On Tuesday Google held its worldwide, online launch of the much anticipated LG Nexus 4 phone, the flagship, pure Google, phone in the Android family. Sales were a smashing success, with both SKUs of the phone selling out in around 30 minutes in all international markets. Google has not released sales numbers, but certainly the demand for the phone outpaced the company’s initial estimates.
The phone did not sell out so quickly in the USA, however, due to failures of Google’s e-commerce software. Potential customers were greeted with failing shopping carts, erroneous “Coming Soon” notices, and unresponsiveness from the Google Play Store. After around 8 hours of sputtering, Google finally posted that the units had, indeed, sold out in the US, too.
After four hours of refreshing my browser Tuesday, I finally got a Nexus 4 ordered…I think. The transaction occurred 36 hours ago and there is still no indication of any shipping at all on my account. I have never ordered anything online that performed this poorly, so the complaining by members on Android Central’s message board is justified; the sale of an item by one of the largest online software companies in the world is far below the standards of typical e-commerce transactions.
Google knows that their commerce operation fell apart for a big product launch, and they have yet to send an email to customers a) thanking them for their loyalty and b) apologizing for having logistical problems. These types of logistical failures happen in business and customers, especially the company’s most loyal, are going to be understanding if they are treated right. The actual sale isn’t the only detail that Google failed to execute. I signed up to be notified of the sale 10 days ago and have yet to receive notification of when the sale begins…still.
In fact, a top-notch customer service experience after a successful launch, actually, would have included an automated Thank You email set to go out at 5pm EST from any of the people on the Management Team or from the Android Team. That’s over 50 people tied to the success of this product, the flagship Android phone. If Google wants to make their brand the top brand, they need to treat their most loyal fans well. Be honest with them. Tell them “we goofed”. State the goal of the Android experience and how Google is striving to offer the finest digital experience out there and “we won’t quit until every last customer is amazed”. That kind of thing.
Instead…here we sit…looking for imprints proving our transaction actually occurred and that we will actually get this product we had to work so unusually hard for..
This is a complete failure of customer service, and if Google wants to be held in high regard as a consumer company, then they need to act like first tier large companies do during customer service crises.
November 15 Update: I just received an email from Google notifying me that the phone is on backorder, and they expect to ship units in the next three weeks. They also stated that they will credit me for the shipping charges. This is actually surprising. In my ordering I actually bought an 8GB unit initially, then was able to get through and order a 16GB model 20 minutes later. Apparently many on the Android Central Forum also had multiple orders. So, that night I cancelled the order for the 8GB model, which should have added to the actual supply for others ordering. I expected there to be no problems filling orders once all of the duplicate and mistaken orders were removed from the system. This is a bona fide mess!
What’s also troubling is the lack of media coverage for this event. Here we have one of the world’s largest companies launching a flagship product, met with overwhelming demand and the mainstream media doesn’t even notice. Yes, we don’t know what the numerator and denominator are, and we only know that the numerator is greater than the denominator. However this is still an unusual event in the current retail era. Had Apple outsold their units in the same manner, well, you know…