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Customer Service for Cell Phones?

Cliff posted more than 11 years ago | from the finding-that-pesky-part dept.

Technology 38

oliphaunt asks: "I'm a victim of planned obsolescence! I'm in a customer service battle with Nokia right now, and I'm wondering if anyone out there has found a solution to a similar problem. I've tried eBay, I've tried Yahoo! auctions, I've tried Google Groups, and I've tried talking to Nokia directly- all to no avail. Now I'm faced with throwing away a phone that originally cost more than $600 USD, because I can't get a 35 cent part. Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated!"

"I bought a Nokia 8860 used from a friend about 2 years ago. It worked great until about 6 months ago, when the memory stopped recording new events between hard resets- so if I add your phone number to my address book, and then my main battery dies or I turn the phone off and remove the main battery, the phone erases your number. I've had the problem diagnosed by a couple of different Nokia approved service centers- there is an internal battery, the size of a watch battery, that somehow powers updates to the memory when the main battery disconnects. In this eBay auction, it's part number 16 in the exploded diagram. It's essentially a tiny watch battery, with a leaf spring welded on one edge to keep it in contact with the IC, and gold contacts to the (+) and (-) terminals on the other edge that actually make the contact.

The problem is, none of the service centers I've contacted stock the replacement battery, and they claim that Nokia won't ship them the part if they order it. The phone has been discontinued by Nokia USA, and Nokia tells me on the phone and in writing that they won't even acknowledge the existence of a replacement part market, much less actually sell me the thing I need to make the phone work.

Being a good geek, I tried cleaning the contacts with a pencil eraser, and confirmed that the original battery was dead with my trusty multi-meter. I've tried to find the OEM battery manufacturer that Nokia uses. No luck so far. And I took the old part out, and soldered the contacts and spring onto a random new hearing aid battery I bought from Walgreens- no dice. As a last ditch effort, I actually bought one of the kits from the guy with the eBay auction referenced above. The battery in that phone was dead too.

I'm running out of ideas! Nokia obviously wants me to buy a new phone- but mine is perfectly good, except for want of a 35-cent part with some additional metal bits attached. I've told them that their brand reputation is at stake with me. They don't seem overly concerned. What else can I try?"

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38 comments

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Perhaps... (4, Insightful)

David_Bloom (578245) | more than 11 years ago | (#4963438)

You could buy one of those cables that lets you synchronize your phone's contacts with your PC and just resync whenever your phone's battery dies. It's still an inconvenience whenever your battery dies, but it helps, and has added benefits.

Repair of Nokia equipment (3, Informative)

XO (250276) | more than 11 years ago | (#4963449)

try this [radioshack.com]

Re:Repair of Nokia equipment (1, Redundant)

David_Bloom (578245) | more than 11 years ago | (#4963465)

Unfortunately, they have a $60 flat rate for cell phones, and how do you expect RadioShack to get the part?

Re:Repair of Nokia equipment (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#4963734)

Good attitude. So really, all you want to do is complain? The guy offers a suggestion. You complain about a $600 phone. You're being presented a solution for 10% of the price of the phone, and that's not good enough. Well tough luck, bastard.

What I would do is get a spoon, and eat some ass. You can find them for about 10 cents at a thrift shop.

Radio Shack? (-1, Offtopic)

Rambo, John J. (633310) | more than 11 years ago | (#4963467)

Have you tried Radio Shack?

The problem with parts like these, are they are very hard to find, and the problem is only going to get worse. The reason for this is nanotechnology.

Imagine trying to find tiny parts like these little buggers! The future is upon us, and pretty soon after the government have forced nanotechnology on us, *everything* will have small, un-replaceable parts.

You think it's bad having to replace a $600 phone, imagine having to replace a Microwave, PDA, toaster, because one tiny little part that cost about a fraction of a cent got damaged during the move, etc.

Unless you are a physicist, or just really, really smart, you better be prepared to get used to this.

In case anyone is curious about nanotechnology, I have decided to give a (brief, i promise!) summary below:

Manufactured products are made from atoms. The properties of those products depend on how those atoms are arranged. If we rearrange the atoms in coal we can make diamond. If we rearrange the atoms in sand (and add a few other trace elements) we can make computer chips. If we rearrange the atoms in dirt, water and air we can make potatoes.

Todays manufacturing methods are very crude at the molecular level. Casting, grinding, milling and even lithography move atoms in great thundering statistical herds. It's like trying to make things out of LEGO blocks with boxing gloves on your hands. Yes, you can push the LEGO blocks into great heaps and pile them up, but you can't really snap them together the way you'd like.

In the future, nanotechnology will let us take off the boxing gloves. We'll be able to snap together the fundamental building blocks of nature easily, inexpensively and in most of the ways permitted by the laws of physics. This will be essential if we are to continue the revolution in computer hardware beyond about the next decade, and will also let us fabricate an entire new generation of products that are cleaner, stronger, lighter, and more precise.

It's worth pointing out that the word "nanotechnology" has become very popular and is used to describe many types of research where the characteristic dimensions are less than about 1,000 nanometers. For example, continued improvements in lithography have resulted in line widths that are less than one micron: this work is often called "nanotechnology." Sub-micron lithography is clearly very valuable (ask anyone who uses a computer!) but it is equally clear that lithography will not let us build semiconductor devices in which individual dopant atoms are located at specific lattice sites. Many of the exponentially improving trends in computer hardware capability have remained steady for the last 50 years. There is fairly widespread belief that these trends are likely to continue for at least another several years, but then lithography starts to reach its fundamental limits.

If we are to continue these trends we will have to develop a new "post-lithographic" manufacturing technology which will let us inexpensively build computer systems with mole quantities of logic elements that are molecular in both size and precision and are interconnected in complex and highly idiosyncratic patterns. Nanotechnology will let us do this.

When it's unclear from the context whether we're using the specific definition of "nanotechnology" (given here) or the broader and more inclusive definition (often used in the literature), we'll use the terms "molecular nanotechnology" or "molecular manufacturing."

Whatever we call it, it should let us

* Get essentially every atom in the right place.
* Make almost any structure consistent with the laws of physics that we can specify in molecular detail.
* Have manufacturing costs not greatly exceeding the cost of the required raw materials and energy.

There are two more concepts commonly associated with nanotechnology:

* Positional assembly.
* Self replication.

Clearly, we would be happy with any method that simultaneously achieved the first three objectives. However, this seems difficult without using some form of positional assembly (to get the right molecular parts in the right places) and some form of self replication (to keep the costs down).

The need for positional assembly implies an interest in molecular robotics, e.g., robotic devices that are molecular both in their size and precision. These molecular scale positional devices are likely to resemble very small versions of their everyday macroscopic counterparts. Positional assembly is frequently used in normal macroscopic manufacturing today, and provides tremendous advantages. Imagine trying to build a bicycle with both hands tied behind your back! The idea of manipulating and positioning individual atoms and molecules is still new and takes some getting used to. However, as Feynman said in a classic talk in 1959: "The principles of physics, as far as I can see, do not speak against the possibility of maneuvering things atom by atom." We need to apply at the molecular scale the concept that has demonstrated its effectiveness at the macroscopic scale: making parts go where we want by putting them where we want!

The requirement for low cost creates an interest in self replicating manufacturing systems, studied by von Neumann in the 1940's. These systems are able both to make copies of themselves and to manufacture useful products. If we can design and build one such system the manufacturing costs for more such systems and the products they make (assuming they can make copies of themselves in some reasonably inexpensive environment) will be very low.

Re:Radio Shack? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#4963792)

From here: http://www.zyvex.com/nano/ [zyvex.com] ?

Re:Radio Shack? (1)

notworthy (626160) | more than 11 years ago | (#4968662)

What are you talking about. You think it's bad having to replace a $600 phone, imagine having to replace a Microwave, PDA, toaster, because one tiny little part that cost about a fraction of a cent got damaged during the move, etc. I could see the PDA being as bad as replacing the phone, but how can you compare a $600 phone to a microwave or toaster. Need a new microwave, you can get a decent one for $30-40. Need a toaster, I can find a 4 wide-slice for $20-25. So why compare those cheap products to something expensive.

Re:Radio Shack? (1)

angle_slam (623817) | more than 11 years ago | (#4969090)

Need a new microwave, you can get a decent one for $30-40. Need a toaster, I can find a 4 wide-slice for $20-25. So why compare those cheap products to something expensive.

Need a phone? I can find dozens for under $100 (if you are willing to switch plans). Why is OP so attached to the phone. You used the phone for a couple of year, got good usage out of it: get a new phone (with a warranty)!

A friend of mine has a cell phone shop (3, Informative)

eggstasy (458692) | more than 11 years ago | (#4963475)

He sells and repair cell phones, as well as regular PC hardware. I can ask him about your cell phone if you want, but mind you, we're in Portugal, and with the holidays and all, snail mail could take two weeks.
I dont know how good his English is though, I guess I could relay messages between you two if you can't really find any local repair shops.
His website is at http://www.telespot.pt [telespot.pt]
I made it =)
Anyway, I'm sure there's lots of "unofficial" phone shops around there too and they could work on your cell for a small fee.

Here call this guy. (3, Informative)

Neck_of_the_Woods (305788) | more than 11 years ago | (#4963488)

http://www.all4cell.com/sales/82-88conv_kits.html

They have a conversion kit that includes the battery. I am sure if you get in touch with them they would sell you just the battery.

Good luck, google it next time. :P

Re:Here call this guy. (2)

David_Bloom (578245) | more than 11 years ago | (#4963531)

Conversions require the 8860 battery and an 8290 battery as well as the 8260 battery contacts.
I don't think that fixes the problem...

Re:Here call this guy. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#4963686)

The poster is talking about the auxillary battery, not the primary battery.

Re:Here call this guy. (2)

David_Bloom (578245) | more than 11 years ago | (#4963698)

I'm aware of that.

Maybe you aren't reading your quotes properly. Here's a quote of a quote to clarify.

...as well as the 8260 battery contacts.
Primary batteries typically don't require separate 'contacts'.

Duracell DL2025? (3, Informative)

stefanlasiewski (63134) | more than 11 years ago | (#4963571)

Nokia obviously wants me to buy a new phone- but mine is perfectly good, except for want of a 35-cent [duracell.com] part with some additional metal bits attached.

I'm a little confused... didn't you just point us to the battery that you need?

The link that you referenced points to the DL2025 Duracell battery. If this really is the battery that you want, they are pretty darn common [google.com] .

Re:Duracell DL2025? (2)

David_Bloom (578245) | more than 11 years ago | (#4963583)

The battery in the phones has proprietary metal contacts attached to it. He has already tried getting a new battery and soldering on the old contacts.

Re:Duracell DL2025? (2)

hitzroth (60178) | more than 11 years ago | (#4963832)

How 'bout dab of Arctic Silver Epoxy [arcticsilver.com] ? I'd hazard a guess to say that it's electrically conductive.

Re:Duracell DL2025? (2)

txguy1 (245429) | more than 11 years ago | (#4963968)

Arctic Silver's website states that it has "negligible electrical conductivity" and was "formulated to conduct heat, not electricity." Your suggestion is good, but this particular substance does not possess the desired quality.

Re:Duracell DL2025? (4, Informative)

toybuilder (161045) | more than 11 years ago | (#4963964)

Well, if it's just the matter of a tab on the thing, just take an electrically compatible coin battery, and solder on a piece of wire...

This assumes, of course, that the problem is with the battery. Are you sure about that?

Anwyays, there is a trick to soldering a wire onto batteries -- the aluminum doesn't like being soldered -- first, clean the surface thorougly using a fine abrasive to throughly remove the oxide layer and make sure it doesn't get contaminated.

Next, pour liquid flux (or in an emergency, a drop of motor oil) onto the aluminum, taking care to avoid trapping air under the oil.

Then, with a soldering iron, apply a good dose of melted solder onto the flux-covered spot. Then, attach the wire to the solder.

Good luck.

Re:Duracell DL2025? (2)

Hubert_Shrump (256081) | more than 11 years ago | (#4967189)

...soldering info...

Or get some good spring clips.

Has he verified that the battery is the thing? Applied correct voltage to the leads and dropped main power to see if the memory stays?

If you know how to use a multimeter, you should know how to solder - and that most batteries have an analog if you're willing to page through digikey.

^sigh^

Re:Duracell DL2025? (2)

Dahan (130247) | more than 11 years ago | (#4965379)

He has already tried getting a new battery and soldering on the old contacts.

Too bad he couldn't be bothered to actually get the correct battery, instead of using some random battery he had lying around. He obviously knows which battery he needs--he should spend his 35 cents and get the correct battery, then solder the old contacts onto that.

Re:Duracell DL2025? (2)

cybermace5 (446439) | more than 11 years ago | (#4965803)

Whatever. "Proprietary metal contacts" give me a break. A battery is a battery...except for hearing aid batteries. I can't understand why anyone would think a hearing aid battery would work, those die out within days after being exposed to air.

And, guessing that this guy is not skilled at soldering, he probably had the iron on the battery for 5 minutes trying to get the wire on. That will kill a zinc-air pretty nicely, both by cooking it and accelerating the reaction rate.

Most batteries used in memory backup applications are lithium. That's because they actually last for a while. What this guy needs is a lithium battery, and someone who knows how to solder (if the phone isn't ruined already).

How hard is it to google? (5, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#4963616)

Why is this so difficult? It took 20 seconds to find on google: 8 bucks. http://www.all4cell.com/parts/8800pts.html

Why do you need to remove the battery? (2)

stu72 (96650) | more than 11 years ago | (#4963818)

While without that internal battery your phone is no doubt less functional, why on earth are you considering throwing it away? Do you need to remove the battery often or do you frequenty run the charge down to zero?

Maybe a larger capacity battery and some extra battery chargers lying about (work/car/home etc) would help keep it constantly with charge.

I have had 3 nokia phones (2190/5190/3390) and with each one I kept them on 24/7 with moderate to high usage, generally charging while I sleep. If I'm using it more than normally, I'll plug it in for an hour or two during the day when I get a chance. In 5 years I can only think of 2 or 3 occaisons where I was getting so low on charge that I needed to turn it off to conserve power, and only once where I actually managed to drain the battery and lose power. In addition, even if the battery no longer has enough charge to power the phone and it shuts off, I'd bet there's still enough charge to run the phone memory.

Failing that, is the battery specific to the 8860? It looks awfully similar to the one in my 5190 - could you buy a cheap used 51xx and canibalize it?

Good luck.

Look at the dead battery (2)

TheOnlyCoolTim (264997) | more than 11 years ago | (#4963883)

If it is like the majority of batteries I've seen it will have stamped into it the relevant specifications. Just find a battery that is the same or close and do a bit of hacking to make it fit.

Tim

Checkout BatteriesPlus (1)

re410 (611041) | more than 11 years ago | (#4964034)

Have you looked into any of the battery retailers? You should checkout BatteriesPlus [batteriesplus.com] If they don't have what you need in stock, they can usually find it for you.

Fuck, how hard is this? (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#4964061)

Use pliers to remove the metal tabs from dead cell. Use conductive epoxy to glue to the new battery. All the idiots who say 'solder to the cell' are top-class morons, esp. the one with the motor oil for flux. Jackass. What, it tastes the same?

Hint: Don't spend 600$ for a phone. It makes you look like an ass. Esp bragging about it. Check for things like the battery thing before you buy a phone the next time.

Hint2: Phones are disposable. No one cares. Buy the 24$ special at the store. Sigh, I know, I know, you won't be able to show off and feel good about yourself by having a phone that's 2mm smaller.

Hint3: Get your self-esteem some other way!

Re:Fuck, how hard is this? (2)

toybuilder (161045) | more than 11 years ago | (#4967442)

I'm the moron that suggested the motor oil... Personally, I think my flux tastes like peanut oil...

Hey, it works to keep the aluminum from oxidizing while soldering. And since I have motor oil and solder, but not conductive epoxy at hand, that's easier for me.

And, yes, he can try getting lithium coins from Digikey. But I assumed that if it was a standard battery with tabs, he'd have found it pretty easily.

Re:Fuck, how hard is this? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#4970221)

Then you are a bigger idiot than I thought. Where did you get this idea coin-cell cases are made of aluminum? It's cheap polished steel that doesn't wet easily. Use a magnet if you doubt this.
Aluminum is too soft and reactive to make a decent coin-cell case.
Aluminum... There should be an IQ test before you can buy a soldering iron.

Re:Fuck, how hard is this? (2)

toybuilder (161045) | more than 11 years ago | (#4970577)

Oh, well, I stand corrected then.

I'm going by memory from when I made a battery pack out of AA batteries... The oil worked when soldering without didn't...

YMMV I guess.

Re:Fuck, how hard is this? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#4972453)

I certainly hope that you used cells with tabs already spot welded on (the correct way to connect to a battery)??? Like the ones you get at hobby shops?
Come to think of it, they already sell packs, why would you want to build one?

A hearing aid battery... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#4964202)

...is zinc-air, and will expire rather quickly. (How good a geek are you?) Obviously they used some sort of lithium, and the Duracell DL2025 others mentioned sounds like the right bet.

Just hope you didn't fry anything using the wrong style.

Non-Free (3, Funny)

duffbeer703 (177751) | more than 11 years ago | (#4964250)

Why are you asking this on Slashdot?

Not only is the battery unavailable, but the software used to control the phone is shipped with a non-Free license.

I find it outrageous that you would even think of asking such a question. Please install the Hurd on your Nokia 8860 then re-sumbit the question.

Try a variable voltage power supply (2)

schmaltz (70977) | more than 11 years ago | (#4964877)

Try connecting a variable power supply to the battery terminals. Start at the lowest voltage available or known for hearing aid-type batteries. Step it up a notch at a time. Try Radio Shack, but I'm not sure the step resolution of their variable voltage battery-replacer power supplies will be small enough for you to experiment with.

Good luck.

Re:Try a variable voltage power supply (2)

David_Bloom (578245) | more than 11 years ago | (#4966133)

Great idea, but he knows the voltage he needs (heck, he knows the battery model he needs, minus the proprietary metal things attached to it by his friends at Nokia).

Friends don't let friends... (3, Interesting)

WIAKywbfatw (307557) | more than 11 years ago | (#4965079)

...buy phones that they know are on their last legs for $600 (or whatever you paid for it).

Seriously, you bought a 4-year old hand set for a few hundred bucks? How much would a new one, with a greater feature set and a warranty have cost?

I do have some sympathy for you but try to see both points of view. The mobile telecoms is even faster than the PC industry in bringing out newer and newer models - even the new phone I bought two years ago is now two or three generations old (WAP, colour screens, picture messaging have all been introduced since).

A six year-old phone is even more removed from today's handsets and it's entirely possible that Nokia's refusal to ship the part is because it's no longer manufactured for them and they have none left. The situation is akin togoing to Ford and asking them to sell you an original part for a 1950's convertible. Just as Ford won't have it (why would they have inventory for something that old?) neither will Nokia (or Ericsson, Motorola, Sagem, Samsung, etc).

Again, I appreciate how frustrating this must be to you but if you're going to live in a capitalist society then you're going to be a victim to market forces every now and again. And in this case, market forces dictate that there is no point or profit in a multi-billion dollar company stocking a 35 cent part for a product that's technologically obsolete.

Sorry, but's that's the truth, Ruth.

In conclusion... (2)

David_Bloom (578245) | more than 11 years ago | (#4966899)

...Thank You, Darwin[SM].

Re:Friends don't let friends... (2)

sjames (1099) | more than 11 years ago | (#4973516)

Not stocking a custom part for a several year old phone is perfectly understandable. What is inexcusable is using an obscure custom expendable part in a consumer product when they had perfectly useful (and probably cheaper) alternative standard parts available. Thus, more junk for the landfill rather than just buy a common replacement and stick it in.

Of course, I note that if all I want is a battery for a 1950's Ford, I will have no problem because they used a standard connector and I can use most any similarly rated battery (most even have both top and side post connectors on them these days)

It is also worth noting that any american car from the '50s is well beyond it's expected service life. Not just obsolete, but fully (and reasonably) expected to be unservicable. There wouldn't be any demand at all for parts except that they are prized by collectors and many have been rebuilt from junk parts (in some cases, involving more effort than creating a custom car from scratch).

On the other hand, there is no reason to believe that a 3 year old phone would be unservicable except for artificially built in obsolescence. Should I need a phone, I'll keep this in mind.

Hmm... (2)

David_Bloom (578245) | more than 11 years ago | (#4966086)

Perhaps accessories for this still-in-production [nokia.com] phone (Nokia 8850-same product line! same chrome finish!) would work in your 8860. Ask your service center to try to order a battery from Nokia for that phone.
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