When I first heard about a smart phone being produced under fair conditions I was really excited. So excited to order one phone right away (I got number 11000 or so) and to spread the word and telling everyone within my circle of friends and family. This resulted in 4 more people buying the phone aswell, including my girl friend.
I joined the Fairphone movement.
Today I am going to quit this movement and I would like to tell you why.
My girl friend ordered one of the phones from the second batch and received it in August 2014. We both like the idea that the people that are part of the production line of the products we buy are treated in a fair way. We also try to save resources, meaning that we don’t get new devices just because there is something new on the market. We share the opinion of this quote: “the most ethical phone is the one you already have” from the Fairphone blog (https://www.fairphone.com/2013/10/03/guest-blog-the-restart-project-fp-repairability/). Therefore we treated our devices carefully to make them last long. They do both look like new.
Even though we treated the devices carefully her Fairphone broke down. In March 2016 (after 18 months) we were not able to charge the device anymore and neither the replacement of the USB-cable or the replacement of the battery changed that. So I wrote to the support telling them about it. After 4 weeks of no reply we got an answer telling us to try a different cable. After the second more in depth reply from the support we were still not able to solve the issue and I was asked to send the device in to find the reason for the problem and repair it.
We did that and they found the issue which was the coating of the USB-connector to be rubbed of a bit. This can be seen here (http://www.image-share.com/ijpg-3288-100.html). They blamed us to have used the device improperly (“probably due to using a defect cable”) which leads to the reparation not being covered by the warranty. So they told us that we either pay 172€ to get the device repaired, to pay 59€ to get it back without being repaired or have the device to be thrown into the trash bin. We do not use a defect cable, we use one USB-cable to charge all of our devices and except for the one FP everything is working fine.
When asking why this is so expensive and if the USB-connector (which costs 0.50€) could not be replaced they told me that this is not possible. They mentioned that the phone was checked by an independent company that has “vast experience in repair of smart phones and other consumer electronics (over the past 12 years)”. The answer to my question why they are not able to really repair the device if they are so experienced was that the FP1 was not made to be repaired in that sense and that the FP2 was a big step in the direction of modularity and therefore repairability. “Rome wasn’t build in one day…”, they said.
This really felt like a slap in my face. This comes across like it would have been better not to buy the first version of the Fairphone and wait for the second, better, one. This gives me the impression that all the “Thank you’s for making this possible” that the company sends around via e-mail are just empty words.
I am fine with paying more for a device which is produced in a fair way. I am fine with a product not being perfect, weak GPS performance, weak camera performance, … I am fine with still using Android 4.2.2 in 2016. I am fine with giving a free credit for 6 months to help starting the idea of a fair phone. I am fine with delivery date after delivery date not being satisfied and waiting 6 months for the device.
But I am absolutely not fine with a company not caring about the early supporters. A company that is not able to find a way to offer a fair repair for the failure point of the device (I don’t consider paying more than 50% of the price I paid initially to be fair). A company that claims that sustainability is one of their major goals but that throws away a working mainboard just because of one minor part.
My Fairphone journey ends here. I am leaving this movement.