Tuesday, 20 August 2013

Nexus 4 Red Light of Death

I've written a few times in the past about various poor or laughable customer experiences I've had when dealing with technology and the companies making or retailing them.  Things usually work out well in the end of course as we're well protected as consumers here in the UK.  However, when my Nexus 4 went wrong late on Saturday night I thought I was in for another world of pain, I couldn't have been more wrong.

The short version of this post is that my phone died late on Saturday night.  On Sunday morning I raised a support call.  By Tuesday morning I had a brand new phone in my hand, delivered to my door, all under warranty.  I need not have worried it seems, Google appear to have customer support really very well sorted out.  I only wish the vast array of companies out there who are terrible to deal with would learn the lessons of having satisfied customers even when things go wrong.

The slightly longer version of the story is that my phone completely ran out of charge on Saturday and when I went to plug it in for an over night full charge before going to bed, I noticed the LED was solid red.  I've never seen this before but left it for a few hours and tried turning it on, nothing.  I left it on over night and it still wouldn't turn on the next morning.  I tried a few other things, like a separate wall outlet and another charger and cable but still all I got was a solid red light and no ability to boot the phone.

I phoned Google at 10am on a Sunday in the hope that they ran a call center on Sundays or that I would be connected to an international person who would be able to help.  I think that's probably what happened as it was an all-American experience from start to finish.  Benjamin answered the phone, asked me some questions and got me to do a couple of things with the phone, it was still dead.  He was first class, easy to understand and took ownership of the issue straight away, I can still email him directly about the problem now.

After Google support (Ben) realised the phone was dead, there was no quibble, no problem, no hoops to jump through.  He told me that he'd send the issue through to the warranty department, they would send me an email with how to order a new phone and when I receive it I should send back the old one in the same packaging (standard practice for the tech industry).  We parted company, and I'm thinking this is all a bit too easy and something will go wrong later.

A couple of hours later, I get an email from Google warranty.  It has a link to click which allows you to order a new phone at no cost (the link is only live for 24 hours).  I set about ordering the phone, it was Sunday night by this time.

8:30am Tuesday morning and Parcel Force knock at the door and deliver my new phone.  Inside the package is a return envelope, exactly as described by Ben at Google and exactly what the warranty email said would happen.  I printed the RMA note attached to the email, packaged everything up and it's ready to go back to Google - we're still less than 5 days from the start of the issue at this point.

Quite simply, brilliant.  I thought I should say so (or more so).

So would I buy a new Google hardware product again?  You bet I would.  Software updates come regularly, I'm always at the latest Android level (unlike the Transformer Prime tablet we have in the house which is stuck on 4.1 because Asus dropped support after little more than a year), I don't suffer from the Apple single vendor lock-in issue, and now to top it all off it seems the warranty support is first class.


Chris Dudley said...

Glad it was fixed quickly.
What is the apple single vendor lock in issue?
Only apple makes iPhones, but only google makes nexus 4s. Only apple writes iOS, only google (in reality) writes android.
Both phones can be on any network provider.
Both phones can have apps from millions of authors.
Not trying to be an apple fanboi, but really don't see the 'lock in'.

Graham White said...

Lock-in is perhaps a bit strong these days for a modern iPhone but it wasn't that long ago you were required to use iTunes in order to have an iPhone or an iPad. Perhaps it's best just to say that Apple actively discourage cooperation and compatibility with other devices and ecosystems and leave it at that. I could point to the apps that have been taken down from the app store or the multitude of legal fisty-cuffs they pick with competitors in pursuit of their ruthless hunt to be the only player in the market, but frankly I can't be bothered to spend the time finding the links.

Lets also not forget that Android is based on Linux so Google are far from being the only contributor to the project. Sure, they release versions of Android as open source and there's probably not a lot we could do with them until that happened but they do use open source and they do take patches from AOSP.

A question then, can I run a non-Apple O.S. on my iPhone? I don't know the answer to that, I assume the answer is "no" but I know for sure that I can (and I have) on my Android devices. Add to that the fact that I can buy hardware from any manufacturer (such as the Asus I refer to) and I see much less lock-in from the Android ecosystem.

Paul Taylor said...

The quality of service and turn-around on that phone was amazing!
It's a shame that other companies don't follow the same procedure.

Graham White said...

So my comment about single vendor lock-in is looking more and more an "interesting" choice of words. There are more and more arguments out there (Ars have the best I've seen) as to why Google is also single vendor lock-in.