All About Symbian - Nokia (S60) and Sony Ericsson (UIQ) smartphones unwrapped

Old 27-04-2008, 01:44 AM
14all 14all is offline
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UK Consumer Law, firmware & De-branding

Hi all,

I am new to these forums and no little of mobile technology but have a keen interest in UK & USA consumer law, mainly UK law.

Having read Dez-Borders thread hereI felt a need to write of my experience's in the last few days dealing with Nokia Europe and Vodafone.

Dez had a problem with his phone, I felt under UK law, he had a right to have his phone repaired under warranty, Dez cut a deal which he felt suited him best and I must admit saved him a lot of correspondence time.

So here we go.

Two/Three ago I was fortunate enough to be in the right place at the right time and purchased a N95, 8GB for 150 from a youth who had upgraded, the phone was legit and he gave me copies of all the paperwork and was BNIB.

I am a Sony Ericsson fan along with Samsung not a Nokia user at all.

The phone was Vodafone branded, unlocked but with a sim card, I am an Orange customer so installed my sim.

The first thing I discovered was while my sim worked just fine I had to change it to an Orange 3g sim card to use the 3g facilities on the phone, that cost me all of a quid.

I was no longer under contract to Orange but have stayed with them but I went PAYG and thus far have saved a fortune having done so.

I installed on my PC all the Nokia software that came with the phone.

Had I read the instruction book throughly I might have made life a little easier but life is to short so I started playing with the phone.

I don't regret buying the phone but I don't use half it's facilities, so it's a little wasted on me but for 150, I know when to jump and my new toy had my eldest kids green with envy for a while.

The phone has worked just fine, battery life is utterly deplorable however.

A couple of weeks ago I decided to use the Nokia PC suite for the first time everything was pretty much automatic including a firmware upgrade to V15.

When I purchased the phone the seller had informed me he had done a firmware upgrade, I think that's what he meant anyway.

Having upgraded the FW to V15 I can't see much difference, except when using the video facility for the first 10/15 seconds I get video judder, it freezes on and off when recording and the phone itself has crashed two or three times.

I then joined these forums and discovered a newer FW V20 but to get this I had to de-brand the phone.

On the one hand I was reading V20 was the DBs, from others, that it was crap.

Then I read Dez's post.

I do believe that both Vodafone and Nokia warranty T&Cs run contrary to UK consume law and limit our statuary rights.

I am not going to argue here Dez's case simply because he has resolved his problem but I can discuss mine.

Having spoken to a couple of bigwigs at Vodafone and after much tiresome BS they informed me Vodafone had never signed off on V15 being OK to install on their N95s, so would consider anyone who done so to have invalidated their warranty with them.

OK I said, but you supplied with your phone software that allows a user to back up and upgrade the phones firmware with very little control over the process, I received a phone call equivalent of a shoulder shrug and the line went dead.

Undeterred I went a little higher up the chain of command but before doing so I had a long talk with a Nokia representative at head office.

Nice people but very corporate.

I explained my concerns and the problem I was having with my phone, their take was the were aware of issues surrounding V!5 and V20 resolved this.

But I said in your wisdom you have decided to make this FW/fix available to all un-branded N95 8GB but not branded phones, so how am I to fix mine?

No worries, "we have a two year warranty on our phones and all you have to do is ask Vodafone to change the product code and you can take it to one of our repair places and we will firmware the phone for you."

Ok, is that the advise you are giving everyone? "yes", but you know as well as I do that Vodafone will never allow a product code change while a phone is under their warranty, if they do at all and you may well not repair a phone if a FW accedes that authorized by the phone operator, "yes", even though your software allows this FW upgrade to happen, "yes".

We understand there are issues, our FW is for generic N95s you need to contact your phone provider if you want a repair inside their warranty.

Yes I asked but in the situation I find myself in, if such a phone went to you for repair you can and do refuse to repair such phones, even though it is your software that allowed FW V 15 to take place, " Yes".

So that is how the situation remains, talk about being caught between a rock and a hard place.

I'm sure UK consumer law protects us from this.

When I have a moment this week I shall shoot off a couple of letters to both Vodafone and Nokia and await a response, I shall update this thread when and where I can.

Old 27-04-2008, 08:42 AM
dez_borders dez_borders is offline
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Originally Posted by 14all View Post
Yes I asked but in the situation I find myself in, if such a phone went to you for repair you can and do refuse to repair such phones, even though it is your software that allowed FW V 15 to take place, " Yes".

So that is how the situation remains, talk about being caught between a rock and a hard place.

I'm sure UK consumer law protects us from this.

When I have a moment this week I shall shoot off a couple of letters to both Vodafone and Nokia and await a response, I shall update this thread when and where I can.
Thanks for an informative and interesting post. Let us know how you get on - I wish you the best of luck and I think you will need it!

There's a few technical points I would like to discuss regarding Network's branding of FW and how I see it could work better...

Phoenix and NSU are both effectively work in exactly the same way as regards to Firmware flashing.

There are 3 files involved which are uploaded to the handset.

1. The Firmware Flash file (V15, V20 etc). For any given firmwarwe version there are only 2 versions of this file available. EURO or APAC (Asia & Pacific)
I believe Nokia should be in charge of release of this file for ALL product codes. It is nothing to do with the networks, and the file contains no networks specific data or programs. The phone's product code instructs NSU which of the 2 available flash files (EURO or APAC) to download & install.

2. The Language Variant (Engish, Chinese, etc.). Each variant file available contains half a dozen or so languages. Again, the Product Code in the handset indicates which language variant to install.

3. The USER file. This is the only file which contains any Network Branding. This includes additional programs, screen savers/themes, etc., AND the ability to disable functions - e.g. VOIP - usually by hiding them from the handset menus. Once again the product code in the handset instructs NSU which user variant file to download and install.

I believe that legally (from a consumer law view) that the networks have no rights to dictate which version of the main Firmware flash file (1.) which Nokia installs onto the handset, and that NSU should intall the most current firmware version available and most recent language variant file, regardless of the product code stored in the handset. Neither file contains any network specific data or code

Nokia needs to be able to do this to impliment bug fixes, stability, improving battery standby time, etc.
Nokia arguably have a legal requirement make the latest bug-fixes and enhancements available to ALL owners regardless of which network sold the handset.

However, the networks allegedly threatened not to sell handsets which Nokia did not allow them full control of FW versions and User data (branding).
Nokia didn't have the stomach to call their bluff, and let the consumer decide to shop only with the Networks offering the latest range of Nokia handsets.
(e.g. Any network which refused to stock the N95 last year would have seen sales plummet!).

Perhaps we need to setup an online petition then send to OfCom, or for individual users to write to OfCom complaining network branding is denying them access to bug-free firmware, perhaps illegally.

We should not have to risk our warranty de-branding to get a reliable fully featured version of the handset - after all, once the handset is delivered, it is YOUR property, not the Networks.

Anyway, that's my rant over. Feel free to flame me, etc. if I talk gibberish.
Phone History: Nokia 3310,7650, 6680, N70, N80, N95, N83, N96, N97...? HTC_Desire (with FroYo 2.2)

Last edited by dez_borders; 27-04-2008 at 10:16 AM.

Old 27-04-2008, 03:53 PM
lnt999 lnt999 is offline
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I'm in full agreement with you on this apparent "Invalidating warranty" issue, and I'm trying to think of comparible situations with other products.

I think the nearest thing I can think of is with cars. There was a time whereby if you bought a new car, and had it serviced by an independent garage (even if they used genuine parts) this invalidated the warranty. This was ruled to be illegal and so now, you can have your car serviced wherever you like without it invalidating the warranty.

At the end of the day, if you're using a NOKIA phone, and you debrand it to a NOKIA approved product code, and then update the NOKIA software, why should that invalidate the warranty? The only reason I can think of is that there is some shenanigans going on between the operators and Nokia whereby if you upgrade to the latest firmware, it somehow might cost the operator more money in lost revenue down the ether in some way.

At the end of the day, you can download various games and applications onto your phone, and if one of those goes wrong and wrecks your phone, it doesn't invalidate your warranty, so why should rebranding?

It seems to me that it's all a cartel aimed and restricting the customer.

There is a Nokia service centre near me, who are an independent shop so I'm going to give them a ring tomorrow to see how they see it.

Last edited by lnt999; 27-04-2008 at 03:56 PM.

Old 29-04-2008, 09:39 AM
pa49 pa49 is offline
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I have always hated this situation with regard to Networks, Manufacturer and warranty but I do believe that things are more straightforward than they appear. I just don't think it has been challenged correctly!
Let me explain.
Technically, a contract phone remains the property of the Network even when upgraded and sold on by the user.
A sim free non contract purchased phone is the property of the purchaser from the day he/she buys it.
Neither case should should have any bearing on the warranty status of the equipment.
All goods should be fit for purpose and this can be applied without much difficulty.
Ultimate responsibility for this lies with the manufacturer who basically designs and makes the item and must make sure of it's funcionality.
Assessing this is bound up in the "reasonable" test. "Is it reasonable that or to expect that" etc.
Branding should have no bearing on warranty as opposed to an unbranded sim free phone.
"But it does", I hear you say. Yes, but only because of the intransigence of the Networks. They brand to take control and then don't want to take the responsibilities that go with that control. As with other areas of mobile phones, customer service becomes non existent.
There is also a further difficulty when it comes to firmware as this, as we all know, can be a minefield.
But, again, irrespective of this the goods must still work properly. If you upgrade and sometime later your screen dies then you should still be covered as this would have not been affected by the upgrade.
It appears that the Networks really know that they are in a powerful position and in the final analysis they couldn't care less whether the customer looses out. You have an issue and they know that they can always pull the plug on your service.
They need challenging about their control and the way they treat customers when there is a dispute.

Old 29-04-2008, 10:17 AM
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jman200x jman200x is offline
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in my eyes this is a typical example of big corporate companies having a common 'cop-out' clause. I'm pretty certain that, techincally, changing the product code has no ill-effect on the devices whatsoever. But because these companies have said not to do it - they have a very easy get-out clause for any of their contractual obligations on warranty, insurance etc...


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