Could Tech Support Undo Palm?

A longtime Palm fanboy gets heartbroken by the company's customer service

I’ve been a supporter of Palm for a very long time (in fact, I’ve been a supporter of Palm for longer than the company itself has existed as I supported it through the first iteration of the company, its subsequent acquisition by US Robotics, then 3COM, then its return to a new company base, its merger with Handspring and its current iteration) so when my last Treo (an unlocked Treo 680) started having issues, I thought that I would go through the usual procedure: call tech support, walk through the questionnaire about soft and hard resets, and then get down to the business of getting a replacement unit. Except this time, it wasn’t to be.

I was first walked through the script by employee C13763, who balked when I told her that I didn’t know the exact date of purchase of my device. Having purchased the device from the palm US store, I thought they could look that up but I discovered that it wasn’t the case. Keeping her on the line while I tried to login in the store, I discovered that palm no longer had any trace of any accounts of mine on their site. With 4 palm devices bought over the last 3 years, I was surprised by that fact, especially after checking the address on the welcome email (palm has a tradition of sending you a welcome note to their world every time you buy another device) and asking for a password to be reset for the email address I had received emails at from Palm.

But at that point, I could say it was all basically my fault for not keeping good records. I asked for forgiveness and gave a date based on my rough rememberance. It was around the end of the year and the Treo 680 has been introduced at a show in New York only a few days before. So I looked up the rough timeline (device introduced late November 2006 and released around December 2006) and gave a date (January 1, 2007). I knew the date was wrong as I had gotten the device later than that but figured I needed to give them a date that was within the range of warranty and on the outside of the date I bought the device.

After doing so, I was told that I needed to do a hard reset (I had already walked through that) and indulged the call center person (I figure they get enough abuse as is). That, of course, did not solve the problem since it was a hardware issue (speaker blown off due to the fact that the volume setting on the palm, if set too high blows off the speakers and the fact that the volume setting buttons do not lock with the rest of the buttons on the device, ensuring that any type of shaking in pockets or bags will ensure that your volume is either set to the top or bottom setting most of the time). After another 15 minutes of walking through the scenario, I was told that the replacement unit would cost me $299.

$299 would not be much of an issue, with one possible exception: the retail price for a brand new, unlocked, Treo 680 is $379. The street price ranges from $200 to $300. A new unit comes with a one year warranty on all parts. A replacement unit does not.

The message this sends to customers is that once you’re a customer, you’re hooked and therefore the company is going to try to milk any profit it can out of you. As a shareholder, I thought this was the wrong message so I asked employee C13763 to transfer me to her superior. After some going back and forth, I was finally transfered to employee C11329, a “senior technician” to whom I referred my case number (case number 1-511-464-84488) before continuing the discussion.

I first voiced my concern about the fact that there was a problem in terms of locating sales data from their own servers. Since I had bought the device from Palm’s website and I had given my serial number while on the previous call, I thought it odd that they could not locate the date of purchase of the device (especially since they consider it such vital data for customer service) . I was told that since my device was sold on January 1, 2007, the date I had given only a few minutes earlier to the previous call center person, it was out of warranty. I’m writing this on December 27, 2007 and, the last time I checked, a one year warranty generally extends 365 days from the date of purchase. My concern as a shareholder now turned to anger and frustration. With 3 other broken palm devices in front of me (2 of them my own fault so I won’t even bother talking to Palm about those), I thought that I could be considered a solid customer. But now I was told that warranties were not real and paying $199 (a drop in price of $100 in only a few minutes since talking to the previous person) was going to solve my problem. In the past, broken devices were repaired for $100 so this was getting closer to reality but I wanted to talk to someone more senior about two problems: first, it seemed that one can give any date and it won’t be checked (or maybe it will) and two, if it is checked, warranty terms do not apply for a full year.

So I asked employee C11329 to be transfered to her manager. She told me she was the most senior person at Palm. I asked her again politely to transfer me to her manager. She told me she had none. I asked to be transfered to the person that was reviewing her work, giving her assignments, etc.. I was told she had none. I told her I felt that was odd as, apart from the chairman and CEO, I didn’t know of anyone in a company not having a manager. She told me she was the CEO.

For a second, I paused. “You’re the CEO of Palm, Inc.?” I asked again, not really believing what I was hearing. “Yes, I am” she replied, now with a defiant tone. “So you’re telling me you’re Ed Colligan?” I asked. “I am the CEO and that’s all you need to know.”

Well, turns out I was now in a very odd situation. I had been at several industry events where Ed Colligan spoke (including a number of product launches from Palm) and, as far as my memory was concerned, his voice was neither feminine nor did it sound south-Asian in its inflection. My memory might have been playing games on me but I was pretty sure I was not talking to the CEO of Palm.

“Do you mind if I start recording this call? I’d like to get your answer to my question about being CEO on an audio record as I’m having a hard time believing it” I asked. The first part of this question is a standard I was taught in journalism school: if you’re going to record a call, first ask if it’s OK to do so. Laws applying to phone taping are a complex mess of regulations with little overlap between different jurisdictions: however, if both parties to a conversation agree to the taping of that conversation, it is generally recognized as OK to do so.

Obviously, I was dealing with someone who knew (or guessed) that I would not legally be allowed to record the conversation so she replied that “no, that would be illegal”. I was stuck so I asked her to transfer me to her manager again. She said no. I asked again with the same result. After another 15 minutes of back and forth, I finally figured that she being CEO, she could transfer me to anyone in the company so I asked to be transfered to the company’s general counsel. The call dropped. I let the line run for another few minutes figuring that maybe it was taking time for the transfer to occur but no, the line went dead.

After a few hours, I realized that while my experience had been horrible, I may have found a great story: PALM, the stock, is not doing so hot. Palm, the company is having its own issues, as are Palm the devices. In the past, the saving grace in all this was that the customer support was very good and decent. So the question is whether tech support (or other forms of horrible customer interactions) could be the straw that breaks Palm’s back. I called Palm’s PR agency to ask some questions about this but most of the people are on vacation. One of their agency’s PR people told me that she’d pass the message on so we’ll see what happens.

On a personal note, I’m joining the many others who are abandoning palm the device. I am also, like Mary Hodder, regretting all the recommendations I made. I’m now shopping for another device and would welcome any recommendation. I also wouldn’t mind getting some information about how other people feel about tech support not only at Palm but also at other unlocked devices sellers. Is unlocked a category of the market that most vendors dismiss, reserving their best services for 3rd party mobile providers and is it something that might change in the future? I don’t know but what I do know is that I am now part of the group of people who must say: “Don’t ever buy a Palm device.”

About the Author

Tristan Louis

Writing and working on the internet since 1993, I've launched six companies, of which two went public and three were sold. This is my personal site and all opinions here are mine.

  • http://google.blognewschannel.com/ Nathan Weinberg

    Tristan, what right do you have to complain? You got to speak to the CEO of the company! That’s great service! :-D

    Seriously, though, it’s good to hear your experience, terrible as it was, as I’m in middle of preparing a review of the Centro. I’ll note your experience in my review. Hopefully someone at Palm will hear of your article and get this cleared up. In my experience, the PR folks at Palm are extremely helpful.

  • Sebastian

    After having tried all of the platforms for long periods of time, my recomendations are: Blackberry or Nokia/Symbian, forget about Windows Mobile, and maybe an iPhone might be better (or worse) for you. I see iPhones as the best phones, but not so good smartphones, but that might change in february with the release of their SDK. The berries are the most “palm-like, they “just work” and they are cheaper. Symbian devices are more powerful but expensive.

  • http://www.paulcampy.com Paul Campy

    It’s been a shame to see Palm snatch defeat and ‘me too status’ from the jaws of victory & industry leading innovation over the years. I was an early Palm adopter, passionately evangelistic to my Windows CE friends up to the point where Palm / Palm One / Handspring etc let both the hardware and OS stagnate and struggle.

    Never had to use Palm’s customer support; a shame that if that was its saving grace, that they’ve now lost a supporter and long term customer through shoddy service.

  • http://www.tnl.net/blog/ Tristan Louis

    @Nathan: Funny but it looks like many people are willing to share their experience privately about horrible customer service at Palm. So I guess the press is doing OK with it but not regular consumer. On the other hand, the centro looks like a nice device. I wish they made it for GSM networks :) It was going to be my next device (a GSM centro when it comes out) but now I’m through with Palm.

  • CB

    One word: iPhone.

  • Ben

    My experince with palm tech ‘support’ is nothing short of horrible; they are rude, unaware of relevant consumer protection legislation, and have convinced me that I will never again be a palm customer. I’m pretty sure that palm is circling the drain as well speak.

  • http://www.tnl.net/blog/ Tristan Louis

    @all: thanks for the info so far. I forgot to include a couple of facts:
    1. I’m a mac user so OSX sync will be essential
    2. I’m also more of a data user than voice user on the device so email integration is key.
    3. I travel around the world so the phone has to be unlockable
    4. I want to play MP3 and sync with itunes as my podcast.

    Based on this, I see my choices as relatively limited. It looks like the choices of smartphones for mac users boil down to basically three choices:
    1. an iphone: but the downside is that, at the current time, it would have to be tied to AT&T if I want to use it “legally”
    2. a treo: and we all know I’m not getting one of those ever again
    3. a blackberry: and I’m not wild about the Pearl’s lack of full keyboard

    so neither choice is perfect. From my end it boils down to unlocked iphone vs. unlocked blackberry. I’m leaning towards the iphone because of the slickness of the web browser on it…

  • Donald C. Kirker

    Definitely sounds like outsourced tech support.

    A double edged sword. Either you pay the big bucks and time to do the tech support yourself (i.e. more resources that a company must have) and gain a potential increase in customer satisfaction, or you outsource to cut costs and save resources, and potentially get a dip in customer satisfaction.

    I have never been happy with the outsourced support that I have gotten. A little from Palm, but I eventually after a try got somebody who handled me better, and Dell. The real issue at hand (at least the one presented) is with outsourcing. It is unfortunate that many outsourced tech support centers are made up of people who are trained to be like computers and not trained to understand the technology (AND their company structure…) and be like humans.

    Sorry to hear that your experience was sour. :(

  • Ben

    What about something like the blackberry curve? I believe it has a full keyboard. I’d wait until iPhone 2.0 comes out; which may be soonish.

  • Jeff

    If you travel much, the iPhone is outstanding. The mobile Internet experience can’t be beat.

  • Mogden

    You’d have to be a lunatic not to buy an iPhone at this point.

  • http://www.reneritchie.net Rener

    I had a similarly bizarre problem with Palm tech support earlier this year.

    After ordering my Treo 680 and not receiving the bonus pack offered on the web, I called in and was promised it would be sent out express the next day. It didn’t arrive so I called back and was again promised it would arrive the next day. Still didn’t.

    I called a third time and was told my case was under review and I would hear back. A week later, when I still hadn’t heard back I called again and was told, good news, my case had been approved and was again promised that the bonus pack would be sent express the next day. It didn’t arrive.

    I called a fifth time and now told my case had been rejected. I asked to speak to a manager and was transfered to Jose. After an arduous back and forth, where I basically asked if Palm honored the promises made by their previous support techs, Jose agreed to send me the bonus pack (you guess it) express and said he would call back with a tracking number.

    Jose didn’t call back so I placed a sixth call. This time the support tech said they had no record of my previous calls (!). I asked for another manager and was given someone else (not Jose) who refused to send me my missing bonus pack outright. I asked her to check the notes on my previous calls (and gave her ticket numbers) and she claimed there were none, and that I had never called Palm before. I asked to speak to Jose and she claimed there was no one at Palm support by that name. He didn’t exist. I got no where.

    Out of sheer frustration I turned to the blogsphere, Digg, and various Treo forums. Palm was contacted by several people, and lo and behold, the next day I received a call from Jose, who suddenly re-existed, and who gave me a tracking number for my bonus pack, which I finally received a short time thereafter.

    I had also been a longtime Palm user, through the Palm V, Handspring, Treo 600, and 680. But their support, including lying to a longtime customer and failing to honor the promises of their own support techs, which is beyond egregious, I washed my hands of them. (I’m now enjoying life with an iPhone).

    There’s never any excuse for poor support.

  • Trevor

    mobius your blackberry experience sounds terrible, put me right off them

  • Eric

    I’ve been looking for a replacement for my Treo as well. I have a 650, but it looks like there’s nothing out there that’s actually better than this four-year-old phone. Even iPhone users get jealous when I break out my stereo bluetooth headset and control my media player using it while my phone is out of sight.

    What other phone allows me to:
    Use a full sized SD card slot*
    Use an open source toolchain to develop native apps
    Install third party applications that do not have to be authorized by the phone manufacturer or phone network
    Run J2ME apps written for other devices
    Watch video and listen to music using the player of your choice
    Browse the web using the player of your choice
    Install custom ringtones I’ve made
    Dial and type with full tactile feedback
    Use a touch screen rather than a clunky joystick or arrow keys
    Transfer data using infrared AND bluetooth
    Sync with my computer over USB AND bluetooth
    Use an A2DP wireless headset
    Use SSH with keys or passwords

    The only things wrong with my Treo are:
    Slow internet connection
    No wifi
    Apps can crash the phone

    *I use the full-sized sd card to e-mail photos taken with my digital camera. It’s so easy to just pop the card out of the camera and into the phone. It also lets me carry a large library of audiobooks and music with me. I just swap cards to change my selection

    I had high hopes for the iPhone, but it costs more and does less.

  • Ian

    I will say this, if you’re on leopard blackberry syncing is a bit of a pain. don’t install pocketmac.

  • http://www.tnl.net/blog/ Tristan Louis

    @all: I’m going to try my hand at an unlocked iphone. I’ve been using a blackberry for work for a while now and find it inadequate as a phone. I’ve got an 8800 right now and I find it OK but not great. Since synching with the mac is key for me, I’m going to go with the device that, theoretically, ought to do the best job of that and that ought to be an iphone.

    Now on to the next challenge (once I receive the 4Gb iphone I just bought on ebay, figuring that 4Gb iphones will NOT have the latest OS): jailbreaking and unlocking.

  • http://geekboy.ca geekboy

    I got a good chuckle out of the assertion that the iPhone is somehow inept at the task of being a smartphone because it is “crippled” … I carry both a Blackberry 87xx and an iPhone and when it comes to being a “smartphone” the iPhone wins hands down. It trounces the Blackberry on virtually every function that makes a smartphone a smartphone – phone, web, reading and management of email, photos, and personal information manager. The only place the Blackberry comes out on top is – and it has no competition at all in this regard – is for retrieving immediate email. Once you have the email, well, it pretty much sucks – folder management, message management, attachments, all of it.

    And really, I dont see the problem in waiting to get my email when I have a chance to sit down and read it.

    The Blackberry COULD be a great smartphone if RIM had any sort of HIG strategy – but until they do, the staggeringly bad interfaces to the apps will always make using it a painful experience at best.

    So why do I carry one along with my iPhone? Because my employer, Research In Motion (yes, I am Canadian as well), provided it and seems to frown on us using anything else at work. They are sort of draconian that way.

    I used Palm/PalmPilot products (and was, quite frankly, a zealot) all the way back to the USR days, and I can get Blackberry model that I want, but when push comes to shove (and with my own money involved) I carry the iPhone. Read into that what you will.

  • http://www.gesteves.com Guillermo Esteves

    May I recommend that you take a look at the Nokia E61i? I don’t know how it compares to a Treo or a Blackberry since I’ve never owned either, but it has a full QWERTY keypad, decent email software, good browsers (the Webkit-based default browser, Opera Mini and Opera Mobile), iSync support, Wi-Fi, and lots of third-party software.

    Not as pretty or easy to use as an iPhone, but it gets the job done.

  • http://www.flickr.com/photos/bendummett/ Ben

    Surely, dear geekboy, people have been fired for less than that. Especially if RIM is as draconian as you say.

  • BRosenberg

    I’m a Mac user and I have an unlocked 8320 from T-Mobile. I love this phone. I thas Wifi and can do VoIP calls. It syncs pretty good with my MBP using Missing Sync for Blackberry (payware). I’ve had NO trouble with it at all and it has a full keyboard. Please do check it out. You might want to lurk a bit on pinstack.com because I’ve found those folks quite helpful for info about the Blackberry.

  • Pinchies

    Palm really needs to have a solid cust-service if it is still selling flawed products. Being from Aust, I didn’t come under the class action on the faulty m105 and needed a new unit after a replacement broke. My t3 digitizer went up the creek too. Luckily, after 3 battery replacements off ebay, it is still running… with tape over the loose screws.

    I have a great phone, so does anyone have any suggestions? iPod Touch + SDK perhaps?

  • Damjan

    Or get a Nokia E90. Has full qwerty keyboard, GPS, navigation, MP3 player, Flash, Java ME, RealPlayer, excellent Email, Webkit (safari) based Web Browser, 3G (UMTS and HSPDA!, 7Mbit/s), WiFi, FM Radio… I have it and I am very pleased with it.

  • http://www.kidvai.com/windmills/ Zakintosh

    wonderfully helpful, reading all this while i am waiting to switch from my sony-ericsson p910 … sadly will have to abandon my handwriting entry option that i use a lot. wonder why apple doesn’t have that, given that they were in that game very early with the newton. yes, it will have to be an ‘unlocked’ iPhone 2.0 since they are not offering the legal option in pakistan yet. as a mac user i can’t really handle bad/ugly interfaces, so windoze thingies are out, anyway.

    btw, the lady could be the ceo… of the south indian outfit palm has outsourced tech support to. possible, no? she’d certainly hate to have your recording played back to ed.

    oh, and sad as the predicament must be for you, your experience and rener’s read like spoofs.

    good luck

  • Kim Thesiger

    I second the Nokia E61 recommentation. I was a long term Palm supporter as well and got equaly fed up with their lack of progress.

    The 3rd party software market is not as mature as for Palm but the device is perfecetly adequate and the hardware works flawlessly. iSync works without any problems and Mark/Space are bringing out ‘Missing Sync for Symbian’ in the New Year.

    The iPhone interests me but I will wait until it is open to 3rd party software and can be used on any network.

  • http://www.reneritchie.net rener

    As a former Treo 600 and 680 owner, here’s what I’ve found with the iPhone:

    Pros:

    1) Doesn’t crash or hang daily when making or receiving calls — this really is the killer app compared to Treo
    2) Media management is a dream (management with pTunes and Core Player became a hassle to the point I stopped doing it)
    3) No need to run third party apps (Gx5) just to fake a modern UI.
    4) Soft keyboard is much faster and better for me than the Treo’s (which was hard and rounded, slippery and took too much effort to push — especially for the month or so I had a wrist injury)
    5) The new mail in Leopard is the first time I’ve ever used To Dos or Notes, and they synch via IMAP to the iPhone
    6) Has a web browser so well developed I often use it rather than go to the trouble of starting up my Mac.
    7) Has a screen good enough that I watch some TV shows/movies on the iPhone rather than on TV.

    Cons:

    1) I miss shooting video
    2) I miss IR/BT file transfer
    3) Typing to find contact
    4) Dial by photo (3rd party)

    Feb’s SDK may fix all the above for me.

    Blackberry was never an option as he keyboard, to me, feels dodgy and the idea of not only running behind Exchange with a RIM server, but RIM itself being a single-point-of-failure for email working is just so wrong from an IT pov that it’s literally a non-starter.

  • http://hans.gerwitz.com/ Hans

    I was a loyal Palm customer from the 3com model through the Treo 650.

    My iPhone brings me the same pleasure of a fluid, just-works and isn’t-in-my-way tool as I have not experienced with Palm since the Vx.

  • http://www.jphotog.com Eric

    I’m a photojournalist that does a fair bit of traveling around the world. I took my Blackberry Pearl to India, Kenya, Tanzania, Zanzibar and never had a bit of problem using it. Even on the far side of the island of Zanzibar where Internet is dialup and even slow by those standards!

    I am dumping the Blackberry for an iPhone as soon as I can. The functionality of the Blackberry is fine, but nothing to shout about. Compatibility with International phone systems is beyond reproach. But that’s not enough for me. My company pays for 10 minutes a day back home no matter what phone I use.

    Check the numbers. Satisfaction rates: iPhone 82%, Blackberry 51%, all the rest much lower. iPhones outsell all Windows Media phones combined, notwithstanding Ballmer’s hyperbolic claims. Palm is losing ground fast. (Sell that stock!)

    The iPhone doesn’t have everything, but almost everything can come in software updates. Try that with any other phone. Want to add voice dialing to other phones? Forget it. iPhones? It will happen.

    I truly wanted to like my Blackberry. But it’s just not half the phone I had hoped it would be. T-Mobile’s web browsing experience stinks. Even with Opera. Nothing can touch the iPhone. (I don’t any money boosting anybody’s products.)

    Do yourself a favor and at least try one.

  • JR

    As an owner of a LifeDrive, Palm’s poorly executed attempt at a high-end PDA, I can affirm that Palm is indeed circling the drain. It never has worked well, and sometimes doesn’t work at all. Palm could have owned the PDA market and been a major player in the cell-phone market, but instead it’ll only be a few more years before business books will be dissecting the demise of Palm. It’s a shame.

  • Mark

    Ignore the iPhone fans. HTC makes some amazing windows mobile phones, has excellent service and support, and actually cares about their customers.

    Check out the TyTN II, aka the AT&T “Tilt”.

  • Interloper

    Do NOT ignore the iPhone fans. Based on your description of your needs, the iPhone is the best choice. As for the HTC touch phone or Nokia N95, I think that as an Apple user, you would find both kludgy, with too many features that do not work well.

  • http://academicvc.blogspot.com Stephen Fleming

    As a first-ninety-days Mac user (meaning I bought my first Mac in April 1984, and have been a certified Apple fanboy ever since), I astonished my friends and co-workers last month by replacing my aging Treo 600… with a Treo 680.

    Yes, I’ve played with an iPhone. Heck, I *own* an iPod Touch, which is the “iPhone without the phone.” I’ve played with a Blackberry Curve and a Nokia E61i, and an HTC with a slideout keyboard (don’t remember the model number). And, even with Palm’s criminal mismanagement and stupidity, I still bought another Palm.

    Eric, above, gave some of the best reasons. (He missed Mobipocket, which I use daily.) I couldn’t find anything else that had the right balance of features of the Palm. Yeah, it’s thick as a brick, but I really don’t care. (I even made it thicker by buying the Seidio battery.)

    I’d really like to think that the iPhone 2.0 will solve all my issues and let me switch. But the lack of a keyboard is painful for me on my iPod Touch. Yes, it does a decent job of guessing *words*, but not email addresses or URLs. And the two-handed nature of the iPhone doesn’t work for me… I do a lot of texting when walking or driving. (OK, let’s be accurate: while sitting behind the wheel of a car sitting perfectly still in Atlanta traffic. I think that’s acceptable to the safety-conscious.)

    But, Lord, I would like to be in charge of Palm about three years ago. Could have gone through the competition with fire and sword…

  • DWM

    I recently had problems when my first Treo 700p was damaged by last summers firmware update.
    It was replaced by another 700p that subsequently had problems. I know have a 755p after speaking directly with Palm’s legal department. This version of the Palm is ok and minor improvement over the 700p, but it still projects sounds from it’s speaker even when the device is on vibrate. The sounds are like touch tone sounds you used to hear on TV wherein someone was sending a burst of coding commands to some device. Anyhow Customer Service was no help until I got a hold of the legal department which put me into the corporate support queue. Palm appears to have outsourced it’s help for the “peasants” to India. I was assisted by people in the US – Florida in fact and subsequently got the replacement phone, etc. Later I found out that my old 700p the second one was having syncing problems as well. Outside of the noise issue the 755p is ok now.

    I loved Palm, but I don’t any longer after my recent tech support experience. I’m waiting and watching the iPhone. If a dev kit comes out and the phone goes to 3g w/ modem support. I’m history!!

    Currently the EVDO, phone as modem and all my Palm software is the only thing holding me to this phone.
    Might be time to sell all that stuff.

  • Lou

    I’ve had two Treos and a few WinMobile phones. While your Treo might occasionally frustrate you; any WinMobile phone you’ll use will infuriate you. I bought a Blackberry 8830 last summer, not wishing to be an AT&T customer. The email is great, and the phone works, like all the time. Never hung, never froze. But the browser is weak and, as noted elsewhere, HTML email is usually unreadable. After years of being a loyal and happy Verizon customer, I bought an iPhone. The next day, I bought one for my wife. Is it perfect? No. For my needs, running a small business, semi-heavy email, heavy phone usage (3000+ minutes a month, it’s my only business phone) it works great. AT&T’s customer service has been responsive (unlike my last experience several years ago). I’m trusting Apple to continue to improve the email app; which is, for me, the biggest weakness on this phone.
    Palm is out of business and doesn’t know it yet. For my needs, the BB was a state of the art email device, period. I think you’ll be happy with your iPhone.

  • Todd

    This was funny, and would be even funnier if it weren’t true… Palm can’t afford bad customer service – especially a bad customer service story that makes it’s rounds on the ‘Net.

    I have a Treo 700p and I am happy with Verizon, but as soon as the iPhone supports 3G, I’m switching.

  • http://www.tnl.net/blog/ Tristan Louis

    @Stephen: I used to be like you but the Treo 680 has been more problem ridden for me than any other devices. Like you, it was a replacement for a Treo 600, which was a replacement for a Treo 80, which was a replacement for a handspring and phone module, which was a replacement for a Palm Vx, which was a replacement for a Palm V, which was a replacement for… well you get the idea. However, a couple of things initially rankled me in terms of the Treo 680. The new phone interface (which they have since smartly abandoned for a return to the Treo 600/650 phone interface) was a disaster in terms of usability. There also seem to be more reset problems than with any other Treo I have used and this was my 4th replacement unit due to blown speaker (that is, 4th Treo 680 replacement unit, which is a record considering how long the device has been out). With all that, I still stayed loyal but this call was the straw that broke the camel’s back on my end.

  • http://www.tnl.net/blog/ Tristan Louis

    @HTC and win mobile users: well, one of my primary requirements is synching with a mac so win mobile is pretty much out (plus, I’m not wild about the winmobile interface. I know it’s come a long way since Windows CE (and incidentally, owned one of the first windows CE device when they were first released at Comdex) but it still not doing it for me).

    So, after much though, I’m taking the plunge on the iphone. It has two major downsides:
    1. no tech support as I will be unlocking it to run on non-AT&T networks (and yes, that’s networks plural as I use T-mobile in the US but pick up local SIMs when I travel overseas)
    2. no keyboard, which is the biggest drawback, in my view, but most of the iphone users I know don’t seem to worry too much about it so I’m taking the plunge.

  • Terence P

    I had a problem a few years ago with a Treo 650 and dealt with overseas/outsourced tech support who were neither helpful or kind. I was blamed for installing 3rd party apps as the reason for the intermittent crashing (which we all know was a huge issue for Treos) and told my warranty can be voided for having those apps, which I know is not true. A letter to the Better Business Bureau got a Palm representative with some authority calling me to apologize and offered to send me a brand new 650 with a fresh 1-year warranty. I sold the 650 and got a BB 8700g and have loved it because it works overseas, works with Gmail and Gmaps, can do AOL IM, and a host of other things in a relatively simple manner. Best of all, it’s a fraction of the Treo’s weight and has crashed less than five times in the past two years.

  • NuShrike

    I went from a Palm III, to Sony 610C, to NR70v to NX80. Then to the T|X because I thought I lost the NX80. The only things PalmOS really still has nailed down well is PIM functionality. Anything else, and I’ve moved on to the HTC Kaiser (aka Tilt) since nobody took the NX80 to the logical unparalleled conclusion of today’s Japanese phones.

    You can sync very well with the Mac using Missing Sync with WinMobile.

    The Kaiser gives me GPS functionality and Garmin to use when I travel in Japan, compatibility with today’s phone networks (read 3G) all over the world (on Softbank right now), Metro but no Tealphone, free software for QR code support and almost as rich a software library as PalmOS, data and Bluetooth stability the T|X never had, and instant drop-in programmability with Visual Studio.

    You still get the Gmail, Gmaps and whatever else Google puts out; IM through various options, remote desktop, and synchronization with Outlook — although none with work because they only support Blackberry and I’m not paying extra for BB Connect.

    I still miss the snappy PalmOS UI though since there’s quite some sluggishness to go around typical of Windows. However, only a handful of hangs/freezes/reboots on the other hand and at least I’m not trapped on the Titanic. Also, HTC is currently very active in making great enhancements to the dull wince.

  • BevHoward

    >> Recording the call <<

    At the beginning of virtually every call to any tech support site, a recorded message is played for the caller which normally states;

    “…this call may be recorded for quality assurance purposes…”

    They have granted explicit permission for anyone to record the call!

    Beverly Howard

  • AB

    I’ve been using Treo’s for the last couple years, and palms for a decade. I had the 650 when it came out and then a 700p until just this week. As of two days ago we’ve switched to iPhones because 1) the tech support is now a revenue generating department for Palm & 2) Both Palm & Verizon’s customer support has been completely compromised by some seriously rude, demeaning, and completely useless reps. I honestly can’t tell if customer support has ever been good, but both companies have basically turned support into a battle. I dreaded having to call with a problem, like my 700p’s microphone didn’t work. I used the earpiece for a couple days because I was too busy and couldn’t spend the time or energy to deal with Verizon and Palm. And when I finally did, after hours of calling one to be told to call the other, I too had the ‘option’ of spending $400 to replace my new phone with a 90-day refurb. Simply because I did not purchase the phone at an ‘offical’ Verizon store, or from Palm directly. Instead, I purchased it from a store with a huge Verizon banner and the phone was brand new in a shrinkwrapped box, but sorry- They weren’t an ‘offical’ verizon store. Calling Palm was talking to a brick wall. And the prick on the phone at Verizon actually was like “What, you can’t afford $400?” and even said he/Verizon couldn’t care less if I canceled because they get $175 per phone “to offset the cost of dealing with customers like you”.

    I spoke to them a couple days ago before switching, about my contact, and found they’ve been charging me $20 a month for a service I’ve told them to cancel 3 TIMES. So honestly, it wouldn’t matter if Palm came out with a ground breaking device and verizon’s wireless network was upgraded to gigabit wireless. They’ve lost our business and more importantly the influence on other people’s purchases. I was skeptical of the iPhone, but they actually forced me into purchasing it. And now, after using it and seeing it does meet my needs, I can’t see ever going back.

  • DWM

    AB what you should have done was sue Verizon in small claims court if you had any issues with them that cost you to be out of any money. Heck if you have been harmed monetarily go for it!! I did and received a lot of money to settle. My investment about $50.00 it was well worth it. You can use this website to find their registered agent…http://www.sunbiz.org/ which is the entity that’s actually sued.

    All the standard disclaimers apply. I’m not an attorney, but I’m a consumer that knows my rights in the state I live in and how to wield them like a club when I need to. I’ve whacked a few of the big names around and I’m proud of it. Maybe I need to go to law school. :-)

    The problem with American’s is we’ve let these corporate entities take advantage of us for to long. A lot is all pro- them and not us, but if enough people would stop spending money or boycott companies maybe they would straighten up!! hahaha who am I kidding there are to many Sheepeople out there to matter. http://www.sheepeople.org

    I’m not fond of AT&T either look back at 2006 and 2007 and see what they’ve been involved in. Things they’ve done, etc. browse thru http://www.arstechnica.com and see what I mean.

  • http://kostia.net/blog/ kostia

    >Currently the EVDO, phone as modem and all my Palm software is the only thing holding me to this phone.

    Exactly! There are Palm OS programs I *need* (granted, some of them are games, but I don’t apologize for that; entertainment is a real function). And since I started working full-time remotely, being able to use the phone as a high-speed Bluetooth modem (“tethering”) gives me nothing less than free vacation days to travel.

    As a Mac user, I want an iPhone or an iPod touch–badly–but I’m not ready to replace my Treo 700p with anything else.

  • BenR

    I’ve just ditched my WM5 HTC Hermes, truly a horrible phone: slow, unreliable and fiddly. Currently using an SE P1i, nice form factor but the UI is very slow and buggy.

    I’ll probably join the iPhone hordes when my current contract runs out, in the meantime I’ll probably buy a Nokia 6120c

  • Dave

    Sounds like you and the tech support team really struck wrong notes together. Based on the time of year, you both may have been predisposed to be fractious.

    That aside, I don’t believe support agents should ever degrade their communications to the level of interaction you received. It’s unprofessional. I assume Palm will respond to you in a fair way and with due apologies.

    It sucks that they don’t seem to link their sales and support record systems together properly. Might be a good idea…

    Personally, I rarely contact support if I can help it. Online sources are best but I’ll only call if I’m forced to. I could tell you horror stories about my DSL provider’s service incompetence – great data speed but ludicrous billing and tech support.

    Regarding the other comments about Palm quality, you can’t get the functionality of a Treo on iPhone. I love the iPhone speed, OS and visual sensibility. I’m not crazy about iPhones form factor or the annoying way some of its functions work. You can’t get text into iPhone in an efficient way. So I feel happy to call the emperor’s new clothes on Iphone, iteration 1. Apple is not stupid – they know this stuff. They’ll either ignore the smartphone market in favor of consumer high revenue yield phones or they’ll come after both feature and smartphones with a vengeance.

  • Christoph

    If you use a BB you will either need an external hosting server for you emails (which, in Germany, you can buy for 20 € per month) or a BB Server Software installed in your office. The latter never worked for me. My iphone, on the other hand connects to our Exchange Server via imap seamlessly.

  • Adambomb13

    Can anyone show/tell me a phone like the Treo 700P that can do the ALL of following:
    1) Personal Information Manager (PIM) as good as Agendus Pro (its really awesome I use it at work EVERYDAY)
    2) A personal alarm clock 6 different alarms like Butler
    3) Take crappy video & pictures LOL but its still a feature
    4) Run a GPS program like TomTom 5
    5) Play avi videos of real movies (Kinoma 4.4)
    6) Record phone calls as good as (mVoice 5.5)
    7) Control your PC’s at home like Palm VNC (which blows peoples minds)
    8) Be used as a modem with PdaNet (running on EDVO speeds), it worked great playing WoW on my laptop tethered to my Treo 700P
    9) MS Office compatiability with using of QuickOffice
    10) Able to watch my DirecTV using slingplayer (Palm)
    11) Ok email programs like Agendus/SnapperMail

    If you can tell me one phone that has all of the above flexiability I’m interested.

    Palm tech support does stink, and if I had your experience I would drop them too, but for me there is NO phone that I’m aware of that does ALL 11 above points.

  • Allen

    I don’t think I’m ready to abandon Palm altogether just yet; I’ve been using various devices for several years, and until recently, never had any major problems. I’ve gotten so used to the interface and the functions. I’ve mostly used my Palm devices for phone numbers, calendars, to-do lists, games, and such, but only for personal, not business, use. Not only that, I’m not ready to upgrade to a smartphone, even though they’re so prevalent these days.

    Anyway, here’s my Palm story:

    I bought a TX last July (actually exchanged it at Staples under the extended warranty I had purchased), so it was – and still is – under the Palm one-year warranty. In March, I started having problems with the digitizer and the stylus not responding; and finally it quit altogether, so the stylus did nothing, but all the buttons worked. I called Palm CS and arranged to send the device in for repair. I wasn’t charged for the call since it was for a repair, and of course the warranty was still valid, so I only had to pay for shipping (thank goodness the TX is light!).

    After being without the TX for more than two weeks, I finally got it back, and was so relieved when I turned it on and the stylus worked again! I knew they had only repaired the device and not sent a “reconditioned” one, because the Palm logo above the screen at the top of the case on the one I had sent was slightly rubbed off, and the one I got back was the same.

    The device worked perfectly for two days; then I was using it like normal one day, turned it off, set it down, picked it back up a few minutes later, pushed the power button – and nothing. It wouldn’t turn on. None of the buttons worked, no reset worked, nothing. The computer wouldn’t recognize it, so a HotSync wasn’t possible either (well, since it wouldn’t turn on, that wasn’t likely anyway). I know the handheld had been fully charged before I had turned it off the last time, so that wasn’t the problem. It was just dead.

    I called Palm AGAIN to arrange to send the TX back – AGAIN. This time the turnaround was much shorter, about a week, so that led me to believe that I had been sent a reconditioned device this time (and the logo was intact). Everything worked fine on this most recent one for a week. In the meantime, my main computer went down (I’m using my laptop to get online), so I couldn’t HotSync the TX (but all the data files are still intact on the hard drive). I manually typed in a few things on the handheld just so I could still use it until I got my computer working.

    But a week after I got the second TX from Palm, I was holding it in my hand, looking at the screen, reading something, and it turned off. I thought it was the auto-shutoff setting, so I pushed the power button – and NOTHING HAPPENED. AGAIN. This was the SECOND handheld that had been “repaired” and sent back to me, only to die for no reason (it was almost fully charged). I began to suspect that they had “fixed” the one I had just sent, opened the casing of the one they were getting ready to send back to me, and put the inner workings of the “fixed” one in, making me think it was a “reconditioned” unit.

    That was Friday evening, so I figured I wouldn’t be able to call them until today (Monday), which I did this afternoon. I got disconnected twice before finally getting through to someone; and after explaining the situation to “Jesse” (funny how these technicians in the Middle East, where they outsource the jobs to, have such American-sounding names), I said I wanted to speak to a supervisor: I felt that after 2 devices died, I was entitled to some kind of satisfaction, possibly even an Advanced Exchange without having to pay for it (it’s normally $40). After I had given “Jesse” the serial number, he claimed that the 90-day warranty on the device had expired because it had been purchased at Overstock.com!! But that was the 2nd handheld that PALM had sent me. “Jesse” had read the wrong serial number; he realized his mistake and rescinded that claim.

    (By the way: I’m purposely using the quotes when referring to “Jesse” after reading some of the stories on here, especially the one about “Jose” and him not existing. My wife said that they’re probably made-up names anyway.)

    I did explain everything to him, and I asked more than once to speak to a supervisor, or someone that could help me. But “Jesse” said that he could not let me speak to a supervisor until we found out what the problem was and went through the troubleshooting steps. I told him that I knew what the problem was, and we couldn’t troubleshoot because THE THING WOULD NOT TURN ON!!

    My wife finally took the phone to speak to this guy. She’s a redhead of Irish descent: when she gets going, you do not want to get in her way. But “Jesse” was as obstinate with her as he was with me. In fact, he was rude to her and repeatedly cut her off. (Her thoughts on that are that Middle Eastern men don’t think of women as their equal, so he felt insulted that a woman was speaking to him the way she was. Well, too damn bad.)

    He told her to plug the TX into the AC adapter and reset it; we tried, it did nothing. He said to plug the TX into the HotSync cable and plug that into the computer and try the reset again; and again, nothing. She asked him more than once to speak to a supervisor, and he refused to do so with her also. He also said that before anything else could be done, he had to go through all the troubleshooting steps to try and determine the problem, AND document everything, even if we had already done everything he told us to do (which I had, several times).

    Finally, after going back and forth with “Jesse” (sound familiar?), as well as me getting back on the phone and trying to talk to him, he relented and told my wife that he was going to transfer her to a “Tech 2”. He put her on hold for a few minutes, and I took the phone; but then “Jesse” came back on the phone and said that HE had spoken to the “Tech 2”. But he didn’t transfer us to anyone else! Once my wife found that out, she took the phone again and asked him why he didn’t transfer us. He claimed that he had never told her he would do so. (Hm; someone at Palm CS lying to a customer? Imagine that!)

    The last thing he would tell us, after continuing to refuse to transfer us to anyone else, was to leave the handheld plugged into the USB port for two hours (“trickle charge” – been there, done that), try the reset every half hour, and CALL CUSTOMER SERVICE BACK! (Do I need to even tell you if leaving it plugged into the computer worked?) But he also said that when we called back, we would be transferred directly to a supervisor. My wife confirmed this with him several times to make sure that she understood him, and that it would happen that way. By this time it was clear that there was nothing else to discuss, so my wife hung up and we waited. One small bright spot in all this that my wife told me about after she hung up: “Jesse” did tell her – if she understood correctly – that once I called back and spoke to someone, I would probably be given the Advance Exchange at no charge. But of course that remains to be seen.

    In the meantime, I did some searching and found this site, and reading the stories here and other places started to worry me about calling back. But call back I did after 2 hours; and after getting disconnected AGAIN, I finally reached “Goldwyn” (you gotta be kidding me!). I briefly explained what “Jesse” had told me, including talking to a supervisor; so “Goldwyn” put me on hold to “pull up my record” and see what it said. When he came back, he said that my case had to be forwarded to another call center, but that another “Tech 2” would look at my case and would call me back “in about an hour or in about a day”. Way to narrow it down.

    Someone finally did call back today, and as I suspected, an Advance Exchange with no cost to me (even return shipping) was authorized. I should get a new TX in “2 to 3 business days”, and it will include a pre-paid return box; so all I’ll have to do is send the dead one back. A bonus with that is that I’ll know they didn’t try to dupe me by just switching outer cases.

    So, even though my experience with “Jesse” was pretty horrible, it looks like things will work out to my advantage – provided, of course, that they actually send the unit when they say they will!