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HTC - appalling customer service and dodgy charges


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I got a new HTC One X in November, and when I first used it for making calls, I was a little taken aback by how quickly the screen switched itself off, but didn’t worry unduly about it. Well, a couple of weeks later someone left me a voicemail, so I had to call my voicemail service and navigate my way through the menu options by pressing keys on the phone’s touchscreen. This is where I discovered there was actually a problem with it – the screen kept switching off while I was pressing the buttons, and I had to keep hitting the power button to get the screen back on. As a result, it took me ages to get through the options.


I emailed HTC and got a reply telling me that it was probably caused by an application conflict and that I should clear the application cache. They gave me instructions, which I followed, but it still occurred. In the meantime, I googled the problem and found that it was probably the proximity sensor – if that’s not working, it always thinks the phone is by your ear and switches the screen off. Taking some forum advice, I downloaded an app called Androsens, which tests all the phone’s physical sensors. Sure enough, it was getting no response from the proximity sensor, so when I replied to HTC I included all of this information. They responded to tell me to do a factory reset. Of course, this made no difference, apart from wiping out all of the phone’s data – all apps, contacts, texts etc.


In the end, I phoned HTC and explained the problem to them. They said I should return it to their service centre and they would sort it out. The bloke also told me to take a few photos of the phone from different angles before sending it (because phones are sometimes damaged in transit or at their service centre, he said), which I did. It was picked up on Monday the 3rd of December and arrived at their service centre on Tuesday morning.


Anyway, after they’d had the phone for a couple of hours, I got an email saying that the fault was caused by out-of-warranty damage and that I’d have to pay £146 to have it fixed, or £25 to have it returned unfixed. I obviously blew a fuse and called them up, stressing that the phone had always had this problem, it had never been dropped and that every instance of this problem that I’d found online had been on a new phone which was duly replaced – it was never as a result of damage. The woman I spoke to said she’d investigate, but that she was very surprised that the service department hadn’t attached a photo of the phone to show what damage there was. I said that they probably hadn’t bothered because whatever damage there was, it wasn’t visible.


Nothing happened for 24 hours so on the Wednesday I phoned again, and got through to someone else. This guy was very helpful, but he again mentioned damage to the phone, so I said that I had photos of its pristine condition taken on the advice of the bloke who’d arranged for me to return it. This guy sounded very pleased by this and asked me to send the pictures in. I had to wait until I got home (they were on my wife’s camera), but I did then send them in. They were very large, so I compressed them and attached them to a Word document. I then had a look in my email inbox to find that they’d sent me a photo of a phone with a broken screen – by huge coincidence, it was damaged just where the proximity sensor is. I sent a reply to that message as well, attaching the Word document.


The next morning (Thursday) I got another reply, asking me to send the original photos. I headed home at lunchtime and sent the originals to them. I heard nothing for the next 24 hours, until on Friday evening I received an email telling me that they were looking forward to receiving my photos. I phoned yet again to explain that I’d already sent the photos in, and with a bit of investigation the person I spoke to managed to find them. While I was talking to this man, his supervisor got involved, and announced that as I could prove the phone was intact before I sent it, then it must have been inadequately packaged and that therefore the damage was entirely my fault and I would have to pay for the repair. I stated that there was nothing wrong with the packaging and that it must have been broken in their service centre – hence the delay in attaching the photo of the damage – but the supervisor stated that this was absolutely impossible, and that no-one in the service centre had ever dropped or damaged a phone. He would brook absolutely no argument, and said that if I wanted the phone back, I would have to pay the £146.57. He also refused to give me any contact details for the courier company, and it has since transpired that because the courier was arranged through HTC, I am unable to make a claim for damage – only HTC can do so.


I eventually had to agree to pay for the repair in order to get my phone back, which was finally returned on Thursday 13th of December. The fact is that the only reason the phone was returned to HTC was because it was faulty when they supplied it. Despite this, I am the only one who has ended up out of pocket: I have had to pay £146.57 purely because HTC supplied a faulty product. The fact that customer services kept telling me that this could be resolved by sending in the photos of its original condition, meaning that there was a delay of a week before the repair started, simply added insult to injury.


To annoy me still further, I recently received an email from HTC asking for my feedback on their service – which is what I typed this whole rant out for. In response to my reply, I got a phone call this afternoon from someone claiming to be a customer manager. She was (I think) French, with fairly poor English and a very strong accent that made her difficult to understand. This is presumably why she persisted in calling me by my surname during the entire call. Apparently, they wanted to start an investigation about what had happened, but were unable to find a date on the photos I had sent – apparently they don’t know how to extract the date from a .jpg file – and therefore needed the date to be shown somewhere in the photo. In addition, which is possibly fair enough with hindsight, they needed the photo to show the phone’s IMEI number to prove that it was the same handset. I pointed out that I was only told to take a couple of photos from different angles and that no mention had ever been made of showing the IMEI number and something with the date on it. She said that this advice was correct, but that I also needed to show the IMEI and the date. I pointed out that this meant that the original advice was wrong, but she insisted that the advice was right, but that I also needed to show the IMEI and the date. So, I had done as I was told, but this turned out to be inadequate despite the fact the what I was told to do was apparently completely correct. Not too sure I follow that. I asked to speak to her supervisor, but she apparently has no supervisor. Her decision, which was that nothing could be done unless I managed to magic up some photos with more details than I had been told to provide, is final.


Anyway, the upshot is that after screwing me out of nearly £150, HTC managed to get my hopes up by calling to say that they would investigate, and then said that they couldn’t investigate because I had only provided them with what I was asked to provide. I think that pretty much sums up their attitude to their customers.


In the past few years I have purchased 6 phones from HTC. My wife and I originally had a Wildfire, my daughter has a Wildfire S, my son has a One X, and my wife and I both upgraded our Wildfires to One Xs. I have spent the past few years telling friends and colleagues that they should buy an HTC in preference to an iPhone or a Samsung, and this has resulted in yet more sales for HTC. However, this will be the last HTC that I will ever buy, and I will be taking great pains to advise friends and family to avoid HTC. They’ve therefore managed to talk their way out of a fair amount of future business.


I don’t imagine many people (if any) have made it to the end of this long and winding post, but I feel better for venting. And if it prevents even one person from being suckered into having to pay for a repair because their faulty phone develops some mysterious physical damage by the time it arrives at HTC’s repair centre, so much the better.

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