Up until this last month, I had enjoyed the year and a half I have been a Project Fi customer. I joined them with the Nexus 5X, then upgraded to the Nexus 6P. Things didn’t stay so great, though, and Google’s customer service gave me an experience that completely turned me off to the network.
I originally bought the Nexus 6P brand new from the Google Store as part of their promotion to purchase a Nexus 6P, use it on Project Fi, and receive $100 off the cost of the phone if it was activated through the carrier. This was around December or January. Within a month I broke the back glass over the camera.
I ordered the replacement and was off and running with a new one right away. It was simple, it was fast, it was painless. Little did I know, the replacement device would be a problem waiting to happen.
Fast forward about 7 months to October 2nd when I tried to return my Nexus 6P under a warranty return for battery issues. The claim was approved and I was given an RMA. I could not, however, afford the cost of the new Pixel XL, so a standard exchange was offered to me. Despite being offered an exchange, they were unable to do it because of an error with the system Project Fi uses. I was informed that they would tell me when they had a fix.
The next day I was given an opportunity to try the standard exchange again with the funds in my account. I was able to process an RMA. However, my bank wouldn’t allow the transaction due to spending limitations of my debit card, and it would take a week for any raise in that limit to take effect. I was back to square one: waiting for my ticket to be escalated.
On October 3rd as I was getting off the bus I was struck by a fellow rider and my phone was knocked out of my hand and landed flat on the screen and in a puddle. Even with the case on it, it stood no chance of surviving with the way it landed. I then tried to get it replaced under my Project Fi protection plan, thinking maybe it might go through without a problem. After all, I had done one before under device protection without any issues. It was my belief that the problem with replacing it was tied with the warranty. However, it turns out the problem was more extensive than I’d thought.
When they sent me the replacement device back in January, it came with the Nexus Protect offered through the Google Store, which I didn’t sign up for or pay for, as well as the Project Fi Protection, which I did sign up for, and have been paying for. This is the error in their system and they didn’t know how it was caused, or how to fix it.
One tech even suggested I deactivate my Project Fi Protection and then try processing it through the Google Store. That went nowhere fast. After a few days with them, and them just as confused as I was, I went back to Project Fi to find the solution and to get my device protection reinstated.
On October 18th I received the email for my bill that would process on the 28th. The bill was $154. $100 of that is the deductible for the device replacement, which happened to be the device I had yet to receive at that point. I called support to request a refund for it because the error needed to be fixed and I still couldn’t get my phone replaced.
The tech that helped me informed me that if I initiated the refund it would put me over the number of devices I can replace in a year. I have had only done one device replacement this year back in January.But we have tried to replace this phone many times with no success. He assured me that if I let the $100 deductible go through they would be able to process the RMA for me and I would see an email shortly with the RMA and shipping label, so I agreed to pay for the charge just to speed up the process.
I awoke the next morning to no email, no RMA, or shipping label.
Somewhere between the 18th and the 19th I canceled my service with Project Fi and ported my number out to Straight Talk. I selected the LG Stylo 3 so that I could immediately regain phone service. I have also ordered a Samsung Galaxy Note 8 through Xfinity Mobile as my permanent service provider moving forward.
On October 21st I was contacted by a supervisor named Chris. He informed me that he would be taking charge of my problem and he would do everything in his power to make it right. He started by assuring me that he would refund the deductible. He also informed me that he would be checking in with the techs every day until they had the issue resolved. This was on Saturday the 21st and Sunday the 22nd. He also informed me that he would be off until Wednesday 25th, but as soon as he got back to work he would be back in touch immediately.
At this point, I began to feel confident that I had finally been handed to someone that knew what was going on and what was needed to correct the problem.
On October 23rd and I received an email in the same chain as the one from Chris. This tech was James and his email read as follows:
My name is James and I’m a specialist here at Project Fi.
I can see that you need to do an exchange based RMA to avoid the authorization hold for your device. Can you please confirm for me the shipping address and the IMEI of the device in question?
I’m now thinking that Chris finally got this process moving.
I respond with all the needed info and in the same day I get this back from James;
I attempted to created an exchange RMA, but there appears to be an error in our systems. I have asked our technicians to look into this. As of right now, we will only be able to offer a replacement with an authorization hold until this error has been cleared up. Please let me know if you would like to pursue such a solution. Otherwise, I will let you know as soon as the error has been resolved and be providing you labels at that time.
I responded, pretty frustrated with the experience up to that point. They could definitely tell I wasn’t having a great time dealing with this situation. I never got an email back.
Wednesday the 25th came and Chris did finally call back to save the day. He verified my address and said he was creating the RMA and I should receive the phone soon. Within thirty minutes the email had arrived and I was able to ship out the broken device. I received a replacement on October 27th.
It took 3 weeks and 3 days, to get my phone replaced. From warranty attempt to the broken device fiasco. I would never have expected Project Fi to drop the ball as hard as they have. I would also expect a company like Google to have a better system in place for something like this.
How can they really expect a customer to go three weeks without a phone? Is this really business as usual or is my issue the freak accident that shined a light on an obscure problem?
Now that I actually have the replacement device, the LG Stylo 3, and will be receiving the Samsung Note 8 in a week, I plan on selling the Stylo and my wife’s current Nexus 5X on Swappa. She will get the Pixel XL and use it on her Project Fi account. I will, for the first time in 6 years, not be using a Google-influenced device and will be trying out the Note 8.
I’ll leave you with a picture. It’s a card from inside the Pixel XL box.
Somehow I don’t believe Google had this story in mind when they came up with the #myphonebygoogle hashtag.
“Every phone helps tell a story. We’d love to hear yours.”
Well, Google here is my story of my Pixel experience. Not what I had in mind.