Rikkitic: I saw a letter in our local paper today that I think should be publicised here. Unfortunately I have no way of contacting the writer to get permission to re-post so I will paraphrase instead.
The issue has to do with Spark mobile phone battery replacements. The writer depends on a mobile phone for medical emergency support and points out that others also rely on these for medical and emergency situations. The writer’s battery died, apparently before it should have, but in spite of pointing out that the phone was needed for medical emergencies, the local Spark branch could not replace it and said it would take five days over the weekend to order a new one.
After making clear that the phone was needed for medical emergencies, the writer asked for a loaner phone or battery replacement while the battery was being ordered, but was refused. The writer says two other outlets were tried, but the cost was prohibitive.
The writer says both outlets said the battery could have exploded at any time but Spark did not warn of this. The battery was 12 months old and had only experienced moderate use, mainly for texting.
The writer asks why Spark cannot keep a spare battery in stock for these situations, or why one could not have been couriered to the shop for pick-up. The writer says Spark customer service was utterly lacking. Apparently no battery was to be had in either Hastings or Napier, the towns within reach of the writer.
I have no way of verifying this story. I am merely reporting what was in the letter. If it is true, though, I think it is a matter of concern and should be replied to by Spark.
We saw the letter to the editor as well, and the regional manager has discussed it with store staff and the store manager, and unfortunately we don't have the full backstory so we aren't able to really say what happened. More broadly though, we are concerned about the customer's experience. We do have loan phones available in-store and we make them available to people who need them, depending on stock (there is also a $150 bond for prepaid customers).
Ranging spare batteries is not really possible. We would have sold hundreds of different models of phones over the last couple of years and keeping a supply of them in stock would be complex and time consuming. As the letter mentioned, we can order in new batteries, taking about three business days, which is a pretty standard time frame for those kinds of things. We can also send phones off for repair, should that option be required, and the timeframe can differ depending on the problem with the device.
We’re also concerned the customer was advised by third parties that her battery “could have exploded at any second”. As you guys will know, those kinds of events are extremely rare, with billions of Li-ion cells being produced every year for a wide range of devices, and we are not sure what the basis of that advice was. Obviously if the battery is pierced or damaged in any way, we'd expect our staff to tell the customer the risks of using it and try to get a solution.
We want to make sure that we've followed all the right processes here, so we've reached out to the paper to hopefully print a response, advising the customer to head back in store to discuss the matter with the manager.