Busted keys, "water damaged" LCD, possible fraud by repairer
This whole mess, which I shall now explain in detail, is just so frustrating. It is driving me mental. So disappointed, angry, and grrrr. So mad. This will be long-winded, but please read it, I know you will have empathy for my situation.
I bought a N95 mid last year from a parallell importer here Auckland, NZ (E-Town Digital, Newmarket, FYI).
It worked great for a few months, then in early November, about four months after purchase, the up, down, select, right soft key and green call button started working only intermittently, then two days later stopped completely.
Luckily I had bought an additional 12 month warranty on top of the 3 months provided initially. After trying a hard reset, with no result, I took the phone in, and they sent it off for repairs with no argument. Two weeks later I got it back. They had replaced the "flex cable". It is my understanding (since the third time I got it back, as you will read) that this includes the keypad. The keys worked, but still intermittently, albeit failing much less often than before. Maybe one in thirty or forty keypresses would be missed.
I took it back again, a week after getting it back. This time, I had to really try hard to make them send it for repairs again. The manager would not. I went back again later that day and another staffmember took it for service. I got it back a week later, seemingly working fine. Once again they had replaced the same part, the flex cable/key pad.
Another few days later, I noticed the keys playing up again. Same ones, even less often this time. I have over fifteen years experience in the IT industry and have repaired many mobiles myself. This is not, as they had suggested, a problem with the OS lagging. If that were the case, I would think it would eventually register the keypress after some time (it didn't). By now it was happening maybe 1 in 200 keypresses with all the buttons on the front of the slide, and very slowly getting worse. Again, just to be sure, another hard reset was performed, with no result.
I took the phone back in and asked for a replacement/refund. Here in NZ the law sees both these solutions as the same. This was denied, as "the problem could not be reproduced" and in their estimation the phone was fine. I had demonstrated the issue very clearly. I went home, very angry, intending to see what happened and if it got any worse.
About a week after that, one afternoon, the backlight started to flicker. Ten minutes of this, and then it simply went off. Needless to say, back to the shop I went.
They accepted the phone, noting the backlight failure and also the continuing problem with the keys.
Two days later I got a call from the manager telling me it was water damage related corrosion. The phone had never been wet at all, let alone immersed. They emailed me a tiny photo and quoted me $350 to fix it. This I estimate would be about $USD200 right now. The corrosion was on the end of the little cable coming from the LCD and into the socket on the part that ends with the flex cable. They had the phone less than two weeks before! I had no choice but to pay, and got the damaged parts back also, uncleaned or modified as I requested.
When I picked it up, I noted the keys were playing up really badly. I left the store, thinking I would see how it went. Two hours later I was back, having been unable to make calls or text.
To demonstrate the intermittent problem, which would not occur if a single button was pressed repeatedly, I did the following, which was one way I found that would make it fail:
Press the green call button and then the red hang up button. Do this two or three times.
Now the up, down and select buttons would not work half the time.
The manager of the store, having seen this, told me that "we can't replicate the problem" and that I wasn't using the phone correctly. Referring to my method of demonstration, he said "Why would you want to do that? Nobody needs to do that. This is incorrect use of the phone."
Naturally I explained that it was merely for demonstration and that the problems happen all the time during normal use. They refused to accept the phone for further repairs, repeating again what they said before. It seemed pretty obvious the guy was doing it to avoid the responsibility. They'd spent hundreds of dollars fixing this phone, obviously a dud, and didn't want any more to do with it.
After fifteen minutes of heated argument I had to leave, as I was angrier than I had ever been in my entire life, and was worried I was coming close to totally losing it and attacking him. The smarmy bugger was standing there smirking at me, like he knew there was nothing I could do. The image is burned into my mind. The feeling of ineffectuality still hurts my ego, a week later. I'm normally a calm, placid, confident and lucid person, and to feel this way is totally alien to me. Very upsetting. How dare they!
I now suspect the shop, or the repairer, of trying to pull a fast one on me. When I bought the phone, before even putting the SIM card in, I applied the clear sticky screen protector. It was still on there when I took it in the third time, but the LCD unit I received back had no screen protector and was covered in pocket dirt. If it had been my screen, but with the protective film removed, there would have been a clear square delineated by a thin but obvious layer made up of 6 months of pocket, finger and face goo crust, as the film did not fit exactly. Yes, this is gross and disgusting, but it is simply a fact of life with cellphones.
So I believe I am getting screwed over by these guys. Is there any way I can check to see if the serial number of the phone matches the original LCD? I strongly believe they have given me someone else's broken parts just to get rid of me. If I take them to court, which it looks like I'll have to, showing them a dirty broken screen probably won't help. I really do regret not taking a good high-res photo of the phone before each service! Another thing that makes me suspicious is the fact that it took them an additional six days to send the parts to the shop after I had the phone back. They said this was because "they forgot to send them", but to me it all adds up to some very suspicious behaviour.
The keys that have always been problematic, worse since the last repair, have now stopped working entirely. Although they will now probably do it, I don't feel I should have it fixed on warranty again. I want my money back. Under NZ law, I have that right, but the retailer is refusing. The police are not interested, nor do they have any advice except that I take these guys to court, at my own expense.
If I do let them have another go, there is of course the chance (ahem, high probability) that they'll say it's water damage again. I understand, from customers of mine and my investigations on the 'net, that it's not uncommon for a repairer to get rid of a persistently pesky customer with this bogus water damage claim. I have had the parts checked by Navy electronics repair experts, who sure do know what water damage and corrosion looks like in electronics. They concur that it is water damage, but can't explain why it has happened so quickly (ten days) or in such a localised area. They agree with my supposition that any water inside the case would evaporate from the heat of use and pocketing. No way could a drop of water just sit where the damage is.
There is the additional issue regarding the fact that these parts are conformally coated to keep out moisture and stop corrosion. Somehow this water got underneath the conformal coating, suggesting to me that bad manufacturing caused this, via inadequate coverage of the sealant. Further examination intended this week with a high-powered microscope may reveal more.
I really do hope the serials can be matched, then these guys will get what's coming to them! Well, they probably won't actually, but at least I'd probably get my money back.
Sorry this has been so long. Just imagine what I've been through. Oh, and I also have the problem of the wobbly/loose slider and the loud noise from the LCD, which is even worse now since it was repaired. Unsurprisingly, the guys in the shop can't hear or see anything wrong.
Please, I need your advice. Does anyone know what could be the cause of the faulty keys? I suspect it is the main board or the flex cable socket.
Thanks in advance,
I have the weird noise also here
you really should take this to court for giving you such an inconvenient. i don't know why they kept giving you back the same device when you already went there a lot of times for a similar problem. they should've just given you a new device as they can send your phone back to nokia and put unrepairable. but then i don't know your country's policy but you should read up on your country's consumers' rights.
Take it to court.
I think you should forget about the detailed forensic examination though. If it is water damaged after such a short time then it was not fit for purpose.
Do you have an equivalent of our small claims court? If so the company will probably decide it's not worth them fighting.
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