Cellular Immobility

Mobile Buttplugs from Bell Canada

Written by Lord Lansdowne

I'm the happy owner of a Motorola 120c. Okay, it's a lie: not so happy. Sure the phone works almost as promised (with emphasis on almost), but since I got it in November, there have been a series of things that happened that really make me wonder if that's why the phone was a special offer from Bell Canada.

Bell Canada, in case you did not know, is the leading authority when messing up your phone is concerned.

To give you an example: three months after it arrived to me, the antennae, a combination of a piece of metal so thin I could use it to floss my teeth and a plastic cap the equivalent of a suppository, snapped off. I didn't even have to try to snap it off. I pulled it up and it stayed in my hand. For something you pay in the verge of $130, you'd expect a little durability. At least I would, unless that ideology makes me extraordinarily unique in this world.

Because the gentle and kind people at the Bell store determined that this was not covered by the warranty (God bless them), I spent in the range of $55 for a new one.

How an item so small can justify a cost of almost half the total value of the phone is something I still haven't figured out. Funny thing, the store had in display models of the same phone I have: all with broken antennas.

Three months later, the same piece broke off again. I mean, this is somewhere near the vicinity of almost funny. Fifty-five dollars later the hilarity, though, soon faded away.

When the piece snapped a third time--albeit this time it took a world record of only two weeks--I ended up buying a Nokia antennae from a competitor that doesn't move. It works and actually reception has drastically improved, which for this phone, that's quite an achievement considering it has spent most of it's active bi-mode life in Analogue whenever I go inside a building.

Consider also that I paid a total of eight dollars for this piece that's significantly better than the original. Maybe Motorola needs to learn something here. Just an idea, of course.

Last night, I went to grab the phone to answer it, only I couldn't. If you are not familiar with the Motorola 120c, it has this one button that answers a call. The same button is also used to acknowledge menu options and an average of fifty zillion other things. The button in question happened not to be there on this occasion. I assumed it had gone off for a much-needed vacation.

Ironically enough, I found it later on the spotted linoleum floor, which if you think about it, it's quite an achievement. The piece looks like a malformed, semitransparent pea, looking like it just snapped off after it was chewed. Now, ordinarily I do have the bad habit of chewing pens, but it's a little difficult, normally, to chew cell phone buttons. Try it sometime; you may see what I mean.

When I took the phone to the Bell store (again) I was told this was not covered by the warranty. Exactly, what is covered under this warranty? Other than absolutely nothing, I mean.

Finally, after taking the phone and sending it to whomever to replace the nibbled button, the clerk tells me it takes somewhere between three to five weeks.

That's three quarters of a month to a month and one week... to replace a button. I'm not sure if I am the only one that finds this extremely idiotic. Does the staff who repair these things get paid by the hour? If so, are they hiring?

I just hope now that I will not lose the battery cover, which is the only piece I have in my possession right now. It should be noted that this piece, the equivalent of a drool cup as far as shape and amount of plastic goes, retails for a humble $65. Add to this the cost of the antennae and we're at $120 already.

Does this mean that circuit board and the other components cost a mere $10? Or does this mean that the antennae (total moving parts: one) and the battery cover (total moving parts: absolutely none) are the apogee of technological advances and engineering skills at Motorola? Because, really, I can't explain these prices in any other way.

Maybe this is how Motorola is trying to recover from its billion dollar losses. I guess laying-off well over one hundred thousand employees just wasn't enough to bring the company back into a margin of profit.

I just hope that one of them is the one who designed this phone.