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Me Vs. Google’s Terrible Customer Support

August 28, 2012

I am on hold with Google. Again. I’ve lost count of the amount of times I’ve been on hold since I ordered a Nexus 7 from them. I’ll probably be on hold a few more times until I find someone willing to talk to me directly about my issues.

On Friday August 3rd I ordered a Nexus 7 from the Google Play store. I wanted an Android device in case I had the opportunity to review games and apps, and it was also pretty shiny. I spent Saturday reading up on it in a bit more depth than I had previously, and decided I’d like to try one out before buying. So on Sunday morning I cancelled my order and headed into town, finding one for sale in Angel. The manager of the Carphone Warehouse let me see the last one they had in stock, and I looked it over and noted it had none of the problems that people had complained about, so bought it.

I went home and set it up with my Google account. The first email that arrives on it tells me Google have shipped my Nexus 7. You know, the one that I cancelled.

I phoned Google and they inform me that I can simply refuse delivery and it’ll kick off a returns procedure. It seems an odd way to do it, but fine. Now there are two moments of my own culpability here. One in ordering the thing, and the second was my girlfriend Claire sleepily accepting the package at 7am.


Okay, RMA time. I phone up Google and I’m sent an RMA number, and an e-mail saying that within two days I’ll receive a postal package that I can send my device back in. Simple. Easy. I won’t need to worry.

Six days pass. Nothing. I phone Google again and I’m told on the phone that I should just return the device. I’m also informed that it was “likely” that I’d receive a refund if I post it myself. Here’s the mail they sent.

I understand that your package was successfully delivered and you would like to return it. Once your package has been successfully delivered and accepted, TNT can no longer treat your package as a delivery refusal and return to sender without a return shipping label.

To receive a refund, you must return your device using the attached RMA within 7 days. Your device must be returned in like-new condition and in its original packaging with all included accessories.

Please package the item carefully. The original packing materials may be used. If you are returning fewer items than in the original shipment, please add effective packing materials to ensure the box and the enclosed device(s) are adequately protected from movement inside the shipping box.

For detailed instructions on preparing an item for return, please visit our Help Center at

To initiate the return you’ll need to do the following:

1. Print the attached Return Authorization form

2. Insert the Return authorization form into the outer TNT box

3. Purchase return shipping via TNT (You do not have to use TNT) at,
and specify the following return address:

Computer 2000
Harrier Parkway
Magna Parkway
LE17 4XT

4. Print the shipping label from TNT and affix it to your return box.

5. Schedule a pickup with TNT or bring your package to a TNT depot near you.

You must take reasonable care when returning the Device and include its original packaging and any accessories. Upon receipt of your returned device, we’ll issue a refund to the original Google Wallet account within a reasonable time.

Best regards,
The Google Play Team

Fine. I head out and send it via the Post Office, because trying to sign up to post things via TNT is awkward. And because up there in the email Google say “You do not have to use TNT”. It costs a tenner to get the damn Nexus back to the mothership.

Days pass and I wait for acknowledgement that it arrived safely. Nothing. I check with the Royal Mail and find it arrived safely. I phone Google to find out if the device is fine with them, which it seems to be and hang up. At this point I get an e-mail from their support saying if I have any more info that I should mail back, and I remember that I have a receipt. I ask Google how I go about receiving a refund for that. This is the response:

Unfortunately we cannot refund any out of the pocket cost that you made for the return, we do apologize for the delay in the shipper labels but those are the ones instructed by our customers to use for returning our products without fees applied. Yes we will refund all cost including your shipping fees applied to deliver the product to you.

They’ve changed their tune. I answered with all my evidence to the contrary and have yet to get a response to that mail. The day after sending it the shipping envelope arrived.

To recap: they sent me something I cancelled, they didn’t send the postal package and told me to post it myself and they’d likely refund me the costs, they then said they wouldn’t and sent me a label two weeks late that would’ve solved this whole mess. Of course, not sending the thing in the first place would also have solved this. I’m on hold, but the guy, Dennis, just said he’d have to escalate the case and that they wouldn’t refund me. He said that they can’t refund me the small amount I paid to undo their mistake. I’m not sure why, and would love to know how the think this should come out of my pocket.

Funnily enough, I really like the tablet. The one from Carphone Warehouse has taken over as my day-to-day e-reader. I’m glad I own one, but my advice is don’t buy hardware directly from Google: they’re embarrassingly ill-equipped to handle problems, their support is labyrinthian and has no culpability, and I feel lied to. On the current evidence, I’m not even sure they’ll be able to refund me the initial amount without horribly messing things up.

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