I’m conscious that the nuclear option – pressing the red social-networked shit-everywhere button – is not the kindest, nor perhaps the most productive, way of proceeding in these matters. So I’ll try to be even-handed.
Less than two years ago (well within the standard warranty period I was later to discover), we bought our daughter a Blackberry 8520 PAYG phone on the T-Mobile network from Carphone Warehouse online. It cost around a hundred pounds. Ever since, she’s been as happy as anyone might be with her aforementioned present – in a first-world-joy sort of way it goes without saying. Halfway through this year some buttons dropped off, but they were volume buttons and didn’t affect the functionality of the phone. Then, this September, after a summer of intermittent software freezes, the beast decided to give up the ghost.
Stumbling haphazardly across the original receipt whilst doing some pre-autumn cleaning, I decided to phone up CPW to find out if it was still under guarantee. To my surprise I was informed that it was. I went into our local Ellesmere Port store, where they looked a bit dubious and refused to promise anything. The main complaint we registered was the software freezing; as a by-the-by we also mentioned the buttons had fallen off, adding we felt this was through no fault of the user. Remember: a hundred-quid object (say a cheap under-the-counter freezer) whose buttons dropped off after less than two years’ use would almost certainly find its way through to some kind of compensation from its vendor, were the consumer to decide to complain.
So the phone went off to CPW’s repair team – no longer to Blackberry itself we were informed by the store – and we waited for about a week. Unfortunately, the reply was not the one we were looking for: a chargeable repair for the buttons, not the software we had complained about, which would cost around £170. When I objected to this, and asked that the repair centre be contacted in the store, and whilst the phonecall in question was being made, I was told if I wished to complain I would have to contact CPW via their website. The store couldn’t do this on my behalf, even though – at the time I asked them to do so, and in front of my dear old self – they were speaking to someone from the very same repair centre.
I duly contacted CPW via Twitter, who directed me to the website contact form I had been referred to instore.
Shortly afterwards, I received an email saying the matter would be looked into.
Today, after a couple of days naively living in hope of better things, times and outcomes, I received the following email (the bold is mine, and I have anonymised the sender’s name to avoid any embarrassment):
Dear Mr Williams
Thank you for your patience in this matter.
I have now concluded our investigations into your complaint. I reviewed the original decision that your handset couldn’t be repaired without a charge being applied. I must confirm that we cannot alter this outcome.
The reason for this is that, upon review, your handset was missing buttons. This type of damage, regardless if it caused the fault on the device or not, invalidates the warranty and means that we cannot repair this without a charge.
Our repair department operate under licence from the manufacturers, and under our licence any invalidated warranty repairs are not able to be completed without a cost.
I understand that this will not be the outcome you were looking for, however I must advise that this is the final response we could offer on this complaint.
If you have any further questions, please let me know.
To summarise then: this model of Blackberry has a two-year warranty and a software fault which the vendor – Carphone Warehouse – is unable to repair because buttons have fallen off, presumably due to a weakness in the manufacturer’s original design. (They are, if I remember rightly, electromechanical buttons covered in rubber – hardly the toughest sort of construction you can imagine out there.) I do wonder, idly by now I have to say, how many other vendors – and manufacturers, whilst we’re at it – cover their backsides with these techie products by restricting their warranties through exempt electromechanical failure. And though I am an utter non-expert in these matters, I still fail to see why frozen smartphone software cannot be repaired because totally unrelated buttons have fallen off.
I’ve been a reasonably assiduous purchaser at CPW over the years, and I love my Blackberry Playbook as a forgotten beast of fearsomely strong beauty too. But I’m afraid when I do upgrade either a phone or a tablet, I shall resort neither to CPW nor to Blackberry.
The nuclear option is it? I don’t think so. Acer and Apple and Amazon have messed us around just as much.
Just a disappointed, saddened and disillusioned end-user, then, who was once fascinated by this very 21st-century world; and who’s slowly learned to distrust anything these both foreign and homegrown – both distant and supposedly close – technological corporations so love to promise you, your loved ones and the world they claim to want to serve … when, that is, we unguardedly choose to part with some of our dosh.