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)