A personal experience that can stand as an example for the protection of the rights of a customer – several tiffs, verbal wars, and exchange of emails involved! It is about a mobile handset, bought one year ago, had a warranty period of one year, used fully for one year; finally the manufacturer had to replace it on the brink of warranty expiration, with a brand new one!
I had bought an HTC HD2 in last December from Trivandrum, for around 37,000 rupees. The phone did not have any issues until an evening two months back. Its proximity sensor stopped working all of a sudden. Proximity sensor is a small equipment that rests under the front glass of the phone, which enables the screen go blank when the phone is kept close to the ear during a call. This would prevent the touch screen from responding to inadvertent swipes on it while a call is in progress.
Two weeks later, the touch screen also stopped working. I soft reset the phone a couple of times, and then hard reset it once, but that did not solve the problem. So I took it to the newly opened service centre in Trivandrum. When I checked the repair status on the same day, they told me that they were working on it, and it would be ready the next day. On the next day, I was told that the problems were due to water damage and so the repair and replacement of parts could not be covered under warranty. But since I was sure I never exposed it to extreme weather conditions, I told them to show me the proof. If it was a case of genuine water damage, why didn’t they tell me about it on the previous day? I asked the same question and got the answer that may be the problem was due to the changes in humidity! I told them it cannot be categorised under the “improper use” clause and claimed for the warranty. Finally they yielded to my argument and promised that the repair and replacement would be covered under warranty.
Four days after submitting the phone to the service centre, they informed me that the phone was in shape and I could collect it on the following Monday. On Monday morning, they informed me that its volume keys were not working. Again, they cited water damage as the reason, and “no warranty” because of it! I never faced any issues with the volume keys. Since the phone was submitted to the service centre after hard resetting it, and the only way to hard reset the phone when the touch screen doesn’t work was by using its volume keys, I argued for my case all over again. Finally they gave up the fight and told me that the replacement can be covered under warranty!
At this point, I really got irritated and escalated the matter to the HTC Asia Customer Management Team. They heard both sides and insisted that I should collect the phone after the replacement of the volume keys. I was adamant in my stand that I wouldn’t take the phone back from the service centre, and claimed for a replacement since I did not want to use a handset that was made defective by the company authorised staff. Since the warranty period would expire soon, I didn’t want to take a chance.
It was not easy convincing the HTC people. Everyday, they would call me twice and send email once about the phone status. They reiterated that a replacement would be possible only if the problem is reported within two weeks of purchasing the product. In my case, only two weeks were remaining for the one-year warranty to expire! After each passing day, I was getting more and more irritated. By this time, I had decided to give up on the quarrel and was planning to approach consumer forum as last resort.
I told HTC very clearly that if they are not ready to replace the phone, I would be forced to sue them; in which case I would claim for the complete refund of the purchase amount and compensation. I also gave them two days to think about it. A replacement was easy for them as the current market price of the phone is only 27,000 rupees. On the very next day, they called me up to inform that they were ready for a replacement! It was a long battle for protecting consumer rights; a battle that lasted for more than five weeks!
Moral: Customer is King. To make it more clear; a customer who protests is King! If you are aware of the laws of the land and the rights of the customer, you too can win your genuine case. In the case of mobile phone repair, water damage is cited as a common problem by the service personnel. No company provides warranty on such cases, and hence they can ask us to pay for the service and the replaced parts, and also cover their own mistakes in situations such as these! Don’t buy their story, if you are sure about your case!