Even After Updates, HTC Thunderbolt Still a Problem for Some

We’re not going to be the first to admit this, but the HTC Thunderbolt has been, for some, a very problematic handset.  Whether it’s random reboots, force closes, or unsupported applications, users have been suffering through a less than stellar experience since its debut.  A few software updates into the device history and it’s still not the phone that was promised all the way back in January.  And speaking of updates, we’ve heard our share of consumers bitter over the lack of Gingerbread update.  Such is the case with Mr. Bryan Waters who passed along his email correspondence with a Verizon customer service representative. 

We did not get the initial complaint, but we gather that he is upset over a few problems with his Thunderbolt, specifically the generally poor experience and lack of an Android 2.3 update.  Based on the content of the following emails, we surmise that he asked for a replacement handset of equal or greater value since neither HTC nor Verizon were delivering on their advertisements. Waters deems the situation an “extraordinary” one in that the problems are not isolated to his handset and that there are plenty of documented cases of unhappy Thunderbolt owners.

We’ve pasted the conversation below for you to read.  After you’re done, tell us whether or not Mr. Waters is in the right place to ask for a different model of smart phone.

VERIZON: Upon review of your account, we do not see evidence of you contacting us regarding your HTC Thunderbolt since adding it on 3/17/2011.  Verizon Wireless cannot say when a software release will be made available through the manufacturer.  Troubleshooting would first have to be done on your equipment.  If it is determined that another device is needed due to manufacturer defect, a certified-like-new replacement of the same device would be offered.

A different phone would not be offered based on a software update not yet being made available through the manufacturer.

WATERS: I respectfully disagree Sir, I am aware of your policy of replacing devices with a “like new device” but that isnt what I bought, I bought a new phone, one that I was told was the best phone verizon had to offer at the time.  I was assured that it would be reciving the latest software as it became availible.  I have seen other phones that havent been out as long as the Thunderbolt get the Gingerbread upgrade, why not my phone?

Further more, the first update Verizon released for it.  caused a myriad of different issues, up to and including the reboots.  These happen frequently, up to 8 times a day.  Often, as I am trying to do something with the phone.  The reason I did not report this to Verizon is because I read that this problem was being experienced by everyone, and that a new update would coming shortly to fix it.  I didn’t want a “like new” replacement so I kept my mouth shut.  Then Verizon and HTC released this most resent update and I am still getting the reboot (though less frequently) and I had the added bonus of it turning my alarm clock setting off.  I was late to work because of this.  I now find my device to be sluggish and laggy.
Everything that I have read has said that Gingerbread is supposed to fix these issues (Did I mention the battery?).  I am not trying to get a hand out or a freebie here, I simply want what I paid for, I want a phone that will work as advertised and be maintained as advertised.  Your records should show that I bought this phone the day it came out, I was incredibly excited for it and as of now have been disappointed.  I believe that Verizon and HTC’s lack of communication to the customers is rehensible.
I feel this is an extraordinary situation and thus requires and extraordinary solution.  In my mind that is a new phone from Verizon of equal or better value.
Respectfully, Bryan Waters
VERIZON: While we understand your frustrations, Verizon Wireless would not consider this an extraordinary situation.  You advise you were told your equipment would receive the latest software as it became available.  That was and remains true.  Verizon Wireless, however, cannot determine when the update in question will be available to customers.  You also advise that you read everyone was having the same problems you were having and thus decided to keep quiet about it.  I must say that is not true.  Not every customer with a HTC Thunderbolt device on the Verizon Wireless network is having problems with their phone.  You not wanting a certified-like-new replacement does not negate the fact that such replacement devices are what is in place for Verizon Wireless customers.An extraordinary situation would be going through the process offered several times without resolution.  For example:  you being sent 5 certified-like-new replacements in five months.  It is not our anticipation that such replacements offered by Verizon Wireless and deemed viable replacement options for our customers would be bad.  That is why, hypothetically speaking, you receiving several bad replacements would be considered extraordinary.

In this instance, troubleshooting must be done first.  If a replacement is needed, a certified-like-new device of the same model will be sent to you.

Respectfully submitted.

WATERS: Unfortunately while I respect yours and Verizon’s opinion I have to disagree again.  Clearly Gingerbread is available as it is coming out on phones that have been out less time than the Thunderbolt.  Even phones made by HTC.  Clearly there is either an inherent issue with the Thunderbolt or, it isn’t being given the priority of other phones.  Whether that is controlled by HTC or by you is irrelevant, as the carrier of the phone and as the consumers representative to the maker you are in a better position than anyone to ensure that the advertising you paid for is fulfilled.

While I understand not everyone is having the same issues with there Thunderbolt, I am also not stupid.  I can read the reviews and postings on Verizon’s forums, as well as on HTC’s I know I am not the only one experiencing this issue. http://www.gottabemobile.com/2011/07/01/htc-thunderbolt-issues-are-unacceptable/
I can provide a hundred reference like that.  So, in this case it seems clear that this isn’t an issue of a bad egg, but of a bad product.  I am upset for you guys!  You should be spitting mad at HTC they sold you a bill of goods but now your customers are unhappy.  This is the extraordinary situation Mr. XXXX.  Not that my device is defective but that most of them are.  That is why I am not satisfied with the status quo of a “like new device” chances are it will have the same issues.  I want to be free of the debacle and continue to enjoy the superb service Verizon offers.
As I have said before I am not an idiot, I know that I have very little bargaining room here.  I am counting on the superb customer service I have always experienced from Verizon to do the right thing here.  I have articulated my issues with you in what I feel is a very clear way.  I have outlined a solution that I feel is acceptable and now, as a valued customer I would like for this to be taken care of to my satisfaction.
If you still find yourself and your company unmoved, then I will utilize the only option available to me, I will pay my bill, wait out my contract, and leave Verizon.  I will also sing my story from the top of every blog, forum, consumer advocacy site, and encourage others to do the same.  Please do not mistake that as a threat, as that is not my intention at all.  Simply put your self in my shoes.  What would you do?
VERIZON: We understand your position.  We would not like to see you ultimately decide against remaining a Verizon Wireless over this situation.  The resolution previously offered, however, is the only resolution available to you at this time.

WATERS: That is truly a dissapointment.  I really didnt expect a large, emensly wealthy company like Verizon to deign me worthy of any exceptional consideration, but I had to try.  I think you will find though that this growing market of savy intelligent smart phone user’s are more connected than you expect.  I think you guys had a chance here to seperate yourselves from the competition by truly offering an excellent customer experince.  Oh well

I thank you Mr. XXXX for your time and your consideration.  I hope you not take any of this personally as it isnt directed at you but at your employer.
I would like to make one final request.  I would like you to forward this to your supervisor.
Do you think Verizon customers are entitled to trade their HTC Thunderbolt in for a different model handset?  Are they right in being angry over the phone or are they being unreasonable?
In addition to smartphones and mobile gadgets, Scott has a deep appreciation for film, music, and sunflower seeds. A husband and father, he likes spending down time riding his mountain bike or binge-watching TV. Scott has overseen the day-to-day activities of AndroidGuys since 2007.