Hello! Feel free to read all the long and boring details, or just skip to the photos.
The T-Mobile Customer History:
I have a Samsung Galaxy S4. I got this phone about 16 months ago (I only remember because it was just before my youngest baby was born.) I’ve been a T-Mobile customer since 2008. Before that I was a T-Mobile customer in Europe (Yep, they’re in Germany, too! I even had them for my home phone service there). And before that, I was still a T-Mobile customer in the US. So you can say I’m a pretty loyal customer.
The Phone Plan:
I added my husband to my plan a few years ago so we have 2 lines. We have the 4G “Unlimited*” everything. (The asterisk is because it’s not actually unlimited but whatever….)
Phone type and Usage:
I’m not the kind of person to update my phone every month the newest iphone comes out. I don’t even like iphones. I choose the Samsung Galaxy S4 because it has an amazing camera, large screen, is lightweight, and functions well for my needs: taking photos of my kids, checking e-mail (work and personal), and using social media apps like Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter. I occasionally will stream YouTube videos. That’s it. That’s all I use it for. It doesn’t have many apps. I don’t download random things. I also blocked those suspicious text messages that charge you money to receive them because that was an entirely different situation about a year ago.
So there’s absolutely no reason for my phone to from being awesome to totally not functioning, right?
Phone Dropped? Water Damage? NO!
Let me just add that I’ve NEVER dropped this phone and it’s never been anywhere near water. It’s in perfect, like new condition even though it’s over a year old. I like to take care of things.
When it All Started….the Mandatory System Update:
I hate updating my phone because there are always things I don’t like. A couple months ago, I was prompted to update my operating system by the T-Mobile network. Although it was super annoying, I skipped that option. Every day. Until one day, it forced me to update. I took a deep breath and did. I was glad that nothing changed. But then, I realized that a lot actually did change, and not for good. Before the update, my phone would basically stay charged for 2 days with my usage. Not bad, right? Well, with the exact same usage, I noticed that my phone was starting to lose service. Sometimes I’d be sitting in a place I was always in (like my home) and it would randomly change from 4G to a circle with a line through it or the letter E (I guess this means that it only works for emergency calls?). Some text messages would not go through at all. And definitely not a lot of e-mail checking. It would waste all my data trying to load and never complete.
STEP 1: Replacing the SIM CARD
I called customer support and was advised that the problem was my SIM card. They put some special code into the computer so I could stop by my nearest location and pick it up. I picked up the new SIM card from the T-Mobile kiosk in Brandon Westfield Mall (Brandon, FL- the main store’s computers were down). I decided to give it a few days to see if the problem persisted. As I waited, I began to notice that my battery was always nearly empty and I was having to charge my phone a couple times per day instead of every other night. Annoying, but not the end of the world.
Step 2: RIP PHONE
A week later, my family moved to Utah. Upon arrival here (where there is tons of T-Mobile coverage), I realized that the service problem was still happening and each day my battery issues got worse. It was to the point I couldn’t even make more than one 10 minute call (with a full charge) and still use my phone. It would turn off. The battery literally just ran out like water spilling from a glass. It was insane. So sometimes I’d charge it through the night and I’d wake up to either a very low charge (under 20%) or a phone that was STILL DEAD. Unbelievable. Then, when I managed to get it all the way up to 90-100%, it would die within 30 minutes if I didn’t use it at all. Or I could take 3 photos, post once on Instagram, and show 23% battery then POOF, dead phone. My husband called T-Mobile customer service from his phone and after figuring out the insurance/warranty, it was decided a replacement phone would be sent to me here and was scheduled to arrive on Tuesday. It arrived today. Today is Thursday. But whatever. So after a week with pretty much no phone, I was just glad to get it working again. You know, being a mom of two small children, a business owner, and an employee of a very awesome business…..it makes sense that my phone would be useful.
STEP 3: Refurbished Replacement Phone…. Umm I mean HALF of a phone:
I didn’t even think that I was overcharging the phone because the battery was always empty and the phone was always shutting off. So imagine my surprise today……. when I open up my Otter box case, take off the back plate to my phone, and see that my battery is SUPER SWOLLEN! How scary! I remember reading the story of the Samsung Galaxy that exploded during the night for a poor customer on her pillow. What if something like that happened? That’s incredibly dangerous and once again, as a mom of two small kids (2 and under), that worries me even more!
So my replacement “phone” was not actually the entire phone, just the main/front part. There was NO battery, no backplate and no phone charger included. It had a sticker on it that says it was refurbished. As a customer, I imagine it would make sense that when you replace my phone you would send everything. I have a return shipping label. If I don’t return my broken phone in 14 days I will be charged something like $450, so no risk. But no, that would make too much sense. T-Mobile clearly doesn’t care whether or not my phone works. They just thought they’d make the smallest gesture possible instead of handling this for me. Well, now that I see the problem is likely my HUGE, SWOLLEN BATTERY, I now sit here with 1.5 phones that are COMPLETELY USELESS to me. I missed out on a very important business conference call today. Not happy.
STEP 4: I TOOK BOTH PHONES AND BATTERY TO THE STORE TO GET THIS RESOLVED…..THEY SAID THEY COULDN’T HELP AT ALL.
I went to the T-Mobile store in Orem, Utah. While the sales guy who assisted me was prompt and friendly, he did not fix my problem. He informed me that T-Mobile did not cover batteries under warranty or insurance. In fact, he said there was no coverage of any kind available for my battery after 4 months of purchasing the brand new phone. Umm okay. Had I dropped my phone or showed any signs of water damage, I’d totally understand that. However, I did not. My phone broke 100% because of a mandatory T-Mobile operating system update that I had no choice in. I explained what happened and was told that he understood and had seen similar issues. He said that all he could do was let me know the nearest location of Batteries Plus where I can purchase a new battery on my own, without any help or compensation by T-Mobile. Are you serious?!
I remained calm and tried to ask one more time just in case this dude wanted to maybe provide me, his customer, with excellent or even decent customer service. It wasn’t his fault, but he does represent the company and I’m the customer. He acknowledged that T-Mobile was responsible for my battery issue. But he again told me there was absolutely nothing he could do.
Wow. This is what I get after years of loyalty.
So I went to Batteries Plus. They quoted $40 for a new battery AND said they didn’t even have any in stock. It would have to be a special order and could take a couple weeks. No thank you. That leaves me with an entire month of no phone service. Not an option. Who goes A MONTH with no phone? Seriously? Does that even seem right?
So I didn’t order it. I’ll try to figure this out. I think the next place I might check is a VERIZON store while I shop for a new plan.
T-Mobile, you’re fired.
Photos tell the story better:
Pictured above: (left) refurbished replacement phone. (Right) my original phone in Otterbox case.
Pictured above: (left) inside of the refurbished phone T-Mobile sent me (no battery, back, etc.).
(right) My original phone opened up (notice how swollen my battery is!).
Pictured above: My phone opened up.
Pictured above: This is what a huge, swollen battery looks like!
Can you imagine what could have happened if I just kept charging my phone? Scary!!
Pictured above: Samsung Galaxy S4 swollen and ready to burst
Pictured above: Here you can see just how swollen the battery is in multiple areas.
Pictured above: last photo, but I’m hoping the multiple angles show the extent of the swelling.
I also attempted to seek out customer support via Twitter. They have an app that allows customers to log in via Twitter and authenticate their T-Mobile account. Pretty cool. However, after I was authenticated, the rep asked me to do it again. The second time I got an error message. I just don’t have time for all of this nonsense. I want actual customer support and I want my issue resolved.
There you have it folks.
I wrote this blog for 2 reasons: I want my phone to work again and I think both T-mobile and Samsung should be held accountable and honor the insurance policy I have been paying for for this very reason…..and I want to help raise awareness for the dangerous battery used in this type of smartphone. If you have T-Mobile know that the mandatory update could fry your phone. Know that batteries are only covered for 4 months. And please please please for the safety of your household, take off your case and back plate and examine your battery every so often for swelling issues. These things CAN be very dangerous and explode!
So many more, just Google search “Samsung phone explodes”
How does T-Mobile not feel it is important to warn customers about this dangerous Samsung battery?!
Update: An hour after writing this, T-Mobile’s Twitter support offered me a credit of the battery’s value if I send them a receipt. That’s at least a step in the right direction. Now…. I have to find the battery AND figure out how to make my phone work. I still do not have a working phone.