Thursday, January 18, 2007

Beware purchasing from i-mate

I didn't want to write this post.  Unfortunately, the time has come.  I was foolish enough to purchase an i-mate KJAM device about a year ago.  This is a Windows Mobile 5 Pocket PC Phone device.  I am sure I am butchering the name (Microsoft has branding problems, not me) of the OS.  Nino can probably correct me.

The phone is a rebranded HTC Wizard that I purchased through Mad Monkey Boy.  I should note here that MMB is in no way responsible for the problems.  In fact, I would highly recommend him for purchasing your Windows Smartphones and similar devices.

Anyhow, to make a long story short, my phone starting acting up in June of last year starting with the stylus falling out of the device due to some shoddy workmanship.  This seems to have been a common problem with everyone of the Wizard brandings (MDA, KJAM, Qtek, etc.).  Even worse, my phone started making a high-pitched whine each time I started or answered a call.  The whine would last approximately 30 seconds and then would stop suddenly.  I was about ready to pull out my hair it was so annoying.  So, before the warranty expired, I contacted i-mate and asked to get my device serviced and repaired.  It has quite possibly been the most frustrating customer experience yet.

Timeline:

  • 9/4/2006 - Ask for an RMA on i-mate web site
  • 9/6/2006 - i-mate responds asking me to reset my device first to see if it will fix my hardware problems.  Quite obviously a stylus problem will be fixed by a reset.
  • 9/6/2006 - I reply pointing out the absurdity of the canned response
  • 9/6/2006 - They respond asking for 5 pieces of information in order to process the RMA
  • 9/7/2006 - I respond with the requested information.
  • 9/8/2006 - They respond with a request for an additional piece of information
  • 9/8/2006 - I respond with the additional information
  • 9/10/2006 - I finally get an RMA so I can mail my device (at my expense) to a service center in FL.  Great, that only took 6 days!!
  • 10/6-9/2006 - Device is supposedly "repaired" and shipped back to me.
  • 10/20/2006 - I finally get my device since FedEx Ground center is located 30+ miles from my house and will not deliver to neighbor or leave package when I am not home (and I am on road 100%). Grrr...
  • 10/23/2006 - I leave voicemail to FL repair center indicating the major problem "the whine" was not fixed and even worse now.
  • 10/26/2006 - I leave another voicemail at FL repair center after getting no response.
  • 10/27/2006 - I email i-mate again and cc repair center explaining device was not fixed
  • 10/30/2006 - I finally get a response from repair center in FL and they agree to send a shipping label to me to send back device.
  • 11/1/2006 - A label is finally delivered to me (only 11 days!!)
  • 11/1/2006 - I indicate that now I have to leave the country and I don't want the device to be repaired and then mailed if I am not there to receive it.  I indicate I will have to wait until I get back to send the device.  In hindsight, this is incredibly dumb of me.
  • 11/20/2006 - I get back to the country and mail the device back to be repaired
  • 12/11/2006 - I receive notice that parts for my phone are on back order and will be in next week.  These are required for repair. Notice it was 3 weeks just to tell me this.
  • 12/11/2006 - I respond that I understand - I am so nice and patient.
  • 12/20/2006 - I inquire about the status of the phone that I have mailed in for repair the 2nd time one month ago.
  • 12/26/2006 - I receive notice they are still waiting on parts.  So much for the 1 week until parts get there.
  • 1/4/2007 - I ask about status again
  • 1/11/2007 - I ask yet again after no response for a week.  This time I cc i-mate support.
  • 1/11/2007 - i-mate responds (not the repair center) asking for the same information they asked for on 9/6/2006
  • 1/12/2007 - I respond yet again with the same information
  • 1/18/2007 - I ask yet again after no response from either i-mate or FL repair center.  Still waiting...

So, in recap, it has been over 4 months since I have had a working phone.  It is still in limbo at the FL repair center and no one will talk to me.  i-mate is not stepping up and taking responsiblity and just replacing the damn thing.  Moral of the story:  if you buy a $700 phone, make sure you use an AMEX or something like that so you can at least get your money back when the manufacturer holds your phone hostage for 4+ months running and under no circumstances buy an i-mate device.