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    Customer Support Face-Off: Nexus One Hell vs. Apple Heaven

    by Michelle May
    August 4, 2010
    The author holds her "repaired" Nexus One phone

    When I finally purchased my first smartphone, Google’s Nexus One, last March, I quickly declared myself a satisfied customer. I was easy to impress. Anything was a step up from a five-year-old Samsung with a pull-up antenna.

    Like many, I dreamt of an iPhone, but was turned off by what I heard about AT&T’s service. I waited in vain for the iPhone to be offered on a different network, and finally realized that day would not come anytime soon.

    I realize that customer care is nearly as important as the device itself."

    After reading the buzz about Android phones, particularly the Nexus One, I rationalized that holding out — not joining the “Apple cult,” as some call it — was a smart move. I liked that Google and Nexus One attempted to change the system by offering an unlocked phone that enabled me to switch out SIM cards when traveling overseas with no annoying fees or wait times.

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    The one factor I neglected to put into the equation was customer service. Not until a few months later during a hit-and-run car accident would I realize its value.

    Nexus One Envy

    When friends with the iPhone 3GS watched my Nexus One snap beautiful photos with a flash, multi-task and miraculously take dictated texts and emails from the sound of my voice, they whined that they had “Nexus One envy.” When I told them about T-Mobile’s lower prices and good coverage, they cursed that they were locked into a network they despised. I felt like the wise, slow turtle that beat the hare by waiting for the right phone, the right philosophy and the right network.

    Fast-forward four months. As I tweeted away while watching the World Cup final, my Nexus One’s on/off button stopped working. I had dropped it before its failure, so it was probably my fault. Since I didn’t purchase the phone at a store, I couldn’t simply march in and have it repaired. I patiently navigated to HTC’s Nexus One site and called the company from a friend’s phone to ask how to proceed.

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    The HTC worker told me to send in the phone. They would look at it and email me to tell me how much the repair would cost. The whole process would take five to seven business days. They emailed a shipping label, and I was off.

    I thought it would be an adjustment, yet a worthwhile social experiment, to be phone-less for a week. Maybe it would help me get back to basics, increase productivity and finally finish the book I’d been reading.

    A few days later while driving, a drunk driver crashed into me in a hit-and-run. The social experiment was no longer fun. I found myself in the awkward position of not being able to give out my phone number to police, insurance companies or witnesses.

    As if a technological curse had been cast on me, my brand-new 16-day-old MacBook Pro began acting funny, turning off for no reason. I brought it to the Apple Genius Bar, where they ran a diagnostic on it. They didn’t find anything wrong with the computer.

    “What do you want me to do?” asked the Apple employee I told him I would feel better if they exchanged it for a new one. With no further questions, that’s exactly what he did, happily and promptly. He said, “We want to make you happy.”

    I couldn’t believe it.

    Apple vs. HTC Service: No Contest

    My laptop problem was solved in a day, but my phone issue was still simmering. Over 12 days, I hotly pursued HTC for an update on my phone. After multiple phone calls with an average 30 minute wait time, they gave me conflicting reports. One representative said they mailed it back to me already; another told me they were moving locations so things were backed up. A call center supervisor tried to make me feel better: “The good news is that your phone has been scanned as received by the repair center.”

    Four times, they let me know that my case had been “escalated,” meaning that within 24 hours, they would call me back and tell me what was going on. They never did. I saw myself getting worked up and angry, utterly frustrated.

    Meanwhile, the Phoenix police department located the drunk driver who crashed into me in a fraction of the time it took HTC to find my phone. After five consecutive days of calling HTC (nearly two weeks after it left my possession), HTC sent my phone back to me, minus the back cover and with the on/off button still physically broken. At least it works now, even if it’s cracked.

    I can’t imagine Apple mailing back a phone in such condition, leaving their customer to hold their product together with tape, as I now do with my HTC phone. And now that the Nexus One has been discontinued by Google, I am sure HTC’s customer service will get worse — if that’s even possible. I’m already in the market for a new phone. Full circle, I’m back to waiting for the iPhone to be offered on a different network.

    Nexus One was a great idea in theory, but if you have no one reliable place to go to when it breaks, you are stuck with an expensive paperweight.

    After these experiences, I realize that customer care is nearly as important as the device itself. As my friends who have updated to the new iPhone belly-up to the Genius Bar to get their free “bumpers,” I’m the one with phone envy now. Call it a cult if it makes you feel better, but sign me up.

    i-8b7fdcab71796242c49bf6a2dd8e87e9-new nexus one.jpg
    My new Nexus One

    UPDATE (8/6/2010): The day that this article originally ran I received a phone call from a very friendly representative at Nexus One. I had left their corporate office a message about my experience 10 days prior, but honestly never expected to hear back from them. The representative apologized profusely and said that what happened to me was unacceptable and not the norm. He wanted to know if it was okay to send me a brand new phone. I just received the new device via FedEx. You are probably wondering — will I shun this new phone and move forward on an iPhone? No. I’m going to give HTC another chance. Maybe I am a glutton for punishment but I really do think the Nexus One is great — when it is working, and when I do not need repair or service. Those are big ifs and whens. Fingers crossed.

    Michelle May is a San Francisco-based travel writer. She blogs here.

    Tagged: apple customer care customer service customer support htc iphone iphone 4 nexus one
    • Looks like Aplle and the Phoenix Police Department did a great job. Kudos to them :)

      But I agree, you never know how important it ist to have a good customer service until you need it. I bought a Desktop PC from a rather small company in bavaria (I’m from Germany) a few years ago and couldn’t even reach tech support by phone or e-mail. The computer itself was cheap, but all the stress until I finally got it repaired was certainly not worth it.

      Oh, and for all with similar problems, complaining works wonders. :)

    • Gunga Didnt

      Good story about the overall experience with telephones and service and what you wind up paying for. There’s lotsof frustrated apple phone owners too (thanks to the moisture detection clause) and other issues. Not everyone suffers and not everyone glides effortlessly with telecom subscriptions and devices.

      On a side note I think it’s pretty lame that HTC sent you a brand new Nexus One, considering it’s easy to due since it’s discontinued and almost obsolete. They should have just jumped you up to the top of the line android device currently. THAT’S customer service.

    • Rob

      Yeah go back for some more of that. After all, the guy said it wasn’t the norm. lmao

    • John

      I made an informed decision to buy an unlocked Nexus One for most of the same reasons you did. However, during my research back in January the #1 issue that I read about was terrible support. You can’t really compare support for an unlocked phone bought from a company with no brick and mortar presence to a company with one of the best support/retail presences. Especially when you admit the problem likely stemmed from the fact that you dropped it, the Nexus One warranty does not expressly cover accidental damage. Did your MacBook’s warranty?

    • Jay

      “What do you want me to do?” asked the Apple employee I told him I would feel better if they exchanged it for a new one. With no further questions, that’s exactly what he did, happily and promptly. He said, “We want to make you happy.”

      I had the same experience at an Apple Store on the East Coast when my iMac (bought refurbished off the Apple website) started misbehaving. I took it in to the Genius Bar, they ran diagnostics, didn’t like what they found, and said, “We’re going to give you a brand-new iMac.” I said, “!!!!” They said, “We know we’re going to eat the difference [between a refurb’d i\Mac and a new one], but we’d rather have a happy customer.”

      I’m a happy customer all right!

      BTW, I have an iPhone 3GS (no bumper required) and have never had a problem.

    • Layton

      Moral of the story: You have to be a writer for a major online publication to get great customer service from HTC? I’m an HTC owner and this greatly concerns me; was the only reason your situation resolved because you literally WORKED for it by writing a piece comparing HTC to Apple? A consumer shouldn’t have to point out the obvious differences between the levels of service TO GET a better level of service.

    • Sean

      The number one item in the instructions for the return of the Nexus One says to remove the battery cover. Here is the actual text:

      “If you are sending your phone remember to remove any SIM cards and storage cards that you are using with it. Remove the battery, the battery cover, and any other accessories. You will be keeping these items.”

    • R Segal

      I beat on my MacBook Pro when a fan made noice and put a dent in it and ruined the logic board. Apple replaced the case the screen and the logic board and sent me back what was essentially a brand new coputer and even though I told them I abused and misused and caused the damage they didn’t charge me a cent and all of this only took a few days.

      By the way I have used both the Nexus and the iPhone. I prefer the iPhone. There are many things that I find superior. The interface, the way it handles music and videos, syncing and more. If you use bioth for a while you will see what I mean. Not to mention 250,00 apps for the iPhone.

    • L

      Is this an ad?

    • R Segal

      I beat on my MacBook Pro when a fan made noise and put a dent in it and ruined the logic board. Apple replaced the case, the screen, and the logic board and sent me back what was essentially a brand new computer, and even though I told them I abused and misused it and caused the damage they didn’t charge me a cent and all of this only took a few days.

      By the way I have used both the Nexus and the iPhone. I prefer the iPhone. There are many things that I find superior. The interface, the way it handles music and videos, syncing and more. If you use both for a while you will see what I mean. Not to mention 250,000 apps for the iPhone.

      My girlfriend had an issue with the headphone jack in her iPhone and even though it didn’t have the problem when she took it to the Apple Store, they gave her a new iPhone.

      I can’t say enough about Apple Customer Service!

    • david colon

      the next time, make sure you buy your phone from sprint, and get insurance on the phone, you wont have any problems….

    • Mark

      I’m not laughing with you. I’m laughing at you. I’m still using the same Apple PowerMac I bought in ’03. Never a problem. PowerBook I bought off eBay? Never a problem. There’s an Apple Cult because their stuff works…all the time. You know why they lock things in? So they can make sure it works…all the time. You’ll get jilted again so have fun.

      PS.
      AT&T also has good customer service.

    • r€nato

      I have had the same experience with Apple as the rest of you – they will do whatever it takes to make things right. They never seek to weasel out of fixing the problem by finding an excuse to blame the customer, like other computer makers.

      BTW, the Apple ‘cult’ is just like the Ferrari ‘cult’ or BMW ‘cult’ – we’re fans because the products are so fantastic, not because we’re mindless, stupid sheep. People who deride Apple fans are simply envious. Period.

    • Earl Hargrove

      I do not own Apple phones or products. I have a Sprint phone and have a repair/ insurance bundle on it. When my phone met with disaster I had a new one within 2 days of the claim. Great service and I have never had a problem with them. benn with Nextel/ Sprint for 6 years.

    • Mal Ditoh

      Thanks for sharing your experiences.

      Btw, the problem with your MacBook Pro was probably due to a faulty heat sensor in the trackpad reporting overheating to the power management unit (PMU). The PMU responds by shutting down the computer. This is a known problem among many MacBook owners (I’ve experienced it with my old MacBook Pro). However, Apple pretends that this problem doesn’t exist. It is presumed (on apple discussion boards) that if Apple were to acknowledge this problem then a lot more Macbooks would have to be officialy recalled. Instead they can just exchange “a few” at their discretion — usually if a customer demands it, as you did.

    • Michelle May

      Hi everyone, thank you for your comments- I do apologize if this comes off too much like an ad for Apple- please understand that it is just my opinion- based on my experience. I was frustrated w/ HTC & quite impressed at the same time by Apple. Please note, HTC made the decision to send a new phone to me *before* this article ran- not after (to be honest I do not believe they even saw this). They happened to call me just an hour or 2 after this piece ran but my case was already reviewed & decided upon before that. HTC tried to make up for their errors by doing the right thing- they also apologized. That says something about them- many other companies would not bother. I hope this clarifies things. Thanks again, Michelle

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    • Mark

      I had to call HTC customer service also and I had a great experience. You forgot to mention how your phone doesn’t drop calls, has true multitasking, better screen resolution, more memory, has widgets, processes information quicker, can do more than download apps, more free apps, better apps, notification bar, gmail, removable battery, removable sd card, and many more features than your beloved icrap. Apple fanboy trying to be objective, what a joke. Go out to the pasture with all the other ios sheep and download some apps.

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    • the next time, make sure you buy your phone from sprint, and get insurance on the phone, you wont have any problems

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