Saturday, August 10, 2013

Jack Vs. Nokia

I'm a bit weird when it comes to new Technology...I love it and I loathe it.

When it comes to gadgets I'm just another stereotypical guy, I love them. I own a Samsung Series 9 laptop which when new two years ago was top of the line; with at least 10 TB of external storage and too many PC peripherals to list. I have an Xbox 360 with a plethora of games and several control pads, including a Street Fighter 4 branded arcade stick. I have a Canon DSLR camera with a multitude of lenses. I have four pairs of headphones, one pair being wireless. Last but not least and bringing us onto the topic of conversation I have mobile phone; a Nokia Lumia 800 in black with a blue soft gel silicone case. I absolutely love it.
The Nokia Lumia 800 with Windows OS.

I have been a Nokia user my entire cellular life. My grandfather bought me my introductory Nokia on my 13th birthday, the 5110 handset, back in 1998. From there I steadily progressed through the cellular ranks; spending time with the illustrious sliding action of the Nokia 7110 that featured in the 1999 blockbuster 'The Matrix', the Nokia 3210 which was one of the first mobile phones to feature interchangeable covers, the  Nokia 8310 with it's innovative FM radio feature and aesthetically pleasing white backlit display.

After the 8310 I forget the model numbers, a period of cellular amnesia clouds my mind. This trend of forgetful Nokia's continued for some years, with the only noticeable improvements being increased phone camera competency and a new colour version of Snake. That is until the mnemonic release of the Nokia N95 in 2007 and the release of the legendary N97 a year or so later. It was at this technological precipice that my love for Nokia blossomed once again.

The Nokia N97

The N97 was my first smart phone, it was bought for me as a birthday present in 2009, the year of my departure to Holland. I have to say I did want the lightning silver version but it was the most desirable and constantly out of stock, I made do with a black one as pictured above.

The N97 was Nokia's second phone with touchscreen functionality, it had a slide out QWERTY keyboard, 32GB of internal disk space and featured the almost now defunct Symbian OS. Despite the phones many criticisms I used and abused it for 31 months replacing it only at the point of cataclysm, in January 2012, for my Lumia 800. I still hold the polyvinyl carcass in my room and I'm convinced that with fuel in it's battery it would start upon request. I lament my N97 but all good things must come to an end...

Let's go back to my Lumia 800.

Nokia at it's peak were renowned for producing the toughest and most durable mobile phones in the industry. Unfortunately this trend did not transcend to the smart phone generation beyond the Nokia N series. My Lumia 800 for example, after only a few months of use refused to charge. The painful process of taking it to the Nokia repair shop here in Singapore at Vivo City ensued and eventually I got a fully functioning phone back free of charge. After several more months of use the same issue befell me. This time however I did all I could not to go back to Vivo; this included charging my phone upside down and my adding weight to the cable as it lay in the charging port forcing the connection. For several months this worked and I had very limited inconvenience, but after a while the inevitable happened and I had to venture back to Nokia for a repair, my tail firmly stuck between my legs.

Several months after the second fix the phone broke again, the exact same charging issue being the problem. I took it back to Nokia only to be told that my warranty had expired and a fix to a reoccurring problem would cost me several hundred Singapore dollars.

My reaction as Nokia told me my phone was out of warranty and a fee would be charged...

I controlled my anger very well, hardly raising my voice at the customer service guy. I explained to him my dedication to Nokia throughout the years and that in a world of Apple and Samsung that brand ambassadors such as myself are rarities. Armed with this information he briefly decamped to consult with his superior. Upon his return he informed me that due to my brand loyalty he would perform a one-off out of warranty service on my phone for no charge. The consumer was victorious.

Two weeks after collecting my third repair the unspeakable happened,  the phone once again refused to charge. I did some resourceful Google searches and found that it was a well known trait of the Lumia 800 to refuse to charge, it also seems that Nokia refused to fix the problem opting instead for a replacement model, the Lumia 820. Armed with this fact and the eminent bank account deduction necessary to fix my phone for the fourth time I decided to vent my frustrations in an email to Nokia, for the hell of it I copied in Mr. Stephen Elop, the CEO of the company.

The email was long, florid and overly passionate. It was a vessel to both vent my frustrations of the repeating affair but also to illustrate my commitment over the years to a company now fighting to survive. The email at times verged on pornographic as I listed precious moments from my life where a Nokia had been used. I admit it the attempt to pull on corporate heartstrings was intentional but not nefarious. I am seldom loyal to any brand, I'm as price sensitive a consumer as most, but for some strange reason I am emotionally attached to Nokia. I'm attached to it's beautifully crafted products of polycarbonate and shaped glass, this Finnish organization has stolen my heart through both aesthetics and functionality. This is why I put so much passion into my email and I got the response I was after.

Several days later I received a reply directly from Mr. Elop apologizing for the issues I'd experienced with my Lumia handset, promising to resolve them, but unfortunately not admitting he and his company were aware of this common technical fault I had so elaborately detailed in my email. In his reply email he copied in several people whose names I immediately googled. He had copied in the big boys, the head of R&D, the head of customer care and global communication. Less than one hour later after receiving the initial reply I received a barrage of emails from Nokia customer care requesting information. In the final email I was informed I would receive a box fresh free replacement Lumia 800 handset and that my current handset would be used for 'thorough analysis'. I also received notification of the above, in writing, which I will keep as a trophy to the voice of the consumer.

Consumer Power - If you don't like it let them know about it!

I still love my Lumia and I still love my Windows OS. Yes, it doesn't have as many 'apps' as Apple or Samsung but I don't care. I'm just not an app guy. I don't want to know how many G's I'm doing round a corner in a taxi cab or take blurry photos with Instagram. I don't want to book a restaurant at the touch of a button or play engine noises from my phone. I just want something that's aesthetically pleasing, I want something functional, something durable, with the basic features of a smartphone such as web browsing and music playing. I'm good with owning something not made by the market leaders. I'm good with my Nokia.

This exercise was important for me and not just because I got a free phone as a result. It was important for me as a consumer not to be robbed of my hard earned money and not to be mistreated by the big corporations. Yes, my victory will not change the world, it is but a drop in the big corporate ocean, but to quote Adam Ewing from Cloud Atlas "What is an ocean but a multitude of drops?