The Phone from Hell

The Phone from Hell

Sometimes technology is demonic. I know this as fact.

I decided I needed a new phone 4 months ago.  I did all the right things–spoke with family members who are effective with tech….did online research….thought about what was really important to me in a phone. 

I was going to be spending time in Europe, and the carrier I was using was a “US only” provider.  So I decided to switch carriers at the same time. More online research, more checking with “family experts,” etc. 

I decided on a phone other family members had had great success with.  It’s small, has a good camera, and is easy to grasp (important for me).  It was also twice as expensive as any phone I’d ever bought. Time to step up to the big kids’ game with this technology thing.

I did the ordering and set up my account online.  When the phone arrived, I set it all up online.  All by myself! Without NO problems. I was so proud of myself.

My descent into phone hell started the next day. A friend told me the call quality was really awful. I pretended she never made the comment.

Things went nicely for six weeks—partly because I was in Europe for three of them and didn’t call anyone.  Then things got bad.  A caller would suddenly not be able to hear me.  If I hung up and called back, the problem persisted.  Then calls started dropping entirely. Then they began dropping before they even rang. 

I sought help from the carrier.  Their solution was to have me do a lot of diagnostic stuff.  And then more diagnostic stuff.  Again and again.  They said it worked better if I called when there was a problem.  Kinda hard to pull off when it’s the call function that isn’t working.  (This is a large tech firm. I don’t think they worry too much about the phone part of their products.) So I was stuck with Live Chat.  A LOT of Live Chat.  I did what they told me. Turned off Bluetooth. Turned off my phone’s wifi. Brought the phone up in “safe mode” again and again. Did a factory reset. Nothing helped.

Since this only happened at home, I started getting in my car and driving to where I could see the cell tower to make important calls. (Yeah…this is when it became “mildly insane.”) But still I kept going back to that carrier for help.

They finally agreed to replace the phone. Problem solved.

Nope. The new (refurbished) phone had problems immediately. 

Back to “live chat.”  Plus phone calls after I borrowed a phone that did work. The light was dawning–this kind of business doesn’t do real customer service. This was not something they were going to fix. They expected ME to fix it.  Every time I asked for help, they gave me different set of instructions on what to do and different answers about what was causing it. Nothing helped.

I did more on my own. Changed my internet service provider. Installed a new modem. Upgraded my service bandwidth. Repositioned the wifi equipment.  Nada. 

Back to the carrier. They told me I needed to “become a developer” so I could generate a “bug report” for them.  This is a secret designation within the phone software that they coached me through. But it was also the reality of what was going on. They wanted me to learn enough to help them solve their problem. There was some kind of bug in what they had created.

They gave me an even longer list of instructions and said to email them the report when I’d produced it.  (Does this sound like work direction to you?  Did to me.)  I followed their instructions until they didn’t work (the third step of about fifteen). 

I finally regained my sanity and said “No”.  I never agreed to learn how to do work they should have done to remedy their system problems. I’m good at a lot of things but troubleshooting cellphone software is not one of them. I asked for a refund.


I found a different carrier and lucked into a free phone of equivalent value.. That made the experience sting a little less.

But why did I put myself through this in the first place? I should have listened when my friend complained about call quality. A full refund would have been automatic if I’d sent it back in the first 15 days. I also got way too hung up on how much I paid for it.  (Or as my brother put it “Do the emergency surgery and get on with your  life.”)

This is a whole different approach to “Customer Service” and we need to be aware of the difference. The easiest solutions come when can you do what they tell you to do and that solves the problem.  But sometimes, that’s not enough.  That’s not your fault. The service providers need Plan B for those situations–and it’s not in trying to make you into a software developer for their benefit.

Eventually they replaced the replacement phone–after I gave up on them.  A family member was looking for that very phone.  All’s well that ends well.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *