Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Now, that, is customer service (Thanks, Motorola Mobility!)

*edited 2012.12.11 for th link*
I hesitantly dipped my toes into the icy waters of smartphone sea last year. Despite my techie inclinations and interest in bleeding edge technologies, I'm a bell-curve purchaser. My frugal nature wins out 99% of the time.

For example, I am still rocking my AMD/ATI 3850* on a AMD 6400 (x2) BE system...and I, at one point, fancied myself a gamer. It, somehow, still gets the job done on my monstrous(/s) 19", 1280x1024 Hanns-G screen*. I did upgrade to 4 GB of RAM, Windows 7, and an SSD (64 GB) last Fall, but with the expectation of at least three more years before I perform a new build. At most, I'll upgrade my video card prior to that...but probably won't convince myself.

So, smartphones...yeah, my wife's LG Ally, bought used, has been acting up and I came across a steal on craigslist (not literally) -- $110 for a Droid 3 with a clean ESN. Met the guy after work and made the trade. Performed a couple of benchmarks where it handily wiped the floor with our current phones and traded blows with our ThinkPad. Not bad for the price. We are former Verizon users currently enjoying the drastic price reduction of Page Plus Cellular bills (roughly $60/mo now vs $130-$150 on Verizon with 'dumb' phones). Obviously, we have to buy our own phones now...and our data is limited (100MB/mo**), but on Verizon, we'd have to pay another $40-$50 to share data between our our change has been a welcome one. For the record, we each have enough data to check email / browse casually when out of wifi range, and, most importantly, use GPS functionality when necessary.

Check out your new phone, Wife. Oh, it was noth-...oh, the camera doesn't work? When clicking the camera app (or, any 3rd party variant), it simply displays a black screen and half-way locks up the phone until the app is closed? Balls.

I tinkered with the device...scoured forums, and it seems that this isn't a software issue. I was going to flash a new Rom -- try ICS or Jelly Bean on it, but hardware was, apparently, the culprit. Some others had success with hard-pressing the area around the camera. I didn't. I was about to take that thing apart...maybe replace the camera module myself (buy a broken screen / dirty ESN d3 on ebay?), but thought I'd check the warranty. Verizon was out of the question, since I wasn't a legit customer...but I decided to give Motorola a try. Long story short, I filled out the Warranty Service Request and am on my way to having a repaired/replaced Droid 3.

But, there is more. I had to ship my device to Motorola (reasonable, since there is no Motorola store near-by). They spelled everything out in the email: "ship without the back cover, the battery, the SIM card, any micro SD card you've inserted, and any accessories you've added." Easy enough, except that I can't follow instructions. I put the back cover on after I removed the essentials.

No problem, though. I didn't even realize I had made the mistake until I received the back of my phone in the mail today with a polite note saying "We know you failed to follow our instructions, but here's the back of your phone that you shipped us, anyway. Your phone should be there within a week. Take care."

Obviously, it would have been ideal if the camera didn't break to begin with (although, realistically, I'd not have been able to purchase it for $110 if that were the case). Or, for that matter, if the back could just be placed on the replacement/repaired phone prior to shipping it back...but I'm pretty impressed that Motorola will service the device and doesn't totally pawn their warranty services off on the carrier (Verizon).

If I don't get my phone back or it comes back still broken, I'll be a little sad...but, for now, I'm a little more happy with Motorola Mobility than I guessed I would be and hope Google does good things with them.

* my monitor died (5 years -- not bad) so i replaced it with a 1080p Asus. the 3850 showed its age even more pushing the extra pixels, so i got a AMD HD 7790 a couple of months ago for $100 and it came with three games (which I would have never purchased otherwise). not bad. my processor is holding back my framerates, now.
** this was just bumped to 250MB, then 500MB for (seemingly) no reason, and no extra cost. I don't stream audio or video, but this allows me to very rarely use wifi (for backing up phone) anymore. thanks, pp.

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