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2 year warranty for long-lasting and easy to repair products?

Dear everyone,

The “short-term” manufacturing warranty periods in laws and contracts of european countries and companies was a logical choice for the old, “short-term”, waste-producing and polluting economy.

In a renewable, green and “long-term” economy, where you keep objects longer, try to repair them yourself, it is not right to apply these “short-term” manufacturing warranty periods.

It seems that the Fairphone company doesn’t understand that to be an ethical, renewable and green company you have to consider having a “long-term” legal perspective as well, including having longer manufacturing warranty periods (at the moment, they only offer a two year warranty).

They don’t seem to have a very dynamic and innovative legal team. That’s sad because dynamic legal teams can be incredible assets, speeding up innovation and reducing customer dissatisfaction (and its cost) at the source. In this case, it seems they are just average legal employees : doing everything the same way it has been for the last century. I know laws and contracts have to be stable and are, by nature, always late to integrate the latest changes in society. That’s OK. But here, in this so-called innovative, environmentally and socially responsible company, they seem much too late.

And, in the current global warming and biodiversity crisis, we already know how much harm can be made by conservative law, jurisprudence and contract standards as well as by traditional “to the letter” centered methods of interpretation of said law, jurisprudence and contract standards.

My message may be depressing but, it is time for people to understand that it is not enough to protest in the street. It is not enough to cast a few votes to greener political parties. It is not even enough to buy so-called environmentally and socially responsible products. There is a need for radical changes to some basic principles of the law, the jurisprudence and the contract standards that are common to most european countries. The length of the manufacturing warranty is merely one of them.

If the law, the jurisprudence and the contract standards don’t change quickly and significantly at the same time as citizens, politicians and companies, humanity’s boat (as well as all the unwilling living creatures forced to join this journey) will keep going straight for the iceberg.

What do you think ?

Best regards,

Swiss-fairphone

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Does anyone has an opinion on this matter ?

I don’t want to sound rude, but Fairphone is way ahead in the game when it comes to fair and durable electronics, so these topics where people manage to find something they don’t like always tick me off a little. Rather than nitpicking on companies that are actually trying their best to make a difference, there are loads of complaints you could and should file against the bigger players such iPhone, Samsung and others.

Also, Fairphone is a small company. Offering a longer warranty means free repairs. This could well be far too costly. On top of that, repairs are already significantly cheaper. For example, my friend recently had her iPhone screen repaired for almost 300 euros. A Fairphone screen I think is around 80 euros? Other parts are even cheaper. So they’re actually offering great and cheap options for repairing your phone when the warranty ends, which is more than any other company currently offers. Why do you still demand more? Like I said, it seems other companies deserve a speech like yours much more than this specific company.

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Dear Linn,

You do not sound rude at all. Thanks for jumping in the debate.

Even if some parts of your post seem to be slightly off-topic, I will answer.

It depends on where you stand: theory or real change. I am a fierce adversary of greenwashing and/or theory that never gets real on the field. Let me explain.

On a single FP2, and mostly after the manufacturing warranty period, I had to to replace (by paying much more that 300 euros):

  • a first generation “rubber” defective FP2 case
  • a second generation “plastic” defective FP2 case
  • a defective first generation FP2 battery
  • the perfectly working SIM card that the FP2 rejected (several times)
  • the perfectly working microSD card that the FP2 rejected (several times)

My FP2 defects started to get so bad that I couldn’t work with it anymore. The worse were the random reboots several times a day during phone calls, browsing, etc. I gave up and bought the FP3, only to discover that the FP3 had the same problem of random reboots. I contacted customer support several times (e-mails, phone call, etc) but most of the time they don’t answer to my questions or don’t even answer at all. They even closed my case without solving my defective FP3 problems (it continues to have random reboots).

You might think I am an isolated unlucky case. I am not because I actively recommended and convinced friends and relatives to buy a Fairphone product. I had 4 defective Fairphone smartphones out of 5 in total (belonging to me or to friends and relatives) with major defects. I am not talking about replacement parts which were defective too.

You might think that you cannot make statistics out of 5 products. You would be right. That is why I asked Fairphone the following question: "I need to know if the FP3/FP3+ is really more reliable than the FP2, statistically speaking. Can you give me some numbers that can be compared between the FP2 and FP3/FP3+ ? Number of known defective phones per 100’000 sold phones for example ? "

I asked two times and finally got a mostly negative answer: “This is internal information that I do not have the approval for to disclose. You may try contacting our dedicated research team. […]. If the team wants to go further with your proposal, they will reply within 10 days. Otherwise, you will not receive a response”

This is a very strange answer for a so-called ethical and transparent company. And that’s convenient for the company because, as I am a fact-driven guy, I will never be able to say in good conscience something like “Most Fairphone products are defective”. Because we don’t know and they don’t want to give the answer. That is when transparency is important : not when it suits the company’s agenda and marketing, but when straight, hard questions are asked. That is how a company will get better and can be called ethical and transparent.

Something similar happened with the ESG financial standards debate (for people who have enough money to invest anyway, not for me). I was thrilled to learn that the ESG standards were created for an environmentally and socially responsible finance. Then, I learned that journalists discovered that it was (mostly not always) a marketing smokescreen. It didn’t make any change or a significant enough change to get us out of the current global warming and biodiversity crisis. Worse, it gives you the impression of going the right way, and therefore you don’t worry as much as before.

In the end, in reality (not theory) chosing Fairphone over my previous smartphone brands meant for me, per year:

  • environment: more smartphone electronics bought (and therefore a less environmentally-friendly result)
  • costs: much more money spent
  • defects: much worse defects interfering with basic functions (calls, browsing, etc)
  • work: nightmare to use as a professional tool
  • customer support : worse customer support ever

About the small startup company excuse: I think you are right when they lauched the FP1, even maybe with the FP2. But the third generation of a smartphone brand should at least be able to make phone calls and browse the web.

But you know, maybe you are right. Maybe I am asking for the moon here. But I don’t think so.

For the following posts, I suggest that we get back to the core of the topic: the fact that “short-term” manufacturing warranty periods are not suited for a renewable, green and “long-term” economy with products that you keep longer and repair yourself (or not if you don’t think so).

Is that OK with you ?

Best regards,

Swiss-fairphone

1 Like

You claim I went off topic when I think I responded to some of the things you said in your initial post, while you yourself in your response veer to the topic of transparency and statistics, which is another topic you yourself opened elsewhere… I believe I actually answered your final question in my initial post so I’m flabbergasted at your response.

For the following posts I suggest you respond directly to what the other is saying and don’t accuse them of straying off topic when you yourself are straying off topic.

Is that OK with you?

(Sorry to really sound rude this time, but I generally hate typing long posts on my phone, so I don’t really enjoy not receiving a proper response when I do.)

2 Likes

It seems to me they replaced the rubber cases even if the warranty was outdated, and if you wait more than 2 years for a plastic case to start having troubles with it it’s not that bad I think, after all it’s a case, so you could use it…
EDIT: And for a defective battery, you also have a one year warranty (only one year because batteries power ultimately drops around the second year).

I agree, and it’s covered by the warranty. Remember however technically it’s a second generation home-made design and world-only fully modular phone.

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Dear Antoine,

What you and Linn are saying is nice in theory for the happy few on the planet that earn minimum wage or more : a small startup company, technically a second generation home-made design, me nitpicking poor David struggling against Goliath, etc. If you take time to get the real facts and read my posts that details my problems and then my dealings with customer service, you will understand that I did what you said:

  • at first, I tried not to ask anything to Fairphone not to hinder this wonderful initiative
  • most FP2 problems were out of warranty anyway
  • I tried to ask customer service to honor the FP3 warranty but they don’t answer my questions or don’t answer at all and even closed my FP3 case without solving it.

Thread which deals with the topic:

When you are like most people on the planet (the word “planet” means that it includes non western countries too and poor people in western countries as well), when you try to make ends meet every day (I don’t mean a fitness subscription, I mean food and rent), you can’t just keep loosing money on two successive defective smartphones that you need to work and to earn a living and for which you had to take a credit that you need to pay back.

If you guys can’t understand the situation of most of us on Earth and have some empathy and stop this collective “Everyone needs to take a hit for the Fairphone Team because their are facing incredible challenges, whatever the individual costs” (this is not a quote of any forum member, this a general mash-up of many answers to dissatisfied customers I have read), I think it is pointless for me to stay on this forum.

You can turn the problem however you want, most of us can’t afford the price of fair products if there are hidden additional costs afterwards and a customer service that doesn’t help even with a product still under warranty.

Linn, I tried to be as careful and polite as possible: I wrote “Even if some parts of your post seem to be slightly off-topic”. If that kind of sentence offends you, I don’t know how you manage to deal with people who disagree with you on a daily basis.

Best regards,

Swiss-fairphone

Someone not using their warranty when they can isn’t solved by offering a longer warranty period.
Someone having a bad experience with customer support is not solved by a longer warranty period.
Product replacements because of poor product design aren’t reduced by a longer warranty period (the cost is different, but the replacements still occur).

The longer the warranty period, the more disagreement there is going to be about whether something is wear-and-tear or a manufacturing defect. A generous attitude towards replacing parts can be had, but ultimately it is still the customer who will pay because the up front cost of the device will increase.

Taking this further, having a model where you subscribe to a phone (not a specific model, but specific functionality) may work better. The contract would define the level of service/function, take into account what is acceptable wear and tear, and possibly offer an optional insurance for accidental damage not covered by default (as most customers don’t want to pay for the carelessness of others). If the failure rate of devices becomes high, there will be an incentive to replace that model with a different one (the subscription is for a device with the function of a phone, not a specific phone), as the servicing costs remain with the supplier. There’s been some discussion of such a model for example here.

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I take issue with you making assumptions about me and other people. Apparently I have money to burn and so does Antoine, and apparently we have no idea of poverty. The way you explain poverty is very patronising, as if we have no idea of the world outside ourselves. There are less offensive ways of making a point. Also, yes, people are struggling in non-Western countries (although poverty is not limited to those countries, I assure you), but Fairphone isn’t marketed there or sold there, so I’m not sure what point you’re even trying to make by that. And that’s my problem right there. I don’t mind people disagreeing, but I don’t enjoy them straying off topic to make a point while accusing me of going off topic when all I did was argue why I think Fairphone does not need to offer a longer warranty.

I stand by my point. 2 years’ warranty is fine for electronics. After that, wear and tear is more and more likely to cause issues. I don’t think that’s the manufacturer’s responsibility to repair free of charge. I do think they have an obligation to offer the ability to repair your device at low cost and I think that’s where many companies are failing us . I can’t speak for the FP2, but it seems to me with the FP3, Fairphone is definitely not one of those companies.

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Dear Linn,

If you read my post, you will notice that I wrote this:

Therefore, I don’t see the point of your sentence:

Best regards,

Swiss-fairphone

Well you manage to perfectly point out your own patronising tone, at least. Thank God for your post or I wouldn’t know what our planet was!

It’s also really lovely you attack me for one sentence and don’t respond to the actual point I was making. Goodday, sir.

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Dear Linn,

I wish you a lovely day as well.

Best regards,

Swiss-fairphone

All of the things that you demand FP do can be translated into labour - whether it’s extending the warranty, assigning marketing teams to explain why the number of defective phones is within such and such a norm, hiring a dynamic legal team. These things don’t come about magically; people have to be hired, trained and paid.

And why? So FP can extend warranty beyond a norm that the majority of the people already seem fine with? So they can keep sinking money into phones bugged with wear and tear after years of use? So they can share information that will make them look bad to consumers while they’ll be on the back foot explaining how the numbers are fine, actually?

For FP to spend hundreds of thousands of euros because one person demands they change the way they work at great cost? For disadvantaged people to be given the opportunity to buy a €1000 Fairphone 3 with a five year warranty and a link to a spreadsheet about repairs?

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Dear rmf,

I don’t think it didn’t cost anything for Fairphone

  • to try and get conflict-free minerals
  • put in place a tracing system
  • ask engineers to design a modular and repairable Fairphone
  • develop Android 7 for the FP2 against the will of the chip maker

I understand that you just want Fairphone to stay the same, not engaging in new territories of fairness and don’t believe in general transparency but in limited, targeted and money-making transparency. It is your opinion.

Personally, I don’t think that running the first 5 kilometers and then stop to walk slowly for a few more hundred meters will get humanity and the biosphere at the end of the marathon to survive the global warming and biodiversity crisis. We have to push further and further. And that means that “disadvantaged people” (first time I’ve been called that) have to be able to get (real) access to fair and sustainable products as well (without hidden costs or customer service closing a defective FP3 case under warranty without solving it). Otherwise, we will have no choice but to continue to buy non-environmentally/socially responsible products and our ecosystem will not survive.

Best regards,

Swiss-fairphone

Just a little side note in the debate: Teracube, a quite new company on the market, have sustainability as their main goal and offer 4 years of warranty, and past warranty they offer any repair at the fixed price of 39$. Though they don’t have the ethics and the modularity of Fairphone.

3 Likes

That is absolutely not my opinion, and if you read my post again you’ll see that I didn’t refer to you as ‘disadvantaged’.

This discussion is going in circles, owing to stubornness or poor reading comprehension or some other factor, so I’m ending my part.

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Dear rmf,

Sorry if I didn’t understand you.

I am sorry if I misunderstood you. I thought that by “disadvantaged people” you meant people that have a low-income under minimum wage. But then, I don’t know what else you meant.

Best regards,

Swiss-fairphone

Dear alex21,

Very interesting, I had never heard of this project ! Thanks !

Best regards,

Swiss-fairphone

Well, if that is, what you want from Fairphone, it’s fine by me.
Just take into consideration, that they are on the market with their 3rd phone model, have sold 200,000 phones in 6 years (the like Apple sells in hours) and already achieved

  • fairer wages in China
  • fairer rare materials
  • a modular phone
  • upgrade modules
  • starting a fair cobalt initiative
  • Google free OS for the FP2 and FP3 (in collaboration with /e/)

Of course, there never are limits to what can be done and achieved.
But before taking the next step on a slippery slope, one should make sure to have a secure foothold first.

Fairphone, like every other company has to take that into consideration. They can only take on so many tasks at once.
(And maybe the troubles with support you are in part rightfully are complaining about, are a result of trying to get too many things done at the same time - ATTENTION: Wild speculation by me ! I have no info I can base it on !!! -)

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@BertG exactly

Fairphone is surely not perfect and also don’t know how much effort they really put in things and so on. But they already did several great things. And in comparison with Samsung they are a “nothing”.
And it also sounds like Fairphone is a person… it is a company and there a working some people and if you have ever work in teams with people that is not a clockwork…
What you demand is really hard nevertheless yes you can and even should express that because some aspects are true and many people would go with that.

But it is really naive to demand that from FP right now. Maybe they already had some ideas and also preparing some things for the future. But the booth must work. If you really think the things are that easy then please create your own company or manufacturing… and do it better.

I also work in a international company that is pretty small and there are so many things to do better and to improve and so on. And yes the management was really bad and that is really the reason of a lot of problems but now we a new CEO and managment. But it takes months to change things and go forwards. But there are also so many things and ideas, but you can’t just stop the daily business and problems for 6 months to refurbish your company…

just my 2 cents

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