An awesome true story from a colleague:
Everything started mid-January 2009 in Stuttgart when I was visiting a former class-mate who just moved. We were near the city center looking for Vapiano (a pizza and pasta fast-food restaurant) to get something to eat and I had my iPod Touch with me, but unfortunately there was no WiFi hotspot far and wide. This wasn’t the first time I needed access to something like Google Maps on the road and wasn’t able to use it because of lacking connectivity so I eventually decided to get an iPhone with a T-Mobile contract especially since the contract I had at that time was about to expire in a few months and my Sony Ericsson K810i was slowly dying. Having something like an always-online iPod Touch seemed like an awesome “ gadget “ and T-Mobile just announced new prices for students that were actually affordable.
I decided to get the 3G in black with 8 GB and with the student contract that offered 100 minutes voice, 40 SMS and an Internet “ flatrate “ for ~40 € per month. Since I was a Deutsche Telekom customer at that time, I was able to get an additional 5 € discount per month. So far, so good, the lady I talked to in the T-Mobile shop filled out the contract, I signed and gave her my passport for her to copy it. A few minutes later she came back to tell me: “ I am sorry, but I just noticed you already have another T-Mobile contract with a student discount and our terms don’t allow more than one student contract. “ I asked her to show me the T-Mobile terms and conditions and pointed out that the only restriction in there is related to the age but not to the number of contracts. I also told her that if T-Mobile is not interested in me paying 35 € per month, I would get my iPhone from Vodafone at a similar price. The lady disappeared in another room and shortly after came back to me with a big grin telling me that she just talked to her supervisor and T-Mobile can make an exception for me. Miracles happen… From that day, I was a happy iPhone 3G user.
Fast-forward about six months, I was sitting in the tram, listening to music and had to get off at the main train station in Karlsruhe. I paused my iPhone, went to buy a train ticket, took out the iPhone again and wanted to resume the music playback but the iPhone didn’t respond. The screen remained dark no matter what I did. Having almost two hours until my train arrived, I jumped back in a tram and went to a T-Mobile store in Karlsruhe to see what I can do. “ Hey, my iPhone just went out on the way to the main train station and I cannot turn it back on. “ – “ Hmm… Yes… Hmm… Bad… Hmm… Do you have the bill for it? “ – “ No, I usually don’t carry bills with me around when I leave the house, but I assume you can easily find out all the information you need in your computer. “ – “ Hmm… Well… Hmm… Oh, we are not allowed to do this because of privacy protection. “ – “ Oh come on, I just heard on the news that the information from 17 million customers was leaked and you want to tell me you cannot find out when I bought this iPhone because of privacy protection?! “ – “ Well, OK, but next time please bring us a bill. “ – “ Yeah, whatever. “ A few minutes later, the service form was filled out, my iPhone was put in a box and the lady told me that I will be notified in three(!) weeks. This was quite annoying because only a few days ago, a class-mate had his BlackBerry from Vodafone replaced and process went like this: He entered the Vodafone shop, explained what the problem is and the guys there took a new BlackBerry from the box, exchanged the battery and the SIM card and he was able to leave with a new and working device. I didn’t even get a replacement device. After about three and a half weeks, I received a phone call from the T-Mobile store that my new iPhone arrived and I could pick it up. I drove to Karlsruhe the same day and was able to pick-up a brand new device. The problem of the old one was a “ defective GSM module “ . After calling T-Mobile’s service number, I also received a one month credit IIRC. Nice.
Fast-forward another four months and the new iPhone started to have massive problems with the battery. Since the area I live and the area I work have no 3G coverage, I always have 3G turned off and surf via EDGE. Moreover, I only turn on WiFi, Bluetooth and GPS when I need them. Nevertheless, the iPhone that was fully charged in the morning was at 20% battery life at around 11am even though I didn’t use it. Fully rebooting the device didn’t help either, stand-by time seemed to have dropped to only five hours. So, I went home, picked up the bill this time, then drove to Karlsruhe where the nearest T-Mobile shop is and reported about my new problem. Same procedure as last time, “ You will be notified in three to four weeks. “ At least they gave me a regular cell phone as replacement. After four weeks I got notified that I can pick-up my phone. I drove to the shop only to find out that the company who is responsible for checking iPhones in Germany, dat repair, wasn’t able to reproduce the error and therefore sent my old device back – scratched.
WTF?! I complained about the scratch right away and asked for a replacement. The woman at the counter then said: “ So, you really want to send the iPhone back for repair again just because of the scratch? Geeez… This will take another four weeks now. Can I have the bill again? “ All this with a reproachful voice as if it was my fault. Four more weeks without an iPhone. Finally, after a total of almost eight weeks, I received a call from the shop in Karlsruhe that I can pick-up my new iPhone. Again, T-Mobile was kind enough to give me a credit note.
But the story is not over, yet! This year in February, so one year and almost two months since I bought the iPhone, I noticed a small crack in the corner of my iPhone near the headphone jack. I always handled my iPhone with care and knew that the crack wasn’t caused by me. Not only this, a few months ago I read several reports on the Internet from people complaining about cracking cases so I did a quick Google search, printed out some of those complaints, took the iPhone bill and went to another T-Mobile shop in Karlsruhe this time. I explained the woman there the whole situation, showed her the printed pages from the Internet and asked her to send the iPhone for repair.
According to German law, customers have 24 months warranty for all (new) products they buy from sellers. Since I bought the iPhone from T-Mobile, T-Mobile is obliged to remedy defects for a period of 24 months. After 6 months though, the customer has to proove that the damage was not caused by him which I hoped to be able to do by providing those reports from the Internet showing that the cracking cases are a common problem. Nonetheless, the woman from the T-Mobile store told me that the iPhone is a special case and that the T-Mobile warranty is strictly bound to the Apple warranty that lasts only for one year and she cannot tell me if the phone is going to be fixed. Bullshit, the German law is very clear in this regard and the seller warranty has nothing to do with the limited warranty offered by manufacturers.
Anyways, the woman filled out the service form and told me that my iPhone is going to be picked up two days later on February 26th and should be back on March 8th. No replacement phone this time again.
When I got back home on March 8th, I found a letter from dat repair in my mailbox stating that according to their checks, the damage was caused by “ external influence “ and that the damage is not covered by the warranty. I was able to choose between having my iPhone repaired for 239 €, having my iPhone destroyed for free or having my iPhone sent back as-is for free. Because I didn’t agree to what dat repair wrote, I gave them a phone call and asked them if they read the reports I printed. “ Ah, yes, cracks are covered by the Apple warranty, but only if they appear near the dock connector. “ I promised to call back, did another Google search and found several pictures and reports from people complaining about cracks near the volume buttons, near the SIM tray, near the headphone jack, near the lens, in the corners, etc. I collected several links and mailed them to dat repair then called them. “ Ah, yes, some cracks are covered by the Apple warranty, but only for the white iPhone. “ WTF?! Are they kidding me? Why should the white model be different than the black one? It’s the same plastic case but with a different color. O_o They told me that since I am apparently not interested in having the iPhone repaired for 239 €, they will send the phone back to T-Mobile and I should discuss with T-Mobile the further approach.
So, I went to the T-Mobile shop on March 10th to ask if they have any news from dat repair and was told that the iPhone is on its way back. Because of the longer delivery time, they gave me a Sony Ericsson phone so that I could at least make and receive phone calls. On March 12th I went to the T-Mobile store again, but the phone was still on its way. I was told to try the same day at 17:30 or the next day (Saturday). I went to the store again at 17:30, but still no luck. The following day, I drove from my home to Karlsruhe again only to be told that T-Mobile never receives parcels on Saturday. Great, drove 30 km for nothing! Next week on Monday, the phone was still on its way. I had a weird feeling already because a parcel delivery usually takes only two days here. Since I was busy the next two days, I was only able to make it to Karlsruhe on March 18th. In the meanwhile, I was sticking out like a sore thumb since once I entered the store, everybody knew already why I was there. One of the ladies approached me and told me: “ Your iPhone is gone. We wanted to track it, but it was suddenly gone. You will now receive an offer for a Nokia or Sony Ericsson phone that is worth the current value of your iPhone, but we know nothing about it, please call T-Mobile or wait for the letter that was sent on Saturday. “ – “ What do you mean with Nokia or SE phone?! “ – “ Well, your iPhone was broken, was out of warranty, was 3G with 8 GB only, we cannot give you a new iPhone. “ – “ Huh?! And what letter are you talking about? I was here on Monday and one of your co-workers told me my iPhone was still on its way to you. “ – “ Yeah, sorry, but we can no longer help you. Please contact T-Mobile directly. “ Wow, that’s great service!
So I called the T-Mobile service number, told the guy on the phone about my problem and he reacted accordingly: “ Are those people out of their minds?! They lose your iPhone and then tell you to take care of getting your device back?! This is outrageous! Besides, it’s their job to compose a letter to us and write what happened including an official stamp and signature. Otherwise, every other customer could claim that their phone disappeared. I recommend you write down the name of the person from that T-Mobile store and make an official complaint. This cannot be true! “ Yep, my thoughts too.
I went back in, told the lady that I just talked to T-Mobile and nobody knows a thing and asked for a replacement ASAP. “ Sorry, but please wait until the end of the week for the letter I mentioned. “ Since there wasn’t anything else I could do, I waited and waited and waited, but nothing.
Extremly pissed off, I wrote about what just happened on Twitter and Facebook and one of my followers “ retweeted “ my problem directly to @deutschetelekom. The next day, somebody from customer service I think wrote that he is taking care of the problem. Shortly after that, I called the T-Mobile service number again and after telling them my name and about my problem, I was immediately redirected to the ordering department where I was able to pick between an HTC HD2, the iPhone 3G S with 16 GB and some other phone I forgot. I picked the 3G S because of the apps and the MobileMe account I have, but didn’t quite understand what the lady on the phone meant with “ Your resignation was accepted. “ or something along that line. The following Monday I received an SMS that my T-Mobile order was shipped together with a tracking number. Later I also received a phone call from the T-Mobile customer service asking me if everything worked out with the order. Finally, I got the feeling again that somebody sane is taking care of my problem. I told the lady on the phone that everything is OK and thanked for the nice offer and the phone call. I checked the shipping status of my new iPhone and found out that it should be shipped the next day. On Tuesday, the status was set to delivered and a certain Mr. S. received the parcel at 10:08.
One would think the story ends here, I got a new iPhone and everything is great. Well, not quite…
I drove to Karlsruhe after work on Tuesday and wanted to pick up my new phone, but nobody in the T-Mobile store knew a thing. Unfortunately, I didn’t take the tracking number with me and also deleted the SMS containing it in the process of restoring the phone I received as replacement to its factory defaults. So there was nothing left for me to do than to drive back home and come the next day with the tracking number, which I did. Again, nobody knew a thing about my iPhone. The people at the store repeated that there is no Mr. S. working in that T-Mobile shop or any other one in Karlsruhe and that it must be one of my neighbors who received the parcel, but I don’t have any neighbor called Mr. S. either. Besides, when I ordered my new iPhone, the lady told me explicitely that the device will be shipped to the store where I brought my broken iPhone for repair. I was in the T-Mobile store for two hours. During this time, the lady in charge of my problem called other T-Mobile stores in Karlsruhe to check if maybe they received my iPhone, then she called the T-Mobile order department to check to which address the phone was sent to since DHL tracking service reported “ Parcel delivered to Telekom Shop, Mr. S. at 10:08 “ The conversation between the lady at the T-Mobile shop and the T-Mobile order department went like this: “ Hello, my name is XYZ from Telekom Shop in Karlsruhe, I have a customer here who should have received an iPhone yesterday morning, but we don’t have a Mr. S. here and according to DHL, Mr. S. signed that he received the parcel. Can you please check to which address the phone was sent to? “ – “ Sure, please wait. “ – (15 minutes later) – “ Yes, it was sent to that address. “ – “ To which address? “ – “ Oh, wait, I didn’t check. “ (15 minutes later) “ Yes, to the Telekom Shop “ – “ TO WHICH TELEKOM SHOP FFS?! “ – “ Oh, sorry, I cannot tell. That information is not here. Please call DHL. “ You could see the pain in the eyes of the woman, but it was sort of “ nice “ to see that the woman was facing the same problems that normal customers like me are experiencing too when calling the T-Mobile service number. :D Anyways, in the end, she called DHL, explained to DHL the WHOLE STORY of my iPhone (DHL is only responsible for shipping stuff, so I guess you can imagine how keen DHL was to listen about my problem with the cracked case and the offer from T-Mobile, etc.) and eventually found out that the phone was delivered to another city. O_o The manager of the T-Mobile store in Karlsruhe offered me to pick up the phone for me and to call me the following day so that we can arrange the handover.
Unfortunately, the man did not call me the following day so I was pissed off again and expressed my rage via Twitter and Facebook again. Seeing that, T-Mobile customer service rang again and promissed to report about my problem to higher management and also to take care that I can finally pick up a working iPhone. Moments after that, the guy from Karlsruhe phoned me to tell me that I can pick up my 3G S. Another few minutes later, I received another phone call from the T-Mobile customer service and they promised me a 50 € credit for the inconveniences caused. Later that day, I was able to hold my brand new iPhone 3G S, black with 16 GB in my hands.
Hopefully this one will last longer. :D