A Visit to the BlackBerry Hospital

A Visit to the BlackBerry Hospital

Summary: You all know that sick and dejected feeling -- your mobile device is ill. You notice that it's starting to act flaky.


You all know that sick and dejected feeling -- your mobile device is ill. You notice that it's starting to act flaky. It's crashing randomly, and you find yourself having to hard reset it a couple of times again. Like that beloved pet you bring back to the vet for that last time, you know that the visit is not going to end well.

Late last week, I noticed that my prized Blackberry Bold 9000 was starting to fritz out on me. Random crashes, lockups, and reboots. 15 minute plus boot and re-initializations, and requiring several hard resets to get it working. I had thought it was the software I had loaded on the device recently, but even after doing a total device wipe, the problems persisted. That meant bringing it back to the AT&T store. Yuck.

Click on the "Read the rest of this entry" link below for more.

This time, however, when it happened, I was not in my home area of Northern New Jersey. I happened to be in the greater Atlanta area, specifically near the Cobb Galleria business and shopping complex.

I had just replaced my current BlackBerry back in November of last year, so I knew that my warranty was still good -- no more of that "early upgrade" business to deal with, AT&T HAD to honor a repair request. But I knew from experience, at least in my home area, that if I brought the unit in, they'd probably just tell me to mail in in and I'd get the unit back ten days later. Maybe. This of course, after waiting God-knows-how-long on their customer service line to arrange the swap.

As fate would have it, I was pleasantly surprised.

Instead of a gruff sales guy that was totally disinterested in helping get my problem resolved, it turned out that in Atlanta, there were several "Device Support Centers" where I could walk in, a la outpatient clinic, and get my BlackBerry replaced ON THE SPOT. Apparently, these Device Support Centers are a fairly new phenomenon, and the very first one was opened three years ago as a pilot in Atlanta.

So after work, I headed over to the original Device Support Center in Northwest Atlanta, on Powers Ferry Road, which was only a few miles from the AT&T store on Cobb Parkway. Sure enough, there were some folks there who were cheery, compassionate, and understanding, and swapped out my device with a replacement reconditioned unit, which for all practical purposes looked brand new. If I wanted them to, they could even transfer data from my old device to my new one, for no charge whatsoever -- but since I synced everything with my  company's BlackBerry Enterprise Server, I didn't need to do that. Still, it was nice to know they were able to accomplish this. They were even able to test my SIM to make sure it wasn't malfunctioning.

The Device Support Centers are actually run by Flextronics, which is a contract manufacturer and maintenance provider for a number of different device manufacturers. In addition to most of the current BlackBerries, Flextronics stocks Sony Ericcson, Samsung, Palm, Pantech, Nokia, Motorola and LG devices for swapout. Sorry, no iPhones.

Have you had to visit the "BlackBerry Hospital" yet? Talk Back and Let Me Know.

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Topics: BlackBerry, Hardware, Mobility


Jason Perlow, Sr. Technology Editor at ZDNet, is a technologist with over two decades of experience integrating large heterogeneous multi-vendor computing environments in Fortune 500 companies. Jason is currently a Partner Technology Strategist with Microsoft Corp. His expressed views do not necessarily represent those of his employer.

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  • This would be a good idea for ANY business

    Contract out with other businesses (or if you have stores, do it there) to replace your things and have the broken things sent back into you to be reused, fixed or tossed (as the case may be).
  • Flextronics? That's a great idea.

    Back up and running? A story with a happy ending! ;)
  • Sprint does something similar

    Sprint has something similar all over. Some of their stores have a service center in them and have for a number of years. You can simply bring your phone in to them, they will test it and if they find that it is faulty, they will simply give you a new one (assuming it is under warranty or you have the insurance). I recently had a phone where the front screen got cracked and they swapped it out and transferred all my contacts over for me in about half an hour.
  • RE: A Visit to the BlackBerry Hospital

    Isn't this a symptom of a larger issue? I appreciate the device support center model; however, it bothers me that your Bold, which is only a few months old, already needs to be replaced. Every one of the Bold users in our company is experiencing exactly the same problems you've stated. So when is the new OS coming to fix these bugs.
    Raul Perez
  • Kackberry !

    The bold is the biggest pile of steaming manure that I've had the misfortune to be inflicted with, unluckily it's a company phone and not my personal choice.

    Firstly had the random crash reboot woes which did get fixed by a firmware update which sadly went on to introduce a null pointer exception in the call log so no more call logging, which I had to fix again, grrr

    I pray for Jesus to save me, all hail Jobs

    Alan Smithie
  • RE: A Visit to the BlackBerry Hospital

    AT&T is not the only carrier to benefit from Flextronics' technicians. Fortunately, Verizon also uses Flextronics techs and can also replace a Blackberry on the spot (yes, even the Storm).

    We're a good bunch of folks for VZW as well.