It appears Verizon has altered the terms of its "Certified Like New Program" ("CLNP") (pray they don't alter them further) to be a lot more demanding regarding the condition of exchanged devices.
Namely, if you send in your destroyed DROID, don't expect to get a shiny new replacement without a serious penalty - all phones sent in on warranty exchange must now meet the following requirements:
CLNR Cosmetics Standards
CLNR Cosmetic Standard Summary:
- No blemishes are permitted on front surfaces such as the touch screen, keyboard
- No more than two flaws, which must be less than 5mm in length, are permitted on other surfaces
- No flaws or defects on lens
- No dust, dirt, or fibers under lens
- Ports must be free of foreign material and corrosion, be in operating condition, and have the plugs in place if applicable
This means even if your Android device suffers from a warrantied defect and fails, you may be out of luck trying to get it exchanged if you haven't kept it in tip-top condition.
That said, this was probably a long time in the making - Verizon's current policy on exchanging devices is apparently quite lax, we've heard of DROIDs with defects like "fell in the sink" and "was run over" qualifying for exchanges under warranty. Not exactly a discerning business model, as Verizon has probably come to realize given the high replacement cost of its increasingly popular line of Android smartphones.
Verizon will still automatically provide you a replacement before you send your device in, but you're still out on a limb at that point - if Verizon receives your smartphone and they decide it isn't up to par, you'll be assessed a $299 fee on your next phone bill. That's quite a risk, and clearly discourages customers from taking advantage of their device warranties.
Oh, and you can no longer take your phone in for a live exchange at your local Verizon store - that'll be phased out in the next 2 weeks, all CLNR devices will be shipped directly by Verizon from here on out. And now you have 5 days to return your dead phone after receiving the replacement, instead of 10. Great. And now it's $13 for what was standard next-day shipping. 5-day ground shipping is the new base option (you can get a temporary "emergency" device in the interim - an old DROID or Eris.)
These wonderful restrictions will all lead customers to a singular, logical conclusion: "Gee, I should pay for the Verizon Total Equipment Protection Plan, it's a lot better!" And pay they will, I imagine - because this new exchange policy is pretty awful.