Saturday, March 14, 2015

PhoneLabs - one of the good guys!

Even a decade-old Dock-N-Talk can be upgraded to Bluetooth capability.

In a previous posting, I discussed how you can dock your cell phone with a docking station, so that you can talk through your cell phone using your landline phones.  This is handy at home as you don't have to race around the house looking for your cell phone when the phone rings.  It also can be handy if you want a second phone line for your phone system (I have an AT&T business phone system that supports up to four lines).

My old Motorola flip phones were starting to wear out and do flaky things.   The AT&T GoPhone people sent me a nice note saying that the technology was so old, it was slowing down the network and they asked me to please come to the AT&T store for a new phone, for free.

What they gave us was a $14.99 credit toward a new phone.   They had a "bar of soap" phone for this price, but only one in stock.  So we paid another $15 (I know, extravagance!) on a second phone that had a keyboard and bluetooth as well as odd things like an FM radio (???) built in.

Of course, this new phone would not interface with the hard-wire connection on the Dock 'N Talk module which was now ten years old.   I went on the Phonelabs website and discovered I could "upgrade" the unit with an add-on bluetooth module, for about $79.  However, since my unit was older, it would require a firmware upgrade for an additional $25.

I called their tech support phone and it bounced to voicemail and than hung up.   I was a little disappointed at this, so I tried the tech support "contact" page on their website.  I gave them the information on what I wanted and mentioned that their voicemail was full and hanging up on people.

A few minutes later, the phone rang.  The tech support guy was apologetic.  They didn't realize the voicemail box was full!  He was clearly upset that a customer wasn't getting good service.

Who are these people, what planet do they hail from?   Clearly not from Earth.

He explained that I could mail in the unit, and they would upgrade the firmware for a small fee and mail it back to me, after installing and testing the bluetooth module.   Imagine that, actually upgrading a device that is ten years old and cost less than $200 new.

Again, what planet are they from?  Planet Borg?  Because in our modern throwaway society, even an iPhone 5 these days is viewed as landfill fodder.   Needless to say, these guys were pressing all my stingy buttons.  Reuse and recycle!  And honest prices and good service!

So I sent the unit off (paying $5.25 for Priority Mail small package) and a few days later I get a phone call from them, leaving a message saying there was a problem.  Oh, boy here it comes.  Knew it was too good to be true.  Right?  Wrong.

I called them back, and got the tech on two rings.  He explained that my decade-old box had stuck buttons on it (I never used the buttons and I guess they fused in place over time).  For an additional $10, he could open up the box and fix it.

$10?  Are they serious?  Anyone knows that the minimum charge at the "Genius Bar" at the iPhone store is $300!!  What freaking planet were they from?   Or are they in some sort of time-warp from 1950?  Maybe I need to take my DuMont television to them for repair.   I am sure they have the correct tubes.  Probably they could fix a Muntz TV as well!

Anyway, a few days later, the unit arrives.  I plug it in, follow the instructions, and sync my new GoPhone with the device.  No fuss, no bother, it starts working right away.   And the nice thing is, I no longer have to "dock" the device with a wire anymore.  So long as the phone is in range of the device, it should sync with it, and calls to the cell phone ring though on the landline phones all through the house (and the studio) as line 2 (line 1 is a VoIP NetTalk line).

The device works well and will sync with up to eight phones.   Pretty neat trick.

Anyway, to me this was amazing.   A company does what they say they will do, provides great service at a reasonable price, and provides a product that runs for over a decade without failing, and which, for a nominal amount, can be upgraded to new technology.

Amazing, to be sure.  But shouldn't every company and every product be this way?