How NOT to do Customer Service.

Today, I’d like to share with you an experience that I have probably been a little more tame over than I could have been – but people who know me know that I am a patient person and maybe a little too laid back.  But before Nic went to Baltimore for his big surgery in early September, I ended up dropping my relatively new Google Nexus 5.  It’s a great phone, especially if you’re in the Googlesphere.  So, the screen shattered.  On the floor of my local Wells Fargo.  That meant some of the money I withdrew to pay for things now had to go to repair that phone.

If you have an iPhone, you’re in luck.  Because Apple has a large market share of the smartphone market and with relatively few models, it’s easy enough for anyone with the right skills to be able to set up shop and repair iPhones and iPads and make money doing so.  Parts can be kept and some places can turn around your phone or tablet in a matter of hours, not days.

Not so with Android based devices.  If it comes to the phone Operating System, Android does have the largest market share but for a single type of phone it’s Apple that has it, followed by Samsung by some margin.  Then there’s all the others.  Mobile phone repair shops – especially third party stores – will not carry the screens for all the various Android devices that are out there.  So if you go into a store and they say that they can fix your phone, they’ll tell you that it’ll take X number of days to get the part, and once they have got the part then they can repair your phone in no time at all.

That’s what happened to me when I walked into a store (which I won’t name right now) in Greensboro that does phone repair.  They told me it’ll cost $X, I’d have to pay a deposit of $X, they’d order the part and they’d give me a call when it is fixed.

Two weeks later, and no phone call.

I’m a strange person, because when it comes to customer service gone wrong and it involves a physical presence I like to show my face and speak to someone about it.  So, I show my face.  I’m told “We’re still waiting on the part, please give it another week.”  This went on for about a couple more weeks.  I then asked “what part are you waiting for – it can’t take a month to get a replacement screen for that phone – surely?” – and then I was given some news.  During the removal of the broken glass, another critical piece of the phone was broken.  They say it was partly broken when they got it but because it was broken even more by them when they started the repair they deemed it their responsibility to repair the extra damage that they had caused.  It was this part they were waiting on.  I would then get a call advising me that before Thanksgiving I would have my phone back.  Guess what I didn’t get before Thanksgiving?  A phone call.

The following week I got a phone call – the one that I had been waiting for!  “Your phone has been repaired and is ready for pickup.”  Yes!  After all this time, I have my phone back!  The phone call was fortunate in its timing because somehow I had misplaced my older Samsung Galaxy S2 – the first 3G phone that operated on Sprint’s (now going to be turned off) WiMax network.  So, later on that Saturday, I collected my phone, paid the balance for the repairs, and took it home.  Later that day I tried to activate it back on the Sprint network and the website said “Sorry, we cannot activate your phone.  Please visit a store, or try our online chat.”  I tried the online chat, and was recommended that I go to the Sprint store.  They would also put in a trouble ticket that would hopefully fix the issue regarding the inability to activate the phone.  So… I put the phone up and decided I’ll go visit the store on Monday when I don’t have any of my boys to look after.

Come Monday, I looked at the phone.  The battery was dead, so I thought I’d plug it up for a bit and get some kind of charge into it.  Well, lo and behold, the phone will no longer charge.  So I have two problems – one the phone won’t charge, and two the phone cannot be activated on Sprint’s network.  Since the phone charging is a more fundamental problem, I took the phone back to that store.  I was told they’d look at it – give it a few hours.  Wasted a few hours, came back, told to come back tomorrow.  I advised that I had no phone.  The advice I was given was to go and get myself a new phone.  I said that this was unacceptable.  I was offered a loaner phone, which I could collect the following day, and then I could take that device to the Sprint store to activate.

So off to Sprint, with their “loaner phone”.  I got some absolutely fantastic news that really knocked my socks off.  Sprint will not activate that phone.  “It’s not a Sprint phone” was the reply.  So what did I do?  I needed a phone… I need it for work (finding it, etc), and other things.  Fortunately, we had changed our phone plan a while back so that I could have up to ten lines on the account for a set amount of money each month.  Each phone could have Easy Pay on it, so I’m not having to fork out $600 or so for a phone there and then.  I succumbed to temptation and ended up getting a Samsung Galaxy S5.  And yes, the Sprint sales person did a good job of upselling me on stuff.  She wanted to even sell me a Samsung watch.  I don’t need one of those things to do things with that I can do on my phone.  I don’t even wear a watch these days so IMO it’d be pointless to have one.  But I bought into the extra-tough case, the phone charger, the bluetooth earpiece, etc.

So now, I have a phone.  It works very well.  As for my Google Nexus 5?  It’s still with this store, who I will not name at this time.  Once I get that phone back in working order and can be assured it’s activated on the Sprint network then I’ll probably “name and shame” them.