I was holding back on this one for a while. I should mention here I got a comment that, while a little too rude to be posted publicly (at least on this blog) pointed out that I had not addressed every detail of this story. I have thus included some details I had previously left out.
In December, 2010 I was one of the many tech-heads excited about Gingerbread, the new Android OS. The Nexus S, a phone manufactured by Samsung, was about to come out and it was the first phone with Gingerbread and it came with an NFC (Near Field Communication) chip, a device that will change a lot in the next few years by making credit cards and indeed wallets obsolete.
I went to Best Buy to purchase said phone and it was confirmed to me by the salesman that it was a 4G phone. I was also told I did not need the Best Buy warranty, that T-Mobile’s warranty would cover my phone. As I would find out later from T-Mobile, it would not. I signed a new contract with T-Mobile and purchased the phone.
I got the phone officially December 24th, but I was out of the US until the second week of January, so I couldn’t bench test the phone. When I got the phone and set it up, I couldn’t seem to find a 4G signal anywhere in Manhattan and I called T-mobile and Best Buy for their help in finding one. I googled the device and nowhere in the first Google results (at the time mind you) was there a page that said it wasn’t 4G, only the features it did have. Of course, no one at the time would advertise a 3G phone as 3G, because there is no advantage in it. They would just say it would work on any HSPA network, which it turns out is a polite way of saying it’s a 3G phone without saying so. I continued searching for the HSPA+ signal (4G) through January until finally I gave up and called T-Mobile, thinking the sim was broken. It wasn’t. The problem was that the phone isn’t 4G.
I called Best Buy, irate, asking them to refund the phone and let me out of the contract I had now signed with T-Mobile. They would not, citing their 30 day return policy. I asked to be put on the phone with someone who had the authority to override this policy and was stonewalled for weeks. I called repeatedly, posted to the Best Buy facebook page and was assured several times by Best Buy employees who promptly disappeared that the problem would be resolved. When I reached the apex of Best buy customer service, I was told there was no way even the chairman of Best Buy would be able to turn over this policy and refund my purchase or let me out of the contract with T-Mobile.
The other problem with the phone (and this is the current calamity with this device) something I only realized was chronic around the 30 day mark, was that when it lost the signal, it couldn’t get it back again. I would come out of the subway and it would not go on the network anymore. I would have to power cycle the phone. This can be hard to remember to do when you’re coming in and out of elevators and subways all day, so I missed some important calls as a result. As I wasn’t riding the subway much in January, I didn’t notice this happen very often.
I called Samsung, who said the phone needed to be reset. I tried to follow their directions, but the woman I spoke to could not adequately describe what I needed to do. I told her what the screen looked like, the icons that came up and she didn’t understand what was going on. Apparently, everything was normal, but she was too stupid to know that. So she had me mail in the phone. This is where it really becomes adding insult to injury. The phone will only work on T-Mobile for about another year as AT&T is buying T-Mobile and soon I won’t be able to even use the 3G on the phone because AT&T will change the 3G signal used by T-Mobile to AT&T’s band, thus making my phone an Edge (2G) device. So every week I go without the phone essentially costs me $5.
Samsung sent the phone back. It was still broken. I called, this time talking to a supervisor. He said the problem was the idiot I spoke with hadn’t adequately described the problem in her notes, despite my repeatedly telling her the entire story as I have put it in this blog post. I was told to reset it. I reset it. Same problem. I called, they had me send it in. I got it back. It was still broken. I called. As per their instructions, I reset it. Still broken. I called again, they had me send it back. This has more than a month.
Now it’s due to return in a few days, if UPS ever get their shit together. If it does not work and they refuse to replace the device or refund me the money and tell T-Mobile to release my contract, I will call the NY Attorney General and sue them, T-Mobile and possibly Best Buy under the NY State Lemon Law. This has gone too far. Best Buy, Samsung and T-Mobile have all bitterly disappointed me.