Smartphone replacement purgatory is a dreary and tragic state. When the tiny and fragile creatures called smartphones are defective, people who have come to depend on the pocket-sized computers and who are trapped in data plans are stuck. Their warranty or phone insurance plan might provide them with a replacement, and sometimes that replacement works fine. Other times, that replacement is just as their original phone, throwing the customer into a cycle of replacements that never ends. This is what happened to reader B. when she got a Motorola Droid less than two years ago. [More]
Usually, it’s owners of Android devices who get cast into the terrifying outer circles of Smartphone Replacement Purgatory, but owners of Apple devices aren’t immune. Reader Stephen first wrote to us back in February as he got his third replacement iPhone 5. Since then, he’s received two more phones. It’s nice that his phone is under warranty and all, but he’s on a two-year contract. Will he be stuck getting replacements every few months the entire time? [More]
Like many of our readers, Elizabeth is sort of a nerd. When a special edition of Motorola’s Droid smartphone came out that’s dressed up to look like actual fictional ‘droid R2D2 from “Star Wars,” she took the opportunity to upgrade. Critics say that the phone is just a painted-up Droid 2, but Elizabeth liked it. Well, she liked it until a week or so later when it stopped working properly. That’s when Verizon encased her in carbonite and cast her into Smartphone Replacement Purgatory.
Owners of the Droid Incredible, a Verizon-exclusive phone made by HTC, are in a predicament. Sure, their phones are a little old, but many are still in circulation and working fine. A recent software upgrade sends the phones into a perpetual reboot loop in the wee hours of the morning, which is annoying and drains the battery. These customers could upgrade if they really wanted to, but Incredible owners most likely have unlimited data from Verizon Wireless, which they will lose if they upgrade their phones and accept a carrier subsidy. Verizon isn’t about to replace the looping phones, either…unless it’s with another defective Droid Incredible. Dana found a way around this, and talked Verizon into letting her swap her Droid for a shiny new iPhone.
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.
Sara really loved her HTC G1 from T-Mobile, and bought the similar-ish Samsung Sidekick 4G as a replacement when its years of loyal service ended. The new phone has not been so loyal. It locks up, won’t respond to the touchscreen, and periodically wipes its memory card for no clear reason. Sure, she could back up the memory card content elsewhere, but the non-operational phone is a real problem. Now she’s on her third replacement. T-Mobile is happy to send her a replacement, but she doesn’t want a fifth phone that will inevitably have the same problems. Sara, welcome to smartphone replacement purgatory!
William has tried everything to get a working HTC smartphone: he’s e-mailed executives and he’s visited his local Sprint store for help. The company replaced his broken Evo Shift with a Design. Yay! …except that on the new phone, no one can hear him. HTC won’t send a replacement phone. Not because he’s not entitled to one, but because William tried had swapped in a battery from his old phone when the replacement had shipped with a bad one.
Some months ago, Elliot upgraded the phone on his T-Mobile plan. He chose the Motorola Defy, which turned out to be a poor choice. At least, it was for Elliot, who enjoys having a phone that actually works. T-Mobile has cast him into smartphone replacement purgatory, where he will be stuck until he gives up and changes carriers, or his warranty expires and he pays for a new phone.
You’ve heard it from us before, but we can’t remind our readers too many times: extended warranties are usually not such a wise investment. Here’s an excellent case study. Ryan pays $9.99 per month for a Geek Squad Black Tie service contract on his HTC EVO. For that much money, he logically assumed that when his phone malfunctioned, he would not be left phoneless for 30 days or more. He was incorrect. That may actually be worse than getting a replacement or repair under the normal manufacturer’s warranty.
If Sprint is the exclusive seller of the HTC Evo, and Sprint stores will also repair your Evo when you have a problem with it, isn’t it logical that having Sprint repair your smartphone won’t void the warranty? Not so fast, smart guy or gal! Rodney writes that he and his wife actually left Sprint because a local Sprint store charged for a repair that actually voided the warranty. That repair? The phone’s 4th in seven months. Update, 2/23/11: HTC is issuing Rodney a refund.
Austen owns an original Motorola Droid. Well, technically, he owns his fourth Motorola Droid since he bought it on the day the phone was originally released. He’s had three replacements of defective phones, and Verizon has helpfully offered to upgrade his phone. If he pays for a new, upgraded phone. He is, understandably, not too thrilled with the idea of purchasing a new phone that might also cast him into smartphone replacement purgatory.