A while ago I outlined how my HTC Desire was suffering from a not-so-uncommon hardware defect that causes it to overheat and spontaneously reboot during normal use (I also made a short video that demonstrates the issue). Shortly after writing the blog post, I contacted HTC’s customer support, where I was instructed to send the device to their German service contractor “arvato services solutions GmbH” for repairs. Since the Desire is less than a year old, repair costs would be covered by the Desire’s 24-month warranty.

Talking to HTC through their web-based ticket system was a bit awkward (what’s wrong with email?), but my support contact’s respondes were swift, friendly and seemingly competent. When I got my Desire back from Arvato after just a few days, I was quite happy with the experience so far. Unfortunately, the joy of having my phone back didn’t last very long, as a few minutes of stress testing revealed that the “repaired” Desire was still suffering from the exact same problem that caused me to send it in in the first place. Even though Arvato claimed that they had “replaced defective parts” (without specifying which parts that would be), the phone was still suffering from the same reboot issue as before. And that’s where the real annoyance began.

Even though I had provided them with a fairly detailed description of the error, Arvato has obviously failed to address the issue, so I didn’t waste any time before contacting HTC again. As expected, they apologized for the inconvenience and asked me to send the Desire right back to Arvato. Considering that postage for sending a package from Austria to Germany is not exactly cheap – the first and fruitless attempt attempt at getting the device repaired had already cost me ~13 € –, I also asked HTC to cover the expenses I would have for sending the Desire in for a second time. After all, paragraph 9c in HTC’s own warranty statement reads:

HTC will pay costs in connection with both the return of the defective product to HTC and the repaired Product back to the Customer if the Defective Product is within the Warranty Period.

I was quite surprised when I saw that HTC was obviously not willing to comply with the statement above. First, my questions regarding a refund of postage were ignored entirely, but after continued insistance on an answer, the support contact simply stated that – and here comes the interesting part – due to the voluntary nature of warranty statements, HTC would not be legally bound to comply with their own warranty and thus would not refund the postage. Wow! If that were actually true and no company would have to abide by their own warranty statements, we would probably see a lot more lifetime warranties out there. But since these conditions are part of a product and as such might play a role in whether one choses to buy it or leave it, I’m pretty sure that HTC is a bit “misinformed” in this case. I’m currently considering my options for getting my money back, but one thing is for sure: As much as I like HTC’s line of phones, I don’t see myself as one of their returning customers.

As for the still-not-repaired Desire: I’ve sent it to my retailer, who – naturally and without having to ask for it – also pays the postage.

Update (2011-04-18): I just got an email from Amazon offering a full refund on the Desire. Considering that it took them just two days to process my package, I think it’s justified to say that, in contrast to HTC, Amazon’s customer service really doesn’t leave a lot to wish for :)