Things went from bad to worse for T-Mobile as the Sidekick data fiasco appears to be casting a very dark pall on the wireless carrier.
As user outrage mounts over lost data, the wireless carrier has halted sales for all Sidekick devices in its retail stores and online, and there are reports of customer complaints being deleted off Sidekick forums.
Fortunately, some data has apparently been recovered, but many customers are still dealing with problems. Here's what's going on:
Service disruptions among Sidekick users have been reported recently, but the most serious problems occurred this weekend when customers started losing their data.
The Sidekick allows device owners to offload personal information like contacts, calendars, and photos onto the servers of Microsoft subsidiary Danger. Unfortunately for thousands of Sidekick owners, those servers had a technical glitch causing widespread data loss.
As you can imagine, Sidekick owners were not impressed to see their personal data disappear literally overnight, and anger has been growing on Sidekick forums. Adding to the frustration is the fact that several remedies for previous Sidekick problems have now become guaranteed methods for permanent data loss.
Typically, a Sidekick owner could fix a handset problem by restarting the device, by either holding the restart button or removing the battery -- but not this time. When a Sidekick reboots, it wipes the device of all its information, and then automatically tries to sync with Danger's servers to recapture the data. But since the servers are the problem, Microsoft and T-Mobile are urging Sidekick owners not to remove their batteries, restart their devices, or even let them lose power.
A Funny Thing (May have) Happened on T-Mobile Forums
Sidekick owner Richard Anderson was so disgruntled over the data loss, he claims he was and his comments were deleted. Anderson has turned to his own blog where he is encouraging Sidekick owners to file complaints with their state's attorney general and T-Mobile's legal department as well as the Washington state Attorney General, since T-Mobile USA has offices in Washington state.
Anderson says he's not the only one being deleted, either. According to posts on his Sidekick-outage blog, Anderson claims that T-Mobile is selectively deleting user comments encouraging or attempting to organize class action lawsuits against the company.
I took a look at the forums, and while I found several references to lawsuits, no one was actively attempting to organize one. Whether or not Anderson's claims are accurate, can you really blame T-Mobile for not wanting customers to organize a lawsuit on a company forum? If you really want to get organized like that wouldn't a wiki or Facebook page be more appropriate?
In The T-Mobile Bunker
T-Mobile has said on a forum post that it will offer a one-month refund of data service for affected Sidekick customers. The refund will be applied automatically, according to a T-Mobile Forums moderator.
But that message was last edited on October 9 when the extent of the data loss was not known. By Saturday, however, Microsoft had determined that Sidekick user data was almost certainly lost. With that in mind, it's unlikely users will be satisfied with such a small refund as compensation for the heartache of lost photos, and the hassle of rebuilding contact lists and calendar appointments.