Nokia Singapore is served with a seizure notice, after it failed to attend court proceedings filed by an unhappy customer. The story goes that a customer bought a Nokia E61i which refused to power up – and Nokia refused to exchange it for a new one. The angry customer got fed up after sending it for repairs a few times and filed a small claims against Nokia.

Nokia had initially tried to settle it out of court by either exchange for a new E61i or refunding her with S$388 – the cost of the phone with a 2 year Starhub contract. However, she was seeking the full cost of the phone – which I thought may be a reasonable request since she would still be bounded by the contract and will not be able to get another phone at a discounted price without terminating her current contract; although it puzzles me why she would not want the exchange.

However, Nokia failed to attend the proceedings that followed, and a seizure notice was issued in favour of the affidavit.

A few things amazed me in this incident. Firstly, I am surprised how a small incident can blow into something this big. I am sure Nokia was unpleasantly surprised by the bailiff’s visit. Secondly, it does seem that when consumers decide to take things into their hands, unexpected outcome can and will happen; and thirdly, the account of the incident does seem to portray how most companies treat their customers as noise in the background after a deal is sealed.

This reminded me of how a friend of mine had a broken zip on her shoes after getting it for 1 week and the shop attributed it to "wear and tear". I mean, how in the world do you account for wear and tear on a zip that’s covered by your jeans most of the time when worn, and for a supposedly good pair of shoe that costs over S$168? The store manager apparently tried to play delay tactics about the repair, blaming shipment delays due to floods and all and promising to send the shoes back to somewhere in the EU when it only made it’s way to the Malaysia factory. Pissed off, I sent an email to their HQ and reiterated the entire incident. We were given a full refund in the end with an apology.

Sometimes, when the customers try to be reasonable, they are treated as noise. However, companies have to learn that as customers get more educated on their rights, they should learn to treat customers in a more reasonable and proper manner.

EARLIER this month, Ms Tan Geok Hoon marched into Nokia’s office, brandishing court documents and threatening to seize the assests of the cell-phone giant.

A bailiff stood at the side of the 43-year-old sales manager, ready to reposess the company’s things.

Ms Tan was enforcing a small claims court decision that ordered the world’s largest cellphone maker to pay her $778 for a faulty cellphone she bought last year.

The moment, which Ms Tan recalled recently, marked the culmination of a seven- month David-versus-Goliath battle.

The story of one woman’s fight against a mighty firm made its rounds in several online forums last week, casting the spotlight on how the world’s top phone maker handled unhappy customers.

Things all started in August last year, when Ms Tan bought a Nokia E61i phone from a StarHub store.

Ms Tan said the phone would not power on in the first week, but a Nokia service centre refused to exchange it for a new one.

Frustrated after sending it for repairs several times, she turned to the Small Claims Tribunal in November.

At this point, Nokia tried to settle the matter privately, by offering to exchange Ms Tan’s phone with a new one, or to refund her $388. This was the purchase price that came with a two-year StarHub subscription.

She rejected the offer, looking instead for $778 – the full retail price of the phone.

Ms Tan told The Straits Times: ‘I didn’t claim for more than what the phone cost because I’m not greedy for Nokia phones.’

There were two consultations and one hearing before the small claims tribunal. Nokia missed the last two sessions, claiming the relevant department had not received the notice on time.

As a result, the company was ordered on December 18 last year to pay Ms Tan $778 within 15 days.

But it did not.

Article obtained from on 24th February 2008

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