Owners of the Droid Incredible, a Verizon-exclusive phone made by HTC, are in a predicament. Sure, their phones are a little old, but many are still in circulation and working fine. A recent software upgrade sends the phones into a perpetual reboot loop in the wee hours of the morning, which is annoying and drains the battery. These customers could upgrade if they really wanted to, but Incredible owners most likely have unlimited data from Verizon Wireless, which they will lose if they upgrade their phones and accept a carrier subsidy. Verizon isn’t about to replace the looping phones, either…unless it’s with another defective Droid Incredible. Dana found a way around this, and talked Verizon into letting her swap her Droid for a shiny new iPhone.
Dana had two things going for her that not all customers do. First, she was eligible for an upgrade. Second, she paid for insurance on her phone, which meant she was entitled to a replacement when something went wrong. She just didn’t want more of the same.
At the start of this, I had two Incredibles on my family plan, both bought in February 2011. The software update was pushed out to us about 3 weeks ago, and the rebooting issue happened only to mine. Same story; it would wake me up in the wee hours, rebooting and rebooting repeatedly and overheating. When I tried removing the battery and then just reinserting it the whole cycle would start again. Since the update, I’d also noticed a similar problem when I was using the camera: it might work for one or two pictures, but eventually the entire thing would freeze up and then reboot.
After this all happened for a few days in a row, I called Verizon support in order to get a replacement phone (I pay $6 monthly for insurance and this is not the first time I’d needed a replacement– in fact, the last time was last September when another software update caused the phone to behave oddly). When I called, they took me through the usual steps, such as asking me to update my roaming capabilities by dialing *228 (typically useless), wiping the SD card, and doing a factory data reset, which I did not want to do. So they said they’d send me a replacement.
I expressed some hesitation because the previous time I was sent a replacement, the phone arrived without the updated software that had led to the problem in the first place, but was reassured the “all devices ship from the warehouse with the latest updated software.” Regardless, I inquired at the time about receiving a different, comparable device. The rep on the phone offered me a Droid 3, which I did not feel was comparable due to the clunky slide-out keyboard and the reports of terrible battery life that popped up when I googled the device. He then offered me an HTC Rhyme, which I also did not feel was comparable, since it had no flash on the camera.
I inquired about other phones including the iPhone and was informed by that particular rep that they are unable to replace 3G phones with 4G phones, and that they are only permitted to provide a replacement iPhone when it is replacing an iPhone. I was also informed that I was eligible for an upgrade and could choose to purchase a new phone at the discounted price. I, of course, was not interested in upgrading, since that would have required my paying for a new phone when they where the ones that caused my old one to stop working, and moreover, I did not want to lose my unlimited data.
When I mentioned that, the rep told me that I would never be required to give up the plan I had, and this confused me, as everything I’d read over the past few months was to the contrary. I asked him to make a note in my file that he had told me that, which he said he did. But still not wanting to purchase a new phone, I decided to try my luck with the replacement HTC Incredible, which they overnighted to me.
The new Incredible arrived, and lo and behold, the software had not yet been updated. But within a few minutes of activating the phone, the software updates came through, and again the crazy rebooting began! Needless to say, I was extremely exasperated. I called VZW yet again, and spoke to yet another rep who offered me yet another HTC Incredible (have I also mentioned how frustrating it is to repeat your story over and over for every person you talk to even though it’s supposedly detailed in your file??). Anyway, I told the rep that an Incredible was no longer acceptable, as they clearly had not fixed the problem, and asked to speak with a supervisor. After waiting for about five minutes, the same rep returned and told me that his supervisor would have to call me back, took down my contact info, and assured me that I’d hear back within 24 hours.
More than 24 hours later, I hadn’t heard back and called VZW support again. I explained my story again, and was again offered the same options– Droid 3, HTC Rhyme, or another HTC Incredible. I told the rep how upsetting it was that I felt as if I was being forced to accept a far inferior phone or pay to upgrade because they no longer make 3G devices. The rep told me this was all he could offer. I then explained that I’d been with VZW since about 1995– since before it was even Verizon Wireless– but that this experience was forcing me to consider other providers who could solve my problem, instead of just acting accommodating and never fixing the issue, and asked to speak to his supervisor. He put me on hold for several minutes and eventually he returned and said he could send me an iPhone 4S as a replacement device. I had some reservations about the iPhone and asked him some questions, because the truth is, I liked the Droid platform. But I decided to go with the iPhone, and in the end, he even threw in a free charger and some screen protectors.
I can’t say this will work for everyone, and I know a big part of it is having the $6 monthly insurance plan, but their whole structure is clearly designed to wear customers down. I kept at it, refused to accept no for an answer, and eventually got a great (probably better) phone–most importantly, one that works. The last thing the rep asked me was if, aside from this whole ordeal, I’d been happy with VZW over the years, and if I was still considering switching providers. It’s nice to know they still care about customer retention to some degree. I am definitely satisfied with the outcome of the experience, but jeez, the process was exhausting and unnecessary.