I purchased a Palm Treo 650 last June shortly after seeing it at D. In many ways it's the ideal device - large enough to hold all my phone numbers, appointments, and random notes, and still small enough to fit in my pocket. It's Quad-band so it works everywhere there is GSM and since I purchased it in unlocked form directly form Palm so I can put a local SIM card in it when traveling and thus avoid exorbitant international roaming charges. It even has a camera, although like all such camera-phones it's really just for emergency use - such as if you are out walking the dog and need to take a picture of some extraordinary event such as space aliens landing in your neighborhood.
The phone does occasionally freeze up and require rebooting it, although not nearly as often as a PC running Windows.
A few weeks ago, I noticed that the keypad was becoming a little funky. Specifically, the "F" key sometimes required a few presses before a character was produced. This key also doubles as the center "5" key when dialing the phone, which is probably why it wore out first but is also why its failure is especially annoying.
Since the warranty expires soon I figured I had better get it repaired now. Starting at the Palm web site I went through eight screens (entering my model number four seperate times) until I got to the page where it said "Currently, Palm is accepting online service requests for Out-Of-Warranty repairs only." So I followed the link to yeat another page, where I looked up my model number a fifth time and called the repair number, which in addition to admonishing that I should have gone to the web site, served up just about every standard phrase, including:
- Thank you for calling Palm
- We are experiencing higher than normal call volume
- <without any intervening prompts> Thank you for calling Palm U.S. Customer Support
- Your call may be monitored or recorded for quality improvement purposes
- Please listen carefully before making a selection as our menu of options have changed
By the time I was prompted for my first "selection" a full 55 seconds had passed. Fortunately in only took a few seconds to get a live human being on the phone, but that's when the real fun began. After typing all my information into the computer, the cheerful support rep informed me that my one year warranty did not cover problems with the keypad. Apparently the warranty does not include "physical damage to the surface of the product" and since the keypad is part of the surface it isn't covered. Since I wasn't getting anywhere with her, I asked to speak with a supervisor, who did come on very quickly. He patiently read the warranty to me over the phone, although I think he, too, was struggling to twist its language into an excuse not to repair my phone. The actual language is:
EXCLUSIONS: This warranty excludes (1) physical damage to the surface of the product, including cracks or scratches on the LCD touchscreen or outside casing; (2) damage caused by misuse, neglect, improper installation or testing, unauthorized attempts to open, repair, or modify the product, or any other cause beyond the range of the intended use; (3) damage caused by accident, fire, power changes, other hazards, or acts of God; or (4) use of the product with any non- Palm device or service if such device or service causes the problem.
When the line of reasoning about the keypad being part of the "surface" didn't work he said that because his own Treo 650 continued to work, mine must have malfunctioned because of misuse or neglect. After some more discussion, he admitted that once the problem was described as a keypad defect his computer system automatically categorized it as an out of warranty repair, which would cost $169.00. He did offer to discount that by 50% or I could call "corporate" where presumably they had more discretion.
More on that later...