Monday, December 7, 2015

My Excellent Adventure Attempting to Get My Cell Phone Charger Port Replaced

By Robert Wenzel

I hold the view that across any sector, there is something of a bell curve when it comes to competence in a field, be it doctors, lawyers, whatever.

Some are terrible, some are okay and some are superior and have mastered their field. Depending upon what you are looking for, you can use professionals at different points along the bell curve.

If I have a cold and know exactly what medication I want to relieve it and it is a prescription medication, I have no problem going to a total incompetent, as long as he is cheap, has a prescription pad and will write on the pad what I tell him. For a more serious illness, I will only deal with someone further along the bell curve. If it is very serious, I will hunt until I find someone I consider superior and to the far right on the bell curve.

Which brings me to a recent problem I had with my cell phone charger port. My basic method of dealing with anything mechanical is to jam it until the problem is solved, or until it breaks. I jammed my cell phone charger port until it broke.

I first began noticing a problem with my cell phone port more than a week ago. The charger would slip out of the phone's port occasionally. I happened to be in a mall when I passed by a cellphone repair kiosk. I asked the repairman there to take a look at it. He played around with it, put his own charger into the port, and pronounced that there was nothing wrong with the port that I needed a new charger. 

I thanked him and moved on, and mentally placed him, for future reference, on the left side of the cellphone repairmen bell curve, since I had a charger at home and one at the office and the same type of slipping out of the port occurred with both chargers. It wasn't the chargers, it was the port.

Now, my cellphone is a Samsung Galaxy S6, which I love and which I bought from Verizon, even though I have ATT service. I did this because when the S6 first came out, they were available only at Verizon, but I also like some of the ATT service features (and once had problems with Verizon service). Since in my mind I really needed this toy, I shelled out somewhere between $600 and $700 to buy the cell phone at Verizon and then had the ATT service switched on to it.

This all went fine until my port charger problem. I took it to ATT and the repair guy was competent and showed me the specific problem with the port, but he treated the Verizon phone like a disease and said he couldn't fix it there, I took it to Verizon, but since I had switched to ATT service, they treated me like a disease and wouldn't fix it.

So it was back to cell phone repairmen. I found one that I would classify as to the left middle of the cell phone repairmen bell curve. He understood that the port had to be replaced, but he didn't have one in stock,. He said he would order it and would have it in the next day. 

The odd thing was that as he was completing the order on his computer and I was walking out  the door, he asked me what the color of my cell phone was and seemed to put it on the order form. I was in a hurry so I didn't ask him why, but I am just not sure why the color of the body of the cell phone is necessary to know when replacing the charger port. 

Anyway, he said it would cost $60 and he would order it for  overnight delivery and would be able to fix it for me the next day,

The next morning, my cell phone port completely failed and the port wouldn't hold the charger at all. 

At noon, with my battery running down, I arrived at the repair store. The repair store was closed.

I grabbed a bite to eat and headed back after lunch and the store was finally open. The repair man said the part hadn't come in the regular mail and he didn't know what happened to the special delivery, I knew what happened, The delivery was attempted earlier in the day, but he wasn't there to accept it.

I went back to my office and googled cell phone repair and there wasn't really any obvious alternatives. It seemed I was stuck with this lazy, no good, left of the middle of the bell curve repair man. 

I went back later that evening and the delivery still hadn't arrived, but he assured me that it would arrive tomorrow, At that point my cell battery phone was dead. I have office and home landlines, but depending upon how people were trying to contact me, at that point I might or might not be aware of their calls.  I was thinking of buying a temporary throw away phone.

The next day. I stopped by the repair store at 11:00 AM. Miraculously, the repair man was in, but the port hadn't arrived. I told him I would be back.

I started racking my brain and decided to try a major computer store/repair center nearby. I went in and explained my problem. The clerk said, "Oh, you need to talk to Charlie." They paged Charlie, 

Charlie looked competent, I showed him my cell phone and he said, "Oh this is one of the new, very expensive cell phones." Charlie seemed a bit too competent, He probably never heard of Hayek and his theory of dispersed knowledge, But he sure understood that I had few choices to get the phone fixed and that it was an expensive phone, On top of it, I have a collection of watches, and that day I just happened to be wearing a gold watch. I saw that he noticed.

Never try and negotiate a price when you are wearing a gold watch. In fact, in my watch collection, I have what I call my flea market negotiation watch. It is a Timex, with a band that is half ripped.

Anyway, Charlie says that he doesn't have the port in stock and he makes a phone call. Charlie is Chinese and starts a conversation in Chinese over the phone, He hangs up and says to me, "Boy it must be difficult to be without a cell phone. I can have the port in here tomorrow." I ask him how much. He tells me $160.

I tell him I want to think about it. 

So at this point, I have two options in mind. A left of the middle of the bell curve repair man who probably will get it right for $60 and competent Charlie who wants to whack me for $160. 

Then it came to me. I didn't really want a new charging port, I wanted to be able to charge my phone. and I recalled Starbucks offering some kind of wireless charging system. So I headed back to my office and googled "wireless cell phone charge" and sure enough there are many, for iPhones and for the Samsung S6.

So I headed over to Amazon's website and took a look.

I chose a stand up model, which is good with Wireless Charger, Spigen® [Wireless Charging Pad] 3 Coil Charger [F300W] Premium Wireless / Qi Charging Stand Only for Qi Enabled Phones Galaxy Note 5/Galaxy S6 Edge Plus/S6/S6 Edge/Tablets Only - F300W (SGP11480).

The price $26.99.

I love it, I ordered it with Amazon Prime and had it the next morning at my office. In fact, it is so great, I am ordering 2 more, one for home and one for my "go bag," which I have ready for when I have to head out on a trip.

No muss, no fuss. I just put the cell phone on the stand and it charges, and because it is upright it is easy to see who is calling.

So I think there is a lesson here. Sometimes it pays to think beyond the bell curve,

 Robert Wenzel is Editor & Publisher at and at Target Liberty. He is also author of The Fed Flunks: My Speech at the New York Federal Reserve Bank. Follow him on twitter:@wenzeleconomics


  1. I've noticed that my Samsung port is VERY flimsy. But if it fails, I know what to do! Thanks, RW.

  2. Similar experience with me on a different manufacture and with screens. Mall kiosks guys suck! Another option is fix it yourself, buy the part and install it yourself. There is a YouTube video out there to show you.

    The option I took was to just buy a used phone on Amazon. I tried craigslist but I wasn't quick enough for one near by. I don't need the latest and greatest. I value the phone I have more than any out on the market today because of price.

    I have an lg g2. I am going to shop craigslist for another back up right now. My dad has the same phone so having a couple extra just in case would be ideal.

    I might see what the new g5 or Apple 7 is like when they come out. But I have a touch screen smart phone that is just the right size and I know how to use it. It has a damn good camera on it too for being 3 year old tech.

  3. I was considering upgrading to a Samsung. Now I may have to reconsider.

  4. Krugman would consider this a tragic tale. The window was rightly broken, yet the glazier went unpaid.