Fulfilment is hard
- The achievement of something desired, promised, or predicted:
(satisfaction or happiness as a result of fully developing one’s potential)
- The meeting of a requirement, condition, or need:
(the performance of a duty or role as required, pledged, or expected)
I’m not fulfilled, because Google failed to fulfil.
I ordered a couple of Nexus 7s for family members for Christmas (as the ones I’d brought back from the US were well received). Google shipped them, but they never arrived. Google blames TNT (the courier they use), for some unspecified failure, and TNT blames Google for not providing them with a complete delivery address. Whoever is to blame, the tablets went back to Google rather than to where they were supposed to go, and they’re now out of stock, so even if I was willing to have another try I’m not able to reorder.
What Google did wrong first
The email that they sent me confirming shipment looks like this:
Give it a go for yourself. Not very helpful.
If I go into my Google Play order history then I get a different link for tracking:
The issue here is that TNT have two tracking identifiers – consignment and reference. Google have provided a tracking reference number, but have presented it as a consignment number (or at least the TNT site defaults to using a consignment number).
What Google got wrong next
When the package hadn’t shown up on time I tried (and failed) to track it using the links provided. I then raised an enquiry with Google Support. Two days later I got this reply:
It’s not clear why they’d need to escalate to a specialist for a simple shipment tracking enquiry, but regardless, I’ve never heard from anybody else on the matter.
Google’s final flurry of fail
After not hearing anything more about my untrackable package I did a search to see if this was a common problem, which turned up this piece – ‘Google messes up UK Nexus 7 deliveries‘. I was clearly not alone in having trouble, and issues from months ago hadn’t been fixed. It seemed that calling TNT might get me somewhere, so I did. TNT asked me for a consignment number, but couldn’t do anything useful with the number Google had given me (as it was a reference number not a consignment number).
I then gave in and called the Google Play helpline, expecting a long wait. Thankfully I got straight through to Elizabeth who was able to translate my reference number into a consignment number, which showed a tracking status of ‘Please Call’.
Armed with my consignment number I called TNT, who told me that Google hadn’t given them a complete address, and hadn’t responded to their query, so they’d sent the parcel back.
It beggars belief that the company who’s mission is ‘to organize the world’s information and make it universally accessible and useful’ can’t get an address right; but then they’d already proven that they couldn’t tell the difference between a consignment number and a reference number. This metadata stuff must be hard.
I called Google again and spoke to Chris. He told me that I’d be refunded in full for the returned order, and that I could reorder. I pointed out that the 16GB Nexus 7 was now out of stock, and that I couldn’t reorder. Chris said that he was powerless to do anything else and handed me over to Austin in shipping.
Austin in shipping wasn’t any more helpful. As far as he was concerned it was all TNTs fault, but he was unable to elucidate why that was. He was also unable to whisk up another pair of Nexus 7s to send out to me. When I suggested that I should just buy a couple of Kindle Fire HDs instead he said ‘it’s up to you’ in that tone of voice that says ‘I don’t give a fsck’. Perhaps the right thing to do here would have been for Austin to send me a couple of 32GB Nexus 7s (which were still in stock). But I get the sense that Google in general (and Austin in particular) had no interest in cultivating my good will.
Why this matters
Google might have a great and desirable product in the Nexus 7, but it’s hardly unique. Something like the Kindle Fire HD is pretty much the same thing for pretty much the same price. I very rarely have fulfilment issues with Amazon, but when I do they’re great at sorting things out. At the other end of the scale there’s eBay; who don’t do fulfilment – they run a system that gets lots of individuals and small companies to do fulfilment, and it generally works very well.
This episode is right up there alongside Lenovo and Digital River for blinding ineptitude and poor customer service. Reputations are build out of more than just great product.
Google might blame TNT for this, but I entirely blame Google – they’re who I paid, they’re who I hold accountable, they’re the ones that don’t seem to be able to manage (meta)data, and they chose TNT as their parter for success.
Fulfilment might look easy because Amazon and eBay make it seem that way; but they’ve set a high bar for everybody else. If Google want to compete with Amazon then they’d better start clearing that bar.
 I don’t know if there’s a way that Google could have provided a link that just worked with reference numbers, but if not then some simple instructions would help a lot.
 It was right on the email they sent me confirming shipment.
 I’d also say that whilst the general quality of couriers is pretty terrible I’ve never had any trouble with TNT before. It would be different if it was Parcel Farce. If I was able to choose couriers I’d go with DPD every time as they’re great at keeping customers informed, and flexible about redelivery when things go wrong.
 Of course the world would be a better place if I could just get my Nexus 7 from Amazon, but these days it seems you can’t be an industry heavyweight without having a childish turf war with those around you. It would also be great if I could just buy the 16GB Nexus 7 on the high street (like I did in the US).
Filed under: could_do_better, grumble | 3 Comments
Tags: address, amazon, consignment, customer service, data, ebay, fulfillment, fulfilment, google, helpdesk, metadata, Nexus, Nexus 7, number, reference, shipping, TNT, tracking
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