Google learns that there's more to selling hardware than just selling the hardware

The Nexus One "superphone" might be a dream come true for some hardware fanatics, but many customers are finding Google's method of dealing with comments and queries to be less than super.

The Nexus One "superphone" might be a dream come true for some hardware fanatics, but many customers are finding Google's method of dealing with comments and queries to be less than super.

Google is a massive operation, but it usually has very little contact with customers. There's a huge tech buffer between the company and people making use of its services. Not only that, but the vast majority of people making use of Google aren't paying anything for the services they use. You get what you pay for, and when you don't pay anything, you can't really expect much in the way of customer service. In fact, sending an email off and hoping for a reply is the best you can hope for usually.

Problem is, this sort of system doesn't translate well to situation where people are paying for something, such as a Nexus One handset. When you're paying top dollar for a "superphone" you expect a decent level of service backing it up. It seems Google has failed to deliver this so far.

Complaints I'm hearing so far fall into two categories. First, people aren't finding support forums and email support and customer services to be enough, both pre and post sales. People expect (and frankly should be getting) swift official responses to questions. Posting to the Google support forum might generate rapid unofficial answers, but official responses seem to take days. Emails sent seem to also take days to get a response.

Secondly, customers seem to be being bounced back and forth between Google, their cellphone service provider (T-Mobile if on contract) and the handset manufacturer (HTC). This leaves people feeling frustrated and not knowing where to turn to next for help (hence the fact that I'm getting support questions ...).

Google's tried to do something different with the way it's selling the Nexus One to customers, but I can't help but think that maybe it's being too different. Not having a physical store that people can walk into, handle a handset before buying, ask questions, direct complaints and so on is an odd way of selling cellphones. It seems that when things go wrong, or people have questions, pinging an email off to a faceless multibillion dollar corporation and waiting for days, hoping that the email address isn't a black hole, just doesn't inspire people with confidence.

My advice to people is to first think about whether this is the right time to buy a Nexus One. If you feel that you might need support or have questions then you might be better holding off until Google gets things sorted out (that's the promise right now). If you've already bought a handset, then be persistent but patient.