Sunday, March 19, 2017

Google Pixel XL Phone Review, Part 2: Google Messes Up Fulfillment

This is Part 2 in a blog series about my new Google Pixel XL phone. In Part 1, I described the ordering process, which was fine except for the long 7-week wait for the phone. I fully expected the next post in this series to be about unpacking and configuring the phone, but unfortunately I need to first post about the fulfillment experience which has not been good.

Original Order

To recap my first post, I ordered my Pixel XL on 2/13/17 and was told to expect it around 4/04/17. I'd ordered with Google Financing over 2 years. I was accepted into Google Financing at the time I placed my order, and received confirming paperwork the following week. All set! All I had to do now was wait until April to get my phone.

Order confirmation, which clearly shows payment method Google Financing

A Problem With Your Order

On March 16, 4 weeks in on my 7-week wait, I received an email from Google Store saying that there was a problem with my order. There was no explanation of what the problem was, but the message did have a Fix It button.

Order on Hold Message

Eager to resolve any issue with getting my phone, I clicked Fix It. This took me to a Google Payments screen which wanted me to update my payment method to an updated credit or debit card. This was odd, because my original order had nothing to do with a credit or debit card: it was made through Google Financing. However, I do have my Google account on a debit card for miscellaneous purchases such as Google Music. After confirming that I was in fact dealing with a real Google web site, I cooperated in updating my Google account payment method to a current debit card and completed the form.

And I guess this was the wrong thing to do, as you'll see in the next section. I want to point out though that this interaction 1) Google provided no other recourse for "correcting the problem with my order" and 2) certainly did not did not indicate that any kind of charge was about to be made.

Unauthorized Debit of Full Price of Phone

At this point I was suspicious. Had I just changed the payment method for my phone order? I went back to call up the status of my original order. It still indicated that payment was through Google Financing, so I relaxed.

Order Check, Confirming that Google Financing was Still Method of Payment

But just a few seconds later, I received an alert from my bank that $968.67 had been debited from my bank account! Wait, what!?!

The unauthorized debit

This was unbelievable. Google had TRICKED ME into paying up front for a phone that had already been ordered and approved for financing--and they did it without telling me what was going to happen.

Your Order Has Shipped

On the next day, 3/17/17, I received an email that my order had shipped (unexpected, because original delivery expectations had been set for April). Delivery of the phone was now promised by 3/23/17. It was nice my phone was coming sooner than originally indicated... but I had been charged nearly $1000 up-front for a phone I had ordered with financing, and that wasn't nice at all.

Interactions with Google Support

Rather upset at this series of events, I proceeded to send a support message to Google. 

My complaint email

The support form promised a reply within 24 hours. 24 hours went by with no reply, but I did receive a reply the following day on 3/18/17.

First response from Google Support - didn't understand or address my issue

Unfortunately, it appears the support person did not even read the entire message. I was assured that my order was not held up any longer (still no explanation has ever been given about what the problem was) and would arrive soon. Nothing about the unauthorized charge or resolving it. I checked with my bank, and the charge had not been reversed.

I responded that I expected this unauthorized charge to be reversed, and wanted to pay for my phone the way it had been ordered, through Google Financing.

My first response, making it clear what action was needed

The Charge Came From Synchrony Bank

The next day (3/19/2017), I received another reply from Google. They said they had looked into the matter, and the bank charge actually came from their financing partner, Synchrony Bank. I would have to take the matter up with Synchrony, because Google had no ability to correct matters directly. They provided basic contact information for Synchrony.

Google Support's second response, saying the charge came from Synchrony

This was disappointing, to say the least. Now I would have to sort out a problem with Google's financing partner? When you are setting up a retail experience, it's fine to have partners but you should take responsibility for providing customers with a seamless experience. That includes managing customer service problems, even if they involve your partners. You wouldn't get this kind of treatment from Amazon: they are famous for stellar customer service.

Sigh. I proceed to the Synchrony bank Contact Us page at, where I see Search or Select a Business. Many companies are listed here. Amazon is listed here. Walmart is listed here. Do you know who isn't listed here? Google.

Synchrony web site contact form - no option for Google

I select Other. Which only gave me an option to call by phone. Up till now, all my interactions has been through email so there would be a record of the communication, but that's not an option here. So, I pick up the phone.

For the next couple of hours, I am on the phone with Synchrony or Google as they in turn transfer me over to the other party.

  • Lavinia at Synchrony doesn't really seem to understand my problem. She assures me any problem must be a Google problem. She transfers me over to Google.

  • Jill at Google does try to help--she spends a lot of time on the phone with me, but ultimately concludes that it is Synchrony who must reverse the charge. I get transferred back to Synchrony.

  • Tina at Synchrony is of no help whatsoever. She doesn't seem to understand anything about the Google-Synchrony relationship or how to resolve issues.

Synchrony's support people are, well, completely useless. They are 100% clueless. Google's support people do seem to be making an effort, but appear to be powerless to actually correct the issue. All of them assure me they want to help me, but each time I end up getting sent back to the other company.

I have now had enough. Apparently no one is able to correct this, and it is extremely frustrating. I decide to accept the situation: my phone is coming, the logistics were screwy, the financing didn't really materialize. It's no longer worth my time. I don't really know who was at fault here but I know it wasn't me. I may just get my next phone from Apple the next time around.

Google Pixel Scorecard

So far, I have to grade my Google Pixel XL experience as follows:

Google gets an F for the order fulfillment experience. This is disappointing to say the least. I like Google. But this has been anything but pleasant. It shows a lot of immaturity when it comes to inventory logistics, reliable order fulfillment processes, and good customer service. Although I received much better support attention from Google than Synchrony, this is ultimately Google's failure because they own the product/process/partnership: it doesn't really matter if the problem was with Google or Synchrony: the responsibility lies with Google and they blew it.

Hopefully my experience with the actual phone (coming next week) will be much better. Stay tuned, I'll let you know.

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