After all the hype behind the Nexus-4 and its technological prowess, a year later after frustrating users with a long wait and lots of similar hype, the Nexus 5 launched in India. I had a chance to take a look at it at the local LG store, which was about 10 minutes from my work location by drive.
At the store, I managed to play around with the device to my heart’s content for about half hour or so. After owning a Nexus 4, it was only logical that I personally check the credentials of the nexus 5 before opting for it as an upgrade. The store was selling the phone at about 1,000 rupees more than Google’s online price of Rs.28,999. Flipkart, the online megastore did not show signs of launching this phone yet, and as for other websites such as snapdeal my confidence on their shipping prowess was low. My patience was running out due to one main reason. I had just sold out my Nexus 4 and I was in a situation where I could not receive my office email on the phone. This was because I was using my Nokia Asha 501 as a temporary solution until I could decide on the Nexus 5.
Being a bit price conscious after having wasted lots and lots of money on phones, my logical thinking was to order this device directly from Google for two reasons – one getting it directly from the maker of the device and two, peace of mind. Or so I thought. Being the friendly guy that I am, I decided to also help my friend purchase one more device of the same type. So an order for two Google nexus 5 devices were placed with Google on November 20. The total bill amount was a whopping 60,000 rupees which by no means is something small to contend with. I had placed my order on a credit card and promptly waited for the devices to come to me in two business days. At the worst four.
I also received a mail from google about my order saying it was shipped through blue dart courier (or carrier as per the language used by google) and it also had a tracking number. Upon going to blue dart’s website, there was no tracking number like that entered into the system. Giving the benefit of doubt that it would take upto 24 hours to update this entry, I checked the next day and still found no information. I promptly called google and a friendly support executive welcomed me with customary “hi, how are you doing?” question. Frankly I wasn’t doing alright. When it comes to ordering gadgets, I would like my shipping dates commitment to be met at all times. After having shopped online for more than 7 years in the making now, this order already had all the qualities of becoming a disaster.
Google confirmed my worst fears saying there is no such order via Blue Dart. I checked with the local blue dart office in Bangalore and they said there is no package even listed against my name. This was after three days. After a few back and forth calls with google, they routed my query to a shipping specialist who promptly greeted me with the same “Hi, how are you doing?” query. If he could only see my face, he would have got my answer. Well basically it was the 27th of November – a full one week later and Google – yes Google – the technological giant whose tentacles have engulfed the whole world via their search algorithm could not bloody locate where a teeny-weeny-tiny courier package was in the world !
After an angry exchange of mails literally, a guy named Abhishek answered my query not just with the right answer, but after fully understanding my frustration very quickly. He told me what I needed to know – the shipment was transferred out only around the 27th Nov, via Aramex couriers and not through Blue Dart. The pity was and is that Google has never bothered to make a note of the new shipping information against my order even till date. If you dont know what that means, just hang on a little while. Thanks to Abhishek, I could now contact Aramex and they indeed told me that my devices were on the way and could reach anytime in two days. Fair enough I thought. Around the same time, a third friend of mine who we where chiding telling him that he was incapable of buying a phone on time like us, actually was flaunting a nexus 5 in the office that day.
After a day’s worth of use, he was extremely satisfied except for battery issues. It was also the time when my cousins received a pair of nexus 5 devices (yes, basically everyone other than us two) and they also confirmed battery issues. People were getting 3-4 hours on rough use, and about 6+ hours on moderate use of data and calls. Compared to my nexus 4, that was three hours negative. Coming back to my third friend, he started facing wierd issues on day two. His SIM would not recognize no matter what and his battery life remained pathetic. Even if the SIM did recognize, he could not hear others, others could not hear him. To prove a point about the phone, my SIM did not recognize on his phone as well. So it boiled down to the device. This got me thinking. Was Rs.28,999 worthwhile for this device (after having owned a nexus 4 before) given the real time live problems that I am seeing with others owning this device? My mind did not feel comfortable with this purchase and I decided to opt for a refund.
I spoke with Google again and they offered me two modes of refund. Either get an RMA form and ship the device back to them, or just refuse the courier and the device would get back to them automatically. This suggestion was offered after a billion precious minutes of updating to them my new shipping information and the customary greetings and enquiries about my moods and feelings about this purchase. I decided to opt for route two, and spoke with Aramex to deny the courier. By this time the courier had been initiated from Bhiwandi, Maharashtra and had been received at Indiranagar, Bangalore. In spite of my informing the people not to get it to my home and return it then and there, they brought it home only to take it back since my stand did not change.
I decided to opt for a return of merchandise at source without receiving the courier (reject delivery) and it was on its way back to shipper. After a couple of days the Aramex website indicated that it had been shipped back to shipper (which I again did some R&D to find out that it was Gadgetguru.com). I contacted Google again and they had no idea that Blue Dart had not shipped this orginally to me. After telecasting the Ramayan again to them, they said they had not received the device back and that it may take upto 2-3 days for that to happen. A couple of days later, the status still remained the same. Meanwhile my credit card was swiped on 20th of Nov and the statement was due on 25th of December. It was already 3rd December. I decided to use my trump card again and contacted the friendly neighborhood spiderman Abhishek again. He let me know that the device had indeed been received by Google on 1st of December itself.
Additionally he also let me know that there is a 14 business day period for refunds after which the authorization to refund would be automatically lifted (ie., approved) and that date would be the 19th of December. I let my mind rest in peace even buying another phone during that timeframe assured that the refund process was well underway. Come December 19th and I called Google again and bloopers of bloopers :
- They had no idea what my order was
- They had no idea who had shipped it
- Even though they had all the details of my previous interactions, they acted as if they had no information in front of them
- They had no idea that the devices were returned via RMA or rejecting the delivery
- They had no idea of the refund or when it would be done
- The support executives had no idea what the shipping “specialists” were upto
- The Google support had no way of calling me back again and they said they cannot put me to any specialist as they cannot attend phone calls (the specialists) – they are special people you see with only special abilities such as responding to only emails
I waited for a day more and blew up on Google for my next call. I told them their 14 day refund period was over and they had to keep their promise of refunding the money immediately. It was 22nd of December and 2 more days for my statement to come through for my credit card. Heard of nail biting finishes? Well sometimes you need to work hard for your money, if you don’t no one else will either.
I gave them an ultimatum that the refund had to be sorted out on the same phone call. I gave them details as usual:
- no dudes, blue dart didnt ship it !
- no lady its not armx.com its aramex.com
- no google you cant say you didnt receive the device back, its listed as returned with the carrier/courier and the friendly neighborhood spiderman also confirms you got it back on 1st December.
- For the last freaking time its not an RMA return, its a rejection during delivery !
So now the Google support exec decides he would rope in the shipping specialist on the same call and suddenly the two of them realize how much torture and trauma I’ve been through. So the shipping specialist who is more educated technically to “handle” the matter decides to issue me a refund then and there. And he does it, says sorry, thank you and whatever more and hangs up.
I’m delighted for the next few minutes that I won a war not a fight only to realize that the shipping spealist has “handle” the matter so well that I’ve received the amount only for one device instead of for the two I ordered. I just almost faint imagining the process I’d have to go through again to get the other one refunded.
No – blue dart didnt ship, its two devices not one, its not RMA its reject of courier, its Aramex, its returned – aaaaaaargh …. please …. please … please …. return my money…. my money…. please!
Finally Google execs realized their blooper and issued a return of the amount for the other device as well. The entire amount was reversed on 23rd December midnight. Just hours before my credit card statement was generated. Just in time. Saving grace finally.
This post is not to educate about the Nexus 5 device, but is to let you all know how bad Google’s supply chain management really is for India. Everyone knows they make reasonably good operating systems and/or devices, but what about the other part ? The shipping, the customer experience? The above story must be an eye opener for anyone wanting to order anything online directly from Google. I will let you all know about other better online shopping experiences a while later. But it’s to you own understanding of why you must NOT order anything more from Google. I seriously don’t want you all to go through what I went through. The trauma is enough to feel like just visiting a local store and picking up a phone.
The absolute horror of malformed shipping information, the absurdity of having to repeat the same information to multiple disconnected support executives, the handover of calls from support guys to shipping guys, the local tie ups for actual shipment of hardware, the refund procedure going awry and finally a partial refund – are these sufficient reasons for you to shun Google? Tell me about your experience.
And Thank you Tiffany, DeeJay, Ebony, Ashleigh, Kassydi, Christopher, Kadijah, Jason, Demi, Brandon, Christina, Woodell, Elizabeth, Dustin, Philip – it was great knowing you – if you manage to visit India, please contact me and I’ll show you how supply chain works here just so that you may learn something more.
As for you Abhishek – you’re my man – the real savior of the day for Google’s goofups. For my case they must rename themselves Goofle. I am proud that a sensible man works atleast to make some part of this supply chain more orderly.