Google’s ‘For Any Reason’ Return Policy Does Not Include ‘Because I Broke It’

nexus4Amanda bought a Nexus 4 smartphone direct from Google, and put it in a case the next day. Like many other readers we’ve heard from, her phone plunged to its doom, shattering the screen. She had time on her side, though: it was only ten days since she had bought the phone, and Google’s posted return policy says that you can return a device in the first fifteen days “for any reason.” But is “because I broke it” a valid reason?

Amanda wrote to us:

TLDR; Bought a Nexus 4, it shattered within 10 days of receiving. Ask Google to make good on their ’15 day for any reason return policy’. They agree to, then later on decide not to. There are no provisions in said policy about not accepting damaged devices.

Long version:

On April 22nd, I went ahead and purchased a new Nexus 4 from Google. It arrived on Thursday, April 25th.

The following Monday, the 29th, my (admittedly crappy) case arrived, which the Nexus was promptly placed into. That Friday, May 3rd, the phone fell about 3-4 feet and I got the dreaded ‘Gorilla glass effect’ on the front (shattered).

Normally, I’d chalk this up to not being careful, and just be very very sad. However, my husband had the foresight to check their return policy – lo and behold – if I want to return the device within 15 days FOR ANY REASON they will take it back.

Returns

If for any reason you do not wish to keep your device, you have up to 15 days from the date the device of the original purchase order is delivered to you cancel your purchase and intiate a refund. Please contact our support team by email to return your device. Once you fill out the form, the following will occur:

We send a Return Merchandise Authorization (RMA) and a pre-paid UPS shipping label to your email address. These will be sent in two separate emails.

Print the RMA (attached in the email) and place the form inside of the shipping box you’re returning.

Print the pre-paid UPS shipping label and attach the label to the outside of the shipping box.
For additional tips, please see information on preparing your device for return.

Replacements

Within 15 days of delivery, if you happen to receive a defective device that you’d like to exchange for a functioning device, please email our support team. We’ll work with you on next steps or connect you directly to our partners for replacement options.

If you have configured your phone as a virtual wallet, using Google Wallet as a form of payment, prepare to switch devices.

As a precondition of replacement, Google may remotely disable the damaged device which is to be returned to Google, with the consent of the purchaser.

Regular warranty service and out of warranty repairs

After 15 days from delivery or for an out of warranty repair, please review warranty information for your device.

Note the several different, somewhat conflicting return policies on the page for some reason. I think they have changed this page since I opened my case (the page is marked updated on May 10, and now there is verbiage about ‘you may be charged for damaged devices’ on some of the policies – but I don’t have the screenshot to verify/prove it).

I’m attaching my exchange with their support team. It went like this:

1. May 3 – Call to request the RMA, ask if they do an exchange instead (my husband did this, as we bought it on his CC)

2. May 5 – They tell me they cannot do an exchange, only a return ‘with applicable fees’ – which I do not see any info on at the time, but okay

3. May 7 – We tell them okay, we will proceed with the return – ask for label (at this point we are debating what to do, and find out that our CC company will cover the balance)

4. May 8 – They say – we’ve received your request, will send return materials shortly

5. May 11 – They follow up and say they aren’t taking the return because of the cracked screen.

6. May 11 – I remind them that this case is within the 15 day limit for returns, and restate that the website says ‘for any reason’

7. May 12- Be told that I have voided my warranty

Obviously, I have voided my warranty. And I could go on about the device’s design – but I researched it, and knew what I was getting into. Including a 15 day ‘for any reason’ return policy.

To be honest, I would understand if there was a provision in the policy about not accepting broken devices. There was no such thing, and for such a big company, they are surprisingly disorganized about the whole thing.

We’ve discussed how Google is surprisingly disorganized about a lot of things when it comes to customer service, but does refusing to take an item back after the customer breaks it count as bad customer service or common sense?

Amanda claims that the disclaimers for damaged devices weren’t there when she sent her device back. “For damaged units, customers may be charged fees based on the state of your returned device,” some of the policies read. Based on what we’ve heard about the Nexus 4, it’s hard to believe that Google wouldn’t have a policy in place…or maybe no one else has smashed their phone that soon and tried just returning it before.