Could an iPhone's broken antenna prevent it from activating in iTunes?
August 10, 2013 7:18 PM   Subscribe

I sold someone an iPhone 3G after I dropped it two stories, fully disclosing the damage as far as I could tell; destroyed glass, a big chunk missing out of the back, non functioning power button, and that the antenna was likely broken since it would not connect to a carrier/network. It was also clear from the description that this was being sold as "for parts, not working." Buyer is claiming they are unable to activate the phone in iTunes, which says "there is a problem with your iPhone." Is this to be expected, given the description above? Can you help me say how, specifically this is to be expected given the condition described?
posted by brbmaroon to Computers & Internet (13 answers total)
Best answer: You said it was "not working." I think you're covered. Of course it can't be activated; it is " not working."
posted by Miko at 7:19 PM on August 10, 2013 [4 favorites]

I think I would make a polite reply referencing the "for parts, not working," and then block future e-mails from the other party.
posted by kmennie at 7:22 PM on August 10, 2013 [2 favorites]

Response by poster: Thanks - just to clarify this has escalated to a "dispute" which is being mediated by said housed name auction site. My strategy was to document that something I specifically listed about the condition would lead to this (wasn't sure if the antenna was required for this to work for example). The buyer is making the distinction that while it's not working, it's not working in a way that I didn't disclose.
posted by brbmaroon at 7:36 PM on August 10, 2013

The nonfunctioning power button would have been my first clue.

It's really hard to imagine a challenge to this standing.
posted by Miko at 7:49 PM on August 10, 2013 [2 favorites]

Best answer: It sounds like you gave a pretty detailed description of what you saw as the damage to the phone, which suggested that it was relatively functional but with a broken screen and unable to connect to a carrier. I can see how this could be attractive for someone looking for a discounted iOS device to use as a music player or some other offline purpose, and think that the details of your description matter quite a bit, especially if it suggested the phone was still semi-usable without the antenna. Saying it's "for parts" helps you, I think, but even better would be if your description had stated it wasn't fully tested and may have things wrong with it beyond the specific problems you mentioned here. Did it? It would be helpful if you could post the text of the ad description.

I don't see how a broken antenna (cellular? wifi?) could interfere with the connection to iTunes, but might the USB connector have a problem too?
posted by contraption at 8:54 PM on August 10, 2013

Maybe they just want it free and opening a possibly bogus dispute is their chosen mechanism of achieving this aim.
posted by tilde at 9:21 PM on August 10, 2013 [5 favorites]

Did you specifically list it as "for parts, not working" in the condition description field when you listed it? you're probably fucked otherwise.

I hate eBay for this type of thing because unless you were just like "THIS IS BROKEN" out and out, and didn't just say "this parts broken, this parts broken" etc then ebay will probably just side with them.

It's fucking bullshit, yea, but expect them to probably judge against you. Hopefully you're only going to be out like $20-30 since even working 3Gs only go for 50-75 or so nowadays...

That said, while i've dealt with this a lot we can't really help you without the full text of your original ad. I at least, would want to see it to know which parts to point to and say "i said these words exactly, they're right here" since that's probably going to be your only saving grace.

I've ended up just partially refunding people who were going to escalate something like this just to avoid it, the entire ebay dispute process is just so heavily stacked against the seller.
posted by emptythought at 9:38 PM on August 10, 2013 [1 favorite]

My old iPhone 3Gs, which appeared to work fine, other than the fact it couldn't place calls and couldn't provide any info about the cellular radio (IMEI, etc), also, I learned, wouldn't activate in iTunes.
posted by Good Brain at 10:23 PM on August 10, 2013

Is the buyer in the same country as the seller? Also, potential reasons the phone isn't working that nobody's mentioned yet is:

- Apple's activation servers are down
- There was damage to the SIM card or it is missing
- You or he jailbroke the phone

Also, check out DFU Recovery.
posted by phaedon at 10:51 PM on August 10, 2013

Also, by the way, if you told the seller it is "for parts, not working," I think you have a good case. The phone isn't fucking working.

If you went ahead to provide a general description of the physical condition of the phone as a courtesy, then good for you. That doesn't mean you're obligated to go through every app or every line of code on the OS to make sure everything is in order. That's ridiculous. That places an unreasonable burden on the seller. All things being equal, you said the phone's wasn't working.
posted by phaedon at 11:13 PM on August 10, 2013

Assuming this is eBay, you're probably better off giving a full refund. If you think the item is worth something and the buyer is being dishonest, then just make the refund contingent on the return of the item, effectively calling their bluff. They'll either return it to you, at which point you can sell it to someone else, or they'll keep it and drop the claim. Trying to force them to keep it by fighting their claim is a losing proposition; you'll only end up losing both the cash and the phone, and get negative feedback too.
posted by jon1270 at 4:26 AM on August 11, 2013 [8 favorites]

Best answer: Speaking as a seller, I've never had a buyer successfully push through a claim such as yours on an item listed as "for parts, not working."

However, if this is eBay, you stand your best chance if you write a clear and concise response. Ultimately, if a human at eBay/PayPal needs to make a decision, you will want to appear to have been a totally reasonable seller, but you also don't want them to be trying to play forensic reconstruction with what each party thought.

You might try something along the lines of:

"I'm sorry to hear that you are unhappy with your purchase of blah. While we made it clear in the listing that the item was "for parts, not working," your satisfaction is important. You may return the item within 14 days for a refund of the item's purchase price."

This sticks them with the cost of shipping, and is not likely to be considered unreasonable by a claims specialist if you are already bending to accommodate them by allowing a return.

Suuuuper tip (at least as of the last time something vaguely like this happened here), buyer may read that as "full refund", but the moment you issue a refund through the automated system, further disputes (think: for the shipping costs) become incredibly more difficult for the buyer and require the involvement of a human at eBay/PayPal. The automated system won't do it.
posted by jgreco at 6:47 AM on August 11, 2013 [5 favorites]

Response by poster: Thanks everyone -- decided to keep it simple and stick to the "broken, for parts" line. We'll see what happens!
posted by brbmaroon at 1:00 PM on August 14, 2013

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