The winter of my mobile discontent
Those who know me well know that I am strong opponent of the way the mobile phone industry operates in Canada. There are only three true players, all of which offer roughly the same services for the same prices. I'm sure the industry will argue that there is competition and customer choice, but without one company innovating and raising the bar, the only choice is to whom I want to pay my exorbitant mobile phone bill.
My opinions are not based on observations from a distance. They are based on ongoing experiences which have frustrated me for more than a year, have involved three large corporations, and in my opinion, has resulted in no one being held accountable for the poor customer service I have experienced.
In August of 2006 I purchased a Sony Ericsson phone from Wireless Wave on the Rogers Network (names have not been changed, as those three entities are encouraged to contact me to refute what I say here and finally resolve this ongoing issue). The "white screen of death", an unresponsive state which many Sony Ericsson uses may be familiar with, forced me to send the phone in for service in March. When it was returned to me, the repair centre attached a technical bulletin explaining that it was normal for the phone to behave that way for up to 20 minutes during its normal use, and suggesting that maybe I was to blame.
When you shut off a car's engine after a typical drive, is it normal to have to wait 20 minutes before you are able to continue your trip? And if I was to blame, why is it that the phone had to be sent back after two months for the same problem when I continued not doing what Sony Ericsson said I was doing.
Either way, one month later, the third "white screen of death", combined with a complaint to the head office, prompted Wireless Wave to buy back to handset. I replaced it with a top-of-the-line Sony Ericsson - one which no poor reviews existed, even from a then Rogers employee. That was in June of 2007, and last month, I discovered that there must be serious quality assurance problems at everyone's favorite Japanese-Swedish conglomerate.
It has been more than one month since I sent my current mobile phone in for service, and due to some fancy bookkeeping by Wireless Wave, it was sent to their third party repair centre rather than back to the factory. But, I suspect it won't matter, as the authorized Sony Ericsson repair centre doesn't seem to have the ability to diagnose and repair the problem anyway.
As I stated before, of the three companies involved, not one has taken responsibility for this customer service nightmare.
Wireless Wave, at least in Brampton, has offered me nothing more than the bare minimum level of service. They take my product, send it to repairs, call me when it returns, and that's about it. However, I must commend the Erin Mills Town Centre location for its quality of service, kindness of its staff, and general responsiveness to my concerns. Having said that, I cannot excuse the loaner phone policy - a subject that I will return to shortly.
Sony Ericsson has offered nothing but token attempts to fix my phone thus far, and has a "software update should fix it" attitude. On than the speed at which you respond to customer complaints, I have not been satisfied with your product or your repair services. I understand that Sony Ericsson is a joint venture between Sony and Ericsson, but this experience has jaded my opinion of both companies.
Rogers Wireless also has a role in this debacle. They are content with passing any hardware malfunction off to the manufacturer, but in then end, it was they who certified the device and it is they who accept my monthly fees. When someone purchases a mobile phone, they purchase both a handset and the service. Some purchase a bare-bones phone, while others purchase advanced handsets to suit their unique needs. Regardless, it is a Rogers-branded phone and Rogers must take some responsibility when a Rogers-branded phone malfunctions.
Wireless Wave has offered my a loaner phone every time I have had to return a handset for service, but their collection of loaned phones offer bare bones communication. I purchased an advanced phone because I use advanced features in my personal and professional life. I may not be very important in the scope of the world, but I have a list of 200 contacts that I synchronize between my phone and my computer regularly. Since my loaner phone does not have that ability, I am not getting the full experience of the Rogers-branded service I bought into. If a soccer mom with five children gets into an accident, it would be irresponsible for an insurance company to only pay for the rental of a subcompact. Similarly, it is irresponsible for a company who sold you a $500 phone to expect you to repeatedly accept a $100 replacement for months on end. Both Wireless Wave and Rogers Wireless are responsible in this respect.
Perhaps when I begun writing this post it was about the mobile phone industry. However, it appears to have turned into a post about customer service in general. Either way, I hope that these companies shape up, as I'm sure I'm not the only one who feels as if they don't care.