Motorola Flip-Flops On Flap Failure

When reader Stuart bought his Motorola Razr V3XX, he was pleased with the phone but could not understand why the tiny flap covering the charger port was held in place by only 2 fragile plastic hinges. As if channeling the spirit of Nostradamus, Stuart made a startling prediction: This flimsy flap will fail. And it did. Twice. The first time, Motorola happily sent Stuart a new flap. But when the flap failed again 8 months later, Motorola unleashed a volley of red tape that left Stuart stuck. Stuart’s letter and Motorola’s response inside…

I purchased a new Motorola RAZR V3XX in March 2008. It has a small plastic flap that covers the charger port and is held in place by two hair-thin plastic hinges. I assume the cover is to keep dust, pocket lint, facial hair, and tirade-driven spurts of saliva from entering the port.

Every time the phone is charged or the headset is used, this flap is flipped open. Clearly, this is a very frail part that was doomed from the beginning to wear out and break off through normal use. In fact, it is not even possible to avoid excess use, since the flap cannot be left in the open position.

As I anticipated, three months after I bought the phone, the flap failed. I wrote to Motorola through their website, and a helpful customer service rep named Brock O. immediately responded that he will send me a replacement. Days later, the part arrived and I snapped it into place. Problem solved. Helpful rep, simple solution, happy customer.

Well, eight months later, this replacement piece also failed and I again requested a replacement from Motorola. This time, a less helpful rep named Sebastian B. suggested I contact a service center to have the phone repaired. Quote: “With this option, they may be able to send the unit to us directly and sometimes they will provide you with a loaner phone to use in the interim. They also may be able to order the parts and or make adjustments locally.”

I wrote back and included the dialogue from the previous incident, explaining how Brock O had been so helpful and sent me the part, so I could just snap it on myself. It seemed that shipping a phone for repair by a technician, requiring an 8-10 day turnaround seemed overkill.

The rep responded: “Regarding your concern, we are really sorry to tell you that no charging port covers are available to order or send. Because the charging port cover is attached within the housing of the phone, the phone must come in to repair center to have that part replaced by technicians.”

Also for the second time, they warned me that, “Motorola stands behind our products by offering a minimum one-year warranty issued from the date of purchase. This warranty does not cover physical or liquid damage.” This accusatory message was sent to me twice, despite me being asked in a previous email if there was any water or physical damage and the confirmation that I was within my one year warranty period. I explained that clearly this is a common wear item that fails from normal use. I was pretty sure the hinges didn’t wear out from water damage?

Once again, a new rep, Eduardo, told me to send it to the service center. I checked their link for all service centers within 500 miles and found only one in New York City. NYC is a 60 mile round trip for me, $8 tolls, $30 to park, and the service center says there is a charge for service. When I spoke to them, they told me that they do not stock the part and the phones they see are always missing it anyway.

So, to wrap up our situation here, my phone, still under warranty, has a repeatedly failing part that wears out during normal usage. While this was easily replaced in the past, I am now told that Motorola no longer stock replacement parts, which seems strange since it is a current model and still under warranty. The service center they referred me to does not stock the part and would cost me a significant amount of money for them to even look at it.

1. If charging port covers are NOT available, how can a technician replace it for me?

2. If the technicians DO stock the port cover, how come they cannot simply mail one to me?

3. Since I have already replaced this part with no problem, why do they insist that I require a technician to do it? It simply snaps into a hole on the phone. No tools, no expertise, no opening of the top-secret housing, no voiding warranty.

Bottom line. My phone is a current model, it is still under warranty and has a repeatedly failing part that Motorola will not fix despite their obligation to do so. Anybody know the URL for Nokia?

Stuart, we certainly agree. Why would Motorola send you a replacement part once but not twice, even under warranty? Motorola should certainly understand that cell phones are vital to our everyday life and to have to have to send it back, only so that somebody can snap on a tiny piece of plastic seems asinine. Hopefully, you can contact the original Motorola representative who was so diligent with your first replacement. In the meantime, we can all sit and marvel at our modern economy where companies make more money if their products are designed to fail.

(Photo: bryanbope)

Comments

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  1. TBT says:

    My LG VX7800 has a similar cover, but its not even really attached…its a tiny piece of plastic glued onto a clear rubber plug which inserts into the charging port. It fell off within 2 months of purchase, but since I have fingernails I can just use those to pry the stopper out when I need to charge :(

  2. Scuba Steve says:

    The answer is quite clear. Motorola is swimming in it’s own incompetance, and your only hope now is to find a copy of the phone in stores, steal the flap, and go about your business for another couple of months.

  3. Falconfire says:

    Do we have much further to look than Motorolas running away screaming like a little baby from the cellphone market after one being one of the top sellers IN said market to understand why they fail at life?

  4. TechnoElf says:

    Yeah, I have a Razr2 and it sound’s like the charger cover that I have as well. After normal use the plastic part came off about two months after I got it. I think it was better with the old Razrs where it was just an open port. I never got anything in it anyway.

  5. audiochick says:

    I bought the same phone a little over a year ago and the flap fell off after only two weeks. I knew it was going to be a hassle to try to get replacement parts because I (stupidly) got my phone from a kiosk in the mall instead of a ATT store, so I didn’t even bother trying. Beware though, the little pads next to the speaker are prone to fall off, too, so there is no cushioning when you close the phone.

  6. EricaKane says:

    Oh cmon, almost all cell phones have a little piece of rubber cap that fails.

  7. BoSox0407champs says:

    why would someone care that much about a charger port cover?
    I lost mine a month after I got my phone and haven’t had any problems with “dust, pocket lint, facial hair, and tirade-driven spurts of saliva”

  8. audiochick says:

    I have the same phone and my cover fell off two weeks after I got it. It’s not a huge deal to me. What is kind of annoying though, is that the little pads next to the speaker fell off, so now there is no cushioning whatsoever when I close the phone. iPhone here I come!

  9. bohemian says:

    My VX8300 had just a rubber stopper over the charge port. I lasted a month before it went flying into the oblivion of the area under the car seats never to be found again. I had the phone for another 2 years without issue.
    My new one VX9900 has one with a hinge, I don’t give it very long either.

  10. Pro-Pain says:

    I went through this SAME thing with my Sprint RAZR2 V9m. Same cheap plastic cover over charging port broke twice from regular use. Motorola gave me the runaround, I exchange the phone and will NEVER get another Motorola phone. Lesson learned. I am fond of my Palm Centro now. Thanks Sprint!

  11. jeblis says:

    How can you stand to use the software on that phone?

  12. medalian1 says:

    This is happening in the future! He is living in 2009!!

    “I purchased a new Motorola RAZR V3XX in March 2008.”

    “As I anticipated, three months after I bought the phone, the flap failed.”
    [March + 3 months = May, 2008]

    “Well, eight months later, this replacement piece also failed and I again requested a replacement from Motorola.”
    [May + 8 months = January, 2009]

  13. tande says:

    I guess on the one hand its reasonable to want something new to stay new for a bit longer but on the flip side its a pointless cover which no cellphone in history keeps for any amount of time. I think the fact that he got a replacement in the first place goes in the “above and beyond” category.

  14. medalian1 says:

    lol I can’t even add months. March + 3 months = June.

  15. Munsoned says:

    The alliteration in headline made my haughty head hurt horribly.

  16. Geminijinx07 says:

    That flap isn’t even important. They fall off all the time. Perhaps time to chill?

  17. dragonfire81 says:

    I spent a year and a bit in cell phone customer support, I heard more complaints about the Razr than I did with any other phone.

  18. Trai_Dep says:

    The answer to what happened to the port flap is answered in the accompanying photograph: it’s kitty kibble!
    Maybe if MOTO didn’t infuse their fragile port flaps with catnip, they’re last a bit longer.

  19. Orv says:

    My old Samsung phone had a non-attached cap that was obviously intended to be thrown away. I think these things are intended as packing material and not much more.

  20. alice_bunnie says:

    I thought the same thing about the charger cover on my el cheapo free Samsung phone. Surprise, 3 years later and still going strong. Hasn’t fallen off yet.

    Of course, no telling, will probably fall off tomorrow. Karma’s a bitch. :p

  21. My EnV (and my V before it) had that little plastic cover attached by a rubber plug that has a little hatch to open up. Since I have a bad habit of biting my nails I just yanked the damn thing off permanently since I can barely get it off otherwise.

  22. goodone123 says:

    @EricaKane

    Exactly.

    @”Reader” Stuart

    Stop whining. Unless you use your phone in some unnatural way, nothing’s gonna get into that port anyways.

  23. awolcfh5150 says:

    The Motorola 3vxx is a horrible phone. I had mine replaced 3 times by AT&T. I finally found out from an AT&T rep that this model along with about 25 other Moto’s have software defects along with the shady cover. I finally got them to replace it with an iPhone :)

  24. tschepsit says:

    “In the meantime, we can all sit and marvel at our modern economy where companies make more money if their products are designed to fail. “

    I think it might be assuming too much competence to imply that the phones were intentionally designed to fall apart.

  25. WannaBblonde says:

    I’m astounded at the fact that Stuart took so much time to detail the saga of his flap failure – it must be nice to have nothing but time on your hands to anable you to deal with the hard knocks life throws at you. I think he should sue Motorola for an emormous compensation due to mental anguish and unnecessary stress related to the possibility of crumbs infiltrating the flappless port. Get a life!!!

  26. Verdigris says:

    That little plastic cap is for looks only. I does nothing to protect the port. If your phone gets submerged/dirty enough to damage any connecters, that little port is the least of your concerns.

    Every phone I’ve ever owned that had that little part has fallen off almost immediately.

    Then again, the first rep did replace the part quickly and subsequent calls have yielded that:

    A.) The first rep did something he should not have done

    OR

    B.) The other reps are lying/too lazy

  27. jmschn says:

    @WannaBblonde: Stop blaming the consumer! This is consumerist.com! LoL jk! i totally agree…there are more important items in my life to address than a rubber flap on a phone..get real..

  28. el_smurfo says:

    My K1 has a similar flap and it’s lasted over a year with no problems.

  29. Verdigris says:

    @jmschn: LEAVE HIM ALONE!!!! LEAVE POOR MOTOROLA FLAP GUY ALONE!!!!

  30. Nick1693 says:

    I have the same phone and have had it for about 4 months with no problems with the flaplike thing.

  31. Vicky says:

    For those naysayer that think this is frivolous: yes, it actually -is- nice to have time on your hands and nothing in serious need of your immediate attention. My life is not such a series of catastrophes that it doesn’t periodically happen, after all. And when I do have the time and inclination to work out one of life’s little non-critical annoyances, like exchanging a mildly defective video game controller or a piece of trim that keeps falling off my stock pot or, conceivably, replacing a flange that went missing off my phone, I think it’s pretty reasonable to expect that to be a smooth process exactly -because- it’s not a complex or critical problem.

    Not every consumer issue is an emergency and I certainly take more lessons from an article like this than I do from an obscure coincidence of events that actually does lead to something lawsuit-worthy. Almost all of my problems with companies are banal little issues like this and I don’t think I need to “get a life.” You and I are going to have different pet peeves and that’s fine. Sometimes I wonder why they put a customer support number on the side of potato chip bags – I mean, is that a 24/7 line or what? – but I’m sure someone has wanted to use it and I’m not going to berate them if, when they DO choose to call, they are unhappy with the experience.

  32. Buran says:

    @jmschn: That doesn’t mean the same is true for anyone else.

  33. JAQUEBAUER says:

    Well old man, it’s like this. American companies dont give a rats ass for us, the consumer. They get your money, and that the end of it.

    There is no customer support anymore, only morons in some offshore call center.

    We used to make stuff here, thats gone now. We became a “service economy”…Thats going away fast, as you found out.

    In a few years, the Arabs and Chineese and Russians will have bought up all the banks, we will be merged with Mexico, and the US Dollar will be no longer, replace by the “Amero”

    This will happen, if you listen to those who tell you to “suck it up” and “quick being a whiner”

    Stand up for your rights, get a gun and learn how to use it, safely, and legally. You will need it when gas is ten bucks a gallon and bread and milk is even more.

    Its happening right before your eyes.

  34. Jon Karak says:

    Motorola loves “repeat” customers, and what better way than to design shoddy feature which increases the chance of water damage.

    As a result, whether the consumer purchases a replacement phone, or forks over an early termination fee, Motorola always wins!

    Consumerism at its best!

  35. humphrmi says:

    @JAQUEBAUER: Your tinfoil hat is on a bit crooked. You might want to adjust it.

  36. shiznannigan says:

    The original V3 had no flap, just an open port, and it continues to sell.

    I’ve had a few nokias with no cover for the port, never had a problem. Not even with the one I had in Iraq.

  37. SweetBearCub says:

    My old Samsung A900M has a cap that’s attached to the housing by a short (1-2mm) ‘leash’. When the cap is on, it’s flat against the phone’s housing. Quite a nice design. The phone was with my for several rough interstate trips and it also survived heavy usage and rough treatment while I was homeless for a time. (Several months.)

    It’s in my closet now, having been replaced my a Sprint Mogul. The casing is scratched, the black paint is chipping, but the flip is still good & strong and everything still works on it, although it needs a master reset as the software is starting to go south after filling the memory with so much flotsam for so long.

  38. airos4 says:

    I have the RAZR Maxx; similar problem. I also had several other phones again with the same problem. Why do I keep buying Moto? Because instead of a proprietary annoying connector, these phones charge with a mini-USB connector. So my data cable.. is one I had already. Distant charging? Any mini-USB I’ve tried can charge it. But it’s still annoying that it’s so poorly designed, esp since Moto in the handheld radio market has a rep for being indestructible.

  39. pestie says:

    Duct tape. Given the size of the port, one roll should last approximately 300 years.

  40. wesrubix says:

    take the damn thing off. It’s stupid in the first place. I had a V3xx and couldn’t stand the cover.

  41. BigJames80 says:

    My RAZR never had a cover over the port. But I almost had to file a claim for lost/stolen phone until I found the lost battery cover between the seats of my truck. I think each cover is custom made for each phone as the cover off my old phone wouldn’t fit and none of the parts phones that my buddy at the Sprint store had in his stash would interchange.

  42. HoseaGazelle says:

    @Scuba Steve:

    Dear Stuart,

    Please accept my apology for the inconvenience caused. Can you respond
    and advise if the issue mentioned below is resolved?

    Thank You,
    Dorothy Hodges
    Corporate Consumer Advocacy Office