HTC expands phone-replacement service to aid One M9 smartphone launch

As smartphone vendor HTC gears up to launch its new One M9 flagship Android smartphone, the company said it will offer a phone-replacement service to U.S. One M9 users at no additional cost. The program will provide users with one free replacement for up to a year after they buy their One M9--no questions asked.

The offer represents an expansion of a similar program HTC introduced last year in conjunction with the release of its One M8 smartphone. It's also an attempt by the vendor to set itself apart from its larger competitors in the sector, such as Samsung and Apple. Importantly, HTC's One M9 flagship smartphone will be going head-to-head with Samsung's new Galaxy S6 flagship smartphone--both devices are scheduled to become available in the United States in the coming weeks.

Through its new Uh Oh Protection phone-replacement program, HTC said it will replace, free of charge, a One M9 with a cracked screen or water damage within the first 12 months after a user buys the device. The company also said it will replace the phone if a user decides to switch carriers and their existing phone isn't compatible with the network of their new carrier. According to a Re/code article on the program, One M9 users need only call HTC for a replacement and the company will overnight a new phone--users must send their existing, unwanted phone back to HTC (presumably so the company can refurbish it and then resell it).

HTC said that, if any of its customers don't make use of its Uh Oh Protection program, after 12 months it will send them a $100 credit they can use to buy a new HTC phone. The company also said the program can be applied to its existing One M8 phone.

"Our competitors look at cracked screens and broken phones as a way to milk more money from [their] customers," HTC Americas President Jason Mackenzie told Re/code. "We see it as a way to change the game, and give customers a premium experience with a premium product. We think the Uh Oh Program is something that will tip people over the edge."

Last year, HTC introduced its HTC Advantage phone-replacement program, which offered to replace a One M8 with a cracked screen for six months after a user bought the device. Presumably the company experienced a sales boost from that program, which is why it's expanding the program for the launch of its new One M9.

Of course, HTC isn't the only company working in the phone-replacement arena. Apple is reportedly preparing a program that would allow Android and BlackBerry phone users to trade in their existing phones and have the value of those used devices applied to a new iPhone. Apple is reportedly planning to launch that program in the coming weeks.

Moreover, wireless carriers also offer both phone trade-in programs and phone-replacement programs, though such services often cost a few dollars a month.

According to ComScore, HTC commanded 3.8 percent of the smartphone market in the United States in January, trailing Motorola (with 5.2 percent share), LG (8 percent), Samsung (29.3 percent) and Apple (41.3 percent).

For more:
- see this HTC release
- see this Re/code article

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