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.

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