#HelloTintedCamera: An Experience With HTC Customer Support

Warning: This post is going to be a rather lengthy account of my negative experience with customer support, and is rather image-heavy, so feel free to skip reading this if you're not a fan of slogging through a heap of words and pictures. 

On the 10th of November (that's one month and fifteen days ago, to be exact), I lost my HTC One. Or rather, I set it down for a moment and then it was swiped. Lost, stolen, same difference when it's gone. 

Anyway, my heart was broken because I was rather fond of that phone - it had everything I wanted in a slim, sexy, silver (my favourite colour for my gadgets) package: it was easy on the eyes, it was fast, it had plenty of internal storage, it took nice pictures and had image stabilisation for the camera, and plenty of pretty sweet inbuilt features that I very much enjoyed. I loved it. 

So when my friend Reuben offered to sell me his HTC One 64gb (mine was a 32gb model) at a pretty nice price, I said OK.

I was happy for awhile - there's nothing more depressing to a child of technology than a lack of connectivity (yes I admit that I'm an addict), and having a phone identical to my previous love, but better for the extra storage capacity... I was elated.

Until I noticed something that I had only read about and not had the misfortune to experience:

Snapped this picture in a relatively dim corner of my house and was horrified

This is the screen-cap of my camera app - the picture in the lower right corner looks OK because it was taken in bright lighting

Not purple when taken with flash on

Another picture immediately after the previous. No flash. WTF this is VIOLET.

Taken outside some factory late at night, with street-lamps for illumination

This was taken with a reasonable amount of light - it wasn't really very dim at all, but you can see the purple

Taken outdoors in fairly bright light. There's a mild purple tint but not too noticeable.

Taken under well-lit conditions, albeit it being indoor lighting, at night

I informed Reuben (who was unaware of the issue - he's not someone who takes a lot of pictures) who was understandably upset that he didn't spot the problem, and he spoke to the dealer for HTC Kuching, Hui Sing, who offered to send it in for repair under warranty. I dropped off the phone on the 20th of November, and was provided a spare Android phone to use, which turned out to be this little HTC Explorer:

The little phone was very basic and could only support two to three apps at a time, but I was OK with it because Hui Sing told me it would take two, maybe three weeks maximum to get things fixed. However, three weeks on and various messages to Hui Sing later, there was no news about the status of my phone.

So I called the care-line for HTC, and was directed to a man who explained to me repeatedly that they were short of stock for the phone's UltraPixel camera and needed to order that from Taiwan, which sounded reasonable to me, but when I asked politely if there was a time-frame he could give me for when those cameras would arrive in Malaysia, I was repeatedly told that they had to order and had no idea on the repair time-frame.

I made a few comments on some posts on HTC Malaysia's Facebook page, from others who had the same issue as I did, about the duration that repairs were taking, and the page admin was surprisingly prompt in responding, telling me to message them my contact number and IMEI number so they could help expedite the time required to repair my phone:

Soon after, a very nice lady called me and told me she was handling my case, and would get back to me the following day on the repair time-frame. She never did, so I messaged HTC Malaysia on Facebook again:

She didn't call me back after that even though I waited a few more days, so on the 17th of December, I called them in the morning, whereby I was informed that my phone would be fixed the day after, and it would be mailed back to Kuching by the following Monday, at the latest.

At this point, Reuben was getting quite irate at the whole matter (he was checking up on updates on the issue), because he had difficulties with the customer support in dealing with the repairs for his previous HTC phones. Out of sheer frustration, he paid for this lengthy sponsored post on Facebook:

This sponsored post had quite a reach, apparently, and Campaign Asia even did an article (which can't be viewed any longer, unless you subscribe to the publication) on it, which mentioned my name (I was admittedly a little mortified). I learnt a new word: 'complainvertise', which the article ranks as the top spot if you Google the term. -_-

At this point, I was feeling a little bit sorry for the nice admin for HTC Malaysia, but Reuben has his own reasons to be unhappy with the overall customer support he received, so I figured I would just not say too much and wait and see if my phone would be returned to me on time.

The next day, HTC Malaysia messaged me:

Either way, there was a little bit of clarification on the things I did or did not say about the standard of service the customer support showed me, which did make me feel a little bit weirded out. Fortunately all that was cut short when the postman suddenly honked outside my house, and delivered a package which contained this:

Was feeling really bad about how big the issue had gotten, and this little box with the 'I'm back' on it actually managed to tug a little more at my heart-strings. Felt a tad guilty for the poor people who probably had to deal with the PR nightmare all of that was. However, my phone was back, and sooner than I had expected it to be, and I was really happy to finally be able to ditch the little HTC Explorer and go back to using a decent smart-phone.

Reuben was happy too, for my sake, and updated his Facebook time-line accordingly:

And then, after getting back from an event, I decided to snap a few pictures of Alyx. The camera, which had seemed fine earlier in the day, displayed this worrying new shade of tint in low-light conditions:



In slightly brighter conditions than the previous two pictures

Taken at night, under bright indoor lighting

That is supposed to be gold weave on sari silk

Taken close to noon-time from inside a car - it's shocking how you can still see a green tint despite it being so bright

This is actually a nice picture of my puppy being cute. The green tint does my Alyx no favours. -_-

I deliberated a few days because I was so sick of the whole issue arising from my initial decision to send in my phone for repair, but when it grew apparent that the green tint wasn't going to go away, and was beginning to bug me quite a fair bit, I contacted HTC Malaysia again through Facebook.

As usual, the page admin was very prompt and very polite, and a lady called Esther called me shortly after. She sounded very enthusiastic in helping me deal with this new development, and told me to change the ISO settings, which didn't get rid of the issue, after which she told me to do a hard reset.

I couldn't do that on the spot as I was out and needed the use of some of my phone apps, so I told her I would do so when I got back home, and said it would be better if she called me the day after. She asked me what time she was to call me, I said 10am, after which it was agreed that she would contact me the next day between the hours of 10am to 11am.

This is a picture I took after resetting my phone:

Pink scribbling to indicate the arm-holes of a cheongsam aside, this is actually a picture I snapped of my computer screen which I sent to my sister 

Esther didn't call between the hours of 10am to 11am. I was busy for most of the day, so I didn't really bother much about that fact, despite a slight sinking feeling in my heart that there would not be any call after all, as in the previous case.

Fortunately, the HTC Malaysia admin was nice enough to check back with me:

Esther did finally call about 12.31pm, and told me to send the phone back in to rectify the matter. I told her that I could only do so after getting back to Malaysia as I was going travelling very soon. I guess she was in some sort of hurry, because she rushed through the rest of the call and told me to just call the care-line and ask for her name when I got back, and then hung up on me after a quick 'Merry Christmas'. Got the impression she didn't really want to stay on the line longer than absolutely necessary...

Reuben checked with me on the resolution of my phone issue a little bit later on, because he was irate at HTC's customer support for not getting back to him in regards to his earlier paid post, and was incensed enough to pay for another sponsored post:

Am now left with quite a bad taste in my mouth from the whole fiasco, to be honest. I love HTC phones for their aesthetics, it helps that some of them have pretty decent hardware, and HTC Sense is a gorgeous interface. However, all those don't quite justify the shit I just had to go through.

This picture is probably the worst of the lot because it's just so obviously green. That bright object is actually the top view of my glass of pineapple juice held over a light

In conclusion:

  • HTC Malaysia's Facebook admin is very responsive and friendly
  • HOWEVER, they seem to be having a bit of an issue in coordinating the rest of their customer support system
  • They won't always get back to you, and when they do, it's rarely on time
  • HTC dealers are generally quite powerless to do anything about this overall rather flawed system
  • HTC One is a nice phone - but beware of getting one with a problematic camera
  • If you already own a HTC One with the same camera issue, it's probably best to insist on a one-for-one exchange instead of letting them replace the camera

I don't know. I want to be nice and obliging about this whole damned issue because I generally believe in being a decent person to others, but the idea of having to go on holiday with a camera which will probably snap all sorts of sub-par green-tinted pictures just irks me.

This is why I am going to chronicle this whole thing here as a precautionary tale for anyone else tempted to get a HTC One. Just so disappointed and seriously having second thoughts on ever purchasing another phone from this brand again. Bleh.

#HelloTintedCamera, indeed.


Since I got my phone back I've been scouring the Internet for mentions of others having the same problem - but it seems that unlike the purple camera issue, this green tint is possibly a rather new issue that's cropped up, and not very widespread yet. Since even Reuben was initially sceptical of the pictures being anything more than a normal sort of greenish tinge of photos taken in low-light conditions, I was almost convinced that I was paranoid. Or fussy. Or that my eyes were suffering some sort of colour-sensitive delusion.

Anyway this recent post on the HTC Malaysia page which I was directed to confirms it: I am not crazy; there's nothing wrong with my eyes; I'm not being a nit-picking, unreasonable customer out to smear the reputation of HTC's good name; and other people are getting the exact same issue as I am.

Gawd it feels good to know that I'm not alone (and not losing my mind over the issue), even if it's definitely not a good thing that other people are probably suffering similar levels of frustration as I am.


ahlost said...

Oh gosh.. one after another O.o

David said...

An unfortunate encounter with poor customer service.

Nokia's phones have the best cameras and best lowlight results.

My wife and I use Samsung phones, the S3 is my wife's, and I use the Note2. The newer S4 and Note 3 have improved cameras.

No Samsung phone I have used or anyone I know using S3/S4 or Note 2/3 smartphones have had the tint issues you had.

Might be time to give up on HTC.


farhan said...

Hi.. my htc one got problem with ringtone. The sound doesnt appear when someone call. Plus i also have a symptom as urs. So what should i do? Can i claim the warranty one-to-one?

CreativeBitchin said...

rose: yalah! so irate! >.<

david: actually this is the first time i've experienced this sort of issue with htc. i guess i got unlucky. my previous htc one (32gb model) was a dream to use, with no tinted camera problem.

farhan: you should message htc malaysia over facebook or call the care-line to check with them. it's their call.

Anonymous said...

So in conclusion how is ur phone now? I having same purple tint problem. And i had send in for more than 1 month and is stil under repair!