the nightstand…

there is a long running gag in the device repair industry that when something gets broken, that somehow, it just happens – usually on it’s own. in fact, i imagine this curious display of cognitive dissonance happens in all types of business. when i used to be in the optical field, we slightly exaggerated the claims made by customers that brought their broken eyeglasses in to be looked at with an aggregate of the several versions we heard on a regular basis. “yeah, i was laying down to sleep in my bed and the glasses slipped off my face and fell to my pillow and broke on the pillow”…

yeah, right.

yeah, right...

now this is an extreme exaggerated example of some of the stories that we heard and so our “go to” laugh afterwards, was repeating the “dreaded pillow” exaggeration for the fellows in the back room.

now the version used in the device repair industry is the dreaded nightstand… this dreaded, seemingly innocuous innocent piece of furniture resting quietly by your bedside near your head area where you sleep is rumored to be deadly to iphones, ipads and computers (sometimes eyeglasses too). straight up cold blooded killers. and not only that, but the damage that is wrought by this small bedside table is usually expected to be covered by some sort of warranty and all costs paid by whoever somewhat recently repaired the device.

innocent looking nightstand

usually we take pictures of these repairs and post them to a private group to have some laughs (sometimes painful because the cognitive dissonance is strong) and then seek some relief in the comments of our peers. some of which are:

“sounds like the nightstand should pay for it”

“Advise the customer to file assault charges on that nightstand!”

“I even asked her “so you gently set it down and it basically exploded?” “Yeah. What would cause that?”

“I returned my nightstand to the furniture shop because it was abusing my phone.” response: “i‘m too scared to tell anyone….I’ve seen what it can do…”

I picture in my head someone commenting on one of the facebook yard sale groups posts with a night stand for sale asking “Is this one that will crack my phone screen?”

“It got wet a few months ago, but that didn’t hurt it. For some reason it just stopped working today…”

Has the phone ever been wet? “Not to my knowledge….”


“It’s never been wet. Oh wait, 6 months ago……”

“my wifi worked before I broke the screen, since you guys have fixed it, the wifi is grayed out.”

Cx: “My phone was perfect when I brought it to you guys” Me: did you have us perform a repair?? Cx: yes, I only cracked the screen… Me: so did you only drop the screen by itself and not the rest of the phone??? Cx: you’re making me sound dumb, how could I only drop just the screen and not the rest of the phone too??

“Customer walks in with an issue after a repair and I ask how long ago we fixed it. “A few weeks ago maybe.” I pull up the ticket and it was over 12 months ago. It happens every once in a while..”

even have our own hashtag >>> #nightstand

sometimes nightstand is synonymous with with an attempted DIY repair,or even a less than reputable repair shop or repair guy.

do devices really break by themselves when resting on the bedside nightstand?

there is even one business that is attempting to catch the action with a live streaming webcam…

best cellular nightstand livestream

now what is not apparent to these people is that we see device damage every day. most times it’s very apparent, and matches the story given by most honest people. so we learn quickly to visually diagnose the apparent damage with what actually happened to the device. an impact shatter is very obvious as you can see the point of impact. a stress fracture looks different than an impact shatter. many times the shatter points directly to the dent in the metal indicating the point of impact. many times, the story given helps to diagnose deeper problems resulting in a quicker fix. for instance, when the teenage girl tells her dad that her phone mysteriously stopped working a week after we fixed it, and dad calls mad about it, many times there is no reason for dad to be mad at us and becomes very apparent when we open the phone in front of dad and water pours out. not a warranty issue or sloppy repair after all dad.

usually these types of situations puts me into the awkward position of calling someone out. i’m usually conflict adverse, but when it comes to blame, i’ve got to stand up for our reputation. and if someone is going to really try to put the blame on us for something that they have done, then they are really not a respectable person and can be the cause for issues in the future and really need to be fired as a customer. you really don’t need to have interactions with that kind of customer.

but sometimes, they really don’t know what happened to their phone. i’ve only had a couple of instances of this. one was a fix i had done for a person – regular customer. usually fixed his stuff late at night. he was short on cash, so i called his mother a few days after the fix to collect the balance and she said his phone wasn’t working anymore. concerned, i called him about it and he said not to worry that he had upgraded. i didn’t want to let it go at that, so offered to look at it for him and offered him some money for the phone. when i opened the phone, the smell of deep yellow, dank urine hit my nostrils like a hammer. when i confronted him about it later face to face, he had no idea. seemed to be as stumped as i was. and had no idea or clue as to how it got there. i’m usually a pretty good judge, and if he was lying to me, he was a better liar than i was a judge of lying. i assumed he had fallen off the wagon (addict) and dropped it into a urinal while passed out, but he did not exhibit any signs of having been back to the dark side.

which brings me to the reason for today’s blog post. this happened recently and just floored me.  had repaired a good customer’s adult son’s phone (i use high quality, expensive assemblies) and they called me about a week later saying the phone was not working properly. so we set up a time to take a closer look. now knowing we use high quality parts, and that i am the only tech doing the repair (and have tons of experience), my defective rate is close to zero. so i like to get the story of what was going on when it quit. in a nutshell after i ran over the story with him, he mentioned camping, 4 wheeling, and that the only liquid may have been from the condensation of area he was riding in – i imagined dew. so i picked up the device to open it up and take a look inside. now knowing this is not enough to cause an issue, i set up a camera to record opening the device, so there would not be any questions about what we would see. the video would capture the process and be preserved for the record. (read as CYA) i could already see some major scratching on the tempered glass screen protector we had installed over his new screen. this is what we found:

i was stunned to say the least.  mud. inside the iphone. actual dried crusty slurry type mud inside the phone. that is a hard feat. this iphone (6S) actually has a gasket around the assembly to help keep out moisture – and we actually replace those when we do the repair – you can see me pull the remains away when opening it. i closed it back up and went to the customer’s business and had them all gather around for the big reveal and put the phone into his dad’s hand so he would get to see first and all the rest would get his reaction. i should have recorded that. but did not want to ID them as they have spent some good money with me and i also use them for things that i need that they provide. i finally did get the rest of the story. seems to only come out after for some reason. but apparently alcohol was involved and deep water, but they did not think the water got over their knee…  lol – too funny. at least it wasn’t the dreaded nightstand this time, because his phone was actually partially still working. if the nightstand had gotten to it – well, let’s just say it would have been over.

and for real, at this point, the phone is done – he could still use it, but i recommended him to quickly get his data off before it shut off for good. the normal procedure for a modern phone this wet is data recovery only and a working phone is a plus. not so much that it got wet, but the particulates that are carried deep into the phone create pathways that ultimately lead to a dead short. and these particulates are very hard to get out of the tiny crevices that they will have wedged themselves into, even with top notch solvents and agitating cleaning machines. not a good idea to put any money into trying to fix a phone with this type of damage. best to let it go and get another. and keep the next one out of the river and definitely do not put it on the nightstand.

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