5 On Your Side

You may want to rethink putting your phone on the table while eating

Posted July 25, 2018 6:46 p.m. EDT

— When you go to a restaurant, what do you do with your phone? Many people put it right on the table, but that might not be the smartest option.

Shalis Fowler went to a Father's Day breakfast at Big Ed's in north Raleigh. Her phone was sitting on the table when a waitress accidently dumped a tray of drinks on the table.

"Everything on the tray actually spilled over. On myself, and on the phone as well," she said.

"My face, everything was wet. It's crazy, like everyone just stopped (and) gasped. They heard it and saw it. Like oh my God."

Fowler took pictures of the mess left behind.

"Not just water. It was tea there and orange juice. Those drinks have sugar and if you get it into your phone it can cause issues," she said.

And it did.

Fowler said her phone started crackling when she was talking to people. The screen also had issues.

"When I'm trying to like go online or maybe text someone, I'll have to tap the screen several times for it to actually work," she said.

Fowler took the phone to the Apple store where a technician replicated some of the problems and concluded the phone Fowler paid $1,300 for less than a year ago needed to be replaced.

Fowler says she could not reach a resolution with Big Ed's, but when 5 On Your Side talked with restaurant owner Sam Hobgood, he immediately submitted Fowler's claim to his insurance company for investigation.

A check online shows plenty of people had devices ruined at restaurants. 5 On Your Side found post after post of complaints about dumped trays by people who want restaurants to pay for repairs or replacements.

Many businesses do, out of good customer service, but some legal experts say if a device is ruined after being left on a table you could share in the negligence blame.

Hobgood's insurance company agreed to replace Folwer's phone.

Her advice now: when you're at a restaurant, where drinks are always being served, put electronics away.