How I Finally Escaped Verizon's Droid R2D2 Smartphone Replacement Purgatory

Like many of our readers, Elizabeth is sort of a nerd. When a special edition of Motorola’s Droid smartphone came out that’s dressed up to look like actual fictional ‘droid R2D2 from “Star Wars,” she took the opportunity to upgrade. Critics say that the phone is just a painted-up Droid 2, but Elizabeth liked it. Well, she liked it until a week or so later when it stopped working properly. That’s when Verizon encased her in carbonite and cast her into Smartphone Replacement Purgatory.

On February 16th, 2011, I upgraded my phone from the Blackberry Tour
to the R2D2 Droid. The phone worked all right and I was very excited
for my new nerdy phone. After a week or two the phone wasn’t working
right, it would freeze when I tried to unlock the phone, it often
restart itself, and was generally not operating like it should.

I took my phone into Verizon because I wanted to see what was going on
and see if it could be fixed. When I got there they told me it was
probably caused by a setting or application. I thought it was a little
weird because I spent $200 on a new smart phone that can’t run the
most basic of applications. I accepted it (mostly because I understand
some software doesn’t work with the android system and it’s not
Verizon’s fault) so, they reset my phone and deleted everything.

I used my phone for another two-ish weeks and the phone started
restarting itself and freezing again. I hadn’t added any of the
applications again and I figured it was time to take the phone back
in. Verizon decided the phone was defective and they would send me a
replacement. I was sent a replacement phone on March 2nd, 2011.

I got my replacement R2D2 Droid and all was well for awhile. The phone
would freeze, but I didn’t find pulling the battery to be that
irritating. In December of the same year I took the phone back to
Verizon because it started restarting and freezing again more often.
It was happening to the point where I was paying more for non-service
than service. I got another R2D2 Droid sent to me on December 5, 2011.
This phone worked for all of 19 days. At this point I was beginning to
lose my patience with this clearly broken phone. Verizon decided maybe
it wasn’t my fault all of this time, so they decided the most they
could do was send me a phone of equal or lesser value. This, for me,
turned out to be a refurbished Droid 2 Global. I was sent this new
phone on December 24, 2011.

Now, this is important: my one year limited warranty expired on
February 16, 2011. My upgrade date isn’t until October 16, 2012.
This means – according to Verizon I am not eligible for an early
upgrade because it’s more than 90 days out and without the warranty
there’s not much they can do.

My Droid 2 Global began to break. Immediately. It froze on unlock,
would restart, the keyboard would freeze any time I added punctuation,
and it would turn itself off. I took the phone in about the keyboard
and the in-store staff told me basically I was stuck using SWYPE. I
don’t like SWYPE and with a phone that is prone to freezing it would
often break. I explained the phone was still having problems, they
offered to send me another replacement phone. I said no, I’ve had 4
of these Droids. I was tired of moving all my contacts, photos,
settings, etc to another phone that would just break again.

Here’s where the fun starts. My boyfriend wanted to add a line to my
account and apply his UPS discount. Innocently we went to Verizon to
see if we could get me a new phone, add a line for him, and apply the
UPS discount. One does not simply go into Verizon expecting good
customer service.

With a few months left until she was eligible for an upgrade, Elizabeth and a friend visited a local Verizon store prepared to do battle. They were told that if she wanted a subsidized iPhone, her choices were to pay full price, buy a cheap refurbished phone to hold her over, or start a new family plan line and leave it vacant, but use the phone subsidy to give Elizabeth a functioning phone. She didn’t really like any of these options, and found it unfair that she had to get a new phone early because the device Verizon had sold her (and its many replacements) wouldn’t work properly. After months of frustration and sending Verizon $80 every month for the privilege of not using her smartphone, she broke down crying in the Verizon store. But this story has a happy ending.

[My boyfriend] and I went back to my house and I called Verizon again to get
all the replacement dates, and notes of tech service so when I called
back I could give all this information to a manager. The lady I talked
to was also helpful and decided that I should talk to tech support.
She transfers me to tech and while the man that answered was helpful,
he was condescending. I called him on it and he said that it wasn’t
what was going on. It’s unimportant, I ended up crying again and he
again told me all the information about not being under warranty and
not close enough to my upgrade date. He asked if I “wanted to be an
exception” to the rule, I tried to explain to him that I shouldnt
have to be an exception. I have been more than patient and
accommodating but it had come to a point where I was literally paying
$80 a month to not have a phone. This is when he put me on hold. When
he came back he said that he could in fact early upgrade to the iPhone
and he would do it for me because I did have such a hassle.

In the end it took 3 in store reps, 3 phone reps, me crying 3 times,
and over 2 hours of back and forth before Verizon finally realized
I’m not trying to scam the system. I legitimately had a terrible
phone and they were not upholding their side of the contract.

By Tuesday I should expect my new iPhone 4S at the discounted contract
price. My contract is now extended another two years – which is fine -
I like Verizon’s network, I didn’t want to leave Verizon, I just
wanted to be treated like a person, and I wanted someone at the
company to work with me without screwing me over. Honestly, it made no
sense.

If you are having problems with Verizon, talk to the customer service
people, be respectful but firm, and be persistent.