty has expired. It could further explain why, for example, that the iPhone was bulk purchased on June 2017 and has been sitting in Reliant Cellular’s warehouse since then.

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