The reason that I ditched my Nexus 10 for a Kindle Fire HD was Google’s
mishandling of every step of my Nexus experience, from purchase to return.
Here’s the full story.
The Purchase and Order Fulfillment
I had been researching tablets for a while, trying to figure out which one
would fit my needs the best. I was excited about the Nexus 7 when it came out,
but I felt like I would really benefit from a larger screen since a lot of my
planned reading involves scanned PDFs of out-of-copyright books. I was
interested when the Kindle Fire HD 8.9″ and the Nook HD+ were announced. The
specs seemed like what I had been waiting for. But when the specs for the
Nexus 10 started to leak out, I was beyond excited. This was my dream tablet.
I was willing to pay nearly double the price for that gorgeous 2560×1600
display. And the rear facing camera. And GPS. And that screaming Exynos
processor. I was sold.
On November 13, I could hardly contain my excitement. Tuesdays are the one day
I have to drive into the office. The Nexus was supposed to become available in
the Google Play Store at noon. I was concerned about actually getting one
because that morning, news from Europe said that the Nexus was selling out
within 20 minutes of it going live. My workmates and I typicaly leave for
lunch around 11:30. How was that going to work? I suggested that perhaps we
could order something and eat in that day. Unsurprisingly, my awesome
workmates were cool with ordering food in while I tried to order my Nexus.
At about 11:30, I started refreshing the Google Play Nexus 10 page. Not like a
mad man. Not every second. Just every minute or two. I think it became
available for me at about 11:40. I clicked and typed and had my order done by
11:45. There was a glitch at some point though. I didn’t think much of it.
At some point, an error page appeared. I just re-submitted whatever form I had
filled out and it seemed to go through. Maybe it was unrelated, but this was a
portent. And not the good kind.
The only shipping option was second day. That was fine. I didn’t really
prefer to pay an extra $13.99 for shipping, but I would be happy to have it in
2 days. Let’s see. It was Tuesday, so it should be delivered on Thursday.
Maybe with the flood of orders it would be delivered on Friday. So I waited.
On Thursday, when it hadn’t arrived and I had no notification that it had even
shipped, I called Google support. I was assured that I would get a shipment
confirmation on Friday. When the confirmation didn’t arrive on Friday, I
called again. I was assured that I would get one on Saturday.
“So sorry. There’s a delay and orders are backed up. Nobody is getting their
Nexus.” Really? That’s not what I saw on Twitter. By Friday morning, there
was a flood of tweets showing people unboxing their Nexus 10s. And mine hadn’t
even shipped. Nobody at Google, nobody who I was allowed to speak with
anyway, knew anything useful over the weekend. So I waited until Monday. I
spoke with several people trying to figure out what was going on with my order.
“Did it ship?” “No.” “Do you have my order?” “Sort of.” “Is it going to
ship?” “We don’t know.” I had one manager tell me that my Nexus had been
backordered. What??? Due to my frustration at the ball-dropping on Google’s
end, a tech support person put in a request to have my second day air shipping
fee credited back to me.
Somewhere along the way, I came across a blog or forum post that said that
there was a problem with the ordering system and the first orders that were
placed were put into limbo. I found confirmation of this in an entry on The
Consumerist website. My wife decided to see if she could get to the bottom of the order
fiasco and called in for me. She talked to a manager who assured her that the
Nexus wasn’t backordered and that it would be at my doorstep by Friday,
November 23. That didn’t make me happy, but at least it was something. They
apparently became aware of the glitch and fixed it. My Nexus was delivered on
Tuesday, November 20. (That’s right. Tuesday. So, I would have to wait until
I got home to play with it. Sigh.)
Through all of the trouble that I was having, I never heard a peep from Google.
That is, except for the times I called them to rattle their cages. I received
no email from them stating that there was a problem with my order. I received
no apology that they had so vigorously dropped the ball on orders in general.
I would have been waiting until the 20th wondering what had happened to my
order if I had not initiated communication with them. Except for a trail of
automated reply messages and form emails, I have still received no meaningful
communication from Google. Oh. And I still haven’t received my refund for the
$13.99 second day shipping. And that was over a month and a half ago.
The Freezing Bug
My shipment arrived. My nerves calmed down after I opened the box containing
the box containing my Nexus. And when I opened the box containing my Nexus, I
was tranquil. It was gorgeous. It felt great in my hands. It did what it was
supposed to do. Gmail was great. Browsing the web was great. Reading books
was gorgeous. I challenged people to see if they could spot a single pixel
when looking at the text of a book. I don’t think anyone I showed it to was
able to. It was fast. And easy to use. Oh, there was so much to love about
the Nexus 10.
Except. When. It. Just. Freezes. Seriously? I don’t know if it was the
4.2.1 update or what, but it started freezing up. Unexpectedly.
Unrecoverably. With no single action seeming to trigger it. It was a mystery.
But they’re Google. They’ll fix it in a day or so. Or a week. Or a month.
Or maybe almost 2 months. That’s how long this bug
ticket has had activity
going on it with no resolution. Google has been aware of this problem for
nearly 2 months and they still haven’t fixed it. I don’t have my Nexus any
more, but I still find myself drawn to this bug ticket page to see if they’ve
fixed it. They haven’t as of the time that I’m writing this post.
I dealt with the issue until December 3, not quite 2 weeks after the Nexus
arrived at my house. There is a 15 day return policy on the Nexus. I
considered returning it at that time and getting my money back, but a friend
convinced me to keep it. After all, this appeared to be a software bug. And
they’re Google, right? They’ll fix it in a day or so. Or a week. Or a month.
Or maybe almost 2 months. Besides, I should be able to return it after the 15
day period if it’s defective and has never worked properly, right?
So, I decided to keep it. And I started calling into support. I heard a
variety of responses to my dilemma. “Freezing? I’ve never heard of it doing
that. Hmmmm… That doesn’t sound good.” “Freezing? Oh yeah. You need to
delete your Google account and re-add it. I’ve had some success with customers
doing that.” “Freezing? A factory reset should take care of that.” I started
off with what I read on the forum. I disabled location services. That didn’t
help. I switched from browsing with Chrome to Dolphin. That didn’t help,
either. I deleted my google accounts and re-added only one of them. (I had 2
- one for my gmail and another for my wife’s.) I did a factory reset. That
didn’t help and that was the last straw. I wanted my money back and I wanted a
tablet from a different company.
On December 14, I called Google again and said that I wanted a refund. The
first tech support guy I talked to must have thought that he was being helpful.
I don’t think he mentioned anything about being outside of the 15 day window,
but that must have been what was rolling around in his tech support noggin.
So, he gave me the number for the manufacturer. Because they should handle the
refund. So, when I called Asus… Wait. Asus? That’s the manufacturer for
the Nexus 7, not the Nexus 10. So, I called back to get the number for
Samsung. The Google tech support guy put me on hold while he tried to call.
He actually spoke with someone, but didn’t seem like he was going to get
anywhere. Another portent.
I called more people and talked to managers and once even got a manager’s
manager. I was informed that I was outside of my 15 day window and no refunds
are allowed. “But it is not working. It has never worked. I kept it because
I had faith that you would fix it.” “Sorry, sir, it’s our policy. I’m sure
you understand.” “Actually, I don’t.” Round and round we went. I was told
that there is no way possible for them to issue a refund because the screen
that they are looking at doesn’t support it; if it’s beyond a certain number of
days, the option of refund is just gone. My frustration level grew. Most of
the people were nice. None of the people were helpful. All of the people were
clueless to some degree. And I even got the added bonus of speaking with one
of the rudest, most condescending people I have ever spoken with in my entire
life. Way to go, Google.
The outcome? I was talked into a replacement device. For a software issue.
That at least 200 other people are having. And Google knows about it, but
isn’t fixing it. At least 2 tech support people, both of whom knew that I just
wanted a refund, told me to get the replacement, keep it in its box, and sell
it, presumably on Craigslist or eBay. Seriously? This is what Google is
recommending? Take their faulty, non-working junk and sell it on eBay? I
seriously considered it, but decided my conscience wouldn’t let me.
Fortunately, some manager along the way told my wife (who couldn’t keep out of
the fray) that if this second device didn’t work, I would get a refund.
The problem here is that Google’s employees are not empowered to make a
judgment call and use common sense to make a decision that will satisfy the
customer. They would prefer to be rude and speak condescendingly to the
customer than to give them their money back. They don’t realize that the
people who would buy the Nexus on day zero are the same ones who help family
members decide what tech to buy. And who blog. And who are vocal when stuff
doesn’t work. But I digress.
So, on December 20, it froze up. And by December 21, it had frozen several
times. I got on the phone, yet again, and told the tech support person my
situation. That I already had one of these and it froze up. I got a
replacement and it’s freezing up. And someone at Google said that if it did
this, I get a refund. OK. Really? They were taking my word for it when they
had been so adamant about their policy? I even made sure to get them to tell
me that I was going to get a refund. With as much as I had been jerked around,
I needed to hear again that I was getting my money back. And what about the
“it’s impossible” statement? I’m not sure the tech support person who told me
that knows what that word means. I was patched through to the RMA department,
gave them some information, and I was on my way. That was the quickest and
easiest part of my whole experience with Google support. I printed out the RMA
form and shipping label, put the Nexus in a box, and drove it up to the UPS
It’s now January and I haven’t gotten my money yet. But I’m not surprised.
Google managed to botch the whole order, support, software, and return part of
the deal. Why not the refund part of it, as well? Hopefully, we’ll see the
money in a few days. Here’s to hoping.
So, I mentioned in the title of this post that I ditched my Nexus 10 for a Kindle Fire HD 8.9″.
Why? 1) The specs for what I want to do are good enough. Actually, they’re
quite good. I found that I really didn’t use the GPS on the Nexus much. And
none of the pictures really looked that great to me, anyway. 2) The experience
with Google showed me that Google doesn’t really care about its customers
because they don’t make recurring revenue from them spending money. Maybe a
trickle from the Play Store, but I don’t think Google is betting the business
on that. I wanted to do business with a company who had a vested interest in
keeping me happy using their product. Amazon is that business. 3) Google
hasn’t figured out how to support its customers. From shipping to returns to
support, it was just painful. I wanted to do business with a company who knows
what they’re doing in a customer facing capacity. Amazon has already proven to
me that they do, indeed, know what they’re doing.
Am I happy with my Kindle? Ecstatic. No freeze ups. Everything is smooth.
There is an abundance of apps. Getting content on there is stupidly simple.
And now, as an Amazon Prime
customer, I have the option of streaming plenty of videos from their “Prime
Instant Videos” selection. I’m not sure if I could have done that with the
Is it perfect? No. But neither was the Nexus. Probably the 2 biggest things
that I miss are the Gmail app and the user interface. I use the builtin email
app on the Kindle and it’s fine. But Gmail was really smooth on the Nexus.
The carousel interface works fine on the Kindle, but I liked being able to
organize my dock however I liked. And widgets were pretty cool. And the
navigation icons/buttons were very nice.
If you’re in the market for a 9-ish inch tablet, give the Kindle Fire HD 8.9″
I plan to write a full review of the Kindle Fire HD 8.9″ soon, so check back
when I post it.