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Palm Pre Power Button Failure: o2 says £117.50 to fix

I got this note in from Mark who’s having some trauma with o2 and Palm. Have a read…

Hi Ewan,

I have been a fan of Palm for many years starting back in 1996 with a US Robotics Palm 1000 and over the years have purchased many of their products. Through blind loyalty I even replaced a Treo 650 with a Centro despite being ridiculed by my mates who at the time were all buying iPhones. When the Pre was announced it was fantastic news as I finally had a device to counter some of the stick I was getting from the Apple fanboys. After the long wait between announcement and UK availability I signed up for an 18 month contract on o2 the morning they become available here in the UK (Nov 6th?).

So impressed was I, that when my wife’s Nokia came out of contract in Feb 2010 I immediately convinced her to go for a Pre on an 24 month contract on o2.

We were happy Palm Pre users for months.

Recently though the power switch on my wife’s Pre stopped functioning correctly. It responds if pressed with herculean effort but doesn’t work otherwise. My wife assured me that it just stopped working and she hadn’t dropped it or damaged it anyway.

A bit of googling found that others also reported similar problems:

http://forums.precentral.net/palm-pre/202448-pre-power-button-not-functioning.html

http://forums.palm.com/t5/webOS-Hardware/Pre-power-button/m-p/257899

http://gdgt.com/discuss/power-button-not-working-recently-i-5vp/

Especially interesting is this post which claims Sprint acknowledge it is a known hardware problem:

http://forums.palm.com/t5/webOS-Hardware/Broken-Power-Button/m-p/241625

“I am bumping this thread to report the same problem. I took the phone into Sprint on Saturday and they told me that this is a known hardware problem. They said Palm is aware of it as well and they are replacing the phone with no questions asked. ”

So I took the Pre to an o2 shop, explained that it was broken and required fixing under warranty.

A week later I get a call saying that the phone is damaged and that a repair will cost 117.5 GBP. When asked for an explanation of the damage there was a very vague explanation of “crack behind the screen”. The screen does not have a crack in it (although this is also a common problem with Pres – see http://forum.o2.co.uk/viewtopic.php?f=23&t=30038) so I do not understand the comment nor the relevance to the power button.

I asked for the phone to be returned so as to check its condition. The letter that came with it simply said the phone was damaged and would cost 117.5 to repair which I had declined. No details of damage were given. I (admittedly not a trained phone engineer) cannot see any problem with it.

It seems that many other Pre users have experienced similar problems with o2 refusing to accept liability for a phone repair under warranty due to cosmetic damage of the phones:

http://forum.o2.co.uk/viewtopic.php?f=23&t=50595

http://forums.palm.com/t5/webOS-Hardware/Palm-Pre-repair-service-in-the-UK/td-p/312993

http://forum.o2.co.uk/viewtopic.php?f=23&t=48955

The fee is always the same – 117.5 GBP

The justifications are often vague.

It appears that o2 are hiding behind a blanket “It is damaged” response as a simple means of not having to cover the cost of repairs themselves and if so, this is unacceptable.

I do not have a problem with Palm – I still love it. I bought 2 Palm Pres from o2 and think they have a duty of service to provide me with a handset fit for purpose and free from manufacturing defects. If they believe my phone fault is as a result of damage then they should provide a detailed explanation in their rejection of the warranty claim. Are o2 simply giving up on Palm and unconcerned if they piss of handset owners? Are o2 hoping people will give up trying to get a problems fixed by o2 and go to Palm direct instead?

I have asked @o2 several times via Twitter for info about justification for repair estimates but have yet to receive a response. Thought you might be interested in this and possibly have some insight into the problem.

/Mark

Next time, Mark, get her to buy an iPhone. Because as long as it’s in warranty, you can avoid all this tossing around. It’s simply too much hassle. That’s why Apple instructs and empowers their team members to take one look at the issue and — provided you’re in warranty — get you a new one from the back. It’s simply not worth winding up the customer. And the amount of to-and-fro just ends up costing everyone more and more money. I wish more organisations adopted a can-do approach.

In the United Kingdom, however, we don’t generally get this, do we? Instead we all arse about with weeks and weeks of back-and-forward.

But who’s at fault with this specific issue.  What do readers recommend Mark does next?

By Ewan

Ewan is Founder and Editor of Mobile Industry Review. He writes about a wide variety of industry issues and is usually active on Twitter most days. You can read more about him or reach him with these details.

2 replies on “Palm Pre Power Button Failure: o2 says £117.50 to fix”

Mark, I feel your pain. I hate the way operators think they can ignore their obligations.

I am not a lawyer, but my understanding of the legal position is this:

They sold you the phone, if it develops a fault it’s their responsibility to sort it out. Within the first six months, the burden of proof is on them to prove that it wasn’t faulty when they sold it to you. After that, it’s up to you to show that there’s a fault and that it hasn’t been caused by misuse (dropping it, dunking in acid, that sort of thing)

In this case, you can decline their offer of a fix, and ask them to send the phone back to you, together with an estimate for the repair work (which should detail the nature of the fault). You can then get the phone independently checked by an “expert”. If the two opinions differ, you can attempt to persuade them again, but your ultimate recourse would be the small claims court.

In which case, you’re trying to argue that it’s reasonable that the phone has failed through no fault of your own and that the fault was present when you bought the handset. The fact that your fault is consistent with a known fault, and the claim that Palm know about and acknowledge it, is quite convincing.

But try and talk to the shop first. Talk to a manager, and just say that you want to lay out the facts of the situation, and the legal position as you understand it, and see if he agrees with you.

Don’t just take my word for it, of course, make a quick check up on the sale of goods act yourself.

And good luck!

One thing I don’t know, and I’ve never had the opportunity to find out, is whether the handset failing is sufficient to cause a breach of the whole contract and therefore enable you to terminate the line rental agreement as well. The phone companies will argue that it doesn’t, but I’ve always felt that there is a case to argue there. Anyone know for sure?

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