Google’s Defective Phone Policy Is Tough If You’re On A Fixed Income

Nexus5_RightWe hear that the newest version of Google’s Nexus smartphone, the Nexus 5, is a fine device. Reader Michael has heard that, too. He wouldn’t know: The phone that he ordered a few weeks ago didn’t work right out of the box. He was stuck. He had ordered the $350 Nexus because his previous phone broke, but couldn’t afford put the total on hold on a credit or debit card so Google could ship him a new phone right away.

He had two choices, according to Google: send back the broken phone and wait for the exchange to complete, or put a hold for the full amount of the phone on a payment card while Google did the swap. He didn’t have the money, and also didn’t want to be without a way to make phone calls, as a person who has ALS. When he told customer service that neither of these options worked for him, they escalated his call to a higher level of customer service…where he was given the same options again.

“I know I could buy an inexpensive phone and wait on the reorder, but I thought Google was a company that took care of its customers. I just want what I paid for,” Michael wrote to Consumerist. “Why should anyone that receives a defective product have to let a company put another 350 charge on [their] account?”

This is a common policy to prevent return fraud, and in most cases isn’t a huge inconvenience to customers. For Michael and anyone whose only phone is in need of repair, this is a large inconvenience.

We passed his story on to Google, and their Nexus team got back to us. They’ve granted an exception for him. “Our help support team has reached out to Michael directly and is sending him a new phone,” a spokesperson wrote to us. “On behalf of the team, I’m sorry this issue was not resolved more quickly.”

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  1. schwartzster says:

    He’s got the money for a smart phone and data plan, but not a $350 in the bank or a credit card that Google can hang on to for a week or two? No sympathy.

    Also, where’d he get this crazy idea: “I thought Google was a company that took care of its customers”

  2. webalias says:

    No sympathy for the customer here either — well, sympathy maybe, but not support for his position. The policy that one must return a defective product and wait until it is received before a replacement is sent — or temporarily have the replacement charged to a credit card — is a reasonable step to prevent fraud. It’s widely known and required by any number of merchants, and the customer probably agreed to follow this policy on the return of defective goods, when he placed the order. So he thinks Google should make an exception because following the policy he agreed to is financially inconvenient for him. Because he’s broke? Nice of Google to do it, but I’m not sure it’s a good idea. I’d love to use the “But I’m poor…” defense to wiggle out of a number of agreements, to get a number of companies to bend or change their policies. But I don’t see why such an argument should meet with success, any more than “But I have pretty blue eyes…”

    • CommonC3nts says:

      Most companies do not put a hold on your money to do an exchange. Very, very few do this. Most will charge you if your old phone does not get returned in X amount of days.

      For example, two weeks ago my verizon Z30 broke. Verizon sent me a replacement phone and then gave me 5 days to return the broken phone or be charged for it. They gave me a prepaid label and I shipped it in the same box the replacement phone came in.

      Why cant google do it like verizon and not temporary charge customers to get their broken phone replaced.

    • Xenotaku says:

      I, surprisingly, have to agree with CommonC3nts. I had to replace my phone through T-Mobile, and they sent me a new one, and only would have been charged if I didn’t return the broken one. There’s no reason why they have to pre-charge to guarantee the defective phone is returned, when they can post-charge if it’s not returned.

      Assuming, of course, that he’s on a standard, post-pay contract, and not a pre-pay one. Then it’s different.

  3. dullard8 says:

    Or, he could have purchased it a brick and mortar store in which case he would merely have had to return it to the store for exchange.

  4. Airwave says:

    And there is no reason for him to be without a phone. Surely he qualifies for an Obamaphone? It’s not a Nexus, but it’ll keep him connected.