How Many Non-Working Smartphones Before You Just Give Up?

How many defective smartphones does it take in order for a customer to surrender in frustration and just pay an early termination fee? Craig is on his fourth HTC Evo from Sprint since mid-December. He would like a working phone. Sprint, it seems, would like him to go away.

I’ve read about other cell phone troubles on your site, but here’s my
recent go-round with Sprint and my HTC Evo(s)…

12/15/10 – Took my 1st HTC Evo into Sprint service center because the
USB port won’t charge the phone. I paid the $35 service charge because
I don’t carry insurance on the phone. Received a replacement phone
same day. They said this phone carried the same 30-day warranty as any
new phone, so repairs would be free within 30 days. The 2nd Evo’s
backlight stopped working the same day.

12/16/10 – Took 2nd HTC Evo into same Sprint service center b/c of bad
backlight. Received a replacement phone (3rd Evo) the same day. Within
a few hours, I noticed a spot that would come and go on the LCD. It
looked like a liquid or glue under the touch surface. I also noticed 2
bright spots–one over the “b” on the keyboard, and one above the home
key. By the end of the day, the first spot (glue?) that would come and
go stayed there permanently. When making the calls, this 3rd Evo was
nowhere near as clear as the first; the speaker sounded terrible and
muffled.

12/18/10 – I tweeted about my issues to @sprint and @sprintcare
responded. They asked me to email my situation to
sprintcares@sprint.com. I write up my frustrations about the 3 Evos
and asked what they could do for me. I asked if they could just send
me a new phone without me having to go into the Sprint service center
again for a 4th phone. I GET NO RESPONSE. No reply, nothing.

 

12/29/10 – I tweet to @sprintcare about my email and no response, they
say “sorry you didn’t get a response”, but offer no help. Nothing.

12/29/10 – I took the 3rd Evo into the Sprint service center b/c of
the LCD and speaker issues. I specifically request the Evo be shipped
to my house if they don’t have a replacement in store. Hours later
when I return to pick up the repair, they tell me they’ll ship me a
new Evo and return my old phone. I asked them if they could guarantee
this (4th Evo) be a new Evo, because the previous 2 replacements are
obviously refurbished and were junk. They couldn’t guarantee that.
They said all of their replacements are refurbished. I asked them to
confirm they would ship it to my house. The CSR that gave back my old
phone wasn’t sure. She said it will either come to the house or the
store, depending on how the order was put in. She said she couldn’t do
anything if the order was already in and didn’t know how it was
entered. (Top notch customer service)

12/30/10 – Fortunately I received an Evo–my 4th Evo in 2 weeks–at my
house. Unfortunately–it has the SAME DEFECT on the LCD–the bright
spot over the letter “b”. I find through Google that this “b-spot”
defect is common.

Do I go to the Sprint service center for a 5th Evo?

Clearly Sprint and HTC have trouble in the quality control department.
Whatever they are doing to test phones for redistribution has nothing
to do with checking the LCD or speaker functionality. Their customer
service attitude via Twitter and email also seems to be seriously
lacking professionalism. If you specifically ask your customer to
email the details of their situation, that request sets the
expectation of a response. Sprint seems to be clueless about this.

How many refurbished, defective Evos must I go through before Sprint
sends me a non-defective unit? Is there a “lemon law” for cell phones?
If they sold me a defective unit to begin with, and replaced it with 3
defective units, doesn’t this constitute a breach of contract? It
seems to me they are unable to supply the product I paid for. Has
anyone had luck arguing the termination of their contract and waiver
of the ETF due to a carrier’s incapability to provide non-defective
hardware?

Pretty frustrated with Sprint and HTC–will be trying to end my
contract early but don’t have much confidence they’ll allow it without
charging an ETF.

Maybe someone at Sprint’s Consumerist hotline (703-433-4401 866-561-0035) will be able to help.