The N900 microUSB defect, and your chance to do something

Does this look familiar?

After my post-mortem on the Nokia N900 microUSB failure fiasco I received an interesting offer from Nokia: collect the Care experiences in a clear, objective format, and the situation(s) would be investigated.

An offer I can’t refuse.

To start this off, I am reintroducing the survey that galvanized the maemo.org community.  That survey has closed but had collected a significant amount of data beforehand.  The challenge here is to bring respondents back to the table.  Even more critical, to obtain a reasonably accurate picture of the problem’s scope we really need response from as many people as possible, especially those not having any problems.  More on that later in the article. 

The survey:

For those who either encountered unreasonable difficulty getting proper service, or had no success at all, please provide the following in comments here:

  • Mode of failure
  • Country of purchase
  • Months of use
  • Did you file off and/or compress male connector prongs?
  • Care center(s) involved
  • Details of Care experience (number of service attempts, escalation, if satisfaction survey was sent to you, etc)

Please limit responses to objective descriptions to make reporting and analysis easier.  I will also be collecting what I can from previous postings.

Now, I can’t promise a positive outcome for everyone currently frustrated by service difficulties or outright refusal, but I can guarantee nothing will improve without trying.  Hopefully Nokia is serious about addressing the inconsistent and often poor N900 customer support experience so far.

You can of course help: spread a link to this post far and wide.  Tweet and retweet the message.  The more people respond, the more accurate and useful the data can be.

On a broader note: I wasn’t surprised to learn this issue is affecting other companies such as HTC.  Any manufacturer who elects to use a surface-mount connector for charging and/or data transfer is asking for trouble in my educated opinion.  Interestingly, leaked photos of the Nokia “N9″ indicate through-hole mounting for its microUSB port (far right side of linked picture).  This may well turn out to be an instance of one company learning from its mistake, and setting itself apart from competitors in an unglamorous but highly useful way.  This will be critical as Nokia seeks to retain current customers and gain new ones.  There’s been a lot to forgive.

Additional resources and references:

Nokia discussion thread where issue is formally acknowledged

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104 responses to “The N900 microUSB defect, and your chance to do something

  1. pasi arasola

    I upgraded my firmware, using a original nokia cable that I got with a previous nokia model, it felt harder to pull out then the cable that came with the phone. The USB plug started moving, and even though I proceeded carefully the head came off with the USB cable. (I was updating the firmware because my phone stopped finding satellites)

    I had purchased the phone about 5 months prior in Thailand at MBK. It was still under warrenty.

    I took the phone to the nokia care at MBK, followed up 2 weeks later, they connected me about 4 weeks later, refused to fix, saying its my fault. They were also unable to repair the satellite issue, since they cant hook the phone to a computer.
    I proceeded to ask what my error has been, the phone does not have a single scratch, its never been dropped or banged. The care person gave an apologetic smile and shrugged.
    I refused to take my phone back, since I was given no explanation on my specific fault. Now I’m wondering how to proceed.

  2. pasi arasola

    My biggest worry, is not the USB, because at maemo.com clever users have shown the way. I know I could get it fixed to a lesser standard at a street stand.

    My phone was supposed to have 1 1/2 years warranty, when I took it to be fixed they told me that the shop that sold the phone had accidently activated the warranty, and I only had a week or so left (so I lost about a year of warranty). This leaves me in a quandrum about the GPS, which, according to the maemo community is likely another hardware issue (all software solutions tested). They said they cant check the GPS because there is no USB. When I get my phone back, warranty will be exhausted.

    At Nokia I took the friendly but firm approach, I don’t know if they would negotiate a flexible solution (I pay a third party to fix the USB, and they accept to fix the GPS even though my warranty has run out on the 25th of june).
    Their claim of user abuse, while refusing to specify the nature of abuse left me feeling played. I’m sincerely worried to be lied to. When I left my phone for repairs I offered the fallen USB slot, and the ‘tight’ cable to nokia and they said they are not nesessary. Yesterday they blamed me for not giving in the missing piece of USB.

    Do you have any opinion on negotiation vs standing firm?

    • The problem is that Nokia’s Care reaction has been very inconsistent, pointing to a lack of management. Individual Care centers should have a degree of autonomy, to be sure, but not in a case like this. That inconsistency makes it difficult to recommend one approach that fits all. I can’t stand in your shoes, either. All I can say is use every resource available as you see fit.

  3. i have my old 5200XpressMusic with mini USB, well, i think this is the best port for cellphones and smartphones, SE,LG,Nokia and others maybe have the mini USB the standard port for all phones, i have been test thes two ports, micro and mini, mini USB working very well for a long time, but the micro has a lot of problems,the port is very fragile, the cable too, and when brick, farewell, it´s realy bad to fix again in the place, tiny contacts, and it´s a very fragile port. realy bad port.

    http://shadowvp.blogspot.com/2011/05/padronizacao-das-entradas-usbs-nos.html

  4. Mode of failure – USB Port issue – will not charge or connect data wise
    Country of purchase – Amazon USA
    Months of use 16
    Did you file off and/or compress male connector prongs? NO
    Care center(s) involved NOKIA CARE – main site USA
    Details of Care experience (number of service attempts, escalation, if satisfaction survey was sent to you, etc) – was denied service from NOKIA CARE thrice – sent to a third party repair site which would charge around 80 dollars. Issue is, I don’t feel comfortable sending it to them because a) i can’t get any of my data off of the actual device’s built in drive (clone from terminal to sd card not successful so far) and b) it’s a known issue…wth…

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