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Customer Service for Cell Phones? 38

oliphaunt asks: "I'm a victim of planned obsolescence! I'm in a customer service battle with Nokia right now, and I'm wondering if anyone out there has found a solution to a similar problem. I've tried eBay, I've tried Yahoo! auctions, I've tried Google Groups, and I've tried talking to Nokia directly- all to no avail. Now I'm faced with throwing away a phone that originally cost more than $600 USD, because I can't get a 35 cent part. Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated!"

"I bought a Nokia 8860 used from a friend about 2 years ago. It worked great until about 6 months ago, when the memory stopped recording new events between hard resets- so if I add your phone number to my address book, and then my main battery dies or I turn the phone off and remove the main battery, the phone erases your number. I've had the problem diagnosed by a couple of different Nokia approved service centers- there is an internal battery, the size of a watch battery, that somehow powers updates to the memory when the main battery disconnects. In this eBay auction, it's part number 16 in the exploded diagram. It's essentially a tiny watch battery, with a leaf spring welded on one edge to keep it in contact with the IC, and gold contacts to the (+) and (-) terminals on the other edge that actually make the contact.

The problem is, none of the service centers I've contacted stock the replacement battery, and they claim that Nokia won't ship them the part if they order it. The phone has been discontinued by Nokia USA, and Nokia tells me on the phone and in writing that they won't even acknowledge the existence of a replacement part market, much less actually sell me the thing I need to make the phone work.

Being a good geek, I tried cleaning the contacts with a pencil eraser, and confirmed that the original battery was dead with my trusty multi-meter. I've tried to find the OEM battery manufacturer that Nokia uses. No luck so far. And I took the old part out, and soldered the contacts and spring onto a random new hearing aid battery I bought from Walgreens- no dice. As a last ditch effort, I actually bought one of the kits from the guy with the eBay auction referenced above. The battery in that phone was dead too.

I'm running out of ideas! Nokia obviously wants me to buy a new phone- but mine is perfectly good, except for want of a 35-cent part with some additional metal bits attached. I've told them that their brand reputation is at stake with me. They don't seem overly concerned. What else can I try?"

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Customer Service for Cell Phones?

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  • Perhaps... (Score:4, Insightful)

    by David_Bloom ( 578245 ) <> on Thursday December 26, 2002 @08:28PM (#4963438) Homepage
    You could buy one of those cables that lets you synchronize your phone's contacts with your PC and just resync whenever your phone's battery dies. It's still an inconvenience whenever your battery dies, but it helps, and has added benefits.
  • by XO ( 250276 ) <{blade.eric} {at} {}> on Thursday December 26, 2002 @08:31PM (#4963449) Homepage Journal
    try this []
  • by eggstasy ( 458692 ) on Thursday December 26, 2002 @08:37PM (#4963475) Journal
    He sells and repair cell phones, as well as regular PC hardware. I can ask him about your cell phone if you want, but mind you, we're in Portugal, and with the holidays and all, snail mail could take two weeks.
    I dont know how good his English is though, I guess I could relay messages between you two if you can't really find any local repair shops.
    His website is at []
    I made it =)
    Anyway, I'm sure there's lots of "unofficial" phone shops around there too and they could work on your cell for a small fee.
  • Here call this guy. (Score:3, Informative)

    by Neck_of_the_Woods ( 305788 ) on Thursday December 26, 2002 @08:41PM (#4963488) Journal

    They have a conversion kit that includes the battery. I am sure if you get in touch with them they would sell you just the battery.

    Good luck, google it next time. :P

  • Duracell DL2025? (Score:3, Informative)

    by stefanlasiewski ( 63134 ) <slashdot@stefanc[ ]om ['o.c' in gap]> on Thursday December 26, 2002 @08:55PM (#4963571) Homepage Journal
    Nokia obviously wants me to buy a new phone- but mine is perfectly good, except for want of a 35-cent []part with some additional metal bits attached.

    I'm a little confused... didn't you just point us to the battery that you need?

    The link that you referenced points to the DL2025 Duracell battery. If this really is the battery that you want, they are pretty darn common [].

    • The battery in the phones has proprietary metal contacts attached to it. He has already tried getting a new battery and soldering on the old contacts.
      • How 'bout dab of Arctic Silver Epoxy []? I'd hazard a guess to say that it's electrically conductive.
        • Arctic Silver's website states that it has "negligible electrical conductivity" and was "formulated to conduct heat, not electricity." Your suggestion is good, but this particular substance does not possess the desired quality.
      • Re:Duracell DL2025? (Score:4, Informative)

        by toybuilder ( 161045 ) on Thursday December 26, 2002 @10:28PM (#4963964)
        Well, if it's just the matter of a tab on the thing, just take an electrically compatible coin battery, and solder on a piece of wire...

        This assumes, of course, that the problem is with the battery. Are you sure about that?

        Anwyays, there is a trick to soldering a wire onto batteries -- the aluminum doesn't like being soldered -- first, clean the surface thorougly using a fine abrasive to throughly remove the oxide layer and make sure it doesn't get contaminated.

        Next, pour liquid flux (or in an emergency, a drop of motor oil) onto the aluminum, taking care to avoid trapping air under the oil.

        Then, with a soldering iron, apply a good dose of melted solder onto the flux-covered spot. Then, attach the wire to the solder.

        Good luck.

        • ...soldering info...

          Or get some good spring clips.

          Has he verified that the battery is the thing? Applied correct voltage to the leads and dropped main power to see if the memory stays?

          If you know how to use a multimeter, you should know how to solder - and that most batteries have an analog if you're willing to page through digikey.

      • He has already tried getting a new battery and soldering on the old contacts.

        Too bad he couldn't be bothered to actually get the correct battery, instead of using some random battery he had lying around. He obviously knows which battery he needs--he should spend his 35 cents and get the correct battery, then solder the old contacts onto that.

      • Whatever. "Proprietary metal contacts" give me a break. A battery is a battery...except for hearing aid batteries. I can't understand why anyone would think a hearing aid battery would work, those die out within days after being exposed to air.

        And, guessing that this guy is not skilled at soldering, he probably had the iron on the battery for 5 minutes trying to get the wire on. That will kill a zinc-air pretty nicely, both by cooking it and accelerating the reaction rate.

        Most batteries used in memory backup applications are lithium. That's because they actually last for a while. What this guy needs is a lithium battery, and someone who knows how to solder (if the phone isn't ruined already).
  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday December 26, 2002 @09:03PM (#4963616)
    Why is this so difficult? It took 20 seconds to find on google: 8 bucks.
  • While without that internal battery your phone is no doubt less functional, why on earth are you considering throwing it away? Do you need to remove the battery often or do you frequenty run the charge down to zero?

    Maybe a larger capacity battery and some extra battery chargers lying about (work/car/home etc) would help keep it constantly with charge.

    I have had 3 nokia phones (2190/5190/3390) and with each one I kept them on 24/7 with moderate to high usage, generally charging while I sleep. If I'm using it more than normally, I'll plug it in for an hour or two during the day when I get a chance. In 5 years I can only think of 2 or 3 occaisons where I was getting so low on charge that I needed to turn it off to conserve power, and only once where I actually managed to drain the battery and lose power. In addition, even if the battery no longer has enough charge to power the phone and it shuts off, I'd bet there's still enough charge to run the phone memory.

    Failing that, is the battery specific to the 8860? It looks awfully similar to the one in my 5190 - could you buy a cheap used 51xx and canibalize it?

    Good luck.
  • If it is like the majority of batteries I've seen it will have stamped into it the relevant specifications. Just find a battery that is the same or close and do a bit of hacking to make it fit.

  • Have you looked into any of the battery retailers? You should checkout BatteriesPlus [] If they don't have what you need in stock, they can usually find it for you.
  • by Anonymous Coward
    Use pliers to remove the metal tabs from dead cell. Use conductive epoxy to glue to the new battery. All the idiots who say 'solder to the cell' are top-class morons, esp. the one with the motor oil for flux. Jackass. What, it tastes the same?

    Hint: Don't spend 600$ for a phone. It makes you look like an ass. Esp bragging about it. Check for things like the battery thing before you buy a phone the next time.

    Hint2: Phones are disposable. No one cares. Buy the 24$ special at the store. Sigh, I know, I know, you won't be able to show off and feel good about yourself by having a phone that's 2mm smaller.

    Hint3: Get your self-esteem some other way!
    • I'm the moron that suggested the motor oil... Personally, I think my flux tastes like peanut oil...

      Hey, it works to keep the aluminum from oxidizing while soldering. And since I have motor oil and solder, but not conductive epoxy at hand, that's easier for me.

      And, yes, he can try getting lithium coins from Digikey. But I assumed that if it was a standard battery with tabs, he'd have found it pretty easily.
  • Non-Free (Score:3, Funny)

    by duffbeer703 ( 177751 ) on Thursday December 26, 2002 @11:31PM (#4964250)
    Why are you asking this on Slashdot?

    Not only is the battery unavailable, but the software used to control the phone is shipped with a non-Free license.

    I find it outrageous that you would even think of asking such a question. Please install the Hurd on your Nokia 8860 then re-sumbit the question.
  • Try connecting a variable power supply to the battery terminals. Start at the lowest voltage available or known for hearing aid-type batteries. Step it up a notch at a time. Try Radio Shack, but I'm not sure the step resolution of their variable voltage battery-replacer power supplies will be small enough for you to experiment with.

    Good luck.
  • by WIAKywbfatw ( 307557 ) on Friday December 27, 2002 @04:07AM (#4965079) Journal phones that they know are on their last legs for $600 (or whatever you paid for it).

    Seriously, you bought a 4-year old hand set for a few hundred bucks? How much would a new one, with a greater feature set and a warranty have cost?

    I do have some sympathy for you but try to see both points of view. The mobile telecoms is even faster than the PC industry in bringing out newer and newer models - even the new phone I bought two years ago is now two or three generations old (WAP, colour screens, picture messaging have all been introduced since).

    A six year-old phone is even more removed from today's handsets and it's entirely possible that Nokia's refusal to ship the part is because it's no longer manufactured for them and they have none left. The situation is akin togoing to Ford and asking them to sell you an original part for a 1950's convertible. Just as Ford won't have it (why would they have inventory for something that old?) neither will Nokia (or Ericsson, Motorola, Sagem, Samsung, etc).

    Again, I appreciate how frustrating this must be to you but if you're going to live in a capitalist society then you're going to be a victim to market forces every now and again. And in this case, market forces dictate that there is no point or profit in a multi-billion dollar company stocking a 35 cent part for a product that's technologically obsolete.

    Sorry, but's that's the truth, Ruth.
    • ...Thank You, Darwin[SM].
    • Not stocking a custom part for a several year old phone is perfectly understandable. What is inexcusable is using an obscure custom expendable part in a consumer product when they had perfectly useful (and probably cheaper) alternative standard parts available. Thus, more junk for the landfill rather than just buy a common replacement and stick it in.

      Of course, I note that if all I want is a battery for a 1950's Ford, I will have no problem because they used a standard connector and I can use most any similarly rated battery (most even have both top and side post connectors on them these days)

      It is also worth noting that any american car from the '50s is well beyond it's expected service life. Not just obsolete, but fully (and reasonably) expected to be unservicable. There wouldn't be any demand at all for parts except that they are prized by collectors and many have been rebuilt from junk parts (in some cases, involving more effort than creating a custom car from scratch).

      On the other hand, there is no reason to believe that a 3 year old phone would be unservicable except for artificially built in obsolescence. Should I need a phone, I'll keep this in mind.

  • Perhaps accessories for this still-in-production [] phone (Nokia 8850-same product line! same chrome finish!) would work in your 8860. Ask your service center to try to order a battery from Nokia for that phone.

"An open mind has but one disadvantage: it collects dirt." -- a saying at RPI