I wouldn’t normally write a ZDNet play this week while on vacation in New Orleans – and enjoying the sights, food, music, and culture. To do the photo column of my week in the Big Easy, I brought two smartphones with me, my iPhone 13 Pro Max and my new Google Pixel 6.
Shortly after setting up the Pixel 6 a few weeks ago – when the product could still be returned – I encountered an issue where the operating system received a first live update and when it did restarted it appeared in recovery mode, being unable to read the file system – and this forced a factory reset. So I had to reconfigure the phone from a backup less than a day after the initial setup. I dismissed this initial issue as a Day 1 or Week 1 issue for a new product and continued to use the device.
Several weeks have passed and I’m on vacation with the phone, having taken a few hundred photos with it. Google sent another live update this week, which I accepted. The same thing happened: the device restarted, entered recovery mode and forced a factory reset of the file system. The photo of my screen when this happened is below.
Look, maybe this is just bad luck with a phone, but if I had known this was going to be a device for problem kids I would have returned it for a full refund and waited a few months for get something else with android 12 on it. As far as I’m concerned, that should never happen with Google’s flagship Android development device. I am now out of the product return window, with device replacement being my only official option if the company deems it to be defective and that is just not the result of their software stack being a fault as well. garbage can.
Last night around 8 p.m. EST, the first thing I tried to do was contact Google Device Support on their store website – which is probably the most labyrinthine tech support system I’ve ever had. never seen before for a mobile hardware product. It’s this AI-driven, layered system that continues to suggest resolutions the end user can make that are totally unrelated to my issue and totally avoids putting you in contact with a human being.
You can’t call Google directly if you have a problem with your Pixel – you have to go through this crazy decision tree to the point where you can request a callback, which after about 15 minutes of typing in “this shit is broken and my system files is watered, “that finally lets me do it.
When my callback arrived about 30 minutes later, I had a computer attendant who told me I had to wait, and I finally got a human. When I explained to her what was going on, she said, âOh, this is a technical problem, I have to put you in touch with technical support. “
So she puts me on hold for 10 minutes. She returns. âThey are always busy, I’m so sorry. Can I put you on hold for a few more minutes? I said yes. This process was repeated about three times, but the music on hold turned off on the third try and the connection was dropped. I had no way of calling back and getting back into the queue.
So what did I do? I went through the decision tree on the website again, and after another 10-15 minutes of rushing through the answers, I requested another callback. This resulted in another recall about half an hour later. I put it on hold again, waiting for another level 1 human, and the connection was dropped again.
I tried the decision tree again, then it told me the support hours were over and I was going to try again tomorrow. I am now waiting for someone from Google to call me back.
If Google wants to position the Pixel as the company’s iPhone, then it needs to match the product on more than just hardware functionality. It needs to dramatically improve its customer service and support infrastructure. Not being able to easily get in touch with a human over the phone when it comes to a serious issue like this is frustrating. If I didn’t have my iPhone with me on this trip and wasn’t in a good data coverage area or had access to Wi-Fi, I would have lost all data on my device. (which I did) and I couldn’t have restored it to the cloud. As it happened, I had my other phone with me as a backup and I was in aarea with unlimited AT&T plan. But not everyone will have this chance.
In comparison, Apple has much better support – not only does it have a better support queue system, but it also has retail stores, unlike Google. While Apple also uses a decision tree for remote assistance, it’s about one click away from a âwe’ll call youâ support call, and wait times are listed at around two minutes. I know from experience it’s so short because my wife had to call during the pandemic with an issue, and they were on the phone in no time – and Apple provided direct call numbers to call back for follow-ups. .
Right now, I have a real sour taste in Google’s mouth. If I could return this buggy, unstable device for a refund now, I would – and in fact, I’ve already filed a dispute with my credit card company. But currently I’m stuck with the device and hope the company on their own will reimburse as it was clearly defective during the original return period, and not just a widespread bug.