Defective Droid Sends Reader To Verizon Smartphone Replacement Hell

Maybe we need to turn “Tales of Verizon Smartphone Replacement Hell” into a recurring series. In today’s installment, an Android update breaks Brian’s Motorola Droid, and he goes through five replacement phones in just over three months. Oh, and a free screen protector, which belonged to the previous owner of his “Certified Like New Replacement” phone.

I have read many stories on your website regarding issues with Verizon’s customer service and unfortunately now have my own to tell. A few months ago I had to have my Motorola Droid smartphone replaced under warranty, and since then I’ve been in what I call “Verizon Replacement Hell”:

9/01 – My Droid had recently received the latest over the air update to Android 2.2 and afterwards had become progressively unusable. I’ll spare the fine details, but the phone would frequently freeze up or reboot and was running much hotter than normal. I called customer service and was eventually told the OTA update had broken as many as 25% of the Droids out there and I could get a Certified Like New Replacement. I reluctantly accepted, knowing of the issues many others have had with refurbished phones.

9/03 – Replacement phone received. The slider was loose and somewhat crooked and the keys felt worn out. Having kept my phone in near mint condition since getting it, this was not an acceptable replacement. I called customer service and told them I wouldn’t take a phone that was in worse condition than my own, and they agreed to send me another.

9/09 – Replacement phone #2 received. Phone was in decent condition, but after using it for a couple calls found it had a bad proximity sensor, which after further research was a common problem. Called again, another replacement sent.

9/14 – Replacement phone #3 received. The slider was unbelievably bad. The entire screen part of the slider was still covered in plastic like it was new, which leads me to believe the previous owner of this phone dropped it while opened and they gave it a new screen but didn’t bother to fix the slider track. I decided to take this one into the store and told them I had enough with these replacements and wanted a new Droid. They said they didn’t have new Droids anymore, so I said I want a phone without a slider (since that seemed to be the usual point of failure). They said the warranty only covers the same device, but they noted on my account how bad the phone was and told me to call CS to ask for a different phone. I figured I was getting the runaround, but I called shortly thereafter and surprisingly whatever they noted worked because after some discussion they said they could send me a refurbished Droid Incredible.

I got the Incredible a few days later and it seemed to be in great condition (helped by the fact it doesn’t have moving parts like the Droid). At this point I was somewhat satisfied – I didn’t get a new phone but I at least got a better phone and it worked. Until…

11/15 – The headphone jack had become looser and was producing static/noise – a problem I read the original Droids often had. Got a replacement sent out for it, but the replacement I received still had the previous owner’s screen protector on it. The fact that it was examined so little to be certified “like new” with a screen protector still on it made me just send it back and deal with the phone I had, since it worked otherwise and I didn’t want to risk getting a bad phone for a headphone jack I didn’t use much anyways.

12/06 – The top quarter inch of my touch screen goes unresponsive. Good thing it decided to happen now and not a week later when my warranty coverage ended. I took it into the store and was offered a replacement. I was going to argue that after 5 bad replacements I just want a new phone, but the entire time I’m talking the employee is typing away at the computer ordering my replacement, never even giving me a chance to plead my case. I asked them what happens when this replacement goes bad, but this time outside the warranty, and she said I could buy the extended warranty for $8/mo. She also said if I want a new phone, 3 other lines on my family plan are eligible for upgrade. I told her I wasn’t going to spend any money out of my pocket to fix a problem you had caused, and I walked out.

So here we are now. I have another device on the way but have little faith that it will last until I’m eligible for upgrade next November (let alone a few weeks), and don’t want to be screwed when it goes bad after the 90 day warranty that comes with it. What can I do? I just want a phone that works, let it be a new Droid, Incredible, or whatever else that will last a year and have some sort of resale value when I’m looking to buy my next phone.

Brian should try contacting the office of his Verizon “Region President” with his tale of smartphone woe.


Edit Your Comment

  1. Mr. Fix-It says: "Canadian Bacon is best bacon!" says:

    Evidently, these are not the Droids that Brian was looking for. *grins, ducks and runs*

  2. carefree dude says:

    My ex girlfriend has issues with her original droid. After 5 replacements, and enough complaining, they finally sent her a brand new droid 2.

    • spazztastic says:

      This is what happene with me. My Droid suddenly stopped talking to my Exchange server. Factory reset, new device…same problem. Demonstated to the tech in-store the problem wasn’t my server by setting up my account on EVERY display droid they had. They gave me an early upgrade to the Droid2. It cost me $99 after rebate and discounts. I’m happy with it as long as they don’t show off the iPhone next week.

  3. lehrdude says:

    I think that if you get a replacement phone, the warranty is extended to whichever is longer of 90 days, or the end of the original warranty, so he shouldn’t have to worry about the warranty expiring next week…

    • Miss Dev (The Beer Sherpa) says:

      I thought the same thing… but maybe Verizon has a different policy?

      I have an iPhone 3GS and needed to return it under warranty because it was overheating. They gave me a (brand new) replacement phone, and it has the full one year warranty on it.

    • damageinc says:

      Verizon warranty with replacements is your original one year warranty date or 90 days from receiving the replacement, whichever is longer.

  4. Amnesiac85 says:

    Honestly…at this point, I’d demand a refund. Why continue paying for something that is consistently in bad condition or broken? There are other phones out there.

  5. APriusAndAGrill says:

    This is why I sucked up all dignity, and got an I Phone, it had its reception problems at first, but it is a beast. I can drop that thing on concrete from 10 ft and it doesn’t even phase it.

  6. SonarTech52 says:

    He Man FTW!

  7. Cicadymn says:

    I’ve had my droid incredible since it launched. Runs better than ever thanks to the software upgrades.

    I just hope it doesn’t go out! That sounds terrible! I’d hate to lose this amazing phone for one that’s been beat up and ruined.

  8. Kingsley says:

    Suddenly the virginmobile android phone which is locked-down to Version 2.1 is looking like a better idea to me. I was on the fence.

  9. Vone says:

    I’ve had nothing but awful experiences with my droid x. The first one I had had a defective screen, which literally did not show information for half of the screen, the second one an unresponsive screen, the third a defective headphone jack, the fourth a bad ear phone speaker and unresponsive back button, the fifth another defective jack and unresponsive screen, and my current one is also having issues with the earphone jack. We’re new customers as well so we’re under contact for quite some time. I’ve asked for a new phone or a different phone and both requests were denied. needless to say we will not be renewing our contract with Verizon.

  10. obits3 says:

    “The headphone jack had become looser and was producing static/noise – a problem I read the original Droids often had.”

    Just to be sure, you do know that the original Droid and the Incredible are made by two different manufacturers, right?

    • pz says:

      Of course not — it’s a “Droid.” It’s simultaneously all phones running Android to a novice, whether they be HTC, Samsung, or Motorola, all at once. It’s infuriating when you’re trying to do tech support.

  11. SagarikaLumos says:

    I’ve had hardware problems with the last three upgrades in a row that I’ve done with Verizon. Each time, they’ve made good on it, but it’s never been as bad as OP’s situation. The only time that I was less than thrilled was when a battery went out about a week after its replacement warranty, and I had to pay half of the price of the new battery. Both Blackberry handsets that I’ve gotten have had to be replaced under warranty, but it was done courteously by the people at the Verizon store.

    Maybe the bigger story here is a shocking lack of QC across most all brands of cell phones, resulting in the need to do so many warranty swaps.

  12. bluecoyote says:

    It’s made by Motorola. Their track record has been among the worst of any cell phone manufacturer for quite some time after their prior leadership chopped up the company and outsourced development to China. Don’t forget the later incarnations of the RAZR, the Q, the Q9M, the ROKR, the Backflip, the CLIQ, the Devour, the MING, the MpX, the RAZR2, the KRZR (the Sprint one was particularly horrible), and I’m sure that list could go on and on.

    So this is my advice: If you want a good phone, don’t buy a Motorola.

    • obits3 says:

      But the incredible is made by HTC.

      • JohnnyP says:

        But to that I will say that he got a refurb that came from Verizon.

        • obits3 says:

          Exactly, this is a Verizon problem, not a Motorola/HTC issue.

          • JohnnyP says:

            Thats true I guess I meant was that I agree with both of you. Every Motorola I have had sucks. They clients I have with Droids have problems. In out office we have Evos and what ever the Samsung 4G phone that Sprint has and we dont have nearly the problems.

            • obits3 says:

              I have the EVO and it seems to be just fine. I feel for Verizon people who pay $30 a month more for a smaller screen and slower network.

    • LadySiren is murdering her kids with HFCS and processed cheese says:

      I’ve had my Moto Droid for going on a year now but haven’t had any issues with it, thank heavens. Sucks that the OP has had such problems. I do wish they’d hurry up with the Verizon iPhone though – as much as I like my Droid, I wouldn’t mind joining the legion of iPhone fanbois (fangrrls?).

  13. sth9669 says:

    Um, he does know that he’s eligible for an upgrade after 1 year right? If you have a qualifying plan (and it sounds like he does with 3 other lines and presumably the $30 unlimited data plan on his smartphone that they require) with Verizon, you can upgrade after a year and pay $20-$50 more than the 2 year upgrade price. It’s a pretty good deal. Paying the total price on a Droid is like $500, and with the 1 year upgrade is like $220, which is a pretty good deal.

    I couldn’t stand my samsung Omnia I got for Christmas 2 years ago and called customer service to basically drop my data plan and go back to my old clamshell phone and the nice lady at customer service said I was eligible for the 1 year smartphone upgrade (which they try to keep hush hush and don’t advertise). Tell Brian to call back to customer service and ask them when his 1 year upgrade date is and then he should buy a Droid X (which is way better than a Droid Incredible. . .)

  14. AllanG54 says:

    I have a Samsung running version 1.5 and I need to go to the Sprint store to have it updated to 2.1 because I can’t do it over the air. But my wife had it done and her phone isn’t so great now and it’s the same model I have so maybe I won’t have it done after all because this sounds like a software problem.

  15. feistydonut says:

    I’m on my 6th warranty replacement myself. I finally argued a refurbished droid 2, it likes to shut down about once a day.

  16. sp00nix says:

    Any Android users notice that most of the comments left in the Market that involve issues with apps usually identify they are Moto Droid users?

  17. BettyCrocker says:


  18. DrRamblings says:

    I went through FOUR Droids in

  19. colinjay says:

    Been there done that:

    Calls to Exec Customer service were met with rudeness and accusations that I was a liar. My EECB only got thinks kicked back to the same rude Exec CSR agent. The only thing that got them to move was a letter to the Texas AG office as well as the NJ and TX BBB. I ended up with a refurb Droid2 that has been decent so far. Not the resolution I wanted, but fair enough. What wasn’t fair was the amount of time I had to waste on the whole ordeal.

  20. SG-Cleve says:

    I have a brand new Droid X – four days old – and it has a bad pixel. It always stays lit.

    I should take it back and get another one, but I am in complete fear that they’ll replace my brand new phone with a refurbished phone.

    I thought about using the 30 day “Worry Free Guarantee” to return it and buy a fresh new one, but there is a restocking fee and I also used a buy one get one promo so I’d have to return both phones.

    Guess I’m stuck with that bad pixel for the next two years.

    • damageinc says:

      I think their policy will give you a new phone as a replacement if its within 30 days of ownership. So you should be able to get a new one with the $35 restocking fee.

  21. what says:

    I think a lot of the problems are that these cell phone companies are so quick to push out the next big thing, that they don’t give the products adequate time to be tested thoroughly to work out the bugs. Therefore, the problems get pushed down to the consumers.
    I loved my Droid when I had it and it ran fine with Froyo (2.2) and had no problems what so ever. But got tired of the data charges and went back to a ‘feature’ phone. On top of that, because of them being little mini computers, the upkeep was getting to be too tedious for my liking. If you don’t take care of these types of phones, software and hardware, these phones will not take care of you. That’s for sure.

  22. almightytora says:

    Sounds like me with my T-Mobile Sidekick 2008 and my seven replacements in two years. Two lasted over a few months, some were defective when I got the “replacement”.

  23. Froggmann says:

    Yea that happens, you just have to argue the “3 strikes and you’re out” to them. We have to do this anytime we have a phone go into refurb hell. We usually are able to get the user into a free older but still in production comparable phone. But you have to be persistent.

  24. GearheadGeek says:

    OP doesn’t understand how to use the phrase “let alone” but it does seem that he’s been jerked around terribly by VZW.

  25. DrRamblings says:

    (Hmm..3rd time trying to post this…)

    I went through FOUR Droids in less than 6 months, and I’m now on my 2nd Droid 2. Two bad screens, a camera that didn’t work, and a brick due to the 2.2 forced upgrade. After a few calls to the district manager, they sent me a refurbed Droid 2. The camera didn’t work. They swapped that out (lucky #6!), but then charged $600 to my account for the phone. I returned the defective unit….and I am waiting for the $600 to be taken off of my account. Verizon Wireless provides awesome customer disservice.

  26. jaredwilliams says:

    I have had mine for almost a year and all my co-workers have them as well (company phones) 0 problems so far, except that I dropped mine and the volume button doesn’t work on turning down the volume only turning up the volume. Problem solved, I ROCK OUT LOUD NOW BITCH

  27. SugarMag says:

    I went thru this with Verizon as well on a different phone. After phone #3 in two weeks I was told that Verizon knowingly sold bad phones so they later invented a patch to deal with the problem. That didnt work for me either, they replaced it with bad models other customers previously replaced. The Verizon store got sick of dealing with me and told me it wasn’t their job to help me, it is their job just to sell phones. Although my phone was fairly useless my only choice was to terminate Verizon for a large fee or pay out of pocket for another phone. Verizon didnt see fit to keep me around with service and working phones.

    After 13 years I get to leave Verizon in January (contract is up) and I am ecstatic.

  28. abberz3589 says:

    I think the whole “your phone broke? here’s a refurb” shit is BS. They’re always messed up./

  29. Silverhawk says:

    It sounds like the issue with the first phone could have been fixed with a hard reset. Hopefully the OP did try that to rule it out before going into refurb hell.

    As I’ve mentioned in other threads, I don’t see what the hate on Motorola is all about. I’ve had personal experience with 9 Moto phones over the years – beginning with the “bag phone” and including Star Tacs, the V and E series flip phones, RAZRs and the D1, 2 and X. The ONLY one that had a single issue was a dodgy speaker on my wife’s KRZR that occurred after 3 years & 11 months of hard use.

    I also have friends & family on Moto Droids, and they all have had no issues either: 3 Droid 1s, 3 Droid 2s, 1 Droid X as well as my own Droid 1 and 2 I currently own.

  30. rorschachex says:

    I’ve gone through something similar to this, granted I’m only on replacement phone #3. First Droid was terrific until the headphone jack went bad. Second phone had a slightly loose display hinge, but otherwise was fine until, like Droid #1, the headphone jack failed. My current Droid is perfect with the exception of the volume rocker not responding too well to Volume -. Oh well, I’m not going to return it again since at this late stage in the game, the chance of getting a really screwed up Droid is increasing steadily. I just hope the Nexus S eventually comes to Verizon. I don’t want no stinkin’ skin on my phone, I just want a solid, vanilla Android superphone.

  31. thaJack says:

    First mistake was on 9/1… shouldn’t accept a used replacement when it is Verizon’s fault it is broken.

    For example, if you take the phone to the Verizon store to have them look at it, and the tech support person drops it and breaks it, they should replace it with a new one. Not one of lesser quality.

  32. gillygrrl says:

    The exact same issue happened to me with Sprint. I spoke with everyone I could speak too to fix the problem. After 6 phones in 6 months I just wanted a new phone. They would do nothing for me. Not even let me upgrade early. I had been a customer for 10 YEARS. I had to pay to cancel my contract and instead of sending me my last bill they sent me straight to a collections agency!

  33. ITDEFX says:

    I don’t know, but does Sprint/AT&T/other cell providers have problems that are this bad with their phones in general? The last two phones I have had with Verizon has been nothing but trouble and Verizon’s response after the first month is “your SOL!”…. I am so ready to leave verizon because of their shitty phones, but wondering will I be worse off with AT&T/SPRINT?

  34. ned4spd8874 says:

    I feel his pain. I went through 6 Moto Droids myself. They then decided to upgrade me to the HTC Incredible. Which I like a lot better. Except that I am now on my 4th one of those as well.

    The time before last that I called them, they said they would do whatever it takes to make me happy, even switch me to a different phone; but wanted me to factory reset first to see if that fixes it. I had data to backup and get off of the phone that I didn’t want to loose. But after factory resetting it, I still had issues. Unfortunately the next CSR that I talked to was not nearly as motivated to make me happy and satisfied. The only option I was given was to be sent a refurb Inc.

    Oh, and guess what? Less than 24 of using it, it rebooted itself in the middle of a phone call. Gotta love it!

  35. peebozi says:

    my original droid made it 10 months until the touch screen went screwy. got a “like new replacement” that didn’t close properly so got another LN replacement that’s been working for a month now. praying to baby jesus that this one doesn’t crap out.

    cell companies are scum and should be more regulated…but not like that bad, government regulation that’s trying to take away a corporations right to regulate flow on the intermet! /sarcasm

  36. Chanakin says:

    You beat me to the punch, Brian. I recently threw in the towel with Verizon and am now paying $10 a month for the next four months until my contract runs out to avoid the 145 dollar cancellation fee. I had 5 replacements sent to me (the last one being a refurbished “certified like new” Droid 2 which didn’t make phone calls or receive texts from the moment it was programmed, just like two others of mine eventually started doing) before I decided Verizon, Google, and Motorola could all go to a very warm place very far south. Now I’m with AT&T on a Windows Phone 7 (LG Quantum) and I couldn’t be happier. I’ll never own another product by Google or Motorola, and never do business with Verizon again. My younger brother is now the proud owner of a 600-dollar piss-poor MP3 player, because that’s all that last Droid 2 can do.

  37. nick125 says:

    The company that Verizon uses for refurbishing devices is just flat-out terrible. I went through something similar — 5 Droid replacements within two weeks. The keyboard on my original device started to peel up and the headset jack wasn’t working properly (kept cutting a channel in and out), so I called and got a replacement. The next replacement had the same issue with the headset jack, so I called and got another replacement. This replacement not only had the same headset jack issue, but it wasn’t even clean — it had accent stickers from the previous owner, as well as smuges, dust, and lint all over it. I called to get another replacement..on this device, it wouldn’t connect to WiFi. I kept going through replacement hell until I just gave up and accepted a device with a bad headset jack.

  38. jugarglimmer says:

    i know exactly how you feel, i bought the droid in July, the phone was working great til I noticed that the keyboard was getting hard to text on that was because of the glue of the keyboard was coming out. They sent me a new one, it was working normal until i was trying to use google maps and couldnt find my location. What happen? defected gps chip. so then i got another one, working great for one day until, i cant slide it up or down.. it was getting stuck. So they sent me another one. and yet again i have to go back cause the glue of my keyboard is coming and also for some reason it wont update. Every phone I’ve had with verizon i always have a problem with

  39. drmcarthur says:

    I had a problem with my Droid. I just sent it to Motorola, who fixed and returned it.

  40. opinionatedlatina says:

    My Verizon nightmare involves two defective BlackBerry devices, over two months of frustrating calls to customer service and technical support (who did little more than lie to me, insult me, waste my time and make the problems worse), and now a $106 credit that they still have not put into my account for one of the defective devices I mailed over a month ago.
    The last representative I asked about this actually tried to accuse me of mailing them an empty box!
    I am now with Working Assets (CREDO Mobile) and I am very happy with their service, unfortunately I still have not been able to put Verizon completely behind me.