Our Experience: Honor Play Smartphone Screen Repair by the Huawei Service Center
Everyone faces it eventually: The smartphone glides out of your hand or slides off of the designated shelf and, inconveniently, falls right on the sensitive side of the display. In that case, if the ground does not yield and even worse, consists of gravel, the only thing that can help is a preemptively applied, extra-thick screen protector and even then you have to be lucky. If the user did not opt to apply the latter, the display is likely to be in shambles. This is exactly what happened to an Honor Play smartphone from one of our editors. The smartphone itself was released back in 2018 and it currently costs around 230 Euros (~$256), which does not make repairing it look like an attractive course of action in most cases. Due to our professional interest, we opted for repairing it regardless - this decision was also influenced by our recent 2019 service and support survey, where Huawei's smartphone service received outstanding ratings.
Getting into Contact with Huawei's Service
We first contacted Huawei's service on Monday, June 17th through their live chat on Huawei's web page (consumer.huawei.com/en/support/). Our primary goal was determining the extent of the damage, since expensive repairs appeared questionable from the start and due to the large price drop of the Honor Play. While we did not receive the relevant information from our chat, we were referred to the closest Huawei service center and given the necessary contact information.
Subsequently, we contacted the responsible service center in Vienna by phone (+43800202110). When we asked for an approximate price for the repairs, we were given an estimate of 150 Euro (~$167). We also needed to fill out a form on Huawei's web page to notify them of the required repair service. Furthermore, we inquired as to the conditions of the "Service Day", which is promoted on the Huawei web page and in the HiCare app. This special offer promises a 60 Euro (~$67) discount on all fee-based repairs concerning Huawei devices and a free screen protector for selected models, the last two of which did not apply to the Honor Play (only Huawei smartphones). We were told that the repairs of the Honor Play were subject to the discount however. It was only to be valid if we dropped the device off directly at the service center and only on the last Thursday, Friday, or Saturday of the month (exact conditions). In our opinion, this is a decent offer - too bad the hotline did not make us aware of it.
Due to the long drive, we opted for send and repair and filled out the required form. Apart from various data regarding the phone, there was one important detail: By sending in the device, we would have to agree to pay a 36-Euro (~$40) fee for the repair estimate if we rejected the repairs. If we agreed to the repairs, we would not have to pay extra however. Our advice: You should absolutely ask for an approximate estimate of the costs, since - worst case - you may end up with the costs for the estimate and a defective device. This also applies when the repair costs exceed the value of the device.
Sending in the Honor Play for Screen Repair
Since we were already aware of the approximate expected repair costs and set on using the repair service in any case, we filled out the form, printed it out, and put it, as well as our Honor Play phone in a neutral cardboard box. In the shipping documents, Huawei states that they require all kinds of locks on the device to be disabled and the Google account to be disconnected beforehand. The repair process may cause all data on the device to be lost (a factory reset was in fact performed on the device in the course of the repairs). Furthermore, it is recommended practice to send in the device without accessories using the original packaging surrounded by an additional, neutral cardboard box.
After preparing the phone, we dispatched it per mail on Tuesday, June 18th and it arrived at the service center in Vienna on the following day. Positive: Thanks to the return label you receive by mail after filling out the repair form, shipping is free.
On Wednesday, June 19th, we received the promised repair estimate by mail. The screen repairs would cost exactly 164.21 Euros (~$183.02). While this slightly exceeded the verbally stated amount, it was still within our testing budget. We immediately agreed to the fee and a binding repair order was made, or so we thought.
On Friday, July 5th, we were sent a reminder that included the repair estimate and a request to return it, filled out and signed, within 7 days. The catch: You cannot send an answer directly to the sender's mail address. Although this was stated at the end of the email, it is not very intuitive (you cannot just reply to the email). There is no automated reply, stating that the used mail address is a no-reply address, either. This misunderstanding cost us at least another week, during which there were no repairs done on the Honor Play. We returned the repair estimate again on Friday, July 5th, this time with a manually changed email address and the request to change the billing address (company address), since there was no such field in the online repair form.
Screen Repairs completed. All Good?
We received our repaired Honor Play on 09.07 by mail - at least we should have received it then. It arrived by mail and the mailman asked for the repair fee in cash. Since we were neither informed of the fact that the payment method was cash on delivery nor of the delivery date of our repaired phone, we of course did not have a sufficient amount of cash lying around (more than 160 Euros/~$178) and so the mailman with the repaired smartphone was sent home. We did however schedule another delivery attempt on the following day. This appointment did not take place or at least we did not catch sight of either the mailman or a message corresponding to an attempted delivery.
On Thursday the 11th of July at 6:05 PM, we received an unexpected email from the repair service, which stated that the Honor Play could not be delivered (?!?) and is now back at the service center. In order to circumvent further issues, we confirmed the delivery address by writing and asked for a delivery until or after a certain date (planned holiday). Finally, the repaired phone was successfully delivered on Tuesday, July 16th.
All in all, the repairs, beginning on the day we dispatched the smartphone and including all of the issues, which setting aside the lack of information we received from Huawei were partially self-inflicted, took a whopping 35 days. This translates to exactly 5 weeks without smartphone. If the repair estimate had been returned to the correct address, this time could have ideally been shortened to around 7 days, but only if we had coincidentally had the repair fee lying around in cash, since this was not communicated. The many hoops we had to jump through for a successful repair process have the potential to make this a very long and frustrating story, as was the case with our repairs. Our request to address the bill to our company was ignored as well.
After our repair odyssey, the following aspects of the process strike us as problematic, which is why Huawei should absolutely rethink them:
- An email that contains a return request, NEEDS a working reply-to address.
- Customers have to be made aware of the fact that the repair fee is to be paid IN CASH on delivery. It should go without saying that there should be a cashless option.
- Due to the required payment on delivery, the delivery date should be communicated to the customer in advance.
- Options to reschedule, redirect or deposit the delivery at a pick-up point are standard nowadays.
- Customers should have access to a bill before payment, potentially essential contact information has to be taken into account.
As long as you have the option to switch to a replacement phone, a satisfactory result is possible - if everything goes smoothly. Provided that the respective spare parts are in fact shelved, this process should take up much less time in a service center. If you choose this option, you would be well-advised to inform yourself by phone in advance. It also comes with the added benefit of a possible discount, which is only worth it if you do not have a long drive to the service center and only available on Huawei's service days.
Over 160 Euros (~$178) to repair the phone by sending it by mail is a hefty amount and would likely dissuade normal consumers due to the disproportionate remaining value of the phone (230 Euros or ~$256). For comparison: Apple demands around 170 Euros (~$189) for an iPhone 8 display replacement, the recovery costs of about 500 Euros (~$557) are of course much higher in that case than with the Honor Play. Samsung offers significantly cheaper repairs for smartphones of a comparable price segment as well. If however, as with our Honor Play, there are this many issues despite the high cost of repair, customers will inevitably be left sorely disappointed with their experience.
Disclaimer: Huawei/Honor in no way supported or initiated this article. This article describes a real damage case, the editorial team bore all of the repair costs.