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 straitstimes.com on 24th February 2008



Reader's Comments

  1. JayWalk | February 24th, 2008 at 7:38 pm

    The Nokia phone itself is actually a great product of technology. However, judging by the number of people you see bringing faulty sets to the Nokia Care Center at Wheelock Place (Singapore) everyday, one can’t help but wonders what is happening with the Quality Control?

    As for escalating all the way to the courts for a mere faulty mobile phone, it is probably due to the fact that the service staff are totally numbed by all the complaints brought in, day in day out that like you said, all sounded like white noise on a screen of static.

    I am not saying that the errant staff are to be absolved from neglecting Ms Tan but rather, Nokia should address this problem at the root.

    Why are there so many faulty-out-of-the-box sets to begin with?

    Anyway, thanks for a good read, Simply Jean.

    Appreciate it.

  2. Claudia | February 24th, 2008 at 8:52 pm

    I’d been a Nokia user for many years but after my few visits at the Service centre and having to go back couple of time before, I decided to boycott their phones altogether. Perhaps it may be due to my fate with Nokia phones. I’ve tried Sony Ericsson, Samsung and Motorola, all been well so far when I was using them.

    Jean, do you know you can complain at Yebber too? Heee… I’ll upload instructions for Yebber-ing soon k. Hee…

  3. Priss | February 25th, 2008 at 9:49 am

    They can’t give one-to-one exchange before that because it would have set the precedence for others to demand for one-to-one exchange.

    She was smart enough not to take the exchange set later because that model of Nokia is probably f***ed ?

    The exact same thing happened to my driving instructor, I guess he’ll just keep bringing his phone for servicing …

  4. Simply Jean | February 25th, 2008 at 11:20 am

    @JayWalk: thanks for dropping by. it’s really sad that with technology advancement, QC somehow is being compromised. My relationship with windows-mobile was a love-hate relationship, but I guess it eventually gave way when I can’t even answer my calls. Still, there’s a chance that I’d get the SE X1 when it’s out and eat my words in an earlier post 😛

    @Claudia: well, Nokia phones were really not that bad in the beginning, but i guess somehow somewhere along the line, things just got worse. It does seem like repaired phones will never be the same again – just like my previous N6280 – more problems after being repaired.

    @Priss: hmm… yes, companies have a fear of setting precedences, but I figured that after this incident, we may see more people going to the small claims tribunal to get their issues addressed. Indeed, I thought Nokia failed rather badly in handling this case. Hmm… which model is your driving instructor using?

  5. JayWalk | February 25th, 2008 at 8:21 pm

    Ahh… Windows Mobile. I swear off them as early as the Windows CE days when HP was proudly launching their Jornada series where I was to do a product review for H***warezone.com.

    That was a decade ago and I was naive enough to think that I was writing for a portal that stands by it’s integrity as far as keeping their content objective.

    Alas, after a yummy lunch courtesy of the HP executives to persuade me to amend my review, I stood stubbornly by my 1-Star (out of 5) rating. I guessed the executives were miffed that I cheated them of one good Japanese lunch. :PPP

    Not wanting to offend HP who is one of the portal’s major sponsors, the editors canned my article and ended my writing “career” as it was too close to the Christmas sales season (my review was slated to publish in November).

    Oh well. At least I got to keep the Microsoft Optical Mouse from the previous review though. 🙂

  6. xtrocious | February 26th, 2008 at 11:03 am

    If I am not wrong, some operators allow a 1-for-1 exchange of the phones they sell within 7 days…

    Anyway, I think the point here is to play hardball – I experienced a similar case with my Sony Ericsson phone a long time back…

    My “new” T18 (I can’t remember exactly which model but it was a slim flip one) was problem-riddled from the start – button fell off and a month later, the board was fried…

    So over the next 3 months, it spent nearly 2 in the service center…

    M1 was my operator then – they refused to change the phone and each repair only seem to made it worst…

    In the end, I got fed up and spoke directly to Sony Ericsson – they told M1 to give me a new set with a new warranty…M1 was initially reluctant to give me a new warranty when I received the new set…

  7. Brian L | February 26th, 2008 at 7:32 pm

    I salute her.
    I got an O2 Atom recently. Retail price at $1200++ without contract. 3 weeks after using it, the LCD cracked. I wanted a decent explanation and send in an email on 29 Jan. Till date, they have not reply me. MWG customer service is worst than Nokia. Horribly incompetent, tactlessly rude and down-right unprofessional. It took me 4 seperate calls, more than 4 emails to talk to a “junior” manager.
    In the end, it was back to square one. Noise as mentioned.

  8. Tomoko | March 5th, 2008 at 12:15 pm

    Hi All,

    Well, I just sent my Nokia 6500s to repair lately for the mic. And guess what? Nokia Service Center give me someone’s Nokia 6500s phone when I collected it back. Luckily, I managed to check the IMEI of the HP and found out it was not mine.

    Then when I get my HP, more problems now. The ringtone will automatic change back to default as and when it likes.

    In the past, I have a Nokia phone too, and I sent to Woodland for servicing, and when I gets back, the same problem still exists, which means they did not repair and give me back the faulty phone again. And even if you are a frustrated customer, you think they care? Hah…they are more frustrated than you…!

    I told myself…no more Nokia….will change to Sony Erisson soon. All the best to Nokia.

    Same as Brian above, I salute to the lady who went to court. Sometimes, when there is attention in news, only will people start to do something to fix that area.

  9. funnky | March 11th, 2008 at 3:54 pm

    Potential owner of Nokia 6110 beware!!!! you will be suck by cosmetic issue on the back lens metal cover.
    I have purchased this phone and use it with respect,
    after two (2) weeks scratch marks were found on the surface, I was told by Nokia Singapore & Customer Care department this is the “Design” and Nokia is not liable for warranty. Paying hundreds of dollars (without contract) for this quality ??? think hard before you jump in.

  10. ir0nyx | April 3rd, 2008 at 10:02 pm

    OMG… totally deja vu…

    My handset (E65) is also currently in the shop, for not being able to charge up the battery. Several calls later to the call centre trying to get the service centre to provide any kind of response… I still back to where I was before.

    Basically, I just given up hope on the way their system work. I do respect the call centre personnel for being quite professional in the way they handled me, even during those times I got frustrated and blew my top.

    Ultimately, I do think that Nokia has to address on how their vendors operate and interact with one another because it just doesn’t seem to be effective nor efficient.

    My personal experience with Nokia service:
    http://forums.hardwarezone.com.sg/showthread.php?t=1918802

  11. Kanika | April 5th, 2008 at 10:56 am

    Wow, Talk about coincidence. I have a nokia E65. And the inner LCD Screen cracked. Go to Nokia service Centre wait for half an hour just to find out the cost is from 80 dollars onwards to 150 dollars. What a rip off when it can be cheaper in other stores. So i did not repair it in nokia. But now i dont know anyother cheap shop to give it for repair. Anyone please give suggestion. I am never going to trust Nokia Phone Again!!

  12. Kanika | April 6th, 2008 at 5:25 pm

    Hey, whos ever nokia phone got problem go to Taj Electronics, 3 coleman street , Peninsula Shopping Complex #01-10. They can fix it right on the spot with reasonable price. I fixed my inner LCD Screen for only 75 dollars. Nokia, is such rip off telling me from 90 to 150 dollars.

  13. michele | June 24th, 2008 at 1:42 pm

    Hiya,

    i’m having issue with samsung… can i seek help to resolve the problem? As im not satified with the set that samsung exchanged for me.. its not a brand new set as what they claim.. And the speaker is having problem.. pls email me.. thanx

  14. Sally | August 19th, 2008 at 9:41 pm

    Hi.

    My Sony Ericsson phone’s screen went bonkers recently.
    It cannot display anything properly without shifting the thing.

    Anyone got suggestion where to fix SE phones?

    Mail me @ aqua_forest_dolphin@hotmail.com

    Thanks

  15. Terence | August 21st, 2008 at 12:25 pm

    I purchased N6500 Slide on 5th July 2008. Within a week; found 2 thin lines across the screen. Didn’t bother about it and later the display was unreadable. Went to Nokia Wheelock Place and they told me that the LCD is cracked and not under warranty. I have been using so many LCD phones including some with larger screen with no problem like this. I have not drop the phone and not abuse the use…how can a phone be so fragile that it will crack easily? Think Nokia is really not interested in loyal customers and have no pride in their products and after sale service. Many of my friends have experienced bad aftersale service from them as well. Nokians…I am migrating to other brands!

  16. Serene | August 26th, 2008 at 10:22 am

    Take a look at my experience. The nightmare is still ongoing and everything sucks.

  17. kanika | September 29th, 2008 at 6:55 pm

    Nokia Sucks Nokia Sucks Nokia Sucks Nokia Sucks Nokia Sucks Nokia Sucks Nokia Sucks Nokia Sucks Nokia Sucks Nokia Sucks Nokia Sucks Nokia Sucks Nokia Sucks Nokia Sucks Nokia Sucks Nokia Sucks Nokia Sucks Nokia Sucks Nokia Sucks Nokia Sucks Nokia Sucks Nokia Sucks Nokia Sucks Nokia Sucks Nokia Sucks Nokia Sucks Nokia Sucks Nokia Sucks Nokia Sucks Nokia Sucks Nokia Sucks Nokia Sucks Nokia Sucks Nokia Sucks Nokia Sucks Nokia Sucks Nokia Sucks Nokia Sucks Nokia Sucks Nokia Sucks Nokia Sucks Nokia Sucks Nokia Sucks Nokia Sucks Nokia Sucks

  18. Shang Kim | September 13th, 2009 at 5:36 pm

    I think you are right. never buy Nokia now. I made 11 trips to Nokia and everytime my handphone is return for repair within the same day with the same problem. told them to QC and even with that same problem . some keys not working on my N96 less than six months old bought from a starhub job. with samsung and motorola no problem. Been to wheelock Nokia service center and am surprised there are so many people bringing their nokia sets for repairs. I think i will do the same going to small court claims if they aren’t going to replace as they just fail to make good the repair under warranty.

    Nokia really sucks!!!!

  19. Archie | April 24th, 2010 at 12:40 pm

    Left fuming mad when told my Nokia E51 phone could not be repaired within the warranty period by the Nokia manager due to ‘corrosion”. Purchased on the 14/06/09
    at the StarHub Cuppage Centre, Singapore and sent in for 1st repair on the 10/07/09 and thereafter 4 more recorded repair excluding two unrecorded repairs.
    Finally yest 21/04/10 the phone returned siting “mother circuit board corroded”. First as consumer never thought of purchasing a Nokia E51 phone to be invited to experience problems arising from “rocket science theory of “corrosion”. What wrong with talking moisture into your handphones. It is not that it cant be repair is just too costly for Nokia to replace new if the limitations in Nokia handphones design has an inherent defects of moisture contaminations. So to all Nokia handphones owners be cautious to read your warranty conditions “no warranty against moisture contamination in a humid country like Singapore.” You may be buying a defective handphone for a start.

  20. Mdm Lim | June 8th, 2010 at 12:37 pm

    17 May’10 bought non-contact model N86 at Nokia Connecting People-Century Square. Upon reaching home, i could not find any games pre-install or game folder.Immediately i called Nokia care hotline and she advise me to go back the shop. Advise from the sales staff to come back next day. Nokia service ctr create game folder for me but the games install didn’t go into the game folder instead need manually to move the game to the folder. 19 May’10 went back to the shop inform the shop informed them the USB charger seem not function well. 21 May’10 the phone totaly not be used. I power off and put back the battery; all the keypads not working, cannot charge the battery only the screen appear. Was advise to send in for repair as Handphoneshop Pte Ltd don’t have 7 days exchange policy. 24 Jun’10 sent for another repair. The report stated 201-Electrical/Mechanical failure. I request for an exchange was rejected from HandphoneShop Pte Ltd. Informed the sales staff that i have no choice but to go small claim to settle our disputes. The staff ask me to write Nokia Connecting People not from the receipt HandphoneShop Pte Ltd. I file thru small claim and meet the operation mgr from Handphoneshop pte ltd. On 3 Jun’10 after the first consulation, she advise me to go suntec city to choose the phone. I drove her to the shop and even sent her back to office 53 Ubi Crescent.I only agreed to exchange lower end phone and she suggest will issue full cheque of $599 but i must pay cash to purchase another set. The next morning she inform me that i am able to exchange to Iphone 3GS but have to go Ion Orchard. Then i sms her that can i issue cash cheque cos i am not comfortable to bring along $1040 cash. And asked that whether will i be given 7 days exchange policy. Thru our telecommunication she told me will issue me full refund and need not to buy any phone from her. 4 Jun’10 rec’d phone call from the operation mgr at 7.11pm that i can collect the cross cheque come before 8pm.
    Upon reaching 53 Ubi Crescent the operation mgr told to wait outside the premises. Was asked to sign letter of acceptance and after that the staff took my I/c up to their office to make copy & i was not allow to follow her back to the office. I had to wait for more than 15minutes before i get back my i/c and a copy what i signed. Only 8 Jun’10 i realised that the photocopy letter of accepted given to me was not right; they had added 2 sentences on it after i signed. The texture of the words is different from the rest.
    I am very disappointed the way they handle the refund.
    I am puzzle as to why new phone under the app.mgr view log stated facebook and snapshop installed 2 June 2009. And Nokia service ctr told me this phone manufacture date is 2 May 2010. If it is newly manufacture May 2010 why installation file stated 2 May 2009. Why would distributor import old model phone to sell. Find out that N86-1 is first batch product code 0580645 since last year 2009. This model already one year old lauching. I was told by the staff this model N86 was only half year model. Some small retail shop will do exchange if the phone is fautly like me case total hang.It is better to buy phone from the shop that come with 7 days exchange policy.
    Shops that don’t have exchange policy stated on the strait times are Ion Orchard #B3-33, Suntec city mall #02-056, Funan Digitalife mall L1 Kiosk K8, Parkway Parade #B1-31/32, Centurey square #04-07/08, Causeway Point #03-24/25/26, Jurong Point #B1-77,VivoCity #02-09
    HandphoneShop Pte Ltd is related to A-Moble Pte Ltd and they are also M1 Exclusive Distributor. But not Starhub.

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