Tech joys and woes

I finally got a new phone to replace my malfunctioning Galaxy Note 4.

Basically, my Galaxy Note 4–which I got on a plan upgrade in Spring 2015 because of the 8 hr battery life and positive reviews–has spent the past year slowly crapping out on me until it got to the point it was dying after 45 minutes while showing a 67% charge. 

This is despite two new batteries, a factory reset and cache wipe, and even shelling out $50 through my warranty replacement option to get a completely new device.

The warranty reps say its probably a logic board issue. Apparently if a phone is ever dropped–ever, even just a teensy little tumble from bed to floor–it causes small impacts which might show no external body damage, but will jar and misalign internal components, causing long term logic board issues and battery drain.

I dunno. I mean, I’m not a designer, but that seems like kind of a major design flaw for a portable device intended to be carried everywhere. Honestly, it always kinda seemed to me like some sort of built-in obsolescence effect gone mad, but what the hell do I know?

Anyway, after the warranty replacement device didn’t perform any better (worse, actually) than the ones it was replacing, they offered to reimburse me for the market value of the device, which is great, but also not a lot of money when you’re looking at replacing a phone mid-contract.

Technically, I’m not eligible for a subsidized phone upgrade under the contract terms for another 6 months or so. 

There is an upgrade eligibility currently on offer … but it changes the terms of the contract and thereby increases oir rates and decreases our data access,  as the plan we’re on is no longer offered by the company. We’ve grandfathered it in solely through our annual contract upgrades. 

So if I took advantage of that option, I might get brand new phone for very little out of pocket up front, but we’d pay so much more in the long run. Plus, none of the new devices appeal to me. I figured I’d probably get something used off Amazon or Craigslist, like we had for our son when Destructo slapped his phone from his hand; or maybe I’d dig up an old phone out of the garage or something.

Then I remembered out-of-contract devices exist, and did some research on those. Told my husband I was thinking of getting the basic Moto G4 for like $150, and the next thing I know he’s got the customization website up and I spent a little more than $150, haha. But its beautiful, and still way more affordable than buying a non-subsidized phone from the carrier.

Of course, now I get to go through the replace my device under contract. 

Lucky me, I’ve already had experience with that, and let me tell you, it is a HASSLE. 

Sprint has a section on their website for customers to switch to a new device, so theoretically I should be able to complete this task online in 5 minutes without talking to a customer service agent, right?

Wrong.

I’ve had to switch two in-contract devices on the plan, and its been a nightmare both times. They were even the same models of device!

My son has a Samsung Sport S5. About a month ago, he was showing his friends some videogame review on YouTube at lunch, and when the video ended a kid I can only call Destructo randomly slapped the phone, knocking it from his hand and destroying it. Screen shattered, body cracked–$200 worth of damage, for no goddamn reason.

I waited like a week for the parents to contact me, because if my kid randomly destroyed $200 of private property, you know for goddamn sure I’d call to have him apologize and offer to work off costs, and if I could afford it I’d also offer to cover at least partial costs. I understand not everyone can afford that, but damn. At least fucking call.

A week and not a whisper, so I contact the school. Yadda yadda yadda, this happened on this date, these kids were witnesses, my son spoke with these teachers and showed them the damaged phone. Would like the parents to contact me. The VP calls me later that day, says he spoke to Destructo, who totally copped to it–apparently he asked the kid,”Did you break (son’s) phone?” and the kid just broke down sobbing. 

Feels terrible, doesn’t know why he did it, said it was total impulse and a random,  spur of the moment action. I was like great … has he tried apologizing? VP said he’d suggested that, too, and he thought Destructo was probably going to seek out my son today.

Nope. Not a whisper. In fact, from what my kid tells me, Destructo has steadfastly avoided him since smashing the phone–which I get; he’s a freshman in high school, and modern teenage boys aren’t exactly known for being taught skills in managing emotions like impulsivity, guilt, or regret. I feel bad for him, and pissed at his parents–who still haven’t contacted us.

I don’t think they will. Destructo learned his attitude toward personal property from somewhere.

Anyway, so I had to shell out $189 for a refurbished Samsung Sport S5 on Amazon to replace that one, which wasn’t warrantied because when we bought it, it was only $45 with plan upgrade, so paying an extra $100 or so for a warranty with a $50 device replacement fee seemed kinda pointless, since that’s basically $200 for a replacement device in the end, anyway. Besides, we figured our son is pretty responsible, so it’d be fine.

We just didn’t account for his peers.

Anyway. Point is, same model of device, same number, same contract. Tried to transfer to the new device, activating the old SIM in the new device, and it just freaked out. 

We had to call the rep to unlock the SIM (which shouldn’t even be a thing), and that didn’t even fix it–months later, the phone still isn’t connecting properly.

Same thing happened with my refurbished Galaxy Note 4. I tried to activate the new device on the account using the Sprint website–deactivated the old device, entered the IMEI number, selected the option to use my old SIM card and … kaput. Freak out. Had to contact customer service to, essentially, unlock my SIM card.

At that point, I didn’t really think anything of these issues, aside from them being a pain in the ass. 

But then I ordered my Moto G4, which numerous tech websites noted is compatible with the Galaxy Note 4 microSIM card. The Moto G4 also apparently comes with an adapter for nanoSIM cards, so that’s cool.

So the Moto G4 arrived yesterday (a day early!) and I’m all like ooooooh my shiny new and pretty toy is here, I am so happy! Immediately go onto the Sprint website to deactivate my old broke shit so I can send that defective crap away and enjoy a working fucking phone again … and they won’t let me use my old SIM card. 

So I contact customer service who, bafflingly, insists SIM cards are device specific, and physically cannot work in devices they’re not made for–as in, the microSIM used in the Galaxy Note 4 might fit in a Moto G4, but it won’t work in said device because it wasn’t designed for the Moto G4.

This is baffling because the purpose of a SIM card is to determine which network to connect to and act as login credentials for the users device. 

Ironically, SIM cards should make activating a new device on an account easier, not harder, because all the subscriber data is the card–I should be able to pop it into the new device and be good to go. 

But that grandfathered contract is the sticking point. It’s a really good deal and there’s no equivalent on any of the networks. Once we’re forced out of this particular contract, we’re probably going no-contract, unless some huge changes happen. 

For right now, though, we are locked into a two year upgrade contract, with all the restrictions, controls, and limitations attendant to that–including, it seems, our carrier locking our SIM cards.

Anyway, I responded to the rep with basically, “Uh … what? That makes no sense,” and she kept repeating this nonsense about how the size of the SIM was irrelevant because it had been designed for the Galaxy Note 4, and was therefore physically incompatible with the Moto G4. After some back and forth, she tells me Sprint will mail me a free replacement SIM, or I can pick one up at the corporate store.

Yay, wait a week to use my phone? I’ll go to the corporate store.

So we popped into the corporate store, where I was approached by a cheery  contract specialist who wanted to know how he could help me. I explained I wanted to pick up a Sprint SIM and activate my Moto G4 on my contract … and he said, “Moto G4? That’s not one of ours, is it? I don’t think we’re allowed to do that.”

“Yes, you can,” I said, at the same time as my husband. He ignored us, asking one of the tech specialists, “We can’t activate a Moto G4 on our network, can we? That’s not allowed?”

The tech specialist, who had headphones in, shook his head, and the contract specialist turned to us with an expression of commiseration and started to say, “I’m so sorry about that,” when he was interrupted by another guy coming from a back room.

“Moto G4? Yeah, I think we can activate those. We should be able to–although we are running low on SIM cards.”

The new guy was introduced as a tech specialist as well, and we were passed off to him. I explained my issue trying to transfer the SIM from my Note to Moto, and he clucked his tongue sympathetically. “Yeah, the SIMs are model specific, so it wouldn’t work. You’re not gonna be able to run, say, even a Moto Plus SIM in this phone. They’re just not designed that way anymore.”

“Really,” said my husband flatly. “Because we had trouble transferring SIM cards between devices that were the exact same model.”

“What? Really? That shouldn’t have happened,” he said, looking up from his computer. A faint cloud of dismay temporarily dimmed the round, beaming sun of his childlike expression as he considered the puzzle, and then his retail smile returned full force as he dismissed the concern to wherever such banished questions go. “Well, here we go! I just need your phone?”

I handed him my new phone, and he exclaimed admiringly over the customization (I had the red back engraved with the quote,”Love is a verb”), then asked as he scanned the IMEI and HEX codes by the battery,”And did you say this was the Moto G4, or the Moto G4 Plus?”

Before I could answer, my husband said,”Moto G4 Plus.”

Amused, I didn’t correct him.

The tech, while still nattering on with the same canned explanations the Sprint rep on the phone had given about how modern SIM cards are designed specifically for each unique model line and are not interchangeable, pulled a SIM card from a drawer labeled Moto G4 Plus and registered it to my Moto G4, then handed us off to the contract specialist, who inserted the SIM and activated my phone.

I keep reminding myself its not their fault. You get what you pay for, and the retail sector is so rife with employers who pay minimum/ substandard wages, combined with the stress of shitty and unreliable hours and poor scheduling notifications–not to mention the lack of decent benefits, or often any benefits at all–that its no wonder I’m regularly presented with employees wearing tags that declare them a specialist in a subject they clearly have no knowledge, interest, or training in. Its not their fault; its the employer for not investing in them.

It is still frustrating.

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