Monday, September 19, 2011

Verizon's Phones Playing Up

I've used LG cellphones for the past few years, because I've found they always work well. I currently have an EnV2 that is almost 3 years old, and works perfectly. That reputation has taken a bit of a hit in the past 2 weeks, after dealing with an LG Cosmos phone.

The LG Cosmos is a 'dumb phone', aimed at the texting market, it's a phone with a slideout keyboard. On September 1 2010, we added one to our contract for our eldest. We were about to go to Dragon*Con, where it would be essential to keep up with her, and she would be attending school functions and going off with her friends where it would enable us to keep tabs on her.

Fast forward a year. Dragon*con comes and goes, and the day after, in the middle of a SMS conversation, the screen stops working. The backlight comes on, but nothing shows up on the screen. That means texting is impossible, and you can't tell who is calling you.

The next day it's straight off to the local Verizon store, to have it checked out, and see what can be done. Walking in to the Covington, Georgia store, a woman asks us what we need. We tell her and hand her the phone. She takes the battery out and checks the 'wet spot' indicator (a small piece of paper that goes red when it gets wet) on both the phone and the battery. It's normal. She then takes it to the tech desk at the back and pulls up the account.

The warranty expired on this on the 1st. Today's the 6th. You'll have to buy a new phone, otherwise, you're out of luck.” And then tosses the phone back.

No “lets see what options are” but an clear “this expired Thursday, today's Tuesday (and right after a holiday weekend) why are you bothering me with this?” Terrible customer service. That night I post on their support forums, and a Verizon wireless tech responds.

He asks for the broken phone's number to check on the account, and does so, offering me, later that night, to have it replaced with the same model, as a 'good will gesture'

Fast forward to the 13th, and I've still heard nothing. My neighbor also comes knocking, asking me to set up his phone for him (he's elderly) as he's just got a replacement handset. Lots of fun there, as he doesn't know the account password, and neither, it seems, does his ex-wife, whose account it is. After than took an hour to get resolved, I asked about the status of the replacement. They had no idea what I was talking about.

It took 6 calls and 4 hours to get it sorted but at last, they decided to honour what I'd been told almost a week earlier, and they'd send one out as a token of good will. We went with the standard shipping.

So the phone arrives Saturday (September 17th) and we fire it up and transfer things. I peel off the 'certified pre-owned' sticker (the Cosmos is only available as a certified pre-owned handset now) and hand it to my daughter. Later that night, I get a complaint from my teenager - “the screens all funny”.

Yes, the comprehensive inspection they put the phones through, missed the fact that the screen blinks when closed, and corrupts entirely when open. Whenever you do ANYTHING in fact (except the camera, which I suspect is using a different visual driver chip).

We then called Customer Services again, Sunday night. They're now overnighting a phone (which will actually take two days), arriving tomorrow. We'll see if it's also going to be broken.

And if you're wondering why it's a big deal, see for yourself with this video.

If this were the only problem, I probably wouldn't be bitching about it, but it's not. Part of that video above was filmed using a HTC Droid Incredible ('DInc'). It's a phone we've been having problems with for months. It will sometimes delete all stored text messages, or randomly call people. On the 14th alone, it called me without being touched, four times. When clearing up the issue of the replacement Cosmos, and having the first replacement shipped, we'd mentioned problems with the DInk, and were told there was a new software update being rolled out – Yes, Android Gingerbread was here, finally.

The only way to get it was to update it manually, as the Over the Air upgrades were upgrading phones slowly, over the entire month of September, (apparantly at random). I have done it before (upgrading to FroYo when we first got the phone, so once I found the right package it wasn't a big deal. At least, not a big deal to perform.

For the phone it was a big deal. Many of the apps not only didn't work, they apparently weren't installed any more. But the biggest problem is that now the phone wants Lebensraum. It will frequently say that it is running out of space and needs more, even when it's got more than half the phone free. And when it feels it's out of space, many things don't work, like email. Very annoying. It's not an isolated incident either, it's been widely documented over the past 2 weeks. An update that fixes one major problem with the DInc replaces it with another. Lovely.

UPDATE - October 2nd 2011
The second replacement phone worked! I then raced the two replacement phones back to their warehouse using two different mailing services - results here
And here's the three phones we had at one time.
LEFT - Original broken phone
CENTER - First replacement with broken graphics driver
RIGHT - Second replacement, working fine.

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