Google Hardware Support

Ironically just 5 days after writing about how I choose Android devices for a long service life [1] my wife’s Nexus 5 (with 32G of RAM (sorry Flash storage) to give it a long useful life) totally died. It reported itself as being fully charged and then 15 minutes later it was off and could not be revived. No combination of pushing the power button and connecting the power cable caused the screen to light up or any sound to be emitted.

Google has a nice interactive support site for nexus devices that describes more ways of turning a phone on than any reasonable person could imagine. After trying to turn the phone on in various ways (plugged and unplugged etc) it gave me a link to get phone support. Clicking on that put me in the queue to RECEIVE a phone call and a minute later a lady who spoke English really well (which is unusual for telephone support) called me to talk me through the various options.

Receiving a phone call is a much better experience than making a call. It meant that if the queue for phone support was long then I could do other things until the phone rings. It’s impossible to be productive at other tasks while listening for hold music to stop and a person to start talking. The cost of doing this would be very tiny, while there would be some cost in hardware and software to have a web site that tells me how long I can expect to wait for a call a more basic implementation where I just submit my number and wait for a call would be very cheap to implement. The costs of calls from the US to Australia (and most places where people can afford a high end Android phone) are quite cheap for home users and are probably cheaper if you run a call center. If the average support call cost Google $1 and 3% of phones have support calls then that would be an extra cost of $0.03 per phone. I expect that almost everyone who buys a $450 phone would be happy to pay a lot more than $0.03 to avoid the possibility of listening to hold music!

I received the phone call about a minute after requesting it, this was nice but I wonder how long I would have waited if I hadn’t requested a call at 1AM Australian time (presumably during the day in a US call center). In any case getting a 1 minute response is great for any time of the day or night, lots of call centers can’t do that.

While the phone support is much better than most phone support, it would be nice if they added some extra options. I think it would be good to have webchat and SMS as options for support for the benefit of people who don’t want to speak to strangers. This would be useful to a lot of people on the Autism Spectrum and probably others too.

The phone call wasn’t particularly productive, it merely confirmed that I had followed all the steps on the support website. Then I received an email telling me about the web site which was a waste of time as I’d covered that in the phone call.

I have just replied to their second email which asked for the IMEI of the phone to start the warranty return process. We could have saved more than 24 hours delay if this had been requested in the first email or the phone call. Google could have even requested the IMEI through the web site before starting the phone call. It would have been even easier if Google had included the device IMEI in the email they sent me to confirm the purchase as searching for old email is a lot easier than searching through my house for an old box. Another option for Google would be to just ask me for the Gmail account used for the purchase, as I only bought one Nexus 5 on that account they then have all the purchase details needed for a warranty claim.

While the first call was a great experience the email support following that has been a waste of time. I’m now wondering if they aim to delay the warranty process for a few days in the hope that the phone will just start working again.

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