Nexus 7: A customer service disaster in the making

July 3rd, 2012 § 7 comments

The first thing I noticed about the Nexus 7 was the big ASUS logo on the back. While most people were talking about the $200 price tag and the fact that it appears to be far beyond barely adequate the first thing I thought was “good luck to the poor souls that need to contact customer service”. It’s a testament to Apple that living in their ecosystem can cause one’s lemon hardware detector to atrophy. Not only do they make reliable hardware but when there is a problem you simply bring it into an Apple store. Worst case scenario you have to leave it with them for a day or two.

Having straddled the Apple and Microsoft world for the past ten years my lemon detector is, unfortunately, still in working condition and it’s making my eyes water whenever I look at that big ASUS logo on the back of the Nexus 7. I hope I’m wrong too. I really want the Nexus 7 to be a great device. I think there is a market for 7 inch tablets and I’d like to see someone finally make a device worthy of testing that market. The two companies producing this device leave me dubious however.

Google is a company notorious for their aversion to customer service. The only product page that gives customers a phone number to call is Google Adwords. Their Nexus One launch was plagued by customer service complaints and to my knowledge that have not shown any willingness to change their tune. Nerds hate dealing with customers (see: RTFM & LMGTFY) and Google, for better or worse, is a company run by nerds.

Perhaps not the greatest place for a Nexus 7 Ad

ASUS, on the other hand, is merely notorious for providing  terrible customer service. This leaves me to wonder who is going to handle customer support. Whether it’s Google or ASUS the picture looks pretty bleak.

What follows is a rather long, hopefully entertaining and ultimately cathartic story about my anecdotal experience with ASUS customer service. It’s the reason I will never again recommend someone buy anything more complicated than a monitor from them.

A tale of two fans

I bought an ASUS G71G laptop back in 2009 and it was hands down the most miserable computer I’ve ever owned. I didn’t travel a lot but when I did I wanted to be able to take everything with me and not sacrifice too much screen real estate. So a 17″ behemoth with 1TB of hard capacity a quad core CPU and a NVIDIA GeForce 9800M for high resolution (and gaming) was perfect. I had been a big fan of ASUS motherboards back when I built computers from scratch and at $2,099.99 the price was too good to pass up. It turned out to be too good to be true as well.

For the first six months I raved about how much I loved the computer. That’s when things started to go south. It started with a seemingly innocuous problem. The speakers stopped working. I have both a need to fix things myself and a healthy distrust of customer service so I did what any self respecting nerd would do; I tried to fix it myself. I narrowed it down to a software issue by turning on the tacky bios explosion noise it would make at boot up. I tried many different drivers and dozens of Google searches before finally giving in and calling ASUS.

Well, at least I tried to call them. After searching for a phone number for quite some time the best I could come up with was someone who barely spoke English and didn’t even seem to handle customer service. So I filed a support ticket explaining the problem and the steps I had take to fix it. That was on Dec 3rd, 2009. Two months later on Feb 9th, 2010 they responded with this

Dear Valued Customer,

Thank you for contacting ASUS Customer Service.

Would you please have a check whether the setting in your control panel is right. [sic]

Please click ‘start’,then ‘control’, and choose ‘sounds and audio devices’.

My response:

Wow, after two months I finally get a response of “check your control panel” which is so vague as to be useless and something I have done many times at this point. Nothing changed, the speakers simply stopped working. I have updated, rolled back, changed drivers. I have tried a multitude of things in windows and nothing works.

Please please please give me something more than some stupid “check your control panel” response. At this rate I’m never going to buy another ASUS product again.

Worst customer service ever.

Nearly one month later on March 3rd they responded with this gem

Dear Valued Customer,

Thank you for contacting ASUS Customer Service.

Please upgrade the BIOS from this link: link

Then recover your OS.

There are two ways to make restore function work:

[redacted for brevity]

The restore function would delete all the files in fist partition. Please backup all the data you need firstly.

As any developers knows getting your machine configured properly is a painful and time consumer processes on any OS. In Windows is even worse. So I responded as such:

Is this a joke??? Your first solution, after waiting for exactly 3 months is reinstall my ENTIRE OS?!?!?!?! This is quite possibly the worst customer service I have ever received. If i take my car to the shop because of a strange noise I don’t expect them to recommend an engine rebuild.

I want a REASONABLE solution to my problem!!!

Three weeks later1 on March 19th, 2010 they said

Dear Valued Customer,

Thank you for contacting ASUS Customer Service.

Sorry, if you don’t try to do so [sic], would you please send your laptop in and let our engineer do a detailed check for you? Sorry for the inconvenience. Please fill-out the online form to request a RMA/Purchase order.

[redacted for brevity]

All this to fix some speakers which I didn’t really need. At this point my faith in their abilities left me certain that I would need to either remove the hard drives or wipe them before sending the computer back. For me this rendered the entire process pointless. In the 4 month interim I had dragged my ass to Fry’s and bought some Logitech speakers and fixed the problem myself. Inelegant to be sure but at least it worked so I comforted myself with the fact that I would no longer have to deal with them. Of course shortly after that the real problem started. My computer started shutting down all on its own.

At first it was very rare, once a month perhaps and only during CPU intensive procedures. I was writing a very complex XML import tool that would peg my CPU while I tried to work out performance kinks. Having once built a computer that required a floor fan to be properly cooled I knew exactly what the problem was. The CPU was overheating.

Gradually this problem crept into other areas of usage. After playing Team Fortress 2 for a couple hours or running a very CPU intensive process for 30 minutes. Eventually it got so bad that I couldn’t really use the computer for much of anything without it shutting down so in June of 20102 I purchased a laptop stand with a giant fan inside of it. This Thermaltake notebook cooler extended the life of the laptop another 6 months so I guess it was $50 well spent (+tax & shipping) but the laptop is now basically unusable.

The last time I used it was to backup my iPhone 4 and restore the backup to my iPhone 4S. To do this I had to resort to my old floor fan technique which was a bit more difficult this time as I had to balance the laptop on the 20 inch high velocity fan while it blew air straight up. Needless to say I welcomed iCloud backup more than most.

By this point I no longer worked from home so I’m proud to say that Windows has not been run in my house all year. Instead we are making due with the pre-unibody Macbook Pro I bought my wife in 2007. I had to install a new hard drive and I don’t dare put Lion on it but for anything the iPad can’t do the laptop handles just fine.

  1. at this rate it will only take four more emails to get same week service! []
  2. gotta love NewEgg order history []

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§ 7 Responses to Nexus 7: A customer service disaster in the making"

  • […] quite humorous that performing a search for “nexus 7 customer service number” turns up my blog post as the first result. Humorous for me, not so much for the people trying to receive some customer […]

  • Alex T says:

    Google Nexus 7 broke after 10 days of use.
    Screen cracked !by itself! and became unresponsive (can’t login or reset the device).
    Customer service at both Google and Aesus don’t really exist…
    Definitely no more Google products for me!

    • Thomas Paine says:

      I wonder if it was a heat issue that caused the screen to crack. Did you notice the Nexus getting hot during use?

  • Georgia says:

    If you haven’t purchased your nexus from google or nexus direct, they won’t help you. they redirected me to a phone number that was out of service….thanks nexus/google…nice product lousy customer service. bye bye nexus

  • ryanonit says:

    Wow. I don’t think 100% of customers from Asus or Google would’ve received the bad customer service like you experienced, but this article really considering me purchasing from ASUS and Google. I got my Nexus7 and had issues with screen rotating. I purchased from retail computer store. It took me 1 month to get it back. They replaced to the new M/B and it worked very fine. So happy. OK now this will be very interesting story. Who uses the front camera? Ever? Once a month? I happened to opened the camera app by accidentally and found out that I’m having a dark circle shadow on my screen. WTF? Is my room too dark or what? I found out that when they replaced the motherboard they put the camera bit upward. (I apologize for my bad English) When I looked into the camera from screen glass I could see that the camera was not installed in the middle of the camera hole. Now should I have to send it to ASUS again? And wait for another month? Out of 12 months if I have to spend 2 months for the waiting, are they even going to compensate the time for waiting? I don’t think so…

    • Thomas Paine says:

      A one week turnaround on a phone is, in my opinion, unacceptable. One month is borderline criminal :)

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