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Xiaomi - good products - hopeless service

About a year ago, my 1520 died on me (something which is completely my fault) and I had to buy a new phone immediately. I could have gone with either OnePlus One or Mi4. After much discussion with self and others, I bought the Mi4. At the price I bought, the phone itself was awesome. Great processor, RAM and decent camera and display. Then, a year later, it finally died on me. So far, I was very impressed with the phone.

Then, I decided to check in with service center. Then, everything that can go wrong, went wrong.

  1. My issue was that the phone had stopped charging. Everything else (as confirmed by the engineer on call at the service center) was just fine.
  2. A day later, the engineer calls me and informs me that the charging point on the phone has gone defective. He quotes a price, and I agree to it. Then, I also ask him to replace the battery.
  3. A day later, the engineering promptly calls back and says, its all done.
  4. I go to collect it. Pay and collect the device.
  5. It's charging just fine. Then, I insert the SIM. Then, I realize that the SIM is not getting detected by the phone. Surprised, I check the SIM on my second phone, and the SIM is all good.
  6. I bring this to the attention of the engineer (and from here on, it just goes down hill)
  7. The engineer checks the phone and says, the motherboard has gone bad.
  8. I point out to him that before I gave the phone for repair, his colleagues informed me that only the battery point is faulty. Everything else is fine. Now, since the issue has arisen, it must be the service center's fault.
  9. The engineer says, that does not matter. If I want the SIM to work, I need to get the motherboard replaced. Then, he promptly walks back into the 'back room' which is 'employees only'.
  10. I demand to see the manager. The waiting desk person (the engineers are no longer interested to speak with me now) says that the manager is out.
  11. I demand the manager's number. The waiting desk person consults for half an hour, and then eventually gives me a phone number. The number is simply the store number, which I already had, and when dialed goes back to the waiting desk person who gave that number.
  12. I point this out to the waiting desk person. She says, that is all she can do.
  13. I return home. I call customer care and explain what happened. The care execute gives a complaint number, promising to escalate. A week later (and now months later) nothing has happened.
  14. I go to the official twitter handle, and send in a complaint. No response so far.
  15. I go to their official forums, and post for 2 weeks straight. The moderators don't address my issue. Instead, my thread is deleted because, by posting my issue continuously for 2 weeks, they say, I am spamming their forums.
  16. I get a phone call from a separate department - the post service feedback department - and I tell them what happened. They also promise to escalate. Nothing happens.

Eventually, I give up and decided to buy a phone from Oppo instead of the Mi5 or any other Mi device for that matter. Right now, I am decidedly confused with Mi, as a company. A lot of people say that they have had good experience with the service center. Perhaps my case was unique. One thing I get for sure. The mi folks have a system in place - a service center, forums, twitter handle, evaluation team, customer care team and so on. However, the people in the system are not doing their job and simply sucking at things. This episode is strangely reminiscent of another experience i had recently with Airtel. It's equally appalling. Both Xiaomi and Airtel can learn a lot from Vodafone.

At this point, as a customer, to other current and future buyers (including myself), I can only advise this much. Perhaps, we should not buy expensive stuff from Mi. For instance, I happily bought the mi band from them. I also bought the mi power bank. I may even buy their low range and mid range phones. However, I will never buy their high end products, and nor recommend others to buy it.

Xiaomi may be grabbing the headlines, do cool presentations and all that. At the end of the day though, it is just another cost cutting, low end company. Cheap products = cheap service. With that perspective, I am no longer upset about what happened with my Mi4 experience. Now, when I go online to buy their products, I set my expectations low for I am paying a low price.

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