Akom's Tech Ruminations

Various tech outbursts - code and solutions to practical problems

Aliph Jawbone 2 overheats and nearly burns fingers, melts internally

Posted by Admin • Wednesday, January 14. 2009 • Category: Reviews

Got a shiny new Jawbone 2 from Buy.com the other day, and this is my experience with it over 2 weeks, ending in its eventual return. This also details my experience with Aliph Customer Service.

Initial pairing: I missed the "I am in pairing mode the first time I'm turned on" window, apparently - and getting it to go into pairing mode by holding the two buttons down took at least 20 tries. (seriously) In retrospect, I'm glad that it isn't so easy to put into pairing mode - I might do that inadvertently... But it worked, and boy did it work well. We tested it with a Shark cordless vacuum in hand, and the other person could only vaguely tell that there may be something making noise in the background. With NoiseAssasin disabled, you could hear the vacuum cleaner clearly instead of the person.

All was well, until...

About 10 days later, the jawbone was happily charging as it has been every other day, when suddenly there was a strong smell of smoke. It took me a little while to discover the origin, and sure enough - the unit was smoking! I pulled it off the charge cable, only to discover that it was so hot that it actually burned my fingers slightly.

The Package

No signs of life from the unit, but it stopped smoking. This is kind of scary, considering what LIPO fires can do, and I'm sure there is a lithium cell in this thing. Out of curiosity I plugged it back in the day after, and now it blinks red, gets warm (but not that hot), and does nothing else. You can't even turn it off - the talk button seems to have melted, but I think it wouldn't respond anyway. Hmm... unimpressed with this gadget.

I did a quick Google search for "jawbone 2 melted" - and it turns out that quite a few people have seen this happen (and the product is pretty new on the market!). One guy called customer service, and they showered him with car chargers, accessory kits, and a replacement unit at no charge. Anticipating similar treatment, I called Aliph.

Customer Service

A grumpy sounding guy picked up the phone and took down all my information before he let me tell him why I am even calling. His voice seemed to say: "It's a Saturday, why are you calling me?". (I can't really blame him) Once I explained that the unit almost caught fire, he immediately inquired: "Was anyone hurt?" (though still in the same voice, but now with the note of concern added in. I mean, you can't actually ask that question without some concern - or perhaps that requires training). I said no, as the finger burns were momentary and left no lasting marks. He also told me that he has never heard of a Jawbone overheating before.


CSR: we will replace your Jawbone 2, and you will pay return shipping to us.

Me: Let me get this straight. You want me to pay return shipping on a device that I bought 2 weeks ago, that was close to setting my car on fire and burned my fingers?

CSR: Yup.

At this point I hung up, got an RMA from buy.com and returned the unit. I'm sure there are other companies making decent handsfree devices out there :-)

(Also, I decided to give the speakerphone in my Garmin C550 a second try - and ordered an external microphone for it. We'll see how well it works)

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