About six weeks ago I ordered a Chromecast from Google Play. There were two shipping options €3 or €5.99 – the €3 option claimed a worst-case 10 days delivery time. So €3 it was and what followed was a customer service experience that only Basil Fawlty could match.
The Fawlty Towers Analogy
Imagine going to a restaurant and ordering a steak. You wait. And you wait. And you wait.
After an hour you complain to the manager Where’s my steak?!?
Enter Basil Fawlty. You explain the situation and he goes into the kitchen to investigate.
Ten seconds later Manuel brings your steak.
Ten seconds after that, Basil Fawlty marches up to your table.
You can’t have that steak.
Why not?!? I ordered it, it looks fine and I’m hungry. Whilst it’s late, it doesn’t matter, it’s hot, perfectly cooked, smells great and I want to eat it. Of course, I’ll pay for it on my bill. Really, there’s no problem.
Basil replies: No. No. No. You cannot have that steak. Sybil will bring you your car keys, you must go and return the steak to the butcher’s shop immediately. You may order another steak if you want in the meantime, but you categorically and absolutely may not have that steak.
Your exasperated reply: This is ridiculous, you won’t let me have the steak I ordered, you require me to return it to the butcher’s in my own time and at my own expense and your best offer is that I can order another, identical steak? Are you kidding?!?
Sir, I understand your predicament, but you must return that steak to the butcher’s. Now. And make sure you don’t lose any of the trimmings while you’re on the way.
And so it goes on, with you eventually giving in and returning the steak from whence it came and ordering another one.
The Google Play Customer Service Experience
Well, that’s pretty much what happened with my Chromecast. I waited 3 weeks (somewhat more than the 10 days worst case) for the Chromecast to arrive. I advised Google Play that it hadn’t arrived. They said that they would investigate.
A day or so later the Chromecast arrives in the post. Hurrah! I immediately email Google to say, No problem, call off the dogs, I have the Chromecast, everything is now wonderful (although you really ought to look into that cheapo delivery service you’re using, it’s rubbish).
That same afternoon I get an email from Google Play Customer Service saying You must return your Chromecast and to do so you need to go to your nearest UPS office to hand it over. This is because we have refunded your purchase.
What the flip?!?!? Can’t I just pay for it and have done with it?
No sir, I sympathise with you that you have an hour’s drive round trip to your nearest UPS office but you must return the product.
I think there were about 15 emails in the thread. Today I finally got rid of it. And ordered another one.
This time I selected the €5.99 delivery option.
The awful, cheapo delivery service in question, for those who might be interested, is UPS Mail Logic. It doesn’t say much about it on UPS’ website but it looks like one of those strictly B2B offerings that passes the parcel from pillar to post and finally ends up in the standard postal service for delivery to the customer. In my case, UPS Mail Logic took over three weeks for a very small, light cardboard box to get from Netherlands to the post office Spain. Normally I’m a big fan of UPS, but this was definitely not their finest hour. Nor Google Play’s.
P.S. Chromecast is awesome. It’s what ‘smart’ TV’s should be (and almost universally aren’t). Buy one. But don’t select the cheapo delivery option.