Google’s Nexus 5 replacement policy – my story

As much as I’d love to trust the Internet, it has a tendency to screw you on certain things. I read about something and get all excited, and then find out it was just so much bunk. Maybe it was some made up BS that some troll decided to spew, or maybe it was someone who genuinely thought they were right and happened to have a platform on which to speak to such things. However you look at it, I’ve been burned enough in my life to take on a sense of cautious optimism when it comes to things that seem too good to be true.

Anyone who has read my work is aware of the tragedy that befell my Nexus 5 last spring. I had my Nexus 5 for about three months before the City Museum of St. Louis and I had a disagreement as to how much of a good idea keeping your phone in your pocket while crawling around is. So, it basically amounted to me renting my Nexus 5 for about $125 per month, which is hardly the bargain I counted on when I bought it.

So, when just a couple of weeks ago, news came to my attention from my podcast partner (thanks Cliff) that Google was offering one-time replacements for the Nexus 5, I was cautiously optimistic. So, I decided to give it a whirl and chronicle my experiences for my loyal readers. Whether it was legit, or I was to get screwed, I was here for you. I never identified myself as a member of the press (although less than two minutes of googling – by Google – would have found me) so I received no preferential treatment.

The saga begins

I started off by calling the number claimed on the internet as Google’s support team. Fortunately, Google answered. Whew! Hurdle number one cleared. I spoke with a representative who was very nice. She tried to help me out, but I had to give her my IMEI number and the email address with which I’d originally ordered the device. I had neither of those things and this actually derailed the conversation a bit. I was at my day job and didn’t have the phone with me, plus I have about 5 different Google accounts with which I could have ordered this darn thing. We tried two of them, but it was neither of those. I told her I’d double check and email those details into her.

Given the fact that that information was missing, the rep was relatively evasive about whether or not I would actually be able to get a device. Having been on the other side of that phone, I can vouch for the fact that you need to verify first, then promise, so I get that. But I was a little nervous that there wasn’t even an inking of an idea that this might be possible. All the same, all I needed was to figure out which account I ordered the darn thing from and the IMEI number. Easy enough. So I emailed that info into her later that evening.

Good to go…sorta

I very quickly received a reply back indicating that I would indeed be getting a warranty replacement device. All I had to do was click on this here link and they’d get the ball rolling for me. So I clicked.


So I clicked again. Same deal. So I read over the email again and found this line:


Ohh. So I clicked, hit log out, and logged back in. Uhh, there’s an error. Gar. I tried every conceivable way to use this link in conjunction with the correct Google account, no dice.

Another thing that caught my eye in the email was this:


Followed by this:


So wait, this is going to be replaced at no cost, but they could decide that this isn’t covered under warranty (I’ll save you the time – it’s not) and charge me anyway? Welllll ok.

shipping_boxMoving on

Long story short, we got the issue fixed 2 more phone calls later, and I was soon filling out the form, complete with credit card information. I was assured this was just to place a hold on the account in case I didn’t send the device back. In Google we trust, so I proceeded.

Two days later, I had a brand new refurbished (that’s a joke – I knew it’d be a refurb going in) Nexus 5 side by side on my table next to my shattered one. Google had sent this puppy out with next day service. I had honestly expected to wait longer. So good on ya Google. The packing material was…sparse… but adequately kept the phone from shattering, ya know, again, so that was awesome. All I had to do was use the pre-paid shipping label to send my original Nexus back and all would be right with the world. That’s right, Google even paid to have it shipped back.

Things begin to resolve

Sure enough a few days later, the ugly looking $370 charge on my credit card was gone, and my Nexus was still here and working like a champ. Best. Thing. Ever.

So that’s my story. Here’s some friendly advice for you if you need to take advantage of this offer and you haven’t already:

  1. I could have made things easier by knowing my IMEI number and the correct Google account with the first call. It was my own confusion that led to the ordering errors, and the awesome reps at Google handled it with aplomb, Vince Vaughn style.
  2. The phone must have been bought from the Google Play Store for this to work. I sense this was part of the evasiveness of the first rep.
  3. Hopefully you have your original packaging, because they asked me to send the bad phone back in that box. I don’t know how much of a deal breaker this is, considering how the replacement arrived, but you might need that, so heads up.

hello_GplayBottom line, it doesn’t really matter why Google is doing this – be it clearing out inventory prior to a Nexus X launch, or because it just wants some good will with its users. This was a remarkable customer service experience from a company that I honestly didn’t think had a customer service call center. Even having watched “The Interns” I thought it was something the filmmakers made up. So Google is straight up legit in this offer and I have my personal experience to vouch for it. Having said that, I do not recommend you take a hammer to your phone just so you can get a newer phone.

Has this made me a 100% Google customer for life? I don’t know about that. But I will think about this experience whenever I use an Android device going forward.

Thanks, Google.

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About The Author
Adam Doud
Adam joined the tech world after watching Jon Rubenstein demo the most epic phone ever at CES 2009. He is webOS enthusiast, Windows Phone fan, and Android skeptic. He loves the outdoors, is an avid Geocacher, Cubs/Blackhawks fan, and family man living in Sweet Home Chicago, where he STILL hosts monthly webOS meetups (Don’t call it a comeback!). He can be found tweeting all things tech as @DeadTechnology, or chi-town sports at @oneminutecubs. Read more about Adam Doud!