O2 offer to fix 7.5 million cracked phone screens

22 September 2017, 15:43   By Samantha Smith

O2 have effectively offered to repair the phones of the 7.5 million Brits who are walking around with cracked touchscreens, as part of a new promotion entitling customers to one free screen replacement within a 24-month contract.

o2 store front splash
Credit: chrisdorney/Shutterstock.com

Of course, the catch here is that customers need either to sign up for or upgrade to a pay monthly two-year contract with 30GB of data, and they also need to take one of the new generation of smartphones (e.g. iPhone 8 or X, Samsung S8 or Note8).

Given that screen repairs can be had at such places as Timpson for as little as £39.99, such requirements essentially mean that the special offer is worthwhile only if customers already planned to get their hands on a state of the art Samsung or iPhone.

Still, at the very least, O2's promotion shows that special offers need to be considered very carefully by customers before they sign up for anything, since they may not always be that special.

Seeing the world through a cracked screen

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We'd briefly mentioned O2's free screen replacement bonus in a previous article that focused primarily on EE's conversion of older 2G airwaves into 4G spectrum. However, it's only this week that O2 have publicised full details on the offer and provided supporting research, since it's only in the past week that three of the phones (iPhone 8, 8 Plus, and Samsung Note8) sufficient to qualify for the bonus have been released.

O2 conducted a survey of 1,729 UK adults at the beginning of September, revealing not only that 7.5 million UK adults use a phone with a cracked screen at any one time, but that 2.6 million people have broken a phone's screen "straight after" buying it.

Such findings attest not only to just how common it is for people to break their phone screens, but how common it is for people to be slow to react to breakages.

It's in light of this that O2 are offering the screen replacement benefit, with their Chief Marketing Officer, Nina Bibby explaining, "We can't stand the thought of so many people walking around seeing the world through a cracked screen and we know a customer's phone is much more than just a phone".

Accordingly, they're entitling a free screen repair to new and existing customers, so long as these customers take out a 24-month pay monthly contract with at least 30GB of data.

Added to this, customers must also sign up for one of the following new smartphones:

  • iPhone 8
  • iPhone 8 Plus
  • Samsung Galaxy 8
  • Samsung Galaxy 8 Plus
  • Samsung Galaxy Note8
  • One Plus 5


In other words, while the juxtaposition of O2's research and the new offer might have implied they were willing to help out the 7.5 million people languishing with a cracked phone screen, it's clear that such help is conditional on these same people ditching their current (cracked) phone to pay for a brand-spanking - and noticeably more expensive - new one.

For instance, as we wrote this week, the iPhone 8 is unsurprisingly pricey, with O2's 30GB option coming to £68 a month and £29.99 upfront.

Given that this £68 has to be paid every 24 months, customers will have to spend £1,661.99 overall (including the £29.99), with the RRP for the iPhone 8 coming to £699.

At over £200 and £500 more expensive than the same plans for the iPhones 7 (£1,445.99) and 6 (£1,152), this is a lot to ask for the luxury of an inclusive repair, especially when Timpson reportedly begin screen replacements for current-gen phones at £39.99, while iSmash provides next-day repairs of the iPhone 7 for as little as £20.

And when you combine this with the fact that many customers won't need to repair their screens at all, then the "free" replacement cover from O2 may not be worthwhile for those who weren't already going to get an Samsung S8 or iPhone 8 anyway.

Generosity at little price

Even though O2 are often very good with the special offers they provide their freakishly loyal customers, this goes to show that customers need to be careful when evaluating whether a particular perk or discount is right for them.

To take another recent example, EE introduced a special offer in June that gave five times the usual data to new customers signing up for their 4GEE and 4GEE Max pay monthly plans.

The thing is, it's arguable as to whether most mobile customers really need five times the usual monthly data allowance. As a result, the deal furnished a clear lesson in how providers can sometimes entice customers with offers they know most people won't actually ever have occasion to take up, thereby saving/making them money.

And this is why, whether it's O2's latest promotion or a future deal, customers should think twice before being bowled over by a supplier's apparent generosity.

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