Thursday, December 27, 2007

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.



At 12/29/2007 5:47 p.m. , Anonymous Anonymous said...

That sucks. We are treated terrible by cell companies and here and continue to pay.

What gets me is that as an existing customer I am not entitled to the great deals when I want to replace my handset.

No, they roll out the red carpet to get you but after that you are nothing to them.

Everyone should put their phone in a drawer for a few months then see who is the boss.

They know they have us because we want our phones that bad to put up with crappy service!

I upgraded my phone at a bell store and then I paid $15.00 to transfer over my contacts , yes it made it easier for me but really why wouldn't that just be a nice thing to do for existing customers???? for FREE??

I have your blog linked to from mine now also now.

Karem Allen

At 1/13/2008 12:52 a.m. , Blogger warrior said...

DO NOT BUY WIRELESS WAVES EXTENDED WARRANTY! IT IS BOGUS! I bought extended warranty at the Abbotsford BC Wireless Etc inside the Costco store. When I got my phone I was told everything about how beautiful the extended warranty is and how they will fix your phone if it breaks down, give you a lender phone or replace the phone if it comes back after that.

All Lies!

My phone broke down in July of 2007 and they were not able to take my phone in until August as they didn't have loaner phones at the time, according to the manager(Mike)

Then they gave me a Nokia loaner phone from around year 2000 that had 3 minutes of battery life. After I complained about the lack of being able to use this loaner phone, it took a week for them to track down an Audiovox which was also really old but gave about 30 minutes of talk time.

I got my phone back and it had the same problems and I sent it back in within a week or two. Then I got another brick of a loaner phone and it took until CHRISTMAS!!!! to get my phone back.

Once Again within one week my phone was back since the problem was not fixed! So I took it in for a third time.

This time I got a nice Razr phone as a loaner since I complained about my past loaner phone experience. Sure Enough the Razr was dead and unable to charge. I called the store back to tell them how I need my phone for work reasons as it is my only number for contact. I was told they had no loaner phones and forced to wait until this Saturday (Jan 12th) to get a very old Samsung phone as my loaner phone.

Now my phone will probably not be back again till about March 2008 as it has taken them an average of 2-3 months at a time to get my phone back. This is silly as I have not had my phone for more then one week since August 2007 and they are still trying to fix it. I asked the store manager Mike to replace the phone under warranty as promised and he told me it wasn't possible.

I asked the female employee there and was told nothing they could do about phone replacement. What about all the promises? She admitted they were lies and all they can do is repair the phones. Remeber they have the 39% qouta to meet on how many extended warrenty's they sell, so they lie to you to sell them.

I have asked them to get me in touch with the district manager since all i wanted was my phone being replaced under warranty so I could finally have a proper working phone, and they told me they can't do that. I ask them to tell the DM to call me, and they shrugged it off and said no can't do that either, they're busy and have things to do.

This is bogus, so buyer beware! Wireless Wave and Wireless Etc's extended warranty pitches are all lies! They are just a gimic to help pad sales and profit margins. All you get in return is a out-dated loaner phone while they flash your phones firmware and send it back to you. Anything more then this would be considered neglect based damage and that is not covered under this warranty.

I hope this helps you all not get scammed, put that extended warranty money towards a new phone you will need to buy when the current one dies.

Take Care everyone,

At 1/13/2008 12:59 a.m. , Blogger Andrae Griffith said...


Wireless Wave claims that they phoned my home on December 14th to tell me that my phone was ready for pickup. They claim that they left voicemail, but due to my 79-year old grandma (who remains as sharp as a tact) being home, we don't have voicemail on the home line. I have my phone now, but I fear that it's only a matter of time.

I will say this about Wireless Wave's extended warranty: It entitles you to a free loaner phone, and based on how many problems I've had, the extended warranty has already paid for itself from the savings on loaner phone fees and deposits.

At 11/06/2009 7:04 p.m. , Anonymous Anonymous said...

Oh my Gosh!!

That is all so sad. I agree with that idea of 'parking our cell phones in a drawer'.


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