Horror story about Fairphone support

I’m just writing this as another data point for people considering purchasing the phone. (TL;DR: DO NOT! Fairphone can’t support their products!)

The product is almost exactly what I want from a phone (smaller would’ve been nice, but what ya gonna do?!). The company sounds lovely… on paper. I made a purchase of a Fairphone 4 that arrived May 20. I had a simple question regarding the phone warranty/registration. In the end nobody was able to answer my simple question, so I thought to myself “this isn’t a company that’s ready to provide long-term support for a phone: they can’t even provide immediate post-sales support for the happy path of product registration.”

So on May 27, having heard nothing back regarding the warranty, I initiated a return within the cooling-off period. Nobody responded until I phoned (FYI that’s the general rule). The hard workers at Fairphone are only available by phone for half a day, Netherlands time, with no cheap line to call internationally. Two months later I’m still waiting for them to sort out the return labels, I’ve had to spend money on international calling cards to phone in (because if you just create a ticket and expect someone to deal with it, you’ll be a long time - search these forums for countless similar stories of people hearing nothing but the echo of their own voices).

I realize now I should’ve just returned it under my own steam and then they would be legally bound to refund me. At this stage I don’t know if they have any intention of giving me my money back. I’ve had that phone in a box on my desk for two months now; I could really do with buying a new phone, but I can’t till Fairphone manages to put one foot in front of the other. I’ve seen no sign they’re capable of doing that.

Literally the only positive thing I can say about the entire experience is a) one of the people (but only one) on the phone acted courteously and b) the actual product seemed perfectly fine. But to my mind the quality of the product’s not sufficient: as a long-life phone, I need a long-life relationship with the manufacturer, for security updates, new modules, etc.

I wrote this because I searched the forums only too late, and found endless reports of dreadful support times. (I mean Fairphone could at least add some automatic stats for how quickly issues get responded too, rather than leaving you just hanging.) Maybe someone else will be luckier and search before making a purchase!

I would post a list of some of the many many comparable horror stories, but I can’t post more than two links. Yes, even if they’re internal links to this site. Yay for Fairphone tech. And of course I need a separate account for support, forums, and the shop. Because if it’s worth doing, it’s worth doing in the crappest way possible: the Fairphone Way.

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I’m sorry you have this experience. To link to other topics you could just have posted in one of those. Its clear the support has to be improved and not everyone has a bad experience like you, there are also positive reports in the forum. For sure the negative ones are more present, as this is the nature of a forum, when you are happy, you normally do not say it loud and write an extra topic.

If I were you, I would pick up the phone and call them, this often helps to speed up.

I dont agree to the statement that FPs are bad quality, I used my FP2 for more than 5 years, it still gets updates and is still working and many still use it as daily driver.

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Hi f***crap :slight_smile:
I agree on the support side it takes ‘forever’ and I don’t want o have buy an international option just to spend time on the phone to the Netherlands from the UK.

My complaints have been minor, so I can see how they may have dropped off the radar, and the FP3 as a phone is generally fine. Sure it’s not the best at this and that, but it tops the Fair Trade market.

By the way what was the “simple question regarding the phone warranty/registration”

Regarding the multiple accounts, that is likely due to safe-guarding user data as the systems are separated, and the forum is a user managed system.

I’m not sure that is actually the case, whereas support is slow to the point that it doesn’t seem to exist, this is more often down to the type of support. Clearly support for the FP2 has been ongoing and the OS has been updated from A5 to A9 over the years.

I’m still of the feeling that I couldn’t find a ‘better’ phone, but given the support issue as you have experienced, and . . . . I wouldn’t recommend it to anyone except a die-hard Fair trader.

Anyway if you an acknowledgement with 14 days that you wanted to return the phone I’m sure you would get legal back up.

So how did you do that and did you at least get a ticket or acknowledgement of your request before you phoned ?

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For a small international company I don’t consider it unreasonable to only provide a land line in their country of origin. Phone calls between EU countries are max 19ct/min with many cheap options also available. Providing a call-in option at all is gets less and less common today.

However I agree that service via mail / ticketing system should be responsive. If it takes longer than usual the request should still be acknowledged and inform about the current status.
What was the question you had?

Regarding returns: In the EU you have a 14-day return period to return online purchases without reason. Many retailers do it, but they are not obliged to provide a return label.

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The label, apart from being a courtesy and functional, it also indicates the willingness to accept, so it is becoming more ‘common’ to expect and hence wait for one.

If you notify them within the cooling down period which is legally available within EU (it is 2 weeks after you receive the package), then they have to send you a return label. I don’t know the legal repercussions of them not replying, but you’re within your legal right. You did your part. So its a matter of waiting then. Which sucks if you require the money, but otherwise it isn’t a big deal.

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Whether it is a big deal or not is down to expectations and some people have demanding expectations and can easliy get upset, there’s no blame on the consumer or vendor ~ it’s the horrible reality of business and when remote is more frequent and hence upsetting as there is no shop or human to speak to ~ hence the out pourings on the forum. Expected but very unplesant to even have to read how people are stressed.

The stress I read about and the blame etc. almost puts me off coming to the forum :frowning:

I can understand the frustration; I had some not-so-nice experiences with Fairphone (extremely buggy Android-10-update in 2020 / support not responding at all or just copy and pasting standard answers which are not connected to my question / delayed shipping of spare parts, etc.).

But I have to say that there was no need for me to contact support since a long time now, so I am happy with the Fairphone :wink: The update to Android 11 also worked much better than A10.

As others mentioned before, I agree: Support has to get better and the ticket system needs improvement.
And software updates needs to be improved, too. (Example: FP3 phones are still on patch level April 2022 and considering itself as “outdated” [red warning under “Security”]).

Still, I trust Fairphone that they will support my FP3+ with at least 5 years of updates after market start. And I still hope they improve the speed of applying patches.

So, for sure there are things to improve. Communication and software. But I am less annoyed than the thread starter and I still trust them that they are able to improve :wink:

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Thanks all, I appreciate the time to respond. In many ways I was just making a record for future searchers (as I found others’ useful), I’m not sure there’s much anyone else can do to help! (But thanks nonetheless.)

I would pick up the phone and call them, this often helps to speed up

Thanks! I have phoned them lots, and it does seem to help, but I’m outside the EU and it’s not super cheap or convenient. (And it doesn’t get an immediate answer, I just feel it kinda moves that issue to the top of the pile - presumably at the cost of some other poor soul who had been waiting!)

I dont agree to the statement that FPs are bad quality

Sorry, I didn’t mean to say that at all. While I only had a week of use, I was very happy with the device. My sole problem is with support. (And personally I feel without decent support it takes a lot away from the long-life aspect of the device.)

By the way what was the “simple question regarding the phone warranty/registration”

Oh an embarrassingly simple one about the correct document to supply. And after half the cooling off period was finished and there still had been no response, I looked through the forums and noticed that there seemed to be a consistent issue with slow support. And that’s when I got cold feet and decided I might wait until a later Fairphone, but personally I didn’t feel comfortable tying myself long-term to this company (I’d only just heard of it, and it’s for a company phone and I’d want ok support in case of issues).

Regarding the multiple accounts, that is likely due to safe-guarding user data as the systems are separated, and the forum is a user managed system.

I mean I appreciate this isn’t their core business, and it wouldn’t drive me away by itself, and is perhaps a bit off-topic… but single sign-on is the answer there. Sharing an identity doesn’t mean sharing a data store. (Think of all the services you can access with eg. a gmail or facebook login - they don’t each have access to one another’s data.)

I’m not sure that is actually the case… this is more often down to the type of support

I’ve no doubt there are happy stories, and I’m just reporting my own not-so-happy one :slight_smile: I genuinely just posted this because I felt bad about having such a negative experience and not doing anything to let it be recorded. (Yes, people don’t share positive experiences as often; but I don’t think it’s helpful not sharing negative experiences for others to judge by :shrug:)

I’m still of the feeling that I couldn’t find a ‘better’ phone

Haha! My personal phone is an ancient pre-smartphone Nokia. But yeah, I know what you mean. I was over-the-moon when I discovered Fairphone.

did you at least get a ticket or acknowledgement of your request before you phoned ?

Oh yeah. I’ve had responses, thanks, they’re not just utterly ghosting me (that’s unfair: they’ve claimed it won’t be a problem). But typically it’s after a week passes and I phone. The latest response was on Jul 15 where they start by saying “I’m sorry for my late reply I was out of the office for the week.” (I kid you not.) I responded immediately the same day, then again a week later, and then again today.

For a small international company I don’t consider it unreasonable to only provide a land line in their country of origin

Appreciated, and I think it pays to look at things as a whole: if the tickets were better supported I don’t think I’d have any problem with their phone support.

Regarding returns: In the EU you have a 14-day return period to return online purchases without reason.

Yeah I think now I should’ve returned it under my own steam. But now I’m just waiting on them (and because of the time that’s past, I don’t want to do anything but follow their instructions).

The stress I read about and the blame etc. almost puts me off coming to the forum :frowning:

I appreciate your feedback (and giving you’ve responded to me I guess you’re fairly active in general, and I know it’s not much fun trying to be positive around others having a bad time). So thanks again! Maybe a dedicated feedback category where people can express positive and negative experiences, and longer-term users of the forum can choose to ignore/read from that as they wish? The thing that really made me push to write a post was that when I first got cold feet I couldn’t work out if I was being too uncharitable, and my decision making was partly driven by existing forum posts about slow support. The response I’ve had since then has reinforced that I made the right decision, and it felt rude not to add to the forum posts that had helped me.

Thanks again

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I think waiting is the safe bet.

The EU GDPR is another story, by the way, you say you are not in the EU, so where are you :slight_smile:

Here’s a success story. I returned my first FP4 because I felt the phone wasn’t ready. The basic rule is that you buy a phone as it is released, not as it’s promised to be in the future, because that often leads to disappointment.

It took them 2 months I think to send me the return label. But it was not a problem to send the phone back. I also was able to keep the accessories because sending those back as well would not be worth the CO2 cost, their words. This is an excellent way of reasoning true cost in this world. I did get the refund for the accessories though.

After a few months I bought the phone again because the phone was in a more mature state. Luckily I could use the accessories. Otherwise I would’ve donated it to the local FP Angels.

Reasons FP is awesome: yours to open, support for open-source software and freedom of ROM choice, community and yes, also the support. Their slow response and a few issues with the phone such as call quality really need to be fixed soon, I agree with that. But FP is more than just a phone. It’s a movement. In 30 years we may look back to the 2020’s and think, wow, life was so good back then. Now we’re in so much trouble, climate change, socioeconomic instability, biodiversity loss, etc. If only we would’ve acted in time… Well, the time is now. Getting a FP really helps. It’s not everything we can do, but anything counts to make a difference.

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I too am beginning to wish I had not been drawn in by Fairphone’'s claims. I posted a fault query and received an automated response which directed me to a phone number. The phone number is any automated message advising that the phone number is no longer working and to email the email address that is not responding.
I use the phone for work and the level of service is inadequate and unacceptable.

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Just that you dont spend unnessary time in trying to call, due to hugh support backlog, phone lines are down till 8th of August.

Hi yvmuell

Thank you

That is not good enough when the phone is a tool for employment

Yeah thats surely correct. Maybe you could open a topic with your issue and the community can help to fix?

True, our phones have become an extension of ourselves to enable us to be more productive and social. They shouldn’t make life hard in any way. But please be patient, FP is doing their best and their goal is worth (some of) the trouble. The smartphone industry needs to evolve, FP is making that difference. A more sustainable and fair planet is a priority as well. If there is room for patience, I would suggest to cope a little longer :slight_smile:

They’re also not the only company struggling with a heavy workload. I really don’t know where it’s coming from. Trains are not reliable anymore, police can’t do all their duties, logistics are a mess, people can’t find more qualified personal. Maybe it’s still the pandemic, I don’t know. But things are a bit crazy in NL. We have a shortage of homes, but also a shortage of people :confused:

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Hi

Thank you for replying.

Saving the planet is a priority for all of us and is one of the reasons for buying a FP. Not advising customers of a likely response time is not going to help.

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I have to disagree, I’m more concerned about the way I treat people that do the hard work I am unable or unwilling to do and hence pay people to work on my behalf.

Yet even the fair trade just enocurages poorer people to spend more, but that’s a more equitable idea. Saving the planet is not just a fantasy but a delusion.

There is nothing wrong with the planet, it just the demands of humans to want to consume indefinetly that is logically unsustainable and this planet will ‘die’ one day, with or without ‘our’ help.

The response time is more of an issue as it about treating people decently and I agree there Fairphone hopefully realise that delays in support can precipitate stress and unhappiness in the users. Something I’m sure they don’t want and didn’t anticipate to the degree and depth it occurs.

Reasons for buying will have to stay on the Fair trade table, the rest is never going to work well for users and never for a planet.

:scream:

:om:

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Yeah I have no sympathy for Fairphone at this point (just found out about the phone lines being closed, not in a great mood!). There are charities in the world that are self-serving and ineffective, as well as those that are downright corrupt. It’s not because your mission statement is laudable that a particular organization should get plaudits.

I’m not saying that FP is corrupt, but I won’t judge them well solely by their latching onto a good cause. It feels a little to me like they knowingly hide their inability to support their products. It would be trivial to be open about this. You could post live stats about the ticket backlog, ideally with estimated time frames. My very first ticket waited ten days before it got an automated response saying that they were under a lot of load and wouldn’t respond quickly. Why on Earth couldn’t that at least have been an immediate response? In my current thread I asked for an explicit timeframe at the end of June and was told 2-3 days. I got the response today. (The message, btw, was “nothing’s changed”.)

Why does their phone line not indicate how many people are in front of you and give an estimated wait time? Why did no one bother to mention to people with open tickets that their bloomin phone lines were closed? Why do the bloomin phone lines themselves not mention the phone lines are closed?! I get the distinct impression it’s because that would interfere with marketing the device. There’s a slick marketing operation followed by a black hole of support and (from my point of view) a long suffering volunteer community expected to take up the slack - try and make the experience feel at least semi-professional.

  • Very frustrated customer, who still has a half-grand paperweight on their desk
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Fascinating! The one and only time I’ve encountered this before is with my landlord. They could at the very least tell you how many people are ahead of you.

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