With complaints about its online-only support for the new Nexus One smartphone piling up, Google said it is moving as quickly as possible to address customer dissatisfaction.
The company's support forum is loaded with complaints about spotty 3G coverage from carrier partner T-Mobile, a lack of information on delivery status after a phone is purchased and getting the run around when customers call T-Mobile and HTC for help.
The issues appear to be less about the Nexus One itself and more about Google's online-only approach to support. Customers can only buy the device and get support online, mostly through help forums, which Google monitors.
"The online model is not a good one," Ken Dulaney, analyst for Gartner, told InformationWeek on Monday.
Gartner believes Google will eventually have to provide support through a retail store, probably through a partnership with carriers. "Sometimes you have to go to the store and have someone look at the phone," Dulaney said.
Google said it was moving as fast as possible to address complaints. "We work quickly to solve any customer support issues as they come up, and we are trying to be as open and transparent as possible through our online customer help forums," the company said in a statement e-mailed to InformationWeek. "We'll continue to address all issues in as timely of a manner as possible."
In the meantime, some Nexus One customers are having trouble getting answers to their questions, particularly about spotty 3G coverage. The Nexus One costs $529 for an unlocked model that can be used on multiple carriers. Initially, however, T-Mobile is the best option for 3G coverage.
Spotty 3G coverage, whether its the Nexus One or Apple's iPhone, is typical for today's networks, so those complaints are not surprising. "Customers are going to complain about that for just about everybody," Dulaney said. "There is always spotty coverage. That's a buyer beware type of thing with all the carriers."
But getting the run around is not typical. Customers report calling T-Mobile and being told that the problem lies with HTC, the smartphone manufacturer. Calling HTC, and they get told to call T-Mobile, because its a network problem.
T-Mobile is getting complaints from current customers who want the Nexus One, but are ineligible for the discount, which is only for new customers. Depending on their current phone and the length of time they have on their service contract, T-Mobile customers could be eligible for a partial discount for upgrading to the Nexus One.
"That's an ongoing problem," Dulaney said, noting that carriers haven't done a very good job in general in educating customers. "There's a lot people who still don't understand what a subsidy is."
Apple, which gets high marks from customer service, offers support online, over the phone and at its retail stores. The multiple options approach has been credited with the company's success in providing customer service.