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You buy a Nexus phone from the Google store or your telecom service provider. Things go well for the first 12 to 18 months.
But after the warranty runs out, your phone may go into “boot loop” – a terminal condition in which it keeps trying and failing to turn itself on. Eventually, the battery is drained and the phone shuts down.
The boot loop condition is known to affect the Nexus 5X phone made by LG and the Nexus 6P, made by Huawei. There are many complaints at the Nexus forums, hosted by Google.
After settling a U.S. class-action lawsuit, LG Canada extended the warranty to 24 months on the Nexus 5X and acknowledged that the phones had a hardware defect.
That should have helped owners get free repairs. But I started hearing from many customers who felt stuck in their own loop of being shuffled from retailer to manufacturer and back again.
Google referred them to LG, which said they didn’t qualify for warranty coverage because their phone was a U.S. model (even though they’d bought it from a Canadian retailer). They would need a U.S. address to get a free repair.
When I asked about passing the buck, LG pointed to a failure of communication.
“We experienced a misunderstanding in our call centre regarding LG’s service support of Nexus 5X devices purchased directly from Google,” said Puneet Jain, head of marketing, in my recent column about the boot loop issue.
“This misunderstanding has been addressed and all LG service representatives are now fully aware of the policy and are able to support it accordingly.”
Not so fast. From the moment the article appeared online, readers told me about another failure of communication.
Initially turned down by LG because they had U.S. models, they called LG again and were still denied coverage – but for a different reason.
Take the case of Malcolm Victor, who bought his Nexus 5X from Google Canada in September 2015. It was more than two years old when it died early this year.
“I just got off the phone with LG Canada,” he said. “Initially, the agent said the phone was out of warranty. I quoted the article. She put me on hold and came back to tell me that LG only extended the initial warranty for 24 months from the date of purchase. Therefore, my phone was out of warranty.”
This seemed unfair to me. Why would a manufacturer that admitted to a defect exclude people who bought the phone in late 2015 (when it was launched) and yet include those who bought it a few months later?
I sent Victor’s complaint to LG Canada. He was instructed to send his device by Purolator to the service centre in Markham, Ont., where he was given top priority with a same-day repair and a next-day delivery.
“She writes. She scores. A hat trick for you,” he said after ensuring that the returned phone actually worked.
A one-day turnaround doesn’t make up for a failure to admit to the problem and get it fixed in the past. But it certainly helps.
About six Nexus 5X owners who wrote to me have had repairs at no cost. This included a frustrated Victor Liang, whose comments I used in the earlier column. He posted a note in the Google forum about getting his phone back in under a week, along with an apology for misinformation from the service centre manager.
LG has contacted more than a dozen more Toronto Star readers, asking for more information or telling them how to send back their phones for repair.
Jeremie Faucher-Goulet, a computer engineer who lives in Quebec, told me about having lunch at a mall while scrolling through news on his Nexus 5X phone.
“You may find it hard to believe, but my phone broke – it shut down and got stuck in a boot loop – precisely as I was in the middle of reading your story. It was probably the most unbelievable coincidence I’ve ever seen in my life,” he said.
“I was already aware of the issue plaguing Nexus phones and understood the problem. I simply counted myself lucky since I had not faced any issues in almost two years of having this phone as my daily driver.
“At first, I thought it was some kind of prank or virus that would afflict users reading your article. A few hours later, after seeing the issue was real, I searched for your article on my computer at work, remembering you gave guidance for those affected. I found the phone number and called LG support.
“In the past, I’ve always dreaded these calls, being put on hold for a long time, not dealing with helpful agents. But I got quick, effective, no questions asked support from LG after providing a proof of purchase. It seemed LG got its act together.”
Faucher-Goulet, whose phone was still in the two-year extended warranty period, had it returned to him at no cost in just over one week.
“I say fixed, but LG actually replaced the mainboard inside the phone, making it a different one in practice. Google shows me as owning two different Nexus 5X devices now,” he said.
My advice: If you have a boot loop issue with one of these phones, please contact the service centre at 1-888-542-2623.
“We are handling customers affected by boot loop issues on a case-by-case basis and making every effort to ensure that customers are receiving the service they require,” LG’s marketing head Puneet Jain said.
And if you have failed to get free repairs for the Nexus 6P phone, which also has a boot loop problem, please write to me. I’ll try to find someone at Huawei who will take responsibility as LG Canada did.
Ellen Roseman appears in Smart Money. You can reach her at email@example.com .