Thursday, July 19, 2007

Only Oil?

I researched an amazing new method for using my cell phone yesterday, after receiving an alert from Mother Stumbler. If it works, I'll publish the results in a blog post. But in the meantime, I needed to order a new cell phone and number for Young Stumbler #3. Part of my crazy scheme involves swapping my current Samsung phone for the new Nokia phone she will be getting. My current phone is a slider phone, the Samsung t809, and the sliding action has become a little bit stiff. Since I am here in South Korea, the home of Samsung Electronics, I figured that this would be the easiest place to go get some oil put on the slides, instead of making YS#3 try to have the repair done in the USA. My buddy CH contacted a nearby Samsung repair center (VERY nearby, in fact) and made a reservation to go visit them at 6pm last night.

I show up, CH introduced me to the repair engineer, and then he has to leave to go home. So, I sit down with this man, and I expect him to pull out a bottle of oil or graphite lubricant. Well, to my complete shock, instead he begins dismantling my phone. And I do mean DISMANTLE! I was a little worried, in fact. Since The Stumbler himself is an electronics engineer, I am keenly aware just how fragile and sensitive these parts are. So the phone is now in many pieces, exposing only the mechanical frame itself. He does some cleaning of the sliding grooves and mechanism, some gentle carving of some kind with a knife, and begins to re-assemble the phone. It was obvious to me that this guy had done this before, but still it made me VERY nervous.

He got it re-assembled the first time, but was not satisfied with the result. So he proceeded to take it apart AGAIN for more manipulation of the slide. Finally, when he got it all back together the second time, he let me try the action. It was improved, but still not perfect. He volunteered to take it apart again and keep trying, but I politely refused. I really was afraid that something was going to break if he kept taking it apart over and over again.

I'm tempted to just put some oil on it myself, but I'm afraid I would screw up something. I will send the phone to YS#3 today, and hope it is satisfactory and will work for a couple more years before breaking completely. Well, that was an interesting experience, especially to find a room full of cell phone repair engineers just a 10 minute walk away from my apartment. I understand there are dozens of these shops around Seoul, whereas in the USA we usually have to mail in the phone for repair, which results in quite a few days of delays.

Finally, I should point out that this guy worked on my phone about 45 minutes. I waited either right with him, watching him do his work and talking in broken Korean and English, or otherwise resting in the comfortable lounge where water, tea and coffee were available for the customers, along with free computers and internet access. When he was finished, there was no charge for the repair. Remember this is an American Samsung phone, not in anyway covered by the Samsung Korea warranty centers. I was truly impressed.

Well, that's all from the homeland of Samsung Electronics.

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