Nokia Breaks Customer's Phone, Wants Money To Fix It

A couple of months ago, Nokia ruined the Wifi capabilities on Chris’s phone, and now he can’t get them to fix it. Well, actually they told him they will fix, but only if he pays for the “repair.” Ah, I see–this is a good secondary revenue strategy, Nokia. Sort of a protection racket! Well played!

It’s a long and frustrating story, so I’m going to let Chris tell the first part, then I’ll summarize all the steps he’s tried so far:

I have wireless service with T-Mobile and purchased a Nokia 6301 over a year ago due to the phone’s wifi capability. We live in a valley and don’t have service at home. Everything was fine until August of 2009 when I received notice from Nokia that there was a new software upgrade available for the phone. Software updates for electronic devices generally are positive in that they fix previous bugs or enhance features. So I backed up the data on the phone before upgrading as recommended by the installer program. I upgraded using Nokia’s PC Suite program.

After upgrading to the new software V 08.22, I noticed that the phone would not connect through our wireless network at home. When trying to connect to our network, I would receive an error message “J0011.7 failed to connect”.’

I contacted T-Mobile technical support and followed their troubleshooting steps which included master reset, going to a Starbucks and try to connect through their hotspot connection, and making sure the settings for date and time were set to auto update. None of that worked and after another call to T-Mobile, I was advised to contact Nokia since they were responsible for the software on the device. Since the phone was just out of the one year warranty, T-Mobile wouldn’t do an exchange.

So I emailed Nokia tech support.

In a series of emails, Nokia told Chris to contact T-Mobile for help, because the update erased some security certificates from the carrier and he’d need to get them replaced. He told them that T-Mobile said to contact Nokia, because they weren’t responsible for the update. Nokia responded that the update was non-reversible, and that was the end of that.

Here are the next steps Chris took to solve his problem:

  1. He called Nokia customer support. “It took 15 minutes to finally reach a representative. After explaining the situation, I was placed on hold for 20 minutes while she went to locate a tech specialist for me. She returned and said they were all busy and would call me back within 72 hours. A few weeks went by and no phone call.”
  2. He called Nokia customer support a second time a few weeks later, with the same results: “I was advised a tech support specialist would call me back within 72 hours. Weeks went by and no phone call.”
  3. He called Nokia customer support a third time a few weeks later. After a 30 minute hold, he was finally connected to a tech support specialist. This was not a good thing, unfortunately: “He advised me they were aware of the J0011.7 error message and since my phone was out of warranty I would need to pay for the repairs.”
  4. Chris pointed out it wasn’t his fault the update ruined his phone, and Nokia should fix it for free. The tech support specialist told him to take it Radio Shack, and that they could flash his phone with the older firmware.
  5. Chris called Radio Shack and was told that they don’t provide this service. They send the phones to Texas for repairs.

Chris has been looking for information on T-Mobile forums and Nokia forums, and he’s found other Nokia 6301 owners who experienced the same issue. The software update, in fact, has been pulled from Nokia’s servers. One customer said a T-Mobile rep told him their customers should never update with a Nokia release, because it’s not customized for T-Mobile’s offerings–but if that’s the case, why was it available in the first place? Why didn’t Nokia and T-Mobile take steps to ensure the update wouldn’t be pushed to their customers? Chris tried flashing the phone back to an earlier version of the software on his own, and although at first it seemed to solve the problem, it didn’t.

Now Chris is trying to reach someone higher up at Nokia to explain why they should fix his phone. He contacted their New York office and asked to speak with the head of the North America Region, Sue Spradley, and was told someone would call him back within 48 hours. Chris writes, “We’ll see. 48 hours will be tomorrow.”

Nokia is such a huge company, and their US presence is so paltry, that it’s all but impossible to get a meaningful response from them. As a former owner of several high-end Nokia devices in recent years, I feel certain that Consumerist would be riddled with Nokia customer service horror stories if only more people actually owned their phones. It’s not just the US, either; their lax firmware update protocol is so bad that some retailers in England say they tell customers not to buy Nokia phones until they’ve been out for a while, because there’s no telling when or if you’ll see any of the firmware updates that address bugs or performance issues.

Considering how well that worked out for Chris’ 6301, maybe that’s actually a good thing.

(If anyone has any contact info for Nokia, please post it below, or email it to me directly if necessary and I’ll forward to Chris. Thanks!)

Update: I transposed the digits on the model number for the phone; it’s actually a Nokia 6301, not the cheaper 6103.

(Photo: renaissancechambara and Cellular Immunity )