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WARNING: Beware of Cowboys selling “cheap” rugged phones
Some big rugged phones sites and TradeMe sellers are trying to flog-off phones that don’t work in rural areas, and which may not work anywhere once Vodafone and Spark switch off the 3G cellsites next year – and they’re lying to their customers about it, still promising “compatible with all NZ 3G/4G networks”.
To help you avoid being stung, we’ve compiled a database of all rugged phones and whether they are really compatible. Read more at the links
Repairs: What You Need To Know
YES: This phone is serviceable in New Zealand, but only by the Outdoor Phone Store. Beware if purchasing the same model elsewhere without a specialised service team as ordinary mobile repair shops will most likely be unable to fix it
QUESTION: With your screen warranty, I notice the screen warranty is roughly a hundred dollars more expensive. Is that how much extra it costs to fix a broken screen?
ANSWER: No, because these phones are waterproof their screens are much more complex and expensive than an ordinary phone, and generally between $300 to $400 to fix (parts and labour). So when comparing our full retail price to another retailer with no screen cover, factor in the full repair cost when weighing up the options.
Let’s see an example from a competitor’s website. They sell their phones about $100 cheaper than us, but they shunt ALL of the repair pain onto their customers:
And here’s the thing: unlike our cut-price competitor we hold parts in Auckland so you don’t have to wait three weeks for parts.
One final warning – “You will need to find a local phone repair store to do the work for you”. Good luck with that, they won’t touch these phones, as you are about to find out…
Buying a rugged outdoor phone could save you hundreds by reducing phone breakages, but you can’t just blindly purchase any old rugged phone from any old website and assume it is going to go smoothly. Here’s what you need to know:
Rugged phones are a specialised market. Many of the big telcos no longer sell them. Anyone can buy them at wholesale from TradeMe or cut price sites – but you can’t buy a repair from them. If something goes wrong, whether it’s a warranty issue or user-caused, you probably won’t find anyone who can fix it. All those suburban mall phone repair centres carry parts for run of the mill Samsung and iPhones – they don’t carry parts for rugged phone brands, and without specialist technical help they don’t know how to fix them. So if you waltz in with a rugged phone, most won’t touch it and suddenly a cheap deal on the internet turns into a useless expensive brick – often just because the temptation to save a couple of hundred bucks was too much to resist.
ARE BROKEN SCREENS COMMON?
No, and yes. Around 40% of ordinary smartphones get cracked or broken screens within a year, but screen repairs are so expensive that people just buy a new phone or wait for an upgrade. Around 10% of rugged phones will suffer a broken screen, which is pretty good given the punishment they take, but because they are waterproof they are expensive too (as you can see from the competitor’s site). So we build into our full retail price essentially an insurance premium that helps spread the burden. There’s a chance you won’t need it, but if you are one of the one in ten customers who do it can be the difference between a massive bill and total peace of mind.
That’s why the Outdoor Phone Store sells our range at retail price, not wholesale. We know that the only sustainable business model for rugged phones is one that includes parts and service. That’s what most of our customers expect. Like the big networks, we back our range with a two year warranty which is the difference between retail and wholesale. That means we won’t sell you a phone unless we can get parts and get the phone serviced here. We get technical assistance direct from the manufacturers. Other stores don’t, which means they are not able to properly diagnose your fault, let alone fix it.
That results in unfortunate customer experiences like this Australian endured:
I bought last month a new blackview 9800PRO from [another site]. I’ve just read your email about the behaviour of [the director] and it has me concerned.
- I can’t get a response to issue of not being able to hear adequately from the ear piece
- I cant get a phone number of the sitec
- I did get a phone call when the screen protector blanked the screen when making calls but when I rang back no one answered
- So I have probably no warranty which was the point of buying from Australia
…I got hold of the owner owner eventually. Very terse response, basically got cranky with me for stating the facts. I haven’t returned the unit because I was sceptical about getting it back and what I got back…
All of which to say, paying retail gets you genuine expert service and parts access. Purchasing from more desperate sellers pricing their models for a quick sale might save you $150 initially but it doesn’t get you service, it gives you grief in the long run and could be the difference between enjoying your new phone and being stuck with a brick.