Hundreds of T-Mobile stores will soon be able to repair phones

T-Mobile has announced that 500 of its stores will begin offering repair services from November 1. The company says technicians will provide same-day solutions using manufacturer-approved parts to customers who subscribe to the Protectionservice, which also includes replacement of the device in case of loss or theft.

T-Mobile is also improving that device protection plan by allowing customers to make five claims in a 12-month period, up from the previous limit of three. The claims are handled by Assurant and have a deductible based on what type of phone you have and what type of claim you make. Still, it’s probably cheaper than buying five new phones if you end up with one an 18-carat breakdown.

Interestingly, this change has echoes of the controversial T-Mobile/Sprint merger. In a brochure for protection, T-Mobile presents the changes as “the same key features you enjoyed under the Sprint Complete plan” and lists the five claims and walk-in repairs as benefits that were previously available. A 2020 Sprint support document refers to 1,300 repair centers, making T-Mobile’s 500 stores look like a bit of a downgrade — though T-Mobile says more locations are coming. As of fall 2020, when the merger was completed, the carrier reported that it had more than 7,500 retail locations, so there is room for expansion. T-Mobile says current repair locations will cover “almost every major city” in the US.

Still, it’s good to see that T-Mobile is at least trying to continue offering personal repair services. As the battle for the right to repair rages on, a trend is spreading in the mobile industry to make repairs more widely available. In 2019, Best Buy began offering authorized repairs for iPhones, and Apple has made progress in expanding its Independent Repair Provider program (although the program has received pushback for some of its requirements).

If you want to add T-Mobile’s protection plan to your service to take advantage of in-person repair, the limitations are worth noting. The company says you can only enroll within 30 days of a qualifying event, such as buying a T-Mobile device or bringing your own device to the network. There may also be an inspection process to make sure your phone works before it gets covered.