Google Wallet - Sooooo not ready for prime time

Summary:Apparently I'm not the only one still waiting for my Nexus because of problems with Google's ecommerce systems.

Like many of ZDNet's editors (and a good chunk of general tech early adopters), I pre-ordered a Google Nexus 7. I have plenty of tablets, so I just ordered a basic 8GB model. My real goal was to evaluate how well Google's first foray into branded tablets could stack up in educational settings, so price was my #1 concern. If schools wanted to deploy these at scale (or have parents pony up cash for them), then the least expensive model was going to have to do the trick. Besides, rumor had it that there would be less demand and therefore the least likelihood of delays getting the device in my eager little hands.

This was July 5th and everything seemed just hunky-dory...no drama with the pre-order. Then, headlines started firing, Google alerts started chirping, and emails started flying: it was July 13th and Google had started shipping pre-orders. Sweet! When I saw the email from Google Wallet, Google's ecommerce-service-to-rule-them-all, I figured that I was lucky enough to be in the first wave of shipments.

Wrong. That email was accompanied by a phone call from American Express, alerting me to potentially fraudulent charges on my card from--you guessed it--Google. The email from Google Wallet told me that my card was rejected and I needed to update it. So I called Amex and told them everything was cool, it was just Google, all was well, and then just switched to my Visa debit card.

Probably not a smart move on my part, but the language on Wallet implied (at least to my little brain) that Google would be immediately prompted to re-attempt a charge if I used a new card, while keeping the same card on the order would mean waiting for some finite period before Google automatically re-attempted a charge.

A couple of days later, another alert came through on Google Wallet: the attempt to charge my new card had failed. Calling my bank, I found that they had authorized the charge without issue (yay!) but that the transaction had failed to complete on Google's end (boo!). So now it's the 19th, and my Google Wallet account has suddenly been updated:

upsnexus7_3

I hadn't done anything but contact my bank, though...so was it updated? Was it going to ship? Did I need to do anything else? Time to check with an actual person, so I contacted the customer service number in my order details. And sat on hold for 45 minutes. 

When I finally reached a person, all he needed was my email address and was immediately able to explain that, yes, everything was ok, and no, I didn't need to do anything else. Orders that hit snags like mine had delays generating shipping labels (like I said, I wasn't the only one) which weren't exactly reflected transparently in Google Wallet. Fast forward to tonight, though, and it appears that the delays have been all sorted out.

upsnexus7_2

Interestingly, following the UPS tracking information that Google supplied gave me the following:

upsnexus7_1

Yes, I'd definitely call that a delay.

Partly I'm just being impatient. But Google, with its masterful collection, aggregation, and presentation of data from around the web, should have been able to keep me well-informed about the reasons for any delays and what, if anything, I needed to do about them (without me having to sit on hold for 45 minutes to speak to a human being, no matter how nice and helpful he was).

Moreover, Google should have ensured that these transactions wouldn't be setting of fraud detection triggers that prevented them from completing or that it could reliably connect to major payment gateways like, say, Visa.

walletapp

And while I'm griping, Google Wallet should interface with PayPal. If Wallet really is meant to pull all of my means of paying for things together, then PayPal needs to be among them. And it should have an Android app that is compatible with a reasonable number of devices, even if they don't have NFC support. Do you know how many Android devices I have? It's actually pretty ridiculous. And three of them are running Android 4.0. And this is what I see when I look for the Wallet app on the Play Store:

One of the biggest fears Google-watchers had was that the company would not have learned its lessons from their direct sales of the Nexus One. Clearly, things aren't that bad, but they could be better. This is, after all, Google.

Topics: Google, E-Commerce

About

Christopher Dawson grew up in Seattle, back in the days of pre-antitrust Microsoft, coffeeshops owned by something other than Starbucks, and really loud, inarticulate music. He escaped to the right coast in the early 90's and received a degree in Information Systems from Johns Hopkins University. While there, he began a career in health a... Full Bio

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