Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Why #nokia gets a #brandfail from me

It is with great sadness that I write this post. I love Nokia. Loved. When something that you really like so much disappoints you so badly then it takes a lot to gain that respect back.

The short story is that my Nokia E71 stopped working a few weeks back and I took into Nokia to be fixed. They refuse to fix it alleging that it is "liquid-damaged". I refuse to believe that the cause is Liquid-damage. And they refuse to listen to me and fix the device.

I have had a very long history with Nokia. The first cellphone I ever used was a Nokia 2110 (The Brick). I have had many different Nokia "candybar" phones of differing features and costs. My last one was a 6233 which I really, really enjoyed using even though it was a Symbian S40 device. It got stolen and I moved onto a phone I coveted for ages - the E71.

The E71 was everything I wanted in a phone and I used all of its features. When my car radio was stolen, my phone became my music player. It was my diary. It was my watch. It was my browser. It was my mail. My connection to my world. I downloaded all the Google services that I could and all the Ovi services. I even signed up for Nokia Music. The only issue I had with my phone was the expensive Maps software but when Ovi Maps became free for the E71 then my phone was completely perfect.

I actually talked 2 people into buying E71s, 1 person to get an E72 and 2 people into buying E62s.

Then my phone starting flaking out.

One day it just started switching off. Strange, because usually the battery life is great. But that was fine, I charged it and it came back again.

Then one day it just would not switch on.

I took it to a shop and tried a different battery and no luck. We tried another battery and still no luck. I took it to another shop and we tried another battery. Finally I borrowed a battery from a friend who also had an E71 and still no luck. It wasn't the battery.

So I took my phone into two MTN shops and they both said it would take about a month to fix my phone. I should have gone for it but the one lady did mention that a Nokia shop would be able to look at my phone within one hour and "probably fix it" right then.

I was sold so I drove to the Nokia shop with my E71.

This is where the wheels fell off the cart.

I spoke to a lady who told me that if a non-Nokia-approved technician had worked on the phone then the warranty would be void and I would have to pay for their time. No worries there. She also told me that if the phone had suffered any liquid damage then the same would apply. No worries there.

Or so I thought.

At this point let me get it clear:

I have NEVER dropped my phone in water or any other liquid.
I have NEVER spilt coffee or any other drink on my phone.
I have NEVER lent my phone to anyone who wasn't in my general vicinity.

I would swear to the above in a court of law and sign an affidavit that says as much. I have even offered to do so for Nokia.

What I can't promise is that my phone has never come into contact with water. There is water in the air. I can't promise that I have never walked in the rain with my phone in my pocket although it hasn't rained for a long time in Johannesburg.

So, knowing the above, I handed in my phone. Signed the documents. The E71 has a known issue in that it picks up pocket fluff and some of that can get into the area between the screen and the glass over the screen so I asked that they clean that. I then went for a walk around the shopping centre for about an hour.

When I returned I was informed that the phone could not be fixed because the motherboard was no longer working and it is too expensive to replace the motherboard. Apparently its actually cheaper just to replace the whole phone.

I was also told that there was "liquid damage".

The blood drained from my face. How could there be?! It was like I had walked into an alternate reality like a Lewis Carroll novel.

They pulled up a screenshot of the back the inside of my phone where the battery lives. They showed me the damage and told me that it looks like "liquid damage". The picture was taken very zoomed in and close up it seems that two places on the motherboard have something the looks like rust.

The one thing they confirmed is that they were not able to find any moisture in the phone itself at all - not in the speakers (which are usually the worst parts for water damage) and not in the screen (which has dry fluff in it). But tucked away behind the battery is some sort of "rust" that "proves" liquid damage and hence according to Nokia this lets them off the hook from their warranty and they are therefore not liable to repair the phone.

When the shop people started telling me that my phone could have gotten the damage from water in the air or "sometimes you sweat and your phone in your pocket could have absorbed it" was when I decided that I should leave.

Nokia phones.

So, I left the store fuming. I left my phone there because now, not only did I not get my phone fixed and not only would they not fix it but I had to pay a "consulting fee" for them trying to fix a phone that was not fixable and they would be keeping my phone until they got that money.

I did sign that I would pay the consulting fee if there was water damage. I don't debate that. But I was shocked to find out that there was allegedly liquid damage. Two shops had swapped out batteries without noticing anything wrong with the motherboard but then they didn't have a magnifying glass to hunt for signs of possible "liquid damage" and I *knew* that I had never caused liquid to get into the phone.

I was cross but I figured that a simple call to Nokia head office would sort everything out. They are a very switched on firm and would like to help me out once they hear my story. So I spoke to a very kind, sweet woman and told her the whole story above including the bit about being willing to sign an affidavit and the "water in the air". To her credit she told me the water in the air story is junk. However, the Policy is the Policy and if the shop said it was "liquid damage" then there is nothing that Nokia can do. Can do or would do?

She suggested that I take it to another Nokia shop and get a second opinion. This means I risk another "consulting fee" of R250 in the hopes that another Nokia store may decide that the damage is not water damage. She suggested that I take it to MTN which means she is just passing the buck.

WTF?! Can she not just admit that the phone is defective and get it sorted out? No - there is the Policy.

Can I get someone independent to check the phone out? No, only a Nokia authorised repair person can open the phone or the warranty is gone anyway.

So here I am without a phone and feeling totally let down. My insurance will cover my phone for water damage and I'll be able to replace it but I guess I just wanted Nokia to come to the party.

Actually, I guess I had too much respect for the Nokia brand and wanted reality to reflect my perception.

I'm not an Apple person but I'm surrounded by happy Blackberry users. I guess my next phone will be a Blackberry ... something I've been fighting for a while now but I've been let down.