Google Wallet - Sooooo not ready for prime time

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.

TOPICS: Google, E-Commerce

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 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:


I hadn't done anything but contact my bank, 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.


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


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.


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

Christopher Dawson

About Christopher Dawson

Chris Dawson is a freelance writer, consultant, and policy advocate with 20 years of experience in education, technology, and the intersection of the two.

Kick off your day with ZDNet's daily email newsletter. It's the freshest tech news and opinion, served hot. Get it.


Log in or register to join the discussion
  • GWallet

    Yeah, I had a very similar experience with my pre-order. But a text-response and automated phone call from my c-bank fixed that within 5 minutes of my order. Otherwise, a very clean transaction. I'm sure they'll work out the other GW kinks that you mentioned soon -- they claim as much. My N7 absolutely rocks!
  • GWallet

    Yeah, I had a very similar experience with my pre-order. But a text-response and automated phone call from my c-bank fixed that within 5 minutes of my order. Otherwise, a very clean transaction. I'm sure they'll work out the other GW kinks that you mentioned soon -- they claim as much. My N7 absolutely rocks!
  • Update

    Update your Nexus 7 to get Google Wallet installed automatically.
    Jeff Kibuule
  • This sucks

    Can't believe a major company like Google could have this many screw ups still.
  • google needs to get their stuff together

    On July 4th, I pre ordered a 16GB nexus 7 from google. I saw the 13.95 shipping charge, but thought that I would be getting a device as soon as it was available and that I would not have to hassle with finding one at a retailer. In order to complete my order, I set up google wallet with my AMEX number.

    Within a few hours on July 4th, AMEX sends an email about a potentially fraudulent transaction, the google pending charge. A quick phone call to AMEX got this pending charge authorized. Everything seemed ready to go. Note that I have no problems with my credit or American Express.

    On the 13th, at Staples, I saw that Staples had three nexus 7(s) available for sale. I passed them up while being aggravated that I had not heard anything about shipping my order. When I checked google's site that night, it said that all pre-orders would be shipped by July 17th. I thought great.

    On the 17th, a few minutes after 5:00pm (PDT) (google's own deadline), google sent an email saying that my order would be delayed due to the incredible command. The web site provided more detail "By the end of day on July 19 (PDT), we will have shipped all standalone Nexus 7 16GB orders placed through July 11 (PDT), and upgraded these orders to overnight shipping. ". Ok, in the next two days, my nexus will ship and I should get it on Friday or Monday.

    On July 18th, I get an email saying that "Your order is on hold: Please update your credit card". Issue was that amex declined the charge most likely "as a precautionary measure against fraud.". I call american express, get the charge authorized, follow google's instructions to update my payment information , used the option for resubmitting the charge, and get another email from google saying "successfully updated your payment information for Google Order #526660405506026." I check with american express who confirms that they have approved another google pending charge. (I also found out that amex removes pending charge approvals when it has been more than 8 days which explains what happened with the july 4 transaction). The time between the two email messages was about 45 minutes (rejected, order on-hold, amex authorizes, wallet updated, second email).

    I get no shipping confirmation (or any other communication) on either the 18th or 19th.

    This morning, on the 20th, I call google support. Listen to an hours worth of the wait message, then talk to a customer service rep. She tells me that your card got declined, but everything is fine now, and that my order will ship in 3 to 4 more days. I asked why the order was not reprocessed on the 18th, she tells me again about the overwhelming demand. After pointing out to her that upgrading from two-day to one-day shipping was not much when delaying the order by another week, I asked her to verify that my order would actually ship next week. She put me on hold, goes off and checks, and comes back and says that she was wrong about the 3 to 4 days, that it would be more like 3 to 4 weeks before google can fulfil my order.

    Needed to say all of that. Google needs to fix their order fulfillment processes, figure out what the heck is going on between google wallet and american express, and generally try to improve their communications. Another thing they need to fix is the shipping charge, google should not be selling for more than the retail price.
    • Same problem, ready to give up on Google and go with Apple...

      I've had almost the same experience. After a 3rd conversation with Google that got me nowhere and 2 aborted attempts after holding for over 90 minutes I am now planning to refuse delivery and buy and IPAD.

      I cannot believe Google has driven me into the arms of Apple... :(
      Rudy Fernandes
  • Google MO

    The terms "customer" and "service" seem to be prohibited from coming into close proximity at Google.

    Customer - someone who gives us money

    Service - a web site
  • Google Service Leaves a Lot to Be Desired

    Wow! I'm glad to hear I'm not the only one having troubles with Google. I also ordered the 16GB model on July 11 and received the we'll ship by Thursday (July 19) notification. I also received the we're having trouble message processing your card message on the 17th. I took care of it in just a couple of hours from receiving the message. (I still don't understand what the concern was - the pre-authorization went through OK). Then, I called Google to make sure that my device would ship on Thursday. The rep told me that "everything looks good."

    Friday comes and no device. So, I called Google and waited on hold for about an hour and twenty minutes. The rep told me that he doesn't know why it hasn't shipped out yet, but that it is in the "ship queue." He also informs me that he doesn't know when it will ship. A couple of days or a couple of weeks - he doesn't know.

    My advice: stick with companies that know how to treat customers, namely Amazon and Apple. I have always had great experience with them. Google hasn't figured customer service out yet. I'm not sure they ever will.
    • They have figured out customer service

      The problem is that we are not their customers, we are the product. If your a big advertiser (the actual customer) am sure they are very good at servicing your needs.
  • No problems at all

    Ordered a 16 GB Nexus 7 online on June 27th with Google Wallet. My bank did notify me of the 'unusually large' transaction, but let it go through when I called and told them it was OK. I did not expect the Nexus 7 till mid July and was notified of shipping on July 16th. In addition, Google ate the expense of overnight delivery!
    I don't know what was your problem, but for me, it worked very easily.
    Setup and updates were a brfeeze and the tablet works like a charm right out of the box (which is a somewhat mysterious thing to open).
  • Google Wallet + Amex = Wrong Combination

    Had the same issue that the others have reported. I placed my order on July 6. On July 18, Amex rejected the charge as they suspected that it was fraudulent. I rectified this within an hour of getting the reject email (the Security folks at Amex claim that Google Play has been filing the charge incorrectly i.e. some information is missing as a result of which a lot of Amex cards are being rejected).

    Nevertheless, I have been on the phone with the folks at Google and most of them have been after a 1 + hour hold. I have been getting conflicting status - a couple of them have told me that I have lost my position in the queue and hence I can anticipate a 3-4 week wait whereas others have told me that I would get mine after a 3-4 day delay.

    My experience with Google has not been satisfactory to say the least. When they don't even train their employees on how to provide status, I am not sure how they run their empire.

    And to further insult me, I have been told that the only way to cancel the order is to reject the UPS delivery whenever I receive it. What a Joke!
    • Google Wallet + AMEX = Credit card snafu!

      Wow, DItto on my experience, smae as eturo596. Same exact dates on ordering, I used Google Wallet with Amex, got denied, fixed in in 40 minutes. After almost w ekk of calling everyday, a supervisor confirmed that my 'new' date that I ordered it is now July 18th (not the 6th when I ordered it) so I now will have to wait 3 to 4 weeks.

      Nothing I can do about it!
  • Author just as bad as google

    The author of this article has an unrealistic expectation. It is his responsibility to ensure he is giving proper payment to Google and a simple phone call to his bank notifying them of the unusual transaction could have prevented this.

    No merchant should ever be able to bypass fraud protection measures when they feel like it.
    • Google did not submit the credit card orders correctly - widespread problem

      Google did not submit the credit card info correctly, this was the reason cards were declining, which is also why so many people were affected. This is why their wait time on their customer service line went to 1.5 hours (this happened on the 17th of July, then again on the 23rd).

      How a company like Google can drop the ball like this during a major launch is unbelievable...
      Rudy Fernandes
  • Google Wallet - Trying to buy Nexus 7

    I have been trying to purchase the Google Nexus 7 since Monday of this week! Google wallet wanted me to verify my account with government id and bank statements. Did all that and then got an email saying everything was verified. Then I went to purchase again and I got the broken robot technical difficulties error message again! Called Google three times today and now they are supposedly going to get back with me on Monday. My bank account shows 3 separate one dollar transactions from Google.

    Why is it so hard to make a simple online purchase with Google wallet?!?!?!? Didn't eCommerce start in like 1995 or something?