By Jon Hood
ConsumerAffairs.com

July 14, 2010
A class action suit filed last week says that two Palm Treo smartphone models are junk, and that the manufacturer isn't doing enough to address consumers' complaints.

The suit, filed in the circuit court of Cook County, Illinois, says that the premium-priced Palm Treo 700 series and ... 755p hand-held devices are saddled with malfunctions and problems. Specifically, the suit alleges that the phones freeze or lock up, requiring the owner to turn the phone off, remove and reinstall the battery, and turn the phone back on again, an annoying routine to perform on a regular basis. Worse, the defect can wipe out user data like phone numbers and photos.

The complaint also says that the phones have poor sound quality, rendering them difficult or impossible to use, and that it can be difficult to view or download documents or attachments from email or the internet.

According to the suit, Palm markets the Treos as speedy, state-of-the art smartphones, and boasts on its website that, [w]ith this easy-to-use productivity device in hand, you can stay connected on your terms.

When Palm started hearing about the problem from customers, according to the suit, it simply replaced the broken phones with more of the same model. As a result, the plaintiffs cycled through numerous Treo Phones, none of which provided the functionality and quality that such phones are supposed to provide.

Instead of fixing the problem, Palm chose to continue peddling its inventories and intentionally replace[] defective Treo Phones with equally defective Treo Phones, according to the complaint. This creates a system in which consumers continue to receive defective products until they either tire of the process or their warranties run out.

Suit resembles previous action

The suit also says that Palm has taken no action to effect a lasting fix of the defects, despite having received scores of complaints from consumers. The complaint also points out that Palm has provided class-wide compensation to owners of older Treo models, a claim that appears to reference a 2008 settlement involving the Treo 600 and 650 models. That settlement provided a cash rebate to Treo users who had to replace or repair their phones at least twice.

That suit, filed in 2005, contained allegations strikingly similar to those in the Illinois complaint, including frequent restarts, the loss of stored information, and poor sound quality. That suit also said that Palm replaced defective phones with equally defective refurbished phones of the same model.

ConsumerAffairs.com has received several complaints that seem to echo the claims in the suit. As Nicole of Marina Del Ray, CA, wrote in 2008:

"I have had problem after problem with the palm treo. I have been given one defective replacement after another. I have lost work and clients due to these problems."

Elaine of Warsaw, IN, had a similar experience:

"I purchased a new palm centro online through the palm store. This phone was unlocked and the cost was 299.99. After I recieved this phone it froze within the first 3 days. The phone was sent back and a new one was sent to us. I have had this phone for 4 months and am now having problems with it again. The palm store requires the phone to be sent in (at my expense) to be analyzed and repaired. This will take approx. 7 days. (7 days without my only form of commucation). This is unacceptable.

The suit covers anyone who bought or received, under warranty, a Treo 700 series or 755p phone. Consumers in California are excluded from the class. The complaint charges Palm with breach of express and implied warranty, violations of the Magnuson Moss Warranty Act, unjust enrichment, and violations of several California state statutes.