There was a time when I considered Blackberry (BB) as a very valued gadget. Everyone I knew back then who used a BB was rich, powerful or critical to businesses. To me, it will always be a “business” phone.
Now that we have other options, people who still use BB, in my opinion, fall into either of the two categories: they need to use it as part of their job role and IT policies, and those who like it too much to explore other options and are loyalists – like the way I feel about iPhone.
The first one is changing, and very fast – for e.g., new Yahoo CEO replaced BBs of all her employees with iPhones/ Androids; and, White House started supporting iPhones where BB was standard considering its security. The second category is coming down in numbers drastically too, pretty evident when BB reported losses. If BB 10 is not going to be impressive, it will be a history. Read more here.
Anyways, when a colleague needed to buy a new phone recently, we zeroed in on a BB Curve. However, not for the reasons BB is very well known for: security and email. We thought BB would be tough enough to survive falls on hard floors and probably a dip or two in water too. After all, IT departments in some companies circulate BBs for 4-5 years and they still work, don’t they? The feel of pride that we’ve used a BB before it vanished once for all is only a bonus reason.
Of all the brands, I never expected BB to turn out faulty. This brand new piece worked for just 3 days and died! I’ll consider that unfortunate; these kinds of surprises are part and parcel of technology. But, that’s just the beginning. This story is about how BB handled the episode after that.
Problem: SIM Failure. We tried with a few other SIM cards, got a new one from Vodafone and used SIMs with/ without BB plans just to identify the issue. We could not identify any pattern and it was the same issue all through – works for an hour or so and reports SIM Failure.
First Stop – Store: We purchased this at Reliance Digital, InOrbit Mall, so took it there to see if they can exchange it for a working phone. They refused. They apparently entertain exchanges within 24 hours only.
Second Step – Google: I was surprised to see how many customers had this problem! More surprising than that was the solution in BB forums – insert a small piece of paper or plastic in between the SIM and the lid/ cover that covers it! This is recommended to ensure better contact between SIM and phone circuits. If one B stands for bullsh*t, what’s the other B in BB for?
Third hope – BB support: I found no phone number to call and no email address to get in touch with BB support. So much from a provider who ‘enables’ businesses to ‘be reachable’! There are demos/ videos/ user guides to help setup email and stuff. I searched for something to get help to make the device detect the SIM in the first place. None found. There are Support Programs though. Crap.
Fourth attack – Service Center: If you remember an MRO office from 1990 in a rural area of Andhra Pradesh, visualize adding two computers and Internet connection and you have Redington India Ltd, a service center of BB. The reception might look okay but if you want to check out the rest of the place, walk into the other chambers. (If you ask, the rude lady at the reception says no. Don’t ask and just walk-in, like I did.)
Fifth curse – Wait: This guy took the phone and sent it to Bangalore. The only task Redington does in Hyderabad office (Begumpet) is support BB. Surprisingly, all they can do it take your handset and courier it to actual repairman. That too, once they have a minimum number of phones (I saw slots for 12 in their standard courier box). They are not allowed to ‘service’ it, troubleshoot anything or have an opinion. Forget about repairing. What a shame. Wait time = 2 weeks.
Sixth action – nail-biting: Though it took more time and few harsh follow-ups, it finally arrived. Guess what? Nothing done. Same issue, same status, same problem. Just wondering – when they return the handset, won’t they check if the problem we reported is at the least addressed? If some other problem surfaces while fixing this one, (still no excuse) I understand. Same problem? Huh!
Seventh approach – multiple channels: We gave it back to the b******s (ah, the other B!) and also checked if BB India FB page has any sensible people there. This B from Redington sent it back to Bangalore (obviously!) and the B from FB page asked me for details but didn’t do anything that I know of.
This guy at Redington checked for the problem again, had no clue what the BB did in the first Bangalore trip, flashed the firmware, confirmed it as hardware problem and promised a replacement in 5 working days.
Eighth wonder – BB’s support model: BB has none (unless you buy a crappy Support Program, I guess) and Redington has 4 phone numbers. Even while I was in their office, phones rang continuously but no one answered. So, when their 5 working days became 3 calendar weeks, we were pissed. I wondered why people use BBs with such a crappy service in the first place. Someone snapped, “One word, dude. One word. Email. Blackberry translates to just one word, email.”
Ninth miracle – replaced: After one calendar month, dozens of phone calls by more than a handful people, few visits, threats on BB India FB page and alignment of all stars and planets in the sky, the new phone arrived. When asked about why they don’t answer phones and email, the responses were rather interesting. The rude lady who ignored 6 calls while I was right in front of her argues that she ‘answers every single call’. And the thope who promised replacement in 5 working days shrugged and looked puzzled. I guess he was thinking “Email? What email? I use email? Since when?”
Tenth prayer – for this handset’s well-being: Though the maker defends the smartphone, I know it’s going down. What I don’t know is when. And what’s the point of being around anyway, when they don’t support the customers? Therefore, all we have is prayer. We just hope this handset works.
Blackberry – It’s been two months since we made this purchase. The phone was with you for two weeks the first time and a month the second time. When I get a chance, my action is to – kick your ass!