Owners of the T-Mobile Sidekick may seem a little lost lately. That's because all of the personal information they put on the device, including contact numbers, may be lost forever.
Normally Sidekick users would be able to restore their information that is stored on a remote server, but that technology malfunctioned. T-Mobile says for most users their information is "almost certainly" gone.
T-Mobile gave customers a $20 refund to cover the cost of one month of data usage on the phone. It also will give certain customers who experienced a "significant and permanent" loss of personal data a $100 customer appreciation card to be used toward T-Mobile products and services, or their phone bill (that will not cover the cost of their switch to Verizon or AT&T). The company says it will contact those customers in the next two weeks.
"This has been a terrible experience," said Mary Boyle, of Silver Spring, Md. She lost more than 500 contacts, 100 pictures, a to-do list and dozens of Web site passwords. She also spent about eight hours on the phone with T-Mobile's technical support last week, trying to deal with the outage, she said.
On Saturday, T-Mobile and Microsoft warned customers not to restart their phones, remove the batteries, or allow the phone to run down their batteries. Boyle says she did none of those things, but the data disappeared anyway. She has since switched to a BlackBerry from Verizon Wireless and said she has no intention of paying T-Mobile for quitting her contract early.
It's unclear how many customers have been affected, or how many Sidekicks are in operation. The phone has never been a huge seller since it launched in 2002.
If anything is clear from this fiasco it's this: Don't rely on only one provider to safeguard information.