My husband dropped his iPhone 5 into the toilet on Day One of his 3 weeks in Europe. We checked at Frankfurt airport phone stores, and they will only sell an iPhone with a phone contract. In Cologne on Day Two, we discovered that Kaufhof will sell iPhones 5s or 5c for 600 euros. With a contract you can buy the same for 50 euros. Can anyone suggest a better method of replacement or repair? We can remove the SIM card, but we are wary of buying a second-hand phone off the street, if we could even find one. (We speak German, so language is not an issue here. ) Any ideas? We will be in Cologne for a week and then go to London and Paris. 

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UPDATE: We went to GRAVIS on Ehrensrasse 2 :

 http://www.gravis.de/filialen/koeln/koeln/

 

They told us that nobody will repair a wet a iPhone. So, upon their advice, we booked a genius appointment at the Apple Store in the suburbs of Cologne:

https://www.apple.com/de/retail/rheincenter/

 

There, we can exchange our wet phone with a refurbished iPhone 5 for 250 euros. Not cheap, but we can put my husband's SIM card into the refurbished phone, and he'll be on his way.

We're trying not to think about all the nice meals, wines, or clothes we could have bought for that price. :-(

Originally Posted by PortMoresby:

I'd be inclined to contact the original source of the phone and see if they can Fedex a replacement.

Be careful with that.  There might be a huge duty/tariff you'd have to pay to do so.  Check this out with your concierge before you take this route.  But if no customs fee, I'd probably get a new phone from back home, too.

Twitter: @DrFumblefinger

"We do not take a trip, a trip takes us".  John Steinbeck, from Travels with Charlie

"Be careful with that.  There might be a huge duty/tariff..."

 

VAT may, of course, be imposed but then most likely refunded when you take it home again.  It's certainly worth checking out if all else fails.

 

Then there's the dreaded "do without" option, if imagination allows.  

I don't know much about Germany's import taxes, but there may be taxes on certain classes of merchandise beyond and in addition to VAT.   For example, in one country I know of, importing a car is associated with a tax of 100% of the value of the car.  And after that, you also pay VAT.

Twitter: @DrFumblefinger

"We do not take a trip, a trip takes us".  John Steinbeck, from Travels with Charlie

I do expect a tax. If it's terrible, my husband will do without a phone. I remember we had to pay a big tax even when bringing in our own (used) car from the USA to use during the two years we lived in Germany. It was cheaper to ship our own car to Germany than to buy or rent one for two years.

 

But, back to to phone...We will update this post with relevant news.

While I know iPhone users can be very brand-loyal, if the price is too high, consider buying a cheap Android phone and using it with your SIM. At the end of the trip, you can put it back in a new iPhone, or (dare I say?) change sides...

 

The iPhone 5 uses yet another made-for-Apple incompatible SIM size, but phone stores will have a small plastic holder to retrofit it to the sizes used by others.

The best part of every trip is realizing that it has upset your expectations

UPDATE ON REPLACING AN iPHONE 5 IN EUROPE:

 

Cologne's Apple store didn't have a US iPhone 5 in stock and the technician offered to order one for us. However, the phone would not arrive for a week, and we would be in London by then. So we made an Apple store genius bar appointment at London's Stratford City-Westfield location near the Olympic Park. WARNING: we made this appointment a week in advance, which is standard for Genius Bar schedules in Europe. (For laptop appointments, the wait is longer.)

 

The London store gave us the same answer, but they ordered the US version of the phone in hopes that it would arrive before we depart for Paris. We have already made appointments in Paris, but we suspect my husband will have to replace his phone at home.

 

The other, though expensive, option was to buy a new European version of the phone and use the old SIM car. But the price to do that was between 550 and 600 euros. The replacement price was 250 euros.

 

 

NO cooperation between Apple stores in different countries. We made FOUR visits to Apple stores—Cologne, London, and twice to the Paris Louvre store—before my husband was finally able to exchange his water-damaged iPhone 5 with a replacement. He bought his replacement for 249 euros, only 1 1/2 days before he finished his three-week Europe vacation. The Louvre Apple store (which is underground in the Carousel shopping mall) was packed with confused and anxious Apple product users. Some customer assistants spoke English, some did not, but we don't expect foreign language use in such stores. I don't understand why #Apple does not come up with a simpler system that would reduce the confusion in all of their stores, including the US locales.

There must be a better way to take your iPhone to Europe. And yes, the morale of the story is NOT to drop the phone in water while on vacation.

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