Perhaps The 8th And 9th Replacement Phones We Send You Won’t Be Defective

Garland and her husband have the same Android smartphone from Virgin Mobile, the Motorola Triumph. It’s supposed to be a pretty nice phone, and wasn’t cheap, but both of their phones had some issues. So get a warranty replacement and be on your way, right? Only it wasn’t just one replacement. Garland is now about to receive her fourth replacement phone, and her husband his third. That’s a total of seven defective phones so far. The phones suffer from a variety of problems, ranging from random reboots to poor reception to–worst of all–not recharging at all for no clear reason. They’d like Virgin to perhaps consider sending them a different, less crappy phone next time. They won’t.

Welcome to Smartphone Replacement Purgatory, where mobile phone carriers send you defective phones over and over until buy a new phone elsewhere, re-up your contract, or leave for another carrier.

Dear Virgin Mobile,

Enclosed is my 2nd replacement for my Motorola Triumph which did not charge out of the box at all, the problems with my 1st and 2nd phone were charging port related also. I have had a total of 3 Motorola Triumphs and am waiting on my 4th now. My husband has been through 3 replacements (making a total of 7 Motorola Triumphs that have passed through our home) all of which have the same charging port issue.

The reason I needed the 1st, and this replacement, was due to the charging port issue which is a known manufacturer’s defect with this device caused by a lack of solid soldering in the charging port. It is not related to the battery or cables that I use as those charge other devices or are able to be charged in another Motorola Triumph. I am going to continue using my 1st replacement device, as it’s charging is unpredictable but possible at this time, until I get another replacement. I hope in the meantime the phone doesn’t stop charging all together. I understand that your policy is to only replace a device with the same model. This works for people who are having random difficulties with a single device or for issues that are with a small batch of of a model or other minor issues with a device. Unfortunately in this case, each of the 7 phones that have come into our home have had the same problem as it is a manufacturer’s defect. After only a few weeks, the phone begins to be tricky to charge unless it is laid flat and will not charge in a vehicle at all due to this. Considering this is also used as my GPS, this is a huge inconvenience. There are sometimes days when I cannot get the phone to charge no matter what charger, cable or how I lay the phone down and then I am able to get it to charge if it’s placed “just so” again a few days later. These have caused blackouts for my service use and have been the cases each time when I called and requested a replacement.

The reason it took me so long to open and activate this model is because it is very time
consuming to do these switches from phone to phone and I lost a lot of information and this time I wanted to make sure that didn’t happen again. It took me three hours to find a solution for this and when I finally activated the new phone it was only in time to find out that the phone wouldn’t charge out of the box.

I will now await another of the same model which I fear will produce the same results. This is a major issue as it affects my ability to use my service when needed and can be a safety concern when I am traveling. I am leaving on a trip on June 13th where I will need my phone and it’s data plan but am concerned this will not be available to me due to this charging issue. Other known issues with the Motorola Triumph are:

● GPS is slow to find a fix, often loses fix, or is unable to get a fix at all. (I have rarely been able to use my GPS due to the charging issues.)
● Phone Randomly Restarts (I have had this with both my models.)
● Has little or no signal when other Virgin phone have full bars, drops calls, unable to connect to internet or send image messages even when reception is reported. (I have had this with both my models.)
● Non-User viewable or editable log file fills memory requiring factory reset. (Had this issue and had to reset my phone, this was a huge inconvenience.)
● Phone quickly, or sometimes immediately, becomes difficult to charge and finally loses the ability to charge what so ever. Phone must be replaced. (My main reason for the all of my replacements.)

This phone needs recalled or retired and vouchers provided to all users for the purchase
price of the phone or a similarly priced replacement (eg. HTC Evo V 4G – the only suitable replacement, the current flagship phone to replace the seriously flawed previous flagship phone).

If replacing a device with only the same model is your policy for replacing a single defective device, then what is your policy for manufacturer’s defects on an entire model line?



Edit Your Comment

  1. That guy. says:

    I like these letters/complaints that have a clear request of what they want done.

    I don’t know if it is good advice, but personally I’d also requets credits on the service bill, due to extended peroids of time without a phone (in transit to be replaced), and time when they couldn’t use the service because the device couldn’t be powered up. My logic is, you want one thing, you ask for two, you are more likely to get the one thing you want because the company will think they are getting away with some sort of compromise.

  2. [censored] says:

    It would be nice if phone carriers did something to help folks out in a situation like this, but frankly I dont see how it is the phone companies fault. I dont think any wireless carrier anywhere will replace one model of phone with an entirely different model (aside from the renew / upgrade process.

    On a side note, WTF does re-up mean. That is the stupidest term I have ever heard. Something to do with an old man and a kid with balloons?

    • Thyme for an edit button says:

      Defintion of re-up:

      You’re welcome.

    • homehome says:

      It means to replenish, fill up again. start over in a sense. old slang that used to be in urban communities.

    • CrazyEyed says:

      It’s the phone companies fault for endorsing or using a faulty product. They should provide some level of reasonable support for THEIR customers. Isn’t that what any company that values their customers supposed to do anyway?

      • [censored] says:

        So i can go after the cable company if they.. suggest I go out and buy myself a tv, and the model *I* choose is defective?

        • diagoro says:

          Poor analogy….because it’s not the TV that would be causing you to lose your service (in this case, it would have to be a bad cable box)……

          • [censored] says:

            His service is just fine, he just doesnt have a device capable of using it. Ie. the tv.

  3. homehome says:

    I know that with sprint if you had to replace your phone 3 times or more, they had to give you a new phone period. Most ppl don’t know that. With these no contract carriers, I’m sure they’re stuff is different.

    • rdaex says:

      They dont HAVE to do anything.. if they DECIDE to do that, it doesnt count against them

      • homehome says:

        I read the guidelines if your phone fell understand certain restrictions, it said they had, not by choice or option, it said they had. And these were their rules. I read this about a year ago.

    • chucklesjh says:

      Verizon told me I could get a Fascinate instead of my Droid X when I had it replaced 12 times. Same crap these people are experiencing, random reboots even during phone calls. I still have it, and it is covered under SquareTrade and they are doing the same thing to me. Granted it isn’t my daily phone but it still reboots just sitting on the table.

  4. geargutz says:

    Unfortunately the Motorola Triumphs have a real bad track record. A quick search on any of the triumph forums will show that. That’s why if you get a good one, you hang onto it for dear life, and Root away the rest of your problems.

    It wouldn’t be such a painful experience, but the Triumph prices out between $250 and $300 new at most retailers.

    Also, I HIGHLY doubt that they will ever replace a triumph for an EVO because then they will have set precident, and will find themselves innundated with similar requests.

    • lvdave says:

      I bought a used VM LG Optimus on eBay for under $75 and couldn’t be more pleased with it. I previously had a Samsung Intercept and it was a piece of s**t. I’ve read reviews of both the LG Optimus and the Samsung Intercept and the reviews *claim* the Samsung is the better phone.. Not HERE it aint.. I’d be SERIOUSLY pissed if I bought a new phone for $200 or more, and went through the BS that OP is having.. Strange, Motorola *used* to be a very good brand.. Guess they’re in the toilet now…

      • elangomatt says:

        Some people liked the Samsung Intercept better since it has a physical keyboard. The Intercept also got a lot better once VM gave us the Android 3.2 (I think) update. That being said I still hated that phone with a passion and updated to the Triumph. I can’t speak for the Optimus at all though since I’ve never used it

      • notserpmh says:

        The only thing better about the Intercept is the keyboard. That is it. The Optimus V is a great phone. I went to a Triumph when they had them on sale on black friday for $130. For that price it is worth it. I will say, and I wonder if this is somewhat of the OP and others issues, my LG chargers (car and home and USB cable) from my old OV will not, no matter what, charge my Triumph. The cables from the Triumph, plus a Motorola car charger I got on Amazon, charge it fine, every time. Even though they are the same connector, it seems that the Triumph is a little more finicky about the cable connected to it.

      • BeamMeUp says:

        I too have the VM Optimus V and my son is stuck with his Samsung Intercept all because he wanted a slide out keyboard. S*cks to be him, lol. :)

  5. Blueskylaw says:

    Whatever happened to the types of phone that Grandma used to have? You know, the ones that lasted for 40 years before she died?

    About 7 months ago I bought a new phone from Motorola and it basically broke after 4 months; the answer button sometimes wouldnt work, it would shut itself off, I couldn’t hear the other party but they could hear me, you pull the charger off of the phone and it still shows that it’s charging, voicemail messages that arrive 2 days later, text messages that never arrive, etc.
    I called up my service provider and they said the phone only has a freaking 3 month warranty!
    I asked the lady if only having a 3 month warranty is supposed to inspire confidence in their products and she agreed that it doesn’t and most phones have 1 year warranties. I had a very pleasant conversation with her and even a few laughs, and she ended up sending me a new phone that cost 3-4 times what I paid for mine, so it pays to be nice to (executive) customer relations.

    • CrazyEyed says:

      Motorolas are netorious for having hardware issues. With that said, cells are used way more frequently than simple landline phones. Either way, I agree with you. They just don’t make them like they use to.

  6. odarkshineo says:

    I just had to replace my wife’s phone 4x, and mine 3x. I talked to a verizon service manager who actually told me:
    These phones (smartphones) are like computers, they have bugs. You can’t expect them to work like old phones. The galaxy nexus had a known issue where the microphone would stop working, for over 6 months.
    Apparently, expecting a phone to work as a phone in this day and age is too much.

    • robnich says:

      And that’s true of most, if not all, Android-based devices. Apple provides software updates for devices for an minimum of 2 years after release, while most Android devices are sold with an already-outdated operating system and are not updated following that.

      If you want a device that is supported by its manufacturer with the latest version of software after you purchase it, get an iPhone.

      Wish I could find the article that was published to this effect last year, but Google’s not turning it up.

      • APCO25guy says:

        I hate to sound like an Apple Fanboy, but it’s true. The Iphone does what it does well because Apple supports it so well and keeps software up to date.

        I had the same frustration with Android on VZW. I went through four different models, the final one being the Droid X2, which I personally liked the hardware and build quality- if it had a better OS on it, I would probably have it to this day. But battery pulls every other day, random freezes, apps crashing the whole phone. I had enough of that crap. After spending 45 minutes with a great corporate store manager, I left with an Iphone 4.

        I never have had a problem. I only replaced it with a 4S as I cashed in an early upgrade on my 2nd line. I still have the same old 4 on my Dad’s line, and even he loves it. It has NEVER crashed, it works as good as the day I got it in 2010.

        I think much of this also has to do with the hardware and software being built by the same company. I never cared for the Apple snobbery, but the bottom line is the damn things just work. I’ve never had a single issue with either phone. Every now and then an app will get crazy but iOS kills it without bringing the whole thing to screeching halt. Isn’t that how it SHOULD work?

        A friend of mine who loves his Droids (yet he’s always having to hack them to get it to work) brags about having a removable battery. I say why should you have to have a removable battery, if it works the way it should, you never should have to take the battery out?

        • elangomatt says:

          As much as I hate to admit it, you are totally correct. One of the things I really like about android is that you have a choice of screen sizes, many different styles, and many different manufacturers. That is also what I dislike about Android as well. So many people want something for nothing these days that the manufacturers try to put out phones with lackluster hardware and/or poor quality control just to save on the manufacturing costs so people can get very cheap or free phones with a new contract.

          I mostly blame google since they didn’t put more restrictions in place from the very beginning. They should have required certain minimum hardware requirements for each version of Android. If you don’t meet those standards, your phone can get the upgrade to the new version.

          They also should not have allowed the carrier specific OS top layers that many carriers have used. This is part of the reason so many phones don’t get OS updates since the carrier has to re-add all the custom garbage to the OS for each phone before they can push the update to the users.

          Finally, the carriers should have had to agree to update Android to the most current version within a certain time period. As it is now, carriers (especially prepaids like VM) have no incentive to upgrade the Android OS since they already have your money for the phone and for postpaid carriers you are locked into the contract so you are pretty much stuck with whatever you have.

          You might even say that prepaid companies like Virgin Mobile have a disincentive to update the OS since people who aren’t happy with their current phone (like the Motorola Triumph) might even upgrade to the EVO V 4G and VM gets even more of the customer’s money.

  7. scoutermac says:

    The problem with the signal very well could be the fact that you are using the Sprint Network. Sprint has horrible coverage here in Indianapolis.

    • The Cupcake Nazi says:

      I’m 2 hours from Indy, and use Sprint. On my many trips there, I beg to differ, the coverage has been just fine…

      • scoutermac says:

        Depends on where you are. There is a dead zone on 465 near i65 on the north west side. Try using your phone while being in the left two lanes. Also there is a dead zone along Towneshipline Rd from 96th Street south almost to 86th St. Sprint works great downtown and in Nora.

      • scoutermac says:

        Also what kind of Sprint phone do you have? Just curious.

  8. ovalseven says:

    I have none of these problems with my Motorola Triumph. Plus, I’ve found their customer service to be very good. I guess I’m lucky.

  9. Damage Incorporated says:

    While many people do have actual hardware issues with their phones, I’m thinking Smartphone Replacement Purgatory is often due to software issues that aren’t going to be solved with a replacement (like many of the issues listed in the OP). You can blame manufacturer’s custom android “skins” for that usually. Unfortunately the only way you’re going to solve thess, other than waiting for an OTA update that’s long overdue, is it root your device and flash custom updates yourself (and technically void your warranty, though it can be undone)

  10. zandar says:

    I can understand the need to get what you pay for, but I think after I discovered the Triumph had a known quality control issue as big as whether you can charge the thing, I would have dumped it immediately and moved on to another phone. If you’ve tried SEVEN that’s starting to sound uncomfortably like the definition of crazy.

  11. Overheal says:

    Not Charging Problem: If you have the phone place transfer your data from one phone to the next they have to place the phone in Mass Storage, or Data Only Connection mode. This means that it disables the Phone’s ability to charge in lieu of letting it interface with the transfer kit.

    What happens if they dont revert this setting when they complete the transfer? Your phone doesn’t charge. Simple fix, it’s in your settings page, just change it from Mass Storage back to Charge Only for the default when connected to a USB (charge) cable.

    Then again, the OP has Virgin Mobile, which is a second rate piggyback carrier with poor coverage and poor customer service. Back when I had them I had one of their Indian call techs get stuttered over his words when I challenged him on why they can’t just give me a service that works (ie. letting me retreive messages I didn’t receive if I didn’t have enough credit on my phone at a given time) and he verbatim said “You’re just Shallow, Mr. [Overheal]” for expecting them to deliver a service.

    Much as I love no contract competitors, the little guys in this market are just a bunch of assholes.

  12. Here to ruin your groove says:

    This phone looks like it was a lemon from the start. Jesus.

    Touch screen becomes unresponsive at random intervals. Factory reset clears up issue for a short period of time.
    Soft-keys become unresponsive at random intervals.
    GPS lag. (Testing connection between WiFi/GPS lag)
    Poor reception.
    Wifi connectiviity error. Power cycle fixes.
    Widget distortion after opening gallery or any UI element that resizes the screen or is a different native resolution. Restarting UI fixes.
    3G connectivity drops at random, requires reboot/data toggle to fix. Excessive heat can be generated to the point the device is “uncomfortable” to hold.
    Bluetooth disconnects while connected to battery power. Remains constant on A/C power.
    Bluetooth volume is low even at maximum volume, fails to maintain previous setting after use.
    Email connectivity issues/download failures
    Radio failure upon signal disconnect. Requires device to be power cycled.
    [Several people have reported discoloration of screen (blue/yellow tint). This seems to be isolated to certain devices.]
    Compass calibration does not seem to do anything.
    Certain UI elements hang when scrolling.
    Connectiviity drops from 3G to 1x when 3G network is available. GPS toggle fixes the problem for a short time
    Video recording is choppy at any resolution. Audio warbles at higher resolutions.
    LED notification will blink at random when no notification is present. This happens a lot after answering an incoming call.
    Android dictionary is missing from Stock Android Keyboard (no auto correct, no automatic period after double space).
    Call forwarding options, which are mentioned in user manual, are not present in call settings menu. Call forwarding does not function.
    When alarm is set, toggling airplane mode will deactivate the alarm notification on the lock screen. Alarm stays active.
    Camera white balance issues. Bright lights/Flash in dark environments cause image discoloration/oversaturation.
    Battery drain issues (seems to be connected to signal issues, phone will last around 48 hours with data disconnected).
    Lock screen “pulses” when screen is powered on.
    Notifications for SMS and certain apps (i.e. Skype) are muffled even when set to maximum volume. SMS notifications only happens with certain sounds.
    When on the charger for extended periods of time, the phone will randomly “lose” 3% of the charge and charge back up to 100%, only to lose it again some time afterwards.
    “Sleep of death” issues. Requires battery pull to resume phone function. Does not occur in factory state, only after non-factory applications are added.
    Some ringtones do not loop, but will only play once. This is limited to a few ringtones.
    Notification appears “Click here to activate” after the device has already been activated. Clicking to reactivate restarts phone and the notification reappears.
    Phone randomly reboots. No known root-cause, will happen while phone is idle and without non-factory apps.
    Audio loss while watching HD videos over HDMI connection. This includes Netflix, YouTube and videos saved to microSD card.
    PC Driver installation software auto-start conflicts with certain USB-enabled devices like car stereos. The auto-start sequence does not subside on a PC when the software is installed and can cause multiple notifications that the phone has been mounted.
    Minimum media volume is too loud, volume stepping is not in even intervals. Opening media w/ minimal volume set will play at mid-volume ranges regardless of volume setting.
    Under certain circumstances, activating the screen shortly after the screen powers off due to timeout can cause the screen to flicker off and on until the phone restarts on its own or the battery is removed.
    In some cases, performing a factory reset may corrupt the information on a microSD card which has a capacity larger than 16GB.
    Log files in /DATA accumulating unchecked, unable to wipe data without factory reset. Some instances over 800MB of logs have accumulated in these files in just under 60 days.
    When memory card is “close to full” (less than 300MB remaining) there are some cases when the camera locks upon opening, required the battery to be pulled.
    When large lists of apps (50+) are trying to load in shortcut menu, Application Settings may hang and FC.
    When battery is in critical state, ringtones/alarms malfunction and do not sound.
    When locking/unlocking the phone several times in succession the lock screen may not appear and two halves of different home screens will be displayed. To correct the phone has to be shut down or battery pulled if the power off menu can’t be selected.

  13. mbz32190 says:

    I’m pretty sure this is the phone that isn’t even manufactured by Motorola…it’s made by some outsourced company and slapped with the Motorola name. Reviews for this phone are pretty poor overall.

    • ovalseven says:

      Really? I did my homework before I bought this phone and found nothing but above-average overall ratings.

  14. Bunnies Attack! says:

    I had this phone… I gave up. Part of the problem is the lack of a software update that would solve most of the issues however there’s a serious disconnect between the two parties involved (motorola and virgin). Motorola claims they’ve had an update ready to go since shortly after launch except Virgin won’t let them distribute it.

    Either way, I liked the phone in general, too bad it didn’t function well as a phone. I also couldn’t get a signal in my office or my house and the 3g speeds were terrible with the sprint network. I ended up trading it in for a Nokia 710 using the windows phone challenge thing (which I promptly dropped and cracked the screen of 2 months later, but thats another sad story).

  15. cybrczch says:

    “…the Motorola Triumph. It’s supposed to be a pretty nice phone…”

    No it isn’t! When I went to get my first smartphone from Virgin Mobile over a year ago, I checked online and all you saw were people trashing the Triumph as being buggy and overpriced.

  16. elangomatt says:

    Great letter OP. If you read these messages please keep us updated on any answer you get.

    I too have the Motorola Triumph. I have been lucky enough to have one that hasn’t had any major problems yet (knock on wood) but the GPS fix time is annoying. I knew going in about the charging issues and such so I’ve been pretty careful not to move it around much when charging to make sure I don’t tweak the charging port much. I have made the experience much better by adding a custom ROM to get the phone to Android 2.3 and that helped a bunch. I think it is pretty pathetic that VM can’t even be bothered to push out the Android 2.3 update, let alone Android 2.4.

  17. kevinroyalty says:

    does your state have a “lemon law” if so, invoke it in small claims court and get a new phone per the judgement, not a refurb.

    • elangomatt says:

      That wouldn’t do a whole lot though since the Triumph is a lemon of a phone in the first place. Everyone that has gotten refurb replacements started out with a brand new phone that had problems, so what is to say that the new phone won’t have problems too. The OP is wanting a new model of phone (which I doubt VM will do) but I don’t think lemon laws generally cover getting a different model.

  18. incident_man says:

    First rule of any technology business:

    NEVER admit there is a KNOWN issue with ANYTHING.

    That way, they’re not liable for ANYTHING.

    Seriously, though, I feel that the problem the OP is experiencing is mostly Sprint’s (since Virgin is a part of Sprint) policy of NOT replacing a phone with anything except with the same model as they bought, unless that same model is no longer available (been obsolete for several years).

    A Sprint manager told me that, “The phone replacement program is NOT a phone UPGRADE program.” Simply put: You buy a shitty phone (knowingly or not), you’re stuck with that same shitty phone until you’re able to buy something else. When you consider that the OP is dealing with Sprint’s PREPAID division, the “We don’t give a shit about the customer,” factor increases by 1000%.

    Simply put………

    A crappy prepaid arm of a crappy national wireless carrier doesn’t seem to care if a problem is resolved or not. Big surprise there!

    My advice is to say goodbye to Virgin and go to a different company that has company-owned stores which can actually solve problems. It may cost more per month, but the increase in coverage and decrease in hassles is worth it, as I have learned.

  19. and_another_thing says:

    Ask for Executive Escalations (in the USA). I had to resort to an EECB after getting nowhere with tier 1 (Eastern Europe, based on the accents) and tier 2 service (USA) with Virgin Mobile when I switched to them in 2011. They simply could not get the number porting to work correctly.

    Executive Escalations fixed it in two to three days.

  20. YouDidWhatNow? says:

    Short version of my usual story: wife went through 8-9 phones with Verizon a while ago, after her original started malfunctioning. Each and every “refurbished” replacement immediately exhibited one problem or another, ultimately just getting replaced with another broken phone.

    There isn’t the slightest evidence to suggest that their “refurbished” phones are anything more than broken phones returned by other customers, that are summarily handed right back out to someone else without having done a thing to fix it.

    And not just Verizon – this problem is endemic in the industry.


    1. Ban phone subsidies, contracts, and the ETFs that go with them.
    2. Make all cell phone companies support the same hardware.
    3. Make the cell phone industry work the way landlines do – you can port your number at any time, to any other provider, with no penalty of any kind, no matter what phone you have.
    4. Make all warranty claims go through the hardware manufacturer (like anything else in the world) rather than the cell phone service provider.

    This would force companies to care about providing customer service…which, right now, they don’t. Customer retention is not an issue when everyone’s on 2-year contracts. By eliminating subsidies and their attached contracts and ETFs, consumers have the right to choose what company they want to do business with at any time, just like landline phone services. By removing the cell service provider from the warranty business, you are making cell phone warranties work the way essentially all other warranties do – getting back to the manufacturer, not the retailer. The manufacturer will be incented to give better customer support because LG will want you to buy another LG phone later.

    So on and so forth. Just do it.

  21. diagoro says:

    This is one of the main pitfalls of our current “gotta have the latest and flashiest” cultures. The telcos and manufacturers thrive off offering new models on a constant basis. It relegates models that are only a few months old into the dust bin, negates the desire (especially financial) to fix bugs and update the software, and creates a huge stock of refurbished ‘has beens’ that are only restored to original state (which means they often have the same original bugs).

    Loading your own software is a step, and perhaps the only one (aside from the crappy option of going with the isheep). Until the telcos see the advantage of supporting their customers phones beyond a few months (especially if they’re on 2 year contracts), nothing will change…..

  22. Libertas says:

    I’d be looking at an Optimus V if you are dead set on remaining with Virgin. I’ve had mine for a year and it’s been the best phone I’ve ever had, and I’ve had cell phones since 92.

  23. moneymatters says:

    I’m with Virgin Mobile and have the LG Optiimus V Android phone, and it’s a great phone. Never had any issues, battery life is decent and no hardware issues like the Motorola phone. that’s why I always do a search for reliability problems before buying a phone – and that’s why I didn’t buy the Triumph. :)