75% fail to fix smartphone problems

Posted on June 14, 2012


Teaching mobile owners how to use their device helps me understand why others can’t fix their problems. Here’s some comments that might help set the background.

  1. The most problematic devices are the cellphones or feature phones.  Virtually all have he same functions, but it takes me many attempts to set them up. Each has a different approach to the same function.
  2. I check the Android phones in my classes. Each owner has a different version of the Android operating system. Much of the time that is the problem. I have to have some of them show me how to open their device. There is no one way works on everything. Once a device is opened, they all work the same way.
  3. My experience is that Apple does the best job of trying to help.  That doesn’t mean they do help. They try. Their video tutorials show you what the application does.  They don’t tell you how to set it up most of the time, so the problem may still exist.  Almost everything the device does is setup under the Settings icon. Their classes are set up in an Apple store with customers milling around and other classes in the same room. The benefit is that their instructors know the device. Most people I talk to and all my students are dissatisfied with their classes.
  4. There is nothing intuitive for most of us about an icon that opens a list. The other non intuitive issue is that we are not used to a list where each element opens another list to get to the place needed.
  5. There is almost nothing on the internet to help.  I found one exception, for iPads; learnfree.org has some tutorials that give one a good start.
  6. The nice thing about Apple is that most things I know about the iPad work the same way on the iPhone, so good luck.
  7. All mobile devices, I’ve taught have a book on the internet that describes how they work.  Just search for the work “manual” and the model of the device. Do not print it out. Save it on a computer and refer to it when you need help.

My initial advice for mobile owners is call 611 on your phone, a free call, and ask them what to do. You’ll have to suffer through a couple of waits, but,  I’ve had good results.  I also had to be very patient.  And, never assumed just because the device worked or the answer appeared logical when I hung up, that the help was effective. Be prepared to call again. You are paying lots of money for the mobile device, and the service, and they can help. (I don’t answer the “rating” questions, because I have no idea if the suggestion will work the next time.)

I called T-Mobile more times than I can remember and bought a “Dummy” book to learn how to use a Blackberry. My next phone and the one I have now are Android phones. They were not as hard to learn, but I did buy a Dummy book. Primarily to help me when I had a problem.  I wouldn’t set down and read the book, just used the index and take a little time.  If I still can’t make the device work, I called 611.

It is better to learn how to use a mobile when you need the information.  In my classes I know most will not remember all the info I have told them when the problem arises. I tell my classes the mobile is a computer, and computers have the same problems no matter how compact they are.

According to the Sacramento Bee the top five problems people tried to resolve online were email set-up, importing contacts, internet connectivity, app downloads and camera usage. “Those that relied on search engine results were often linked to third-party forums or support resources where the help content wasn’t necessarily accurate or relevant to their device build.” As I said before, virtually nothing on the internet helps. Except the manuals.

I will try over the next few weeks to review some books and show you the reader how to solve some of these problems.

If you are interested, I will respond to comments on this blog as quickly as I can.  If I know the answer, I’ll write a blog entry to answer questions asked in the comments.