I replaced my iPhone 5C in the spring with a 6. My 5C had given me nothing but trouble from the get-go and its battery was dying. I was glad to have an excuse to get a much better phone for daily use. But I kept the 5C, which has almost no resale value, thinking that I could use it as a music player when I get set up in my own home. My mother gave me a little charging dock for it that would let me set it up in the kitchen for listening to music or podcasts (once I figure those out).

However, my 5C, evil thing that it is, had other plans.

I’ve been helping a friend shop for an iPhone of her own and pulled out the 5C the other day so I could show her just how much smaller it (and the similar SE) is to a regular size iPhone 6. This is what greeted me:

This was caused by a bad battery swelling (hence the title of this post). This phone really has been nothing but a lemon!

Since I’ve contacted Apple several times about this phone, I decided to waste some time and contact Apple again so they’d have another 5C horror story on file. I also rather hoped that the rep would take pity on me and offer me an App Store gift certificate for a token amount, but I wasn’t holding my breath.

The chat start off as normal, with my being asked to explain my problem briefly. I wrote: “I didn’t realise that iPhones self destruct.”

I then uploaded the above photo and added, “The battery on it swelled up and destroyed the phone.”

Next thing I knew, my case was being escalated and I was transferred to a more senior customer service rep. Surprising.

This second rep said that all she could do for me was to have the phone repaired or replaced. I explained that I’m in Mexico now and she said that’s not a problem and she would see if there’s a repair place nearby. There was no way, of course, that I was paying for anything related to this phone, but I let her work since while I’ve gotten some recs for Apple repair people in Mérida, I haven’t been able to figure out who is officially sanctioned by Apple.

She came back to me with only one authorised repairer in Mérida, who happens to be super convenient for me to get to, and asked for some information so she could append some notes to the serial number. It was there that I confessed that I had no intention of having the phone checked out. Which is when everything changed.

Even though the phone was well outside of warranty, the repair or, more likely, replacement would be absolutely free to me.

This decision was made primarily because the battery swelling issue is a known problem with the iPhone 5s (all models, but not necessarily all phones), but also because she saw that I’d contacted them before about issues with this phone and not been able to get to a repair shop for valid reasons (like a repair shop being 16 hours away roundtrip and my needing my phone for internet access so I couldn’t just mail it in and not have it for two weeks).

So there was recognition by the manufacturer that my 5C was a ticking time bomb of a lemon! I feel so validated. 🙂

Today, I went into Mérida to the iShop at the Altabrisa mall. There, they scanned the phone’s serial number and it brought up the note that I should get a repair or replacement at no charge. The lady said it was a clear case of replacement and that I’ll get a brand new phone in 10 days!!!

Now, I’m glad this happened when it did, after I got my 6, because it really is a superior phone and I might not have bought it if I had a better working 5C. But it’s great to know that I have a solid backup replacement phone in case something happens to my 6 (which I bought used). A new 5C’s value in Mexico is quite a bit higher than in the US and Canada so I am also toying with the idea of trying to sell it, but I think I’ll be happier sticking to my original plan of using it as a music player. At any rate, I have options!

Apple continues to provide me with extraordinary value. Sure, I’m getting more and more frustrated with them and their offerings as time goes on, but this experience was a good reminder of what a mistake it would be to go with any other manufacturer and offered the final little bit of confirmation I needed that sticking with an iPhone was the right call.

Thanks, Apple!

First Anniversary of Living in the 21st Century

It was a year ago today that I got internet access in Bulgaria and discovered that it is possible to stream a movie while downloading something in the background. I finally had 21st-century quality internet.

So today is my first anniversary of living in the 21st century at last. It’s been a full year of paying a reasonable amount for internet access, not worrying about bandwidth usage, dealing with ISPs who understand that internet is vital and needs to be fixed NOW, being in locations where free unlimited WiFi is ubiquitous, and getting a taste of that Star Trek-like future where the internet is just there.

Oh, it hasn’t been perfect by far. But when I look at my first 20 years of internet access in Canada and compare it to the last year spent mostly in Europe and Mexico, it’s like I jumped ahead a full century, as evidenced by how difficult it was to be offline that week I was home.

I can now take any job a client sends me, even if it’s a huge video, and because I can reliably download tons of audio in a day I’ve been able to grow my business and take on more clients.

Netflix is actually part of my routine now and I can download reliably from the iTunes store. So I’ve considerably cut down on torrenting (the only download method that works on slow and flaky internet).

All my device updates are done as they come out and the ever increasing security breaches with Macs aren’t as nervewracking since I can get the security update right away.

I can now sync my calendar, notes, and to-dos between my devices and have considerably cut down on how much paper I use and am less scattered.

In the next year, I want to learn what podcasts are all about and start backing up remotely (on top of the local backup).

But first, the challenge of getting myself hard wired to internet at my first home in Mexico. I’ve been promised that that will not go smoothly, but with 20 years of dealing with stupid Canadian ISPs under my belt, I can take anything TelMex or whomever I end up with throws at me! 😀

Sticking It To Canadian Telecom

I spent $160 for mobile service the ten months that I was in Europe. The breakdown is:

-$55 for three months in Bulgaria because I was paying per minute, text, and MB and didn’t realise that I should have been buying a package.

-$12 for 10 days in Serbia, for which I got unlimited calls and texts and so much data that I ended up using it to do my iOS updates.

-$30 for two months in Spain, for unlimited talk and text and a generous data allowance

-and $62 for two months in England, which was a more premium package with international calls, unlimited UK calls, unlimited texts, and something like 10GB of data.

There are so many Canadian plans and they vary from province to province, but as a point of reference, Bell Mobility starts at $32 a month (plus tax!) for 200Mb of data and limited talk and text. Realistically, I was looking at about $200 to get me through to my departure from Haven in May.

My original plan had been to keep my Mexican SIM topped up and use that in Canada since you can do that at the same price as if you’re in Mexico, but being an idiot, I forgot to top up.


TelCel is very generous with giving free gift balance and kept my account topped up the whole time I was gone. I just put 15CAD (200MXN) onto my account and got a package good for 30 days that has unlimited talk and text, plus 1.5GB of data, all good within Canada, the US, and Mexico. Bell’s most expensive plan ($66 plus tax) doesn’t even come close to that.

Any Canadians who go to Mexico on holiday should unlock their phones and get on a Mexican plan while down there, then cancel their service at home and tell Bell, Telus, etc. why. Now, I’m not sure if a Canadian number can call the Mexican number for free, but there are workarounds that would make this little protest painless. Canadian telecom prices are out outrageously out of sync with the rest of the world and it is time for us to revolt. As for me? Bye-bye Canadian telecom! You’ve seen the last of me!

Jackery Bar Power Pack

It was way back in Bulgaria last summer that it became clear that my phone’s battery was on the fritz. Kevin and Ruth recommended an external power pack that could possibly solve my power issues, but that brand wasn’t available in Bulgaria. Shopping for another alternative brand with the language barrier was daunting and I didn’t  have much access to to electronics stores anyway. I was also loathe to spend what is to me a lot of money on something for which I wouldn’t be able to use the warranty if it broke. Plus, I’ll admit that I have a short memory and it’s only on the rare days that I go out for many hours that I’m reminded of just how unreliable my phone is.

The phone has gotten exponentially worse and the battery issues seem to make it unresponsive as well. Since the phone was originally free, I thought that replacing the battery wouldn’t be an unreasonable cost, but it was about 125CAD to do that and I’d rather put that money towards a new phone. So an external power pack really seemed like a better investment since it could also provide charging power to my iPad and be used with whatever phone I get to replace my iPhone 5C.

When I got to the UK, I had a look at the product again, the Jackery Bar, since it is available through Amazon.co.uk. But the cost was twice what would pay for the device in Canada! It’s Amazon.ca for 25CAD with the taxes, but it was £30 on the UK site, so about 50CAD.

I came into some unexpected money my first night here in Shrewsbury and decided that that was the sign I was looking for to just buy the damn thing. So I logged into my Amazon.co.uk account to place an order and… found that the price had dropped to £10, or about 16CAD!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! That’s even less than buying the Jackery Bar at Amazon.com. I signed up for a free Prime membership trial to get free delivery and next business day delivery. So that was Saturday night and now it’s Monday and this thing of beauty is currently charging:

It’s quite heavy and more bulky than I expected, but I think I picked the right model. There are smaller ones that I didn’t feel would give me enough power (since the phone really isn’t holding a charge) and that wouldn’t charge my iPad at all (this one promises me up to half a charge for my Mini). The bigger one sounded way too humongous to drag around. The Bar appears to be the compromise between power and portability. I had a choice of the full range of colours and thought the orange was pretty although the muted gold was a close second choice.

Now, to see it is the help I hope it will be. Note to self, don’t forget to pack it and the phone charging cable when I go out!

Of course, this is a stop gap measure as I still need to replace the phone eventually. I’ve finally admitted that I’m going to have to make the same sacrifice I do with my computer, accepting hardware compromises to get superior software. In other words, there’s no way I’m moving to Android and I’m just going to have to hope that my next iPhone isn’t a lemon too. I have to remind myself that of all the Apple products I’ve owned in the last 14 years, only two have been duds, so the odds are I’ll be thrilled with my next phone. If anyone has an unlocked iPhone 6 (preferably the big one) for sale, let me know as I’ll be in active shopping mode when I get back to Canada next month. 🙂