This is a tale of one man who wants nothing more than his phone to work as advertised. Unfortunately, that doesn’t seem to be the case, so he wants a phone replacement that is at least as good as what he bought. It degenerates from there.
There is an issue with the Samsung Moment that Sprint has been unwilling/unable to fix as of this date. In short: If you use WiFi and then turn it off when you’re done (leaving it on drains your battery very quickly, so turning it off is necessary), within a few minutes the EvDo and 1x/RTT data modems will lock up (for lack of a better term) and render your phone unable to send or receive any data at all.
As of today, I have checked five units with four different hardware build dates on three different software revisions (two at 1.5, and the latest 2.1 build), and all of them exhibit the exact same issue. Every one reacts exactly the same way, with reliably reproducible results (I can make it lock up within 2 minutes of turning off WiFi).
The trouble begins
Finally, a couple of weeks ago, I had reached my limit, and fired off an e-mail to the email@example.com address. This address is used as a customer service “I don’t know where else to turn, please help me Sprint” avenue, and will usually assist customers in ways that standard customer service, or in-store help can’t.
I have finally reached my threshold for tolerance of this issue on my own unit.I have decided to start taking my device in to a Sprint repair center every time I’m able to when the data lockup occurs.Sprint really needs to address this issue, and they have so far been publicly silent about it. Compounded with the fact that the Moment is already being EOLed only 8 months after its initial release, it makes me wonder what Sprint plans to do for users of this device (if anything).There is no reasonable explanation why a phone’s data connection should lock up (to the point of needing to be rebooted) just because I was using WiFi earlier, and decided I didn’t want to any more. Three software revisions, and two hardware revisions of this device, and the problem still persists.Please, Sprint. Do something about this.
Not expecting much, I left it at that and went on my merry way.
Later that afternoon, to my surprise, I received a follow-up e-mail:
Dear Mr. Andrews:Your recent inquiry was forwarded to the Sprint Executive & Regulatory Services Department and I have been asked to speak with you regarding your equipment concerns. Please accept my apology for any inconvenience you may have experienced.I look forward to the opportunity to speak with you.
I was excited. Someone had heard my plea!
I called and talked to the rep, who was very pleasant and assured me that they were aware of the issue. One thing I feel is important to note here: During our initial phone conversation, the rep informed me that if a replacement Moment was not able to fix the issue, they were offering replacement with the HTC Hero. I informed her immediately during that conversation that if it came to that, I wasn’t sure that would be acceptable because of the two primary reasons I chose the Moment—the AMOLED screen and slide-out keyboard. I also informed her during that call that I hoped it would not come to that point, as I really like my phone, particularly having the keyboard. I assured her that I would be more than happy to just get a Moment that works as it should.
The rep told me that she would need to have their ‘Advanced Technical Support’ give me a call, and work through some troubleshooting to see if there wasn’t a setting on the phone or within Sprint’s network settings causing the issue. Of course, everything looked good on both sides, and I was able to demonstrate the lockup for him quickly, even after doing a reset of things from their end. Support informed me that he would get back with my rep and report his findings.
The waiting game
I followed up with this e-mail:
Thanks again for following up on my issue. Tech support contacted me today, and we were easily able to reproduce the problem and verified that it was not a configuration problem. The tech said he would report the results back to you.Just following up to see what our next steps should be.
After a few days of no response, I sent another e-mail:
Just following up again from last week. Is there anything else you need from me to progress to whatever our next steps should be?
Later that day, I received a nice response:
Please accept my apology for the inconvenience this matter has caused you. I spoke with the representative in technical support that assisted you and because he could not troubleshoot the issue, we will need you to visit the Service and Repair Center at your local Sprint retail store. Can you please provide us with a time that you are available so I can schedule an appointment for you at the store? In most cases, the service and repair center will replace your handset with a reconditioned handset of the same or comparable model if it is beyond repair. They will test the phone for physical and/or water damage and if none is found they will repair or replace the phone if they can diagnose the issue.
I gave her the dates and times I was available, and she quickly scheduled an appointment that evening at my local Sprint corporate repair store.
As expected, the tech was unable to find anything physically wrong with the phone, or any water damage. The tech also claimed that he could not replicate my issue after doing a hard-reset (reflashing the stock firmware, which I had done that morning). I quickly flipped the WiFi on and off again, and showed the in-store rep the issue (happened within 2 minutes). He then showed it to the tech, who was unable to get the data to unlock without rebooting it. They ordered me a replacement, which I could pick up in a couple of days.
Two days later, I picked up my replacement (a much more recent build date), and was able to get the data connection to lock up again within 2 minutes. The in-store rep brought out a tech who rebooted the phone and proceeded to talk to me as though I was just a regular non-technical person walking in off the streets. He said “You know, when you turn the WiFi off, it’s not a seamless transition to the cellular data. It will take a minute to come back.” I quickly informed him that I did indeed know what I was talking about, and explained the issue in detail, just like I had several times now.
The tech and the sales rep then attempted to brush me off and get me to leave the store without anything more than a “Sorry, maybe they’ll fix it in a future software update.” I quickly pushed the issue that I was working with a Sprint representative, and wanted the entire visit documented on my account. They reluctantly did so.
I followed up with my rep:
Got replacement unit. Demonstrated data lockup to clerk within two minutes.Tech looked over the phone, tried to play it off as a one-off occurrence, and that he’d never heard of it before or seen it on the Sprint tech forums. He also made the blanket statement that they’ll ‘probably fix it with the next software release’.
They then attempted to get me to head out with the replacement unit (a refurb) without documenting anything other than that I picked up the replacement. I made sure to stick around and have the visit (and it’s results) documented on my account.
I’m able to reliably demonstrate this issue to anyone who cares to view it happening.
I will, of course, give you a call in the morning to figure out what our next steps are.
I’m wondering if trying a brand new unit (if they’re available) with the absolute latest hardware build might help to fix this issue (though I’m not sure, since I’ve talked to individuals that have this issue after receiving their brand new phone merely days ago).
Thanks again for your attention on this issue. I look forward to getting it resolved once and for all.
Note once again, that the only thing I have mentioned for replacement was another Moment, possibly a new-in-box one with a build date that might not exhibit the issue.
I received another response the next day:
Please accept my apology for the inconvenience this matter has caused you. I will contact the store to determine if they can replace your reconditioned handset with a new one. In our previous conversation, you advised that you do not want your phone exchanged with a different model; however, we may need to if the data lockup is a known issue of the Samsung Moment. I will contact you with an update after I receive an answer from the store.
Again, of note: I didn’t say I wasn’t amenable to the possibility of replacement with a different phone. I merely stated that I didn’t feel the Hero, with its inferior screen and lack of a keyboard was a ‘comparable replacement’.
I responded as such:
Let me clarify that I’m ok with replacement with a different model. My concern was that the Hero is not what I would consider a ‘comparable replacement’. Though, I’m hoping it doesn’t come to that.
She quickly made me an appointment that evening to have the replacement unit looked over.
Of course, the store was unable to find anything wrong, and quickly ordered me a new unit. They offered to have the replacement shipped to my office, rather than making me go back and forth to Sprint stores all the time.
Monday afternoon, and the next replacement arrives (with yet another build date). I activate the replacement and quickly verify that the data works out of the box. I then perform the steps that create the data lockup, and was able to get it to lock up within 6 minutes of turning off the WiFi on the first attempt.
I follow up with my rep again via email:
Next refurb arrived this afternoon.1. Activated online (ESN Swap) without issue
2. Loaded Browser
2a. Navigate to google.com
2b. Confirm data works (provisioning successful, etc) – Yes
3. Close Browser
4. Turn on WiFi
4a. Connect to work WiFi network
4b. Verify WiFi data works – Yes
5. Turn off WiFi (1:23pm)
5a. Wait for EV icon to return
6. Launch Browser
6a. Verify data works – Yes
7. Start Google Account sync (login through market)
7a. Observe data lockup with “Network Error” and flashing up-arrow on the EV icon at 1:29pm.
9. Confirm data works again after reboot – Yes
Six minutes from WiFi disconnection to EvDo data unavailability. As expected, a reboot of the device immediately restores data functionality.
I have now confirmed the symptom across five devices (three of my own, and two friends with the same device). I have observed four different build dates: October ’09 (My original device), December ’09 (one friend’s device exhibiting the issue), February ’10 (the replacement I received this afternoon), and April ’10 (the replacement I received on Thursday of last week). I have also confirmed with online community members that the issue exists in the most recent builds, dated June ’10.
So the question again becomes: What are our next steps? It’s obvious to me that there is a fundamental flaw in the device that severely restricts the functionality of the promised features. I have copied Russ McGuire on this to ensure that the higher echelons of the company are in the loop of this conversation.
Thanks again for your time, and I look forward to your prompt response.
Russ McGuire is the VP of Strategy for Sprint corporate. I copied him because he publishes his e-mail for people who wish to sign up for Sprint under their EPRP employee referral plan. I wanted to make sure I got wind of my issue into the higher-ups at the company.
Again, it must be noted (this becomes important soon) that I have not mentioned a specific device for replacement. I have left this entirely to Sprint’s discretion as to if/when they wish to offer me something other than my current phone (which I must state again that I really like except for this one very annoying issue).
The next day, I receive a response:
Please accept my apology for the problems you experienced with your recent handset exchange. After reviewing all of the information you have provided regarding the data lockups, I suggest that we replace your Samsung Moment with an HTC Hero. With your permission, I would like to contact the service and repair center to facilitate the exchange. Please advise if you would like me to proceed with the exchange. Thank you for your patience.
As I expected, they came up with an inferior device to replace my own. As I stated before, there are two primary (and two secondary) reasons I chose the Moment over the Hero: The AMOLED screen, which is simply brilliant and wonderful to look at, and the slide-out keyboard. I had gone two years keyboardless before, but quickly remembered why I loved my keyboard so much.
Having my ire raised just a touch by this response, I crafted the following message:
Thank you for continuing to take the time to work with me on this issue. I think Sprint is going to have to come up with a better solution than a Hero. I chose the Moment over the Hero in December for two particular features: The slide-out keyboard, and the AMOLED screen, both of which, I’m sure you’re aware, the Hero has neither. I can say, however, that had I known about the data lockup issue back in December (which, after further research, I have found it was known even back then), I probably would have gone with the Hero—even bearing its inferior processor, screen, and lack of keyboard.
I have been doing my research, and it appears that Sprint really has me over a barrel in this situation.
As of today, Sprint has four Android phones. The Moment, the Intercept, the Hero, and the EVO.
The Moment, which I love outside of its primary issue, has the lockup problem. This causes frustration in having to reboot every time I want to use wireless. The workaround is, of course, to not use WiFi. But then, that’s removing one primary feature of the device. I paid $179 for my Moment, and it now has a 2-year price of $99.
The Intercept seemed promising at first, but then I looked at the specifications. The removal of the flash LED for the camera cripples another feature that I use quite regularly on the device. On top of that, it appears that Samsung (most likely at Sprint’s direction) has outfitted the Intercept with the older-tech (and consequently quite a bit slower) EvDo Rev 0 data modem. This is presumably to widen the gap between Sprint’s lower-level devices (the Intercept, Moment, and Hero) and its higher-level devices (the EVO and upcoming Epic) on the 3G speed bands. Additionally, there seems to be conflicting information about the screen resolution (One review says 800×480 (which would be quite nice), another says 400×240 (which makes no sense), and the Sprint page says HVGA (same as the current Moment). The Intercept currently has a 2-year price of $99.
The Hero, which is the device I was debating upon with the Moment, has no keyboard, a standard LCD screen, and a slower (528MHz, I believe) processor than the Moment (800MHz). How this can be considered a ‘comparable’ or ‘equivalent’ device is a mystery to me. Additionally, the camera does not have a flash, but this was not a part of my consideration initially. At the time I purchased my Moment, the Hero was running the same $179 2-year price tag, and is now selling for a 2-year price of $149.
The EVO is arguably the best Android phone (and in some arguments, the best phone, period) in the US market. It boasts an 800×480 screen, a 1GHz Snapdragon processor (currently, the best on the market), and all the bells and whistles one would expect from a top-end device. The EVO sports a camera flash, but does not provide an AMOLED viewing experience or a hardware keyboard. I have spent some time with the EVO on my recent trips to the Sprint store, and both of these failings are more than made up for by the gigantic 4.3″ screen and HTC’s stellar software keyboard (even in the Windows Mobile space, HTC has the best software keyboard on the market). The 2-year price on the EVO is $199, with an additional $10/month “premium data” charge (which we all know is for 4G, but Sprint won’t say so because 4G is not available in a majority of markets yet).
So my options are thus:
1. Keep my Moment and either cripple it, or take the time to reboot every time I wish to save battery by turning off WiFi.
2. Switch to a Hero and give up my excellent screen, hardware keyboard, a bit of performance, and camera flash.
3. Angle for an Intercept and slow down my non-WiFi data, give up the camera flash, and potentially settle for a seriously inferior screen.
4. Angle for an EVO, which is definitely a superior device to all others in the market, but is under such demand that Sprint will (in almost every case) NOT consider for an upgrade.
I want to give you an example, even though it would be almost impossible to replicate, that I hope gets my concerns across:
In 2001, I bought a brand-new Camaro Z28. When I had heard they were discontinuing the series (Camaro and Firebird), I knew this could likely be my last chance to get one. I searched every dealer in the area one-by-one (demand was so high, no dealer was doing trades), and finally found one that had the must-have options for me: 1. Black. 2. Black leather interior. 3. T-Tops (a much better open-roof experience than a convertible, IMO). 4. 6-speed manual transmission. 5. Z28 model level, which provides the 340hp 350cu v8 engine (same engine as the Corvette, actually).
Now, compare this to my decision to choose the Moment. I picked it for specific features, just as I chose the Camaro I purchased (which I still have today after 9 years and almost 100,000 miles).
Let’s say, hypothetically, there was an issue with my particular model of Camaro. Let’s call it an aerodynamic restriction engine-flow issue. In laymans terms, we’ll say that: after driving with normal performance with the roof panels in place, and choosing to remove the roof panels to drive for a while, in order to maintain proper engine performance after reinstalling the roof panels, I have to stop the engine, open and close both doors, hood and trunk, then start and stop the engine 3 times. A relatively trivial process that takes only a minute or two, but would be a real inconvenience or annoyance.
I take my car to the dealership to address this issue. They are aware of the issue (but many of the techs still deny it’s a problem), and have decided that it cannot be fixed in this particular model.
Of the two other models of Camaro available (the standard v6 automatic with a solid roof and cloth interior, and the higher-end SS model with a 6-speed, higher-performance engine, but also a solid roof and cloth interior, and also uses more fuel, increasing the costs of ownership slightly), they choose to offer the v6 Camaro.
In this situation, would you be satisfied with their offer?
Now, I’m not trying to sound like some of the individuals, which I’m sure you’ve come across, that are bringing up this issue because it’s a convenient angle to attempt to get a bunch of things for free.
I simply want Sprint to do the right thing. Sprint should offer me a device that is at least equivalent to the device I originally purchased both in performance and price point. The Hero and Intercept are neither of these.
Again, I thank you for all of your time in helping me address this issue. Please understand that in any references in which I use the word “you” I am, of course not referring to you personally, but the collective of the company. You have been nothing but helpful in this situation.
Again, I am copying Russ on this message, as I feel it’s important that people within the upper levels of the company are aware of customer concerns in a real and concrete manner.
Again, of note in this message. At no point did I say “This phone sucks and you should give me an EVO”. I don’t expect them to give me an EVO, and I even took the time to lay out why the EVO was still not a device I would choose (No keyboard, in particular).
But I never asked for an EVO
The response I received finally set me off:
Thank for your continued patience in this matter and please accept my apology for the inconvenience it has caused you. I contacted a member of our product development team and was advised that Samsung has developed a software upgrade to eliminate the lockups. The software upgrade is in the final stage of development (testing/certification). Although we cannot predict when the software will be released, if all goes well, the release will be very soon. Furthermore, pursuant to our terms and conditions, when a customer experiences issues with a handset the replacement handset or device may be reconditioned and of the same and/or a comparable model. As determined by our Service and Repair centers, the HTC Hero is the model offered to customers requesting a replacement of a different model for the Samsung Moment. We respectfully decline your request to exchange your Samsung Moment for an HTC Evo, as it is considered an upgrade. I am more than happy to partner with the store to exchange the Samsung Moment with a HTC Hero. Please advise if you would like me to proceed.
Two points in this message are of note: First, Samsung has apparently come up with a patch that potentially fixes this issue and Sprint is in testing. Great. Considering the delays in getting 2.1 released, I’m not expecting to see this patch until sometime after my kids graduate from college. Second, the response implies that I was asking them to replace my phone with an EVO. Though, in fairness, an upgrade would be the right thing, rather than a downgrade.
Now my ire was well and good raised:
To be 100% clear, I did not request that you replace my Moment with an EVO. In fact, I did not request replacement with a different model at all during this entire process. The mention of replacement with a ‘comparable model’ was brought up entirely from Sprint’s side of the discussion. I have stated several times in my communications that I would be perfectly happy with my current phone if it would work properly. In my last message I was merely clarifying the position in which Sprint has me at this point.The fact that all viable options are unequivocally a downgrade from my current device means that Sprint has been unable, and is now unwilling to provide a satisfactory solution to a problem device. The promises of a software fix sometime in the nebulous future does not make my device any more usable in these situations. This is compounded by the fact that Sprint is notorious for delays in their software release cycles. So if you’ll pardon my cynicism in this case, I would expect to see this rumored software fix sometime after the EOL date of the Epic.
Since Sprint has decided to offer ONLY the Hero, with zero discussion of any other options, I think it is time for me to begin exploring other carrier options for my five lines. Along with this, since Sprint is unable to provide a current and usable fix for this problem, and the only other option is a hardware downgrade, I would reasonably expect Sprint to waive any ETFs I might incur if I do decide to go elsewhere at this point. I will notify you (Sprint) at the time of the decision, and will expect my account to be noted accordingly if I make the decision to port off to another carrier.
I thank you again for your time and consideration in this matter. I just wish there was a better way to get the situation resolved.
I have, at this point, had it. They are unwilling to work with me. I would have at least expected them to come up with something like “We’re sorry we can’t help you with your existing phone, but we cannot authorize any other phone as an in-service replacement. However, we can offer you a discount of $x on a phone of your choice…” Something. Anything other than “You get a Hero and that’s it.”
On top of that, I started thinking to myself “Hey, why SHOULDN’T they give me an EVO. They did it for Mogul and Touch Pro owners”.
So I crafted an addendum:
Additionally, since it has been brought up. It is not as though there is no history within Sprint to provide upgraded devices in the event of a known fault with a particular device.I bring you two examples:
- When refurbished and new Moguls were simply out of stock, Sprint was opting to replace them with Touch Pros. This was even without a known issue on the phone. There were just so many out in the wild that eventually broke (because business users are hard on phones), that refurb and new stock couldn’t keep up. Sprint did not offer Mogul owners the keyboardless Touch, or even the Touch Diamond as a replacement. They went straight to the Touch Pro.
- When a relatively pervasive overheating issue was discovered with the Touch Pro, owners were again offered an upgrade to the Touch Pro 2. Not the Diamond, which was lacking in several key features.
I know of several individuals who, through this program went from a Mogul to a Touch Pro 2 without having to lay a single dollar out of pocket (TEP for the Mogul to Touch Pro, Customer Service replacement for the Touch Pro to Touch Pro 2).
I understand what the policy is for replacement, but I also understand that there is no reason why policy can not be circumvented in cases of Customer Service and loyalty.
How is it that Mogul and Touch Pro owners were offered upgrades to vastly superior devices without any push back at all from the company, but Moment owners are offered the inferior (in specifications and options) Hero?
Not to be outdone, Sprint has chosen to push me even farther:
I understand your frustration and I apologize if the resolution we have provided is unsatisfactory; however, we are unable to offer any handset other than the HTC Hero as a replacement for your Samsung Moment. Furthermore, we respectfully decline your request to waive any Early Termination Fees that will be assessed to your account at the time of cancellation. Additionally, the decision to offer Touch Pro and Touch Pro 2 handsets to customers was not Sprint’s but the manufacturer’s. HTC advised that these were comparable replacements according to the features offered and availability. Our Service & Repair centers have selected the HTC Hero as the replacement handset offered for the Samsung Moment and at this time we are unable to offer an upgrade.
At this point, I’ve had enough. Time to start working up the chain:
If this is the case, then I would like the contact information of someone else higher up in the chain that I can talk to about the issue. Specifically regarding the replacement path and/or the waiver of ETF.
Sprint has failed to follow through with a reasonable expectation of functionality for a device. I can assure you that, at this point, I will be putting together the contents of our communications and publishing them in several online venues.I am at the point now of wishing I had paid for my devices via a credit card, rather than billing to my account, as that would allow me to raise a dispute and eventual chargeback for the cost of my phone due to the (known at the time by Sprint, I’m sure) flaw impacting the usability of the device. Sprint’s replacement policy in this instance is laughable, and it reminds me of why the company still retains some of its reputation as “The carrier of last resort”.You will have to forgive the tone of this message, but I feel I cannot maintain pleasantries when I feel I am being treated unfairly.I tell you what: I will accept the offer of a Hero for replacement under the following conditions:1. The replacement is a new device, and not a refurb.
2. I receive a refund of the original purchase price of my Moment ($179.00 after rebate).
A few minutes later (they must now have realized I’m not messing around), I receive the response:
I apologize that we were unable to reach an amicable resolution. Per your request, I will forward your feedback and request to be contacted to a member of my management team. Furthermore, we are unable to provide a refund for the Samsung Moment as you have exceeded the 30 day return period since the date of your purchase and the phone is not defective. I can; however, contact the store to determine if providing a new HTC Hero is an option, as our policy states that replacement phones are reconditioned. Thank you again for your patience in this matter.
Again, pushing their policies (which they are known to circumvent in particular situations). To be fair, the full refund was at least 40% joke, as I have no intention of taking a Hero in lieu of my Moment.
I quickly respond:
I fail to see how the problem I’m having does not qualify as ‘defective’. The device is advertised to work in a particular manner. It does not work in that manner.What’s not defective? Thank you for forwarding this up the chain.
The Next Level
I just now received the following message from another person in Sprint:
I am sorry that we are unable to resolve this issue to your satisfaction, please contact me at your earliest convenience so that we can discuss your issues.
Since I’m in meetings most of the day today, I’ll be unable to speak with people on the phone, so I sent the following e-mail, reiterating many of the points I had previously (and adding one more option):
Just following up. I’m not going to be able to answer/talk on the phone much today. If there’s anything we can discuss via e-mail, I can access that all throughout the day.
My issues are pretty plain:
Sprint sold me a device that was turned out to be faulty (reports of the data lockup issue go back at least as far as the January/February ’10 timeframe).
The issue was rather minor for me (and I chalked it up to periodic flukes, as I did not turn off WiFi that often) until I realized the battery savings of turning the WiFi off any time I was leaving an access area. The CJ05 to CL14 update of 1.5 did not alleviate the issue.
When I did decide to change my behavior, the issue became very noticeable and frustrating. The 2.1 software update did nothing to alleviate the issue.
After a certain period of time, I lost patience with the issue, and the lack of apparent ability to fix the problem. I contacted the firstname.lastname@example.org address to express my dismay.
At that point, I’m sure you have a record of all of the conversations I had with my previous support individual.
If you would like me to clarify any particular points, I’ll be happy to.
At this point, I’ve 100% had it with my experience. Sprint has sold me a faulty device (which actually appears to be a design flaw, as it happens across so many hardware and software revisions with the exact same results), and refuses to step up and take responsibility.
Sprint SHOULD do one of the following, but is unwilling to as of yet:
1. Offer me a device that is AT LEAST equivalent to the device I originally purchased (as I stated before, the idea that the Hero fits this is laughable, as it lacks a keyboard, an AMOLED screen, and a camera flash. It is also of note that the processor on the Hero is significantly slower both in benchmarks and real-world performance).
2. If they cannot offer me a device that at least matches performance and/or functionality, they should find some way to compensate me monetarily for the faulty device, or at the very least the difference in price.
3. Offer me the opportunity to purchase the device of my choice on the Sprint network at the difference (if any) in cost between my current device, and the new device.
4. If none of these options can be attained, allow me to terminate my account at my option free of any ETF charges.
Again, please feel free to contact me via e-mail for any other questions you might have.
All I want is for Sprint to do the right thing. Either set me up with a new phone that isn’t a crippled version of my own, or let me out of my contract without charging me an ETF.