Chronology of a terrible (as usual) interaction with Google Pixel support

By | November 21, 2018

I bought a Google Pixel 2 XL directly from Google in June 2018.

I started to have intermittent issues with the USB port on the phone just a couple of months after it arrived. Sometimes data connections wouldn’t initiate when I plugged the phone into a device and sometimes the connection would only initiate if I turned the plug around and put it in the other way (USB-C plugs are supposed to work either way you plug them in).

Over time, things got even worse, and a new problem arose: Android Auto started having trouble “keeping up” when I was using navigation in Maps. I.e., my position on the map would far farther and farther behind where my car actually in real life, and updates to the map would get slower and slower, until finally the screen would go back and Android Auto would disconnect completely and reconnect, and then the map would jump to the correct location.

All of this was incredibly annoying and seemed to clearly point at some sort of hardware issue, but given how intermittent it was I didn’t want to deal with the nightmare of trying to convince Google that something was wrong with the phone, so I didn’t call them about it.

Then, yesterday, all of the sudden while I was driving and using Android Auto for navigation, it just stopped working completely and refused to reconnect. I pulled over and tried restarting both my car’s head unit and my phone several times, and it didn’t do any good.

Later that evening, when I got home from that trip, I initiated a support chat on my phone and explained the problem to a Google representative. He had my execute all sorts of troubleshooting steps which were obviously irrelevant to my issue and (of course) didn’t help. When it became clear that this was going to end with Google demanding that I factory reset my phone to prove that the problem persisted across a factory reset before they would be willing to acknowledge a hardware issue, I informed the Google representative that I was going to do that and exited from the chat. He subsequently sent me an email enumerating troubleshooting steps to try — most of which I had already done, ending with — you guessed it — factory resetting the phone as the last required troubleshooting step.

So last night I factory reset the phone, then spent approximately six hours last night and this morning rebuilding it.  That’s about how long it takes for me to restore all of my applications, configurations, and data each time I factory reset my phone. I do a lot on my phone, and it takes a lot of work to put it all back in working order after a factory reset.

This morning, I sent a long reply email explaining that I had factory reset the phone and the problem persisted. My email began like this:

TL;DR My phone, IMEI [elided] purchased from Google in order [elided] on June 11, 2018, has a HARDWARE ISSUE with its USB port and needs to be replaced under warranty.

Additional details:

I tried all of the troubleshooting steps enumerated below, including factory resetting the phone yesterday afternoon after our last chat. I then had to waste several hours rebuilding the phone’s config to restore it to full functionality. After doing all that, the phone still is not able to connect to Android Auto in my car.

Furthermore, it’s not able to connect to a USB 3.0 hub or a USB 3.0 port on a laptop. Sometimes when I plug it in to one of these devices it tries to connect briefly and then disconnects or an error is displayed. Sometimes nothing happens at all.

Following this introduction was seven more paragraphs explaining in detail all of the troubleshooting steps I had tried and why it was clear from the result that there was a hardware issue with the phone.

Three hours later, I got a reply asking me to please try factory resetting my phone. If you’ve read this far and therefore you know that I’d already done that, your reading comprehension skills are apparently better than those of the Google representative I was dealing with.

Within a few minutes after receiving this completely useless email from Google, I sent back an extremely irate response to Google, telling them to read my damn email, sending them the entire email contents again, and asking how I could file a complaint about the fact that dealing with Google’s Pixel support people was always such a huge pain in the ass.

When there was no response for over an hour, I moseyed on over to Google’s Hardware Warranty Center and initiated a warranty claim there. I thought perhaps that would connect me with a different department at Google who would be better equipped to do what I actually needed, i.e., to replace my broken phone.

I got a call back within a couple minutes. I explained the problem, the Google representative said he would set up an RMA with advance exchange of the phone (which I requested so I could transfer my apps and data from the broken phone to the new one and not be without a phone for several weeks), and put me on hold for a few minutes to take care of it. Then he came back on the line and said there was a problem because there was already an open refund RMA on the phone from back in July (that RMA was supposed to have been canceled back in July because I notified them that it was no longer needed, but apparently it never was). He said he was unable to cancel the old RMA and was going to have to escalate within Google and would therefore have to call me back within an hour.

Yes, he called me back within an hour, but I have no idea what he was going to tell me when he did, because either his phone or mine was malfunctioning, because although I could hear him, he couldn’t hear me. He tried twice, that problem happened twice, and he gave up. He then sent me an email telling me to how to contact Google when I was available to speak.

After restarting my phone in the hope that that would fix the call audio issue, I followed the instructions he provided. But instead of that getting me in touch with him or someone in his department who would be able to pick things up where he left off, I was connected to the Google Play support department, who weren’t actually able to help me. So they transferred me to the Pixel support department, and I waited on hold for over 15 minutes for someone from that department to answer. It was now 18 minutes into the call.

I explained the problem yet again to the woman who answered, and she put me on hold to look into the situation and then came back and explained that the problem is that the system wasn’t allowing her to cancel the old RMA so she wasn’t able to open a new one. She said she had to transfer me to yet another person within yet another department who would hopefully be able to resolve this issue. It was now 32 minutes into the call.

This individual was also unable to cancel the old RMA, so he said he would have to escalate to yet another person within Google, and he put me on hold while doing so.

Meanwhile, while waiting on hold, the Google representative who had sent me the completely useless email telling me to factory reset my phone — when I’d already explained that I’d already done that and that even after doing so my USB port was failing to work with multiple Google-approved cables and multiple devices — sent me another email:

Hi Jonathan,

Thanks for contacting Google Support!

I understand that you want to file a complaint about your experience with us. You’ll get a survey to share your feedback.  Android auto seems to a software related issue. I’m positive it may fix software related issue. Please reply to this email if the issue still persist. I’d be happy to help further.

Have a great day!

Saul K
The Google Support Team

Let me be clear here: this person is an imbecile.

Finally, 49 minutes into the call, the guy who was helping me (remember, this is the third person I’ve spoken to on this call, and the fifth person overall), came back on the phone and said that they had managed to successfully cancel the old RMA and issue a new one. He said I would receive an email shortly with instructions for the new RMA. I asked him to wait on the phone with me until that email actually arrived because I didn’t want to have to call in again and wait on hold for another 20 minutes, and he agreed. A few minutes later the email came in.

In short, I had to spend over eight hours of my time and deal with five different people at Google to get them to replace my broken phone.

Unacceptable doesn’t even begin to cover it.

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