Bootloops, Internet & Shitty Service Center


(A short break from a post on MH370 – we are still hopeful of finding the wreck and getting to the bottom of the reason why the plane went missing. Looking at the various flip-flop statements coming out from the politicians, there is little doubt why countries like China is whacking Malaysia left right and center and now we have the criminals from the South of Philippines kidnapping tourists from Sabah under the very nose of ESSCOM. Another case of someone sleeping on the job?)

It happened once when I still had my trusted N8 and not surprisingly it has happened again

Well, it started with this:-

Swedish developer Knowit Mobile already has a number of Xperia Themes in the Google Play Store. It has now released seven more, which includes three freebies. You won’t find these themes through Sony Select right now, so you’ll have to go direct to the Google Play Store. You will find links to the Play Store and pictures of each of the new themes below.

(Source)

You know me, I soon get bored with the existing themes and seeing one that seemed to be custom made for Xperia (and seemed to be endorsed by Sony and it is in Google Play), this new set of themes looked very tempting.

snow

(I love the icons at the bottom – it was a very cool theme but unfortunately with a hidden time bomb. Image source: Google Play)

However I then made 2 mistakes.

Mistake No. 1 – Changing the standard Xperia themes to something else when the standard themes are already working well and perfectly. Why fix something when it is not broken, eh?

Mistake No. 2 – Not reading further into the post above and read the readers comments. Otherwise I would have discovered that there is something wrong with this theme.

I had installed some of the themes and it was working well until one fine morning, I noticed there was still one theme I have not installed – Winter Snow. It looked great too. It looked alright when I installed the theme and nothing looked out of the ordinary as I navigated the various functions on my phone with the new theme installed. I have installed plenty of apps before but nothing wrong have happened.

Anyway after the new theme installed, I just placed my phone on the side and continued with my work. A couple of minutes later, I noticed something from the corner of my eyes – the phone was restarting. I don’t know why it restarted. It usually happens when there is a major upgrade but there was none for the day. I waited for it to restart but something was not right – it restarts and then half way, it stops and restarts again. This goes on and on. I know then I was in trouble. And I know that the new theme must be screwing things up and thus I had to uninstall it.

For a moment, I panicked and was cursing myself. I quickly checked on the internet on how to stop this insane restart and how to do a hard reset or start on a safe mode. No matter how many times I press on the power on and the volume down (with different sequences), nothing changed. After a couple of attempts unsuccessfully, I gave up. The only choice left was to bring it to the Sony authorized service center. I checked on Sony’s website – the nearest one was either at KLCC or Mid Valley. Then I noticed there was another service center near Sunway (their out-sourced authorized service center). I decided to try my luck there as it was nearer – I urgently needed my phone to make calls and at the moment, I only had a faulty phone that was booting in a loop and could not be shut off (it was getting warmer too).

I rushed to the nearest service center  and noticed that there was only 1 customer at the waiting area. I saw one lady at the counter and so I walked over and showed my phone to the lady at the counter. She was lazily looked at my phone and then looked at me. What she said next made me speechless for a moment – they don’t handle smartphones. Apparently they handle all other items made by Sony but not smartphones (but that was not what I saw on the Sony’s website). I thought she was pulling a fast one on me. I insisted that she call a technician and take a look nonetheless. She reverted that even they assist me on this, it will take 1 – 2 months for the phone to be fixed.

She asked me to go to KLCC instead and she gave me a number to call. That was not acceptable and I persisted for someone OTHER than her (one look at her told me that she is not a tech savvy) to give my faulty phone a look but nothing moved. Ya, you can call it Mistake No. 3.  It had all the element of “tidak apa” written on the wall. So I decided that there was no point talking to this lady at the counter and try my luck with the service center at KLCC over the weekends. That means a couple of days without my smartphone but it looks like I had no other choice.

I was angry for wasting my time with the so-called service center and feeling very frustrated, I went back to the internet, hoping that someone out there, some where in the world would have faced the same problem and managed to find a workable solution. Another trip to the Sony Mobile website for trouble shooting and tips however did not do anything to resolve the problem. I was back to square one and the phone was getting even warmer by now. I was beginning to get worry and Yoda’s statement on the dark side of the force echoed in my mind – “Fear is the path to the dark side. Fear leads to anger. Anger leads to hate. Hate leads to suffering”? I was suffering indeed.

I tried a different key words in the Google Search and then something positive showed up:-

Hi, speak from Brazil.

I’m here to warn you guys that the themes of Sony, those new (cute) themes simple put our Xperia SP to bootloop, don’t use them in any circumstances.

I’ve made a lot of test in the firmware 12.1.0.266 and when i put any of those damn themes and turn off my phone, it just enter in bootloop mode when i try to turn it on again.

Then i have to use SUS to recovery phone.

I’ll repeat

DO NOT USE THE NEW THEMES IN ANY CIRCUMSTANCES.
UNFORTUNATELY SONY MESSED UP OUT PHONE.

just want to warn you guys, sorry about the English.

(Source)

At last a light at the end of the tunnel!

The only way available now was using the SUS program (Sony Update Service) but that would erase all data & installed programs at the same time. Between the phone kept booting up unsuccessfully and causing me to miss my calls and SMSes & leaving with no other choice but to take time to go to the Sony service center at KLCC and me losing the data in the phone, I decided to go for the latter.

I downloaded and then powered up SUS and there was some moments before SUS were able to detect the phone (I misread the steps provided by SUS and cause the phone not detected). Then it took about 5 minutes for SUS to download Android 4.3 for Xperia SP and installed it. My phone then recovered and able to boot normally. It was missing all my phone contacts, apps and SMS logs – 2 of it (contacts & SMS logs) were easily restored using my earlier backup using Sony PC Companion. The apps on the hand will take some time to be updated to the level before I hit the problem in the morning. But at the end of the day, the phone was back to normal and I need not go to KLCC.

The internet is indeed a great place to look for information and tips and saves a whole load of trouble with the service centers. The solution on the internet solves my boot loop problem in less than 10 minutes – a far cry from the 1 – 2 months that the lady mentioned to me.

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Best Car Service Center?


Read the previous posts on car and car maintenance:-

(The last thing you expect to see in a car service center. Image source: http://hooniverse.com)

It is heartening to hear that Proton have come up with a 60 minutes express service but in my opinion, they should have done this a long time ago.

Sending your car for car service can be a sticky thing. When you buy a new car and if you think the car as something that gets you from A to B, you probably will not be so worried of sending your car for the periodic service (some of you may even get your dad or brother to send the car for service on your behalf). You will send it to the nearest authorized service center, drop off the car and go home after telling them to call once the service done.

But on the other hand, if you think of the car as something more than a tool to get you from A to B, you are going to have a headache. After all, since the car is brand new and you have paid so much for it, the last thing you wish to see is for it to be “man-handled” and getting back the car with scratches and dirty patches here and there. And for those who have done their “homework”, you will know that not authorized car service centers belongs to the car manufacturer. Quite a number belongs to private car service centers.

When I got my very first car, I sent it to a car service center belongs to Proton Edar. It looked like it was the right thing to do. Back in 2004 – 2005, Proton was still struggling in getting out newer models and quality of their cars sucked big time. Their service centers had the same problem. I practically was spending the whole day just to do a simple service and I was rather annoyed and angry at the frequency of the mechanics taking their short breaks. But my complaints to the service center manager fell on deaf ears and the so-called customer service did not improve. All that changed when the warranty expired and I was free to service my car in any car service centers.

A lot of changed since then. Proton’s cars are better built these days although their QA side can use a good overhaul and service centers have now become more customer service focused. I have been to two authorized but private service centers that handle Proton cars in recent times and the experience was quite different than those times in 2004 – 2005.

But then again, how you will define the criteria that make a good car service center? What are the things you look for when deciding that you want to go to Service Center A instead of Service Center B? I don’t know about others but here are some of mine (in NO specific order):-

1. Bring Own Lube

If you head over to some websites like Lowyat, this seems to be the key criteria for most of them. Proton Edar service center which I went to for my first car often uses engine oils from a large container instead of using the usual smaller packages but they do allow their customers to bring in their own lube if they wanted to. Bringing in your lube is nothing to shout about – most service centers allows it, as long as it meets the car’s specifications. The good thing about bringing your lube is simple – there will be leftover after they have used for your car. A couple of services later, you will enough leftovers to fill one whole bottle.

2. Cleanliness

I am not talking about the cleanliness of the workshop or customer waiting area. I am talking about how clean your car will be once the mechanics have done with it. Perodua for example, places disposal papers on the floor and wraps the seat with plastic bag so that the car remains clean. I am not sure about Proton though – my recent service (which was done in a private authorized service center), the mechanic placed a disposal paper on the floor but did nothing to wrap the seats. But the good thing is, they provided quick wash for that and I did not find my car dirtier than before.

3. Waiting Period

How it takes for the car service center to service one car? Proton in their latest announcement says 60 minutes. Pretty good accomplishment if you ask me – I have spent hours in the past. But the trick, I guess it is knowing which service centers have less cars for the day and which day and more importantly making appointment before

4. QC Area

How many of you have seen how your car being serviced? The usual happens – you meet some customer service representatives, explain your problems with the car, the worksheet then get passed to the mechanic who is available (not necessary the best or skilled), the mechanic gets to work and once he done with your car, he parks it and pass back the worksheet back to the customer service representatives who then inform you and collects the payment. Who to check whether the mechanic did a good job?

My first service of my new car, I was outstation and decided to go to the nearest service center and was surprised to see a QC area. My car got serviced and the mechanic instead of parking it in customer’s parking parked it at QC area where a more senior mechanic double checks the worksheet against the work done by the mechanic. He noticed some shortcomings and calls the mechanic over – they go through something and the car then got sent back for the mechanic to complete the job. The car then sent back to the QC area for another round of checking before it is considered work done properly.

5. Technical Explanation

Your car has been serviced and the customer service representative explains what has serviced and what has been replaced and he/she is speaking in Greek. Sounds familiar? They use unknown jargon and technical and if you are not a mechanic yourself or have done your homework, it does not mean anything to you. The best car service centers will actually explain in lay terms of what have been changed – what was the cause of the fault and the impact if the part was not replaced.

6. Customer Waiting Area

Even a simple car service will take at least 30 – 45 minutes to complete. If you have more complaints on the car and they may need to change parts, the waiting time is going to be even longer. So, how you plan to spend the time whilst the mechanics are working on the car? Most authorized service centers have dedicated customer waiting area, fully equipped with a TV, newspapers, magazine, coffee/tea making facilities and well maintained toilets. Most do indeed but some have small waiting area – a couple of sofas (which is not enough for the crowd and most had to contend with standing up or walking around until they get back their car) and that is about it.

One of the best waiting area I have seen is a Perodua service center – the waiting area is not big but it is just next to the service area so we can see through a glass wall what the mechanic is doing without coming out from the air conditioned waiting area.

7. Access to Food & Drinks

I am not talking about the complimentary tea and coffee but a real restaurant or food stall for breakfast or lunch, depending on what time your car service is expected to be completed. Image stuck somewhere at some industrial area without any food stall in the morning, having nothing but complimentary coffee, sitting rather boringly at the small customer waiting area. Damn, I rather sit down at some Mamak Shop, having a hot teh tarik and a smooth roti canai.

8. Complimentary Car Wash

Frankly, this is nothing to shout about but you know what, it is like that cherry on top of the ice cream. The car been serviced, it sounds good, it drives good and with a good car wash, it looks good too.

9. Ability to Identify Problems

You driving your car and you heard a funny sound coming from the left side of the car. You decide to tell about it on your next car service. You explain it to the customer service representative and hope that they will make clear to the mechanic and the mechanic will be able to identify the problem but when you get the car back, the problem is still there. What had happened? Did customer service representative heard your problems wrongly or misunderstood you? Did the mechanic misunderstood the worksheet or was not skillful enough to know what need to be done to fix the problem?

Hmm, that’s about it for now until the next car service. I am pretty sure that others will have different criteria in determining which service center is better (like an uncle I know – he wants to stand next to the mechanic when the mechanic is working on the car)

Is Proton still cheating you?


If you felt cheated on the price and quality of Proton cars, I don’t blame you. It is a fact that Proton sells cars at an exorbitant price in a government protected sector. It is a fact that you can buy better (and cheaper) cars if Proton was not protected.It is a sad fact that most of us have no choice but to buy Proton

The question is do you still feel cheated on the after-sales services? My Proton’s 60,000 km warranty expired recently and I was able to take my car to the car service workshop near my house.

A quick comparison of similar items between private workshop (CKW) in Puchong and Proton Edar Service Centre Puchong (PES) is as follows:-

Labor Charge
RM20.00 (CKW) [2 full time mechanics]
RM100.00 (PES) [includes PES mechanic going for his teh tarik 2 times in the mid of servicing my car]

Oil Filter
RM9.00 (CKW) [Original Proton Parts]
RM11.85 (PES)

Brake Fluid
RM25.00 (CKW) [Change of entire brake fluid]
RM24.00 (PES) [Just top up]

Note the differences now? If I convert the time spent at the service centre at RM1.00 per minute, the differences is going to be like this:-

CKW – parked my car at 10.00 am (on Sunday) and service all done by 11.30 am. Total minutes spent: 90 minutes = RM90.00

PES– parked my car at 6.30 am (must be working day! PES do not do any services on Sat or Sun) and service all done at 2.00 pm. Total minutes spent: 450 minutes = RM450.00

Extra minutes wasted in PES are 360 minutes = 6 hours! (not including the cost of 3 teh tariks and 2 nasi lemaks during my waiting time at PES)

Do I feel cheated on the after-sales service? Look at the above differences and tell me…sigh

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Too many Protons owners in the house. There is another Proton car key lying on the table. Too much for comfort (damn need to change car already!)