Google Christmas Miracle

How Google Stole then saved my Family's Christmas

This is a true story, by me (James Toebes). Written 22 Dec 2012
I am not associated with Google.
I have not been compensated for this story.
Google or Google Agents have not requested this story.

It began simple enough. Trying to figure out what everyone wants for Christmas. I want to make sure mu children get what they want and maybe a little bit more. Being a Dad, I did the typical thing and let my better half take care of getting things arranged. I help where I can, but she is great at always making sure everyone has something special under the tree. I have 3 Children, 2 Daughters and a Son. My daughters are usually easy to find out what they want. I usually see wish list from them starting in September (or earlier) with a million revisions as Christmas draws closer. My son tends to be more challenging. He rarely will give a list of things. Often with only one or two items usually with little time to find them. Ever tried to find Chain mail on short notice? Being the wonderful wife and mother she is, She manages to pull of these request to keep everyone happy.

I got a Nexus 7 earlier this year. Fun tablet and I can't say enough good things about it. It was quickly a hit at the house, constantly being borrowed. My only regret was an unfortunate accident involving a 15' drop onto hard pavement with a corner landing..... I'll save that story for another time.

This year my son, true to form, had a short list with about 2 weeks to fill. When I say short, I mean one item: Nexus 7. Only the hottest tablet this season.... I had already been keeping my eyes on one and knew the stores we frequent were out of stock. I, wanting to win a few points with my wife, told her don't worry, I'll handle it. My last one was purchased from the Google Play store online and was a flawless experience. It was Dec 11 (Tuesday). I checked online, the play store had them in stock. I placed the order, got my confirmation email, told my wife and figuring I had made things easier. Hero with a mouse, how good can it get?

... I Forgot Murphy was an Optimist ...

Wednesday, Thursday, Friday passed, No Tracking number. Friday I called Google. Yes, there really is a phone number and a real live person answered the phone. I was told that it was processing and the tracking number should be posted by morning.

Saturday I called again. No tracking number and not billed. They indicate they had no idea what was going on, they had not seen this before. An investigation was initiated, but the agent indicated it would be Monday before an answer. Se indicated that until it was charged and shipped, it could be canceled. I went out shopping that day and found a store with one in stock. I snagged it up planning on canceling the other one as soon as I got home.

I get home to find the other one billed. I now had 2 tablets which I can't afford both. I called Google, they assured me that the one that was just billed was shipping and the tracking number would be in shortly. I was satisfied, but needed to do something with the second tablet. I called a friend of mine who I knew was looking for one. He was very glad to take the one I had since he was having no luck. Not bad, I still was getting one for my Son and helping out a friend in the process

Monday comes, no tracking. I call Google again. They cannot tell me the status. The indicate they are initiating an investigation. It's probably just shipped and the system didn't update yet.

Tuesday comes, still no tracking. I call Google again. Still unable to tell me the status. They indicate they are investigating but have no status. I ask about just returning the funds and I'll try to locate another in town. They indicate the refund will take 5-7 business days to process. Christmas is a week away. I'm feeling nervous. No Tracking, No refund in time, Thinking of the Nexus 7 that I had held a few days earlier.... Multiple calls to Google that day made the situation seem worse and worse. Looking at it now, Google customer service was doing as much as possible, including some followup with me that I have never seen another company do. I am ashamed of my behavior now, but my frustration was being vented in full furry with the very support personnel who were bending over backwards to help me. Unfortunately sometimes communications don't work well in a company where the person with the information is unable to communicate with the support personnel.

Talked to my wife that night. We decided to set a noon Wednesday deadline to have either verifiable tracking number or usable refund. If not, she would give up getting her Christmas gift so that my son could have something under the tree. She wanted to upgrade to a smart phone (her phone is dying) and had a new Iphone that she wanted. I didn't want her to give up something she wanted, but Mothers love their children.

Wednesday came and the deadline passed, nothing. Contact with support was going no where. I received confirmation that afternoon via email that they canceled the order and a refund had been submitted. No other explanation. Based on previous discussions, the funds would not be available till after Christmas. I was very sad. The beautiful woman of my life was not getting her Christmas gift in order for her son to have his. Assuming I was even able to find one in town.

I hate not knowing why. I did not like that support could not answer what happened. My first experience with a device purchase was flawless. Why did this go so bad? I know the Nexus 7 is new with Google direct selling. Someone had to be in charge of the Google Play Store. So I did what anyone would do, I 'Googled' the director. I stumbled across a name: Jeff Huber. More Googling. He is SVP in charge of the division including Google Play. He went into the position this year and had been trying to organize this group. By all accounts, he had a very tough job. Trying to find contact for him is challenging. I decided to reach out to him. I emailed him the situation and asked him for nothing more than an explanation. I'm a nobody with no connection to him or Google. I assumed that it would be sent to the spam folder or ignored. I wasn't even sure the contact method I had would work. It was getting late, I went to bed feeling depressed, not quite in the Christmas spirit.

Couldn't go to sleep....

... Still no sleep ...

Ok, Check news feeds,boards emails ....

Shock. Surprise, Woke my beautiful wife with my reaction. Not only did my contact work, I received a personal reply from him in less than 1/2 hour from sending. He indicated it would be investigated.. He also offered something more. To have a Nexus 7 shipped to me hopefully in time for Christmas. I replied back Thanking him and providing contact information. I'm thinking this is too good to be true.

I received an email the next day indicating the investigation he initiated. I'm looking forward to the answer. I was also at home today when the package arrived. To top it off, since the funds were freed, we went to get my wife's phone. She spent the week investigating phones. The IPhone lost out. She is now the proud owner of a Samsung Galaxy S III. The smile on her face learning its capabilites..... The Smile on my Son's in a few days..

So in summary, Google initially ruined Christmas and my Spirit. But a smart executive willing to be personally involved turned it around. It showed me that Google is more than a machine. Christmas is more than gifts. It's about showing someone you care. An executive caring about his company, a support agent caring about their request. A mother caring for her Son. A husband caring for his beautiful bride.

Merry Christmas Everyone.

Update 12/23/2012

I received an email form Jeff Huber clarifying his role. I guess my research and guesses were not 100% correct :) To quote:

A minor clarification:  I'm actually not 'responsible' for the Play store -- my team and I work closely with the Play/Android team and we support them with Google Wallet for payments and great apps like Google Mobile Maps, but Play reports in through my colleague & friend, Andy Rubin.  I do care a lot about our users' experiences with our products, regardless of who is officially responsible.  I know Andy feels the same way.