Saturday, March 15, 2008

Caveat Emptor: CallPhoneShop.com

A couple years ago I had a Nokia cell phone. It had a nice feature which allowed me to sync Outlook calendar and contact list with the ones on the phone. The only drawback was that it required me to get a proprietary USB cable so I could use the software Nokia offered free on their web site.

A friend recommended CellPhoneShop.com. She administered the cell phones for our company and told me she bought from them regularly and was quite satisfied. So, I ordered the cable from them, it came promptly and worked out well.

Fast-forward to last September. Now I have a Sony-Ericsson Walkman phone (which I blogged about soon after I got it). This phone came with the cable and software needed to upload music and sync with my Outlook.

All was well and fine until I got a new PC running 64-bit Windows XP. Among the items relegated to my geek trash heap was the phone sync program since the drivers from S-E for my phone don't install on 64-bit Windows and they seem to have no interest in making new drivers work with my "obsolete" phone . I can BlueTooth my music back and forth, but I can't sync with my Outlook.

Remembering my good experience with CellPhoneShop.com I went to their web site to see if they had any after-market products which would get me syncing again. I corresponded with them several times to make sure the software I was planning to order would install on my 64-bit system and work with my phone. I was assured by their representative I was getting the right thing. So, I ordered it.

Not only did the software not install on my 64-bit system, it didn't support my phone. The documentation accompanying the software clearly spelled out the phones it supported and mine was not on the list. The description on their web site listed my phone as one which the software supported. After numerous emails back and forth, CellPhoneShop finally agreed to take the package back and refund my money (minus what I had to pay to ship it back).

Fast-forward again. I recently got an AT&T Tilt for my work cell phone. It's very nice and works quite well for me so far. But, I didn't like the case I was given and I wanted to get a wired headset for it. After looking at AT&T's web site and learning the items I wanted would cost over $100, I thought to try CellPhoneShop again. I went to their web site, and on the page which lists the accessories for the Tilt was a mini-USB plug cable into which I could plug in my own ear buds and use as a headset and hands-free device. There was also a rugged, "outdoor style" case which looked to be just what I wanted. Keep in mind, both of these items were listed as being accessories especially for the AT&T Tilt both on the accessories list and in the individual product description pages.

I got my package yesterday. The headphones are capable of being used with the Tilt, but the ear buds are permanently attached. I tried them and they don't sound too good. Granted, I may have to play with the EQ in Windows Media Player, so they might not be a total loss at $7.99.

The case, however, is a whole other issue. This case is so small, it won't hold the Tilt, nor will it even hold my S-E Walkman phone. It barely holds my wife's skinny and thin Nokia.

All told and taking into consideration that the headset at least works, I guess I'm only out about $10. Still, I won't be shopping with CellPhoneShop any more.

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