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Is the mobile phone giant’s reputation Finnished?

By Ben King, April 18, 2002 — 14:40 GMT (15:40 BST)

Is the mobile phone giant’s reputation Finnished?

The reliability problems plaguing Nokia have finally hit home in the UK with The Carphone Warehouse suspending sales of the Nokia 8210 handset. Europe’s largest mobile phone retailer said in a statement: “The Carphone Warehouse has taken the decision to temporarily suspend the sales of Nokia 8210s, pending a thorough investigation into the volumes of returns we are seeing due to screen failure.” Nokia admitted that some 8210 and 8260 phones with faulty displays were shipped between October 2001 and January 2002 and is extending the manufacturer’s guarantee on the screens of the Nokia 8210 by a year, as a consequence of the faults. The company attributed the problem to an unnamed supplier, saying it had rectified the problem and that the supplier will be bearing the cost. A spokesman said: “We apologise to our customers for any inconvenience caused.” However, the fact that faulty phones are still appearing in such volumes to prompt the decision by The Carphone Warehouse suggests the problem may not have been resolved. Nokia’s reliability problem has been attracting significant negative comment in the industry. Per Lindberg, analyst at Dresdner Klienwort Wasserstein, published a research note which claimed reliability problems could cost Nokia up to $150m (£92m) per quarter. Reports of faults with the 8210 and 8260 have appeared in Australia, Germany, Scandinavia and the US. Earlier this month German newspaper Handelsblatt reported that Nokia’s 3310, 3330 and 8850 models also had reliability problems, with higher than average numbers being returned to shops. Last week a Finnish newspaper conducted a survey of mobile phone retailers which suggested that 24 per cent of customers buying Nokia phones had had to return them to the shop because they were faulty. The increasing technical sophistication of Nokia’s mobile phones has been partly blamed for the increasing incidence of faults. In 1999 and 2000, the Nokia 7110, the first WAP phone to ship in the UK, suffered widespread reliability problems. One analyst described the 7110 as “the first unreliable product Nokia ever shipped”.

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