Uh-oh, my Google Nexus is DOA

Rango/Shutterstock

No one seems to care that Michael Rudolf’s Google Nexus doesn’t work. Can this device be saved?

Question: I purchased a Nexus 5 recently, but the phone I received was defective. I called Google, which manufactures the device, and was put on hold for 45 minutes and then hung up on.

So, being the glutton for punishment that I am, I called back. I finally got through to a representative and we spent an hour troubleshooting. The diagnosis? My Nexus was DOA.

The representative then informed me that I could exchange the phone, but only if I put up a deposit of $358. I informed him I couldn’t because I’m disabled and living on a fixed income.

He then transferred me to a manager who said there could be a possibility for approval if they escalated the situation to their core team. But two days later, when I called back, I found out that wasn’t an option. The supervisor hadn’t even bothered to “escalate” the problem.

So my options are basically return the Nexus and do without a phone for two weeks, which I really can’t do because of my illness, or put a $358 hold on my card again for something that wasn’t even my fault. I can’t do that because I need to buy medicine and I have other daily needs. Can you help me? No one else seems to really care. — Michael Rudolf, Houma, La.

Answer: Well, I care — and Google should, too. It sent you a brick that didn’t work and now it wants to send you a replacement, but only after you pay for another phone. That doesn’t make any sense, at least from your perspective.

But it makes sense from Google’s point of view, and that of other hardware manufacturers. The company wants you to assume the risk of returning the non-working device. So if the old Nexus doesn’t make it back to the factory for some reason, Google doesn’t lose the phone, which can probably be repaired and resold.

Most customers don’t mind having a “hold” put on their card for a new phone, but in some cases that’s not possible. If you’re on a fixed income or your credit is limited, that may be impossible, so you’re basically phone-less for as long as it takes to send the device back, verify it came from you, and send a replacement.

In today’s times, when people rely on their cell phones for everything, asking you to do without one for two weeks is unrealistic — especially if you’re medically disabled.

I would have recommended that you send a quick, polite email to Google, but that’s easier said than done. The Nexus “help” center leaves you with the impression that all problems can be resolved by clicking on its website.

How unfortunate. And untrue.

Of course, all of this could have been avoided if Google had just sent you a phone that worked.

Fortunately, your case resolved itself much faster than normal. Before I could contact Google on your behalf, a supervisor agreed to replace your broken phone without the requisite hold. I love it when a company does the right thing without having to be asked by me.

You now have a Nexus that works.

Should wireless companies require customers to put a "hold" on their cards for phones being repaired?

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Christopher Elliott

Christopher Elliott is an author, journalist and consumer advocate. You can read more about him on his personal website or contact him at . Got a question or comment? You can post it on the new forum.

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  • Kevin Holbrook

    The OP makes no sense. He claims that the phone was DOA, but then states that sending it back and waiting for a refund isn’t an option as he “would be without a phone for two weeks.” If the phone is DOA, he is either a) already without a phone or b) has another phone he’s using. So sending the phone back and waiting IS an option–just one he isn’t happy with. I understand and have no problem with the need for a hold on the credit card.

  • BillCCC

    Why is this a story?

  • TonyA_says

    A person on a fixed income buys a $358 gadget! Darn.

  • TonyA_says

    And by the way, it is manufactured by LG.

  • FQTVLR

    A $358 phone on a fixed income? You lost me right there. If he could afford to splash out on that phone he is saying that his situation is not as dire as he claims. He could have gone to Walmart , Target or other places that have smart phones at lower prices and would have been right there to help if the phone was actually DOA. (Which Kevin Holbrook points out seems not to be the truth.)

  • MarkKelling

    They want to put a hold on your credit card because they are shipping a new phone to you. They want to make sure you send the other one back and if it does not arrive within the required amount of time, they will charge you for the second phone. I have no problem with that because it guarantees you will ship the first phone back. Of course depending on how it got broke they may still charge you (but that’s a different topic).

    As far as having a working phone, the OP may have ported his number to the Nexus at purchase effectively turning whatever prior phone into a brick. But any cell phone that is in working order will still allow you to call emergency services even if it is not useable for any other purpose. Not knowing any more details about the condition of the OP, I’m not sure what else the phone would be required for during the wait for the replacement. It would be inconvenient to have to find another phone to use for regular communication, but not completely impossible.

    I don’t understand why anyone would buy a phone that costs that much if their income was so limited that they could not really afford it. There are many other options out there that can get you a really nice phone for little or no additional cost over the monthly service charge. If I was in the situation the OP is, I would choose one of those options when I needed a new phone.

  • Rinacres

    I would guess he bought the phone thru a discounted program where the phone is only a penny, or ‘free’. However, the real cost of the phone is $358, and since Google would have to replace it if it was user fault and not device fault, they would want to have that cost covered. The hold would most likely be for less than the time of one billing cycle, so it would not affect the credit limit. Still, he said the phone was DOA, so he was without a phone anyway, and could have just sent it in and waited the few weeks to get it back.

  • MarkKelling

    A hold does affect the available credit limit. If the OP was close to his credit limit due to the cost of his medical care and medicine, I can see where putting a hold of $358 could push it to the max limit or even over the limit making it impossible to get the next batch of medicines.

  • FQTVLR

    When the OP refers to ‘another’ $358 hold on his card he indicates he paid that for the phone.

  • Carver Clark Farrow

    I don’t believe that the LW spent $358 on the phone. I’m not familiar with this deposit requirement, but I envision the following scenario: The LW probably entered a 2 year contract and with the subsidy initially expended just a couple dollars. Amazon sells a locked Sprint version for $19.00 But the subsidy is not applicable to a replacement phone so the deposit would be for the full retail value of the phone.

  • Carver Clark Farrow

    Doubtful. He probably paid $19 with a contract.

  • TonyA_says

    Nexus 5 warranty (Disclosure: I bought one for my kid from googleplay).
    Bottom line, call the MANUFACTURER if you did not buy it directly from google.

    Contact information

    Manufacturer: LG Electronics, Inc. (“LG”)

    Contact: If you purchased your Nexus 5 on Google Play, contact us with questions about refunds, exchanges, or repairs. Your satisfaction is important to us and we want to help.

    If you didn’t purchase your Nexus 5 on Google Play, contact LG at
    1-800-793-8896. You may be covered by LG’s limited manufacturer’s
    warranty.

    Warranty

    LG provides a limited manufacturer’s warranty for the Nexus 5. To
    find out what is and isn’t covered by the warranty, refer to the
    warranty card in the Nexus 5 package or contact LG. This additional
    warranty does not affect your legal rights.

  • TonyA_says

    nice catch.
    ADDED: Beside does one have to pay for a HOLD?
    I thought a hold means that amount is removed from your available balance but is not charged yet to you.

  • Jeanne_in_NE

    In response to the poll question: “Should wireless companies require customers to put a “hold” on their cards for phones being repaired?” – why should wireless companies be singled out for negative attention?

    If I purchase a product and want a replacement, many companies will send me the replacement, while I package up the product and return it. I’m getting the replacement to use, while the original is in transit. If I don’t return the original, or if the original doesn’t make it back to the company, the company has lost money, all the while doing me a favor and sending me a replacement to use while the original gets sent back. Amazon, LL Bean and Davis Instruments have all been gracious enough to get me something to use while I’ve been sending back products. So why pick on wireless companies?

    I really can’t tell in the OP’s situation, as the wording can be interpreted a couple of ways, but it looks to me as if Google was going to send him a new phone before they got the old one back, but needed the deposit of $358. He would not have been without a phone during that time, just without the ability to charge an additional $358 on his credit card. That problem is really between him and his bank, not between him and Google.

  • Carver Clark Farrow

    There are multiple warranties covering a purchase. There is the express warranty which you’ve quoted. But in addition, there is an implied warranty as well. The implied warrant flows from both the manufacturer as well as the retail store.

    You do not have to return a purchase to the manufacturer to take advantage of the implied warranty. That being said, the manufacturers warranty may be more favorable, thus the carrot.

  • Carver Clark Farrow

    Not really. That is ambiguous.

    If I buy something for $100, and it breaks, and I have to spend $50 to repair it, I spent another $50. ‘Another’ refers either to an identical amount or merely an additional amount.

  • TonyA_says

    I wonder if his pharmacy will ship him replacement medical devices without a credit card hold?

  • VoR61

    I think it’s worthy of note that Google (and others) can remotely wipe/disable (or “brick”) a phone, so if the OP failed to return it Google could render it useless. Granted, Google would be out their cost of the hardware, but that would be far less than $358.

    So Google’s cost exposure in these cases is minimal I would think. Alternatively, Google could “hold” their cost of the phone plus shipping as a compromise …

  • Carver Clark Farrow

    Probably.

  • Judy Serie Nagy

    While I agree that a company should “trust” a customer to return a defective item, reality shows that many people would take advantage of this and the company would never get their product back. If people behaved ethically, life would be more simple. Google should empower their CS people to take care of a guy like this without the worry. How awful would it be if Google lost 10 phones a year because someone was scamming them? Most people can deal with a large $ hold on a credit card, but a small percentage can’t, as in this case. The CS people should be able to deal with this on the phone.

  • VoR61

    Chris, I know this is off topic, but something has changed in the last hour on your site. I can no longer use the add-on Tab Mix Plus in FireFox. If I do, I am logged off of Disqus and cannot edit or reply, nor can I logon anymore (another tab is opened no matter what link I click on). It was working earlier this morning. I have tested it at least five times, disabling/enabling the add-on and it’s very repeatable.

  • Fishplate

    I don’t see where the OP refers to “another” hold. Could you point that out?

    And it’s not a “hold”, it’s a charge against your credit limit until the old phone is returned. I’ve done this many times with electronics. Amazon just did this for me with a phone I got through them. It’s called Advance Exchange or something similar.

  • MarkKelling

    Probably not.

    My insurance company pharmacy will not send anything out until it is paid for – even critical medicines required to keep you out of the hospital. And by paid for I mean the patient’s need authorized by them and the co-pay received and posted.

  • DavidYoung2

    I just got my daughter an Alcatel OneTouch for $89.00 with no contract at T-Mobile. Maybe the OP should look at that

  • pauletteb

    It would make more sense to work this like EZPass does. They sent me a new, updated module and an envelope to return the obsolete one. If I failed to return the old module, they would charge me for it. No harm; no foul.

  • pauletteb

    You determined that based on a single word? That’s supposition, not fact. Personally, I don’t know anyone who paid even close to retail for his/her phone.

  • TonyA_says

    There’s even cheaper ones that works wonders or perhaps miracles

    The second-most-powerful Republican in the House and potential speaker-in-waiting (Eric Cantor) lost to a campaign run by political novice armed only with a Wal-Mart flip phone.

  • pauletteb

    They can charge after the fact if the property is not returned.

  • TonyA_says

    EZPass charges tolls AHEAD of use. They recharge mine to a certain level all the time.

  • TonyA_says

    I paid $399 plus tax for a google nexus 5 bought on google play.

  • MarkKelling

    Not the tolls, but the transponder is what was being swapped without pre charging.

  • Carver Clark Farrow

    I was only talking about medical devices. That may not have been conveyed well. The company actually lent me a device, no money down, to use while they sent mine. I swapped it out at their office.

    Granted, unlike a cell phone,I’m guessing there is less incentive to keep both medical devices.

  • MarkKelling

    I understood.

    You have a very generous pharmacy. I don’t ;-)

  • Carver Clark Farrow

    Lol. Not the pharmacy. You can’t leave without paying every dime. It was the distributor for the medical device.

  • TonyA_says

    I understand. But they are not in the business of selling transponders. Google in this case is selling gadgets.

  • Jeanne_in_NE

    Please Google “Nexus 5 Google Play 32 GB” and you’ll find that phone listed for sale at $399. No contract to offset the price.

  • FQTVLR

    I usually buy an unlocked phones that are contract free and not bound to a specific carrier. No subsidies on the cost of the phone. But given my frequent international travel this works better for me.

  • polexia_rogue

    and because he is not happy with the answer then “no one cares!”

    yeah no once cares because the poor tech on the phone was getting just as confused.

  • Kevin Holbrook

    Unsubscribe—
    Sent from Mailbox

  • TonyA_says

    But as Mr. Holbrook commented, if the phone was DOA, why not send it back first? It ain’t useable since it’s DOA.

  • MarkKelling

    Yep, not like you can hack a toll transponder and make long distance calls. But maybe you can, I never tried! :-)

  • anacoluthon

    Not everyone has a credit card, especially not someone on medical disability.