16th Jul 2015
So I am an iPhone 6 Plus owner (yeah, go ahead judge me!). While I have not come across a problem with the device just yet, I still dread the day that I will have to visit an Apple service centre in Mumbai. A number of my friends are iPhone users as well, their experiences with Apple’s service, so far, have been positive, minus those extremely expensive replacement charges.
Prior to this I was a Samsung Galaxy S3 owner. Had a glitch once, and the company got replacement parts and rectified it within a week. But these are high-end flagship devices, ones that have proper company-authorised service centres in place all over the country.
But what about those who have purchased a smartphone from the new comers in this space? What’s their story?
We had a long hard look at their social media pages and called up these individuals. And it turns out that these are real people with real stories.
Coming to the brands that we have focussed on, they are basically new comers to the smartphone industry. These would include, Xiaomi, OnePlus, and ASUS.
What's your story?
Xiaomi certainly had the worst social presence. No replies to customers with problems, nothing. So clearly this leads to a long list of annoyed customers who have and are still facing problems. Most of Xiaomi’s issues deal with quality. Well, fans may say that these are one in a million. But that ‘one’ is still a customer who had paid hard cash to buy your product Xiaomi. Xiaomi however does have it exclusive service centres in place, so we will applaud them for that.
Next up we have OnePlus who’s social presence is its only presence. The company prefers not to spend on things that will eventually bring up the cost of their smartphones. While their online presence is really helpful, there are plenty of customers with problems, those that are again related to quality issues, touchscreens are not working etc.
But quality issues are really not OnePlus’s problem. The Chinese smartphone maker’s real issues arise from the spares (or the lack of it). Customers are left stranded with no replacement spares, for more than a month (even longer).
OnePlus really needs to get its customer service sorted as can be seen from the screenshot below.
And there are many more customers like Lokesh as well.
More importantly, OnePlus owners are even running out of warranty while being stuck at service centres. The company recently put out post on the official forum regarding warranty extensions, clearly these are for the above mentioned lot. Strangely, a OnePlus smartphone can be purchased from Amazon without queuing up, so the company does have plenty of smartphones in stock. Hmmm... Wonder where all those spare parts disappeared then.
Lastly, we have ASUS. Another entrant to the smartphone space. We must mention that ASUS is clearly not a newbie to electronics industry (they have been in the PC business for long) so customer service centres are in place.
We have quite a few ASUS Zenfone 5 owners in our office and while some have experienced issues with their phones (like the mini-USB port getting damaged) these have been replaced in a matter of 2 days. The screenshot you see above comes from its international page.
Its been a while...
Many would defend their brands by saying that, the company is a startup, and that these problems are expected. But really, isn’t a year in successful sales enough for these manufacturers to enhance their after sales customer service network? This is more so, when newer versions of smartphones are announced making things even more obvious that “hey we dont have any spares, but you can buy our new smartphone”.
While Xiaomi’s out of the box defects seems to have subsided back from the days of its Mi 3 launch, OnePlus still has a long way to go.
Clearly, there is a reason why big brands do charge a lot more for their smartphones, they have their advertising revenues, engineers, manufacturing and sales and service networks to take care of. Even local Indian brands like Micromax have a pretty solid service centre network.
My question is, if you charge less for your smartphone, should we expect them to be use and throw devices? Certainly not, and definitely not if it is a flagship device!
State Of Smartphone After-Sales Service In India
Even a company’s online presence tells a lot about a brand.
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