September 16, 2016
Apple announces iOS 10. A storm brews as my excitement for new features is destroyed by poorly crafted UI changes to the Messages app. My “loyalty” to the last remaining Apple product I would ever purchase fades into the night. Of course, I wouldn’t replace it with a Windows Phone; been there, done that, and to use a cliché – I have the t-shirt. My only choice was a dumb phone or an Android phone.
I’m no fan of Samsung or HTC, and was left with few options.
- LG G5
- OnePlus 3
- BlackBerry Priv, DTEK 50
- And a few others.
The OnePlus is a great device but during the time when I needed a new phone there was dissent among the ranks at OnePlus with their developer team. Some wanted to go in one direction and others wished to do the opposite. As a result OxygenOS, their custom launcher, split and HydrogenOS was formed. Though HydrogenOS is for the Asian market, the split concerned me as it was said many OxygenOS developers left to work on HydrogenOS. The effect of the staff loss could have an impact on the timelessness of updates to OxygenOS.
Initially I ordered a OnePlus 3 but after reading about the developer split cancelled the order.
Pure Android – Or Close to It
I know quite a few people with Android devices. It’s always interesting listening to their feedback on a device you have no intention of ever buying. In many ways, it can turn you off a brand entirely (ahem, Samsung…) . Primary complaints about Android (in my experience) included:
- An inherent risk that your Android phone will not receive security updates or the new Android OS when Google releases it to market. This is a 2-fold item. Many, not all, but many manufacturers release monthly or tri-monthly security updates for their Android users. These are quite important as they are what save you from having a device with the possibility of exploit for any number of nefarious reasons.
- Android OS updates on the other hand have been a point of contention for many Android users over the years. So far, there have been 15 versions of Android, with the latest being Nougat.
- Whether it’s the fault of Google, advancing their own OS so much phones 1-2 years old are unable to upgrade, or a case of manufacturers such as Samsung designing their phones with a limited lifespan, when it comes to buying an Android device, research and predict as best as possible – you may wind up with a paperweight in 1 or 2 years, unless you don’t mind and upgrade every 4 or 5 years.
In my case, I wanted a device that was secure, updated with the latest OS from the factory (Marshmallow), hopefully a confirmed future OS updates (Nougat), and would receive security updates in a timely manner. I also didn’t want a bunch of useless apps I would be unable to install bundled with the device. Sure, you can root and remove them, but it’s a hassle and can void your warranty per some manufacturers. So, I waited, and during Black Friday Blackberry had their Blackberry Priv on sale for a good price.
The Priv was originally released in 2015. Despite a lot of marketing and fanfare, it didn’t sell well. It was overpriced out of the gate, and face it – Blackberry isn’t a household name. Fortunately, it ran Lollipop and received a Marshmallow update by the time I had received it. It had decent specs and met my needs. Plus, it’s touch screen with a physical keyboard was a nice add on.
This post isn’t a tell-all review of the Blackberry Priv, except to say, the phone was fantastic, it was fast, minimal lag, call quality and reception were superb and Blackberry has put together an excellent app suite they call Hub. Hub is native to Blackberry devices and available as a subscription on non-Blackberry devices). You can read more about the Priv here.
What happened next was nothing short of tragic. You may not be aware, but I have a bad back. Bad in the sense that my L5 disc is herniated and presses on the S1 nerve. The pain is excruciating and persistent, and has caused a neuropathy to form in my left leg, which means the pain is persistent even in non-engaging positions, such as lying in bed and while walking – my toes and foot would frequently go numb. At the time of this writing this, I have already had surgery to correct the defect, however, will reserve comment about that for the dedicated post. 😉 Unfortunately, while on speakerphone with a friend and simultaneously looking something up on the Internet, I slipped and fell, my large frame body crushing my Priv. While I was upset, I recalled purchasing accidental damage protection from Blackberry when I bought the phone. Of course, they don’t service the warranties, they are outsourced to a company called Warrantech, a division of AmTrust Online.
On January 2, 2017 I initiated a claim with Warrantech. I paid their deductible on January 20, 2017. From January 2 to this very moment while I write, I am without my Priv. Why? Well, interesting story.
- I purchased my phone factory unlocked from ShopBlackberry, this means it has no carrier branding or carrier apps out of the box and I can use any SIM card in the device.
- The phone I purchased was new.
- The phone Warrantech was willing to replace (if it were unable to be repaired) was a refurbished phone – while I wasn’t happy with that option, I understood why that was the case.
- However, they had no phones to send me, or any other customer.
Yes, seriously. No phones.
For whatever reason, they were on backorder with Blackberry without an ETA of any kind. For a brief moment from January 20, 2017 to February 7, 2017, they had at&t branded devices in stock, however we use Cricket Wireless and though they are owned by at&t, the phone must be unlocked for their SIM cards to register.
Never use Warrantech, AMTrust, or any of their subsidiaries!
Turns out they also insure washers, dryers, dishwashers, automobiles, auto parts, electronics, mobile phones, and a slew of other items. Make no mistake, by entering an extended warranty arrangement with this company, you are doing business with the worst kind of people. Pharmaceutical company CEOs, Gang leaders, Oil company CEOs, Kim Jong Un’s family, as examples, are not as evil and corrupt as Warrantech.
Why? Or are you just being sarcastically dramatic?
No. This is complete truth. They may seem nice on the phone, but the people who answer the phone and work your claims have extremely limited abilities.
- They are unable to transfer you to a supervisor, or to any other department in the company who can provide you with more information.
- They will notate your request for a manager or supervisor (they are 2 different job roles at Warrantech, as well) to phone you within 24-48 hours but the call will never come.
- They are unable to contact their logistics department, a member of that team, or even the guy who empties the trash cans in that part of the building to ask when they will be getting inventory.
- They care not if you wait a week or 9 months for a product to come in stock. They are not interested in sending you a loaner phone.
- They will make you pay the deductible, $129.00 in my case + your monthly premiums just on the chance they’ll have a phone in stock to send you (one day). If you terminate your policy, or refuse to pay premiums, they will not repair/replace your phone. In my case, I thought it was unfair to make me continue to pay premiums because it’s not like I could file an additional claim – my phone was already broken. What would I say? “I broke it some more?”, LOL!
- Managers, if the stars align and you can get one, will give you the same information.
- They are unable to provide you with a “like” make/model phone. In my case, I asked them to evaluate if they could send me a Blackberry DTEK 50 or 60, as they are comparable in cost and feature set.
- They will NOT send you a check for the value of your phone so you can just buy another one on ShopBlackberry.
- While they weren’t particularly rude to me, they train their staff to be unhelpful, due to their limited system abilities. What makes this the worst offense of all is that their staff go along with it. Surely they are aware the customer is getting screwed.
I grew tired of empty promises to speak with a supervisor or logistics manager and ship dates that never came and filed a complaint with the Texas Better Business Bureau, as well as the Texas State Attorney’s Office for shady business practices. A few days later a member of the Warrantech team phoned me. Unfortunately, he was full of the same flavor of shit as his co-workers.
We don’t know when we will get any factory unlocked Blackberry Priv devices in stock. We have an order for them from Blackberry, but they haven’t given us a ship or delivery date. I can give you an at&t locked phone, refurbished, or you can continue to wait. I am sorry.
I told them no, this was ridiculous, and to refund my deductible. Once it was confirmed to be back on my credit card, I phoned up and cancelled the insurance plan. Their company is atrocious and only becomes responsive when you use other avenues to compel them to speak to you – i.e. via the BBB and Attorney General’s Office. In fact, if you look at their Yelp, Facebook, and Google Reviews, you will find nothing but sadness from customers like me who have continued to waste their time with this shady corporation.
Spare yourself the agony – next time, just use Squaretrade. They insure nearly anything and are super friendly, honest, and don’t make customers wait for months on end just to find out when their replacement/repaired device will ship out. Disclaimer: I am not receiving a benefit from Squaretrade, nor is the link preceding this statement a referral link.
If after reading this you find yourself wondering, what phone is he using now, the answer is none. I’m on a waitlist for Google’s Pixel phone. How long it’ll take is beyond me. Google keeps tighter lips on their availability and ship dates than the US Government does on Area 51.