Part 8 – Prank calls

Header image: Phone by Andrew Malone (via Flickr) – Used according to its Creative Commons 2.0 license.

November 11th 2016

I keep pressing the button harder and harder and, sometimes, if I press hard enough, with both hands, it registers. So the button is not entirely broken, there must be some clipped cable or some loose contact that I’m able to close if I push hard enough.

I speak with M of the Italian OnePlus Support on the phone, she makes me access the “manual test” section on the phone by dialing *#808#. From there I select the fingerprint auto test and it passes. I also start the finger print quality test, and I suppose it passes too, since the screen shows a few ideograms that I can’t read, but coloured in green. After this test she believes the button works, and it is just a software issue, so she wants to schedule a remote support session with me to attempt some procedure that she believes will fix my phone.

Not only I disagree with her, because my (very basic) understanding of electronics makes me believe that since I can sometimes make it work by pushing harder, there must be something wrong either in the sensor itself, or in the way it was assembled; but I also don’t have time for a remote session. I have waited enough. I’m sure it won’t make any difference. Besides, what they think they can do on a remote assistance session that I can’t do myself? I explain to her that I’m familiar enough with the Android developer tools to do a factory reset, to reinstall the system from the recovery, to flash the phone from fastboot, or to do anything else they might want me to do, alone, without wasting everyone’s time on a remote assistance session.

She still believes the phone can be fixed without sending it to the repair center again, but agrees to let me try alone and tells me to flash the latest OxygenOS system image from the website, using the recovery.

Is that it? Just that? What’s so special about that image that can fix my phone? It doesn’t make sense to me at all, but M wants me to try it, so I agree. At the very least it will make me skip the remote session. After all it’s their phone, maybe they know some tricks I don’t understand.

I flash the operating system from the recovery and guess what? The home button is still broken. Not a big surprise. I write to the Italian Support again, and ask what do I need to do to have a working phone.

November 12th 2016

L, from the Italian OnePlus support answers my email and kindly asks for some informations to schedule the remote assistance call.

Oh dear, ok, I will have to waste some time on the remote session after all, or else they won’t take back the phone. Haven’t I waited enough? Why don’t they just take the phone back already? But no, they want to go through the remote session. Fine. Which information they want to schedule it, you might ask? Can’t you guess by now?

They want the order number, the phone IMEI, the phone model, the operating system version, and my phone number. ALL OVER AGAIN! And they already know all this! I have already told them, multiple times! At this point I know the order number by heart, better than my social security number! But NO! They want me to write it again! I don’t know if they really don’t care about customer satisfaction to this extent, or if they just find it funny to have me repeat the same s#|t over and over again. FINE! I’ll give them what they want! Just let’s make this quick!

Meanwhile, the International OnePlus Support, who again contacted me after my tweet to Carl Pei opens a new RMA request for me. At least, this time, they don’t ask me my details: it’s something.

During the weekend I try all the tricks that I could find on XDA to try and revive the home button, but none of them works. It is while I do this that I notice that there’s also something stuck in the USB-c socket on the bottom of the phone. I use a toothpick to pull it out: it’s a tiny rubber disc, like those that are on the back of the phone when you remove the back cover. Actually, there was one more loose in the box the phone was shipped with… Is it coming apart?

November 14th 2016

I receive a call in the morning from M of the Italian OnePlus Support. She explains that for the procedure I will need a Windows PC, and that it will take around an hour. I basically have no other choice than to agree, so we schedule a call for that afternoon at 2:00 pm, and she sends me an email with a couple of links of things to download. One of them is WinRAR, the others are password protected zip archives. The second level support that will call me that evening will know the password to unlock them.

I go talk to my boss and move to a separate room in the office, so that I will be able to talk on the phone without disturbing everyone else. I download all the files and wait for the phone to ring. 2:00 pm o’ clock. I wait and wait, and after 30 minutes… It still didn’t ring. I really don’t know what to say. Is it a prank? Am I supposed to waste my time waiting for them? I don’t have all day, I have a work meeting at 3:00 PM, which well it’s in 30 minutes at this point! I send another email to the Italian OnePlus Support asking them what are they waiting for.

M calls me call me back at 3:00 PM, one hour later than what we agreed, and apologizes because something went wrong when they scheduled the call. I don’t know what could possibly go wrong with scheduling a meeting. It’s ridiculous! We reschedule for 4:00 pm to 4:30 pm, so that I can attend my meeting first.

The time finally comes. And M actually calls me on time. I didn’t understand that she was the second level support. She makes me login on a website and download a remote assistance program. From there, she takes control and quickly checks for something in the system section of the control panel, then she installs WinRAR and opens the compressed archive by pasting a password in there so that I can’t see it. She asks me to reboot my phone in fastboot mode (actually she never mentioned its name, but just guided me through the steps) and to plug it to the computer. She then installs some drivers, and finally runs a tool that was inside the archive. I think it’s a Qualcomm program to flash the phone, but the interface is written in ideograms and I can’t read anything. It’s really similar to this one, though. There are a few progress bars, I believe there is one per partition, the slowest one being the internal ~64 GB storage. At the end of the procedure, which takes far less than one hour, luckily, the phone reboots. She tells me she will wait until the phone has finished booting, and then I can check if it has worked, and contact the support again if it hasn’t. In an attempt to reduce the waiting, because I have waited enough, I ask her to wait until I check, since it’s going to take just a a few seconds.

Unsurprisingly, it didn’t work.

But I can’t open a new RMA on the phone. I need to do that via email, because (you guessed it) I have to send them my details.

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