This HTC phone doesn’t work — can you help me fix it?

Albert Hanneman’s new HTC phone is missing in action after it breaks down and he sends it back to the manufacturer. Can the phone be found and fixed?

Question: I bought an HTC U11 phone in July and had to send it in for repair in the middle of August. They told me it would take 6 to 10 days to get the phone repaired. I followed the return instructions they provided me.

However, they had provided me with the address for their old repair center. When I called trying to get my repair status, they couldn’t find my phone and blamed me for sending the device to the wrong address. I had to forward them the email they sent to me to prove that the mistake was theirs.

After that, it took them about two weeks to locate my phone and get it sent to the correct repair center. All told it has been over six weeks and they still can’t tell me when I will get my phone back.

At this point, I feel like I will never get my phone back and there is nothing I can do about it. Every time I call they tell me they are very sorry and understand that I want my phone back, but they don’t have any real information for me. For the past three weeks, they have said they would call me with an update the following day. But of course they never call, and when I call them they don’t have any information. I have talked to managers and tried calling HTC corporate rather than just the service group.

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At this point, I would be happy to get a refund of the $635 I spend for the phone. Since the phone stopped working after 45 days, and they only have a 30-day money-back policy, they say I can’t get a refund. If I can’t get my money back, I would like either a new phone or my phone repaired and sent back to me as soon as possible. Can you help? — Albert Hanneman, Bristow, Va.

Answer: HTC should have given you the right address for its repair department. Better yet, its phone shouldn’t have stopped working.

You know, sometimes I think there’s a timer on these devices set to go off a few days after the warranty expires. Maybe I’m just being paranoid, but I get so many cases like yours, I have to wonder.

I find it troubling that HTC would blame you for its own mistake and then drag its feet on the repair, leaving a trail of broken promises and unmet expectations. Your U11 is hardly the kind of product you’d expect from a company that promises to bring “brilliance to life through leading innovation” and (I’m not making this up) a commitment to “making life better.” Come on.

In hindsight I would have advised you to double-check the return address, but how could you have known they’d given you the wrong one? I might also have warned you against calling the company, instead sending a brief, polite email so that you can build a paper trail. If the normal channels weren’t working, you could have appealed to an executive at HTC. I list the names, numbers and email addresses of the HTC customer service managers on my consumer advocacy site.

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I contacted HTC on your behalf. HTC took another look at your phone, found the problem, fixed it and returned the handset to you. Better late than never!

Christopher Elliott

Christopher Elliott is an author, journalist and consumer advocate. You can read more about him on his personal website or check out his adventures on his family adventure travel site. Contact him at chris@elliott.org. Read more of Christopher's articles here.

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