Is Verizon Wireless Sabotaging Older Cell Phones?

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I have long had a Nokia 5180 phone (since Xmas 1998, to be exact). It
was on its second battery, but eventually couldn't even keep that
charged, and I finally decided, this past February, to claim on my
insurance and have them send me a new one. Whaddaya know, there's a
$50 deductible that nobody ever mentioned to me. OK, fine, here's my
credit card number, send me the damn thing.

They didn't have any more 5180s, so they sent me a 5185i. Fine so far,
except that this one had the exact same problem as my old one: you
turn it on, it lasts three seconds and shuts down. Besides which, it
had a manufacturing date somewhere in 2000. I send this back and they
send another; this one at least has a sticker saying it's a refurb
with a date of 5/04, so at least I know they haven't just sent me
someone else's old broken phone.

Fast forward six months. I'm standing there with the phone in my shirt
pocket, minding my own business, when the thing beeps. I look at the
screen to find the legend "Invalid roaming list", with a stop sign,
after which it says "Searching for service" and stays that way. I call
611 (from my wife's phone) and ask what's up, and they tell me it
needs to be flashed. Finally get to a Verizon store, leave it there
for an hour, come back and find that, like about 50% of the phones
with this particular failure mode, it has failed to accept the flash.

The following conversation resulted. Me: What now? Them: How would you
like to buy a new phone? Me: What of this New Every Two that you
advertise? Them: You aren't eligible. Me: Why not, I've had this same
phone for six years? Them: But you never had a two year contract. Me:
(walks out).

So I called Asurion (the insurance carrier) back, and told them that
the phone they sent me has crapped out. Them: Sorry, you only have a
six month warranty on refurbs, and you got that one six months and
eighteen days ago. Me: WTF, was there a countdown timer in it that
told it when to break? Them: You can file a new claim if you want. Me:
I don't want, as that would cost me another $50 deductible. Them:
Sorry, can't help you. Me: Lemme talk to a supervisor.

Supervisor echoes the above. I point out that at $5/month for six
years of premiums, plus the $50 they already got from me for the old
phone, I've already paid in at least three times the cost of a new
phone; besides, it was very likely that the phone they sent me was
defective from the get-go, as the exact same thing happened a few
months ago (but the flash worked that time). They check the records,
find that in those six years I've only had the one claim, and tell me
they're making an exception and sending me another new phone, but they
have no 5185i's left either, so I'm getting a 6015i instead; received
this last Friday, it works, so I'm set. It's too darn small, and the
Select button is where the Clear button was on the old phone, plus the
belt clip, car adapter, data cable and so on don't fit it, but these
are minor annoyances.

Except that I did some go0gling over the weekend, and find that I'm
not the only one with this particular phone failure, and it always
seems to happen to the older Nokia phones, mostly on Verizon. There
are two hypotheses advanced to explain this:

Hypothesis 1, the more innocent one: The roaming list has gotten so
huge over the years, what with nationwide roaming &c, that the limited
memory in these older phones wasn't enough, and the resulting overflow
clobbered the phone's firmware. (As evidence, when I tried to put my
phone in test mode (*3001#[security code]#), it crashed hard: screen
blank, backlight on, random ticking noise in both earpiece and ringer,
unresponsive to any keypress except to increase the rate of ticking.
Geiger counter anyone? Removing the battery and replacing it cured
this temporarily.)

Of course, this implies some stupidity on Verizon's part, as they know
exactly what kind of phone each customer has, and *should* know the
memory capacity of each type; if the phone is listed as one that can't
handle the full roaming list, then send it an abridged version, and
inform the customer that in some remote areas the roaming indicator
will indicate improperly, due to the age of the phone, but the phone
will otherwise function correctly. (Does the roaming list do
*anything* but tell the phone whether or not to light up the roaming
indicator?)

Hypothesis 2, the more paranoid one: Some people have been suggesting
that Verizon have been deliberately breaking these phones. The reason
given is that they aren't E911 compliant, and if they were still
functional, Verizon would have to *give* you another one in order to
be in compliance with the minimum 85% that the FCC wants. Now that
it's "broken", they can *sell* you another one, or lock you in to a
new 2-year contract. (Note that this doesn't necessarily contradict
the first theory.)

So: What do y'all think about this? Is there any evidence for one or
the other scenario?


Shalom Septimus
Reply-To: works. From: also works but isn't read much, if at all.



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