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7 steps to screwing up a product release, the Google way...

Google have done a phenomenal job at alienating a large proportion of their early adopter market by turning the product release of the Google Nexus 7 Tablet into a customer service fiasco. Here's how you can do the same thing when you launch your next technology 'must have':

1) Launch an exciting product, at a great price, and encourage pre-orders from your key audience (keep the launch date vague for no good reason except to increase your risk of retailer premature despatchulation)

2) Add uncompetitive postage and packing charges to the pre-order, it's a captive market, and you've got to make those profits back somewhere, right?

3) This is the most important one, under no circumstances keep your rabidly fanatic pre-paying customers updated. Say nothing, nada, zip. That way they can spend all their time looking up rumours and talking about you behind your corporate back.

4) In case they contact you directly with queries, ignore them completely where possible, i.e. never return contact form or email requests for updates, and where they are inconsiderate enough to telephone you, fob them off with inconsistent information.

5) If order cancellations are requested simply refuse them because 'things are in progress' and inform customers to return the package, incurring possible restocking charges and several weeks delay of refunds.

6) Ship to retailers and allow them to sell to the public BEFORE your pre-orders are even dispatched. Bundle the exact same bonuses with retail sales that your pre-order customers had believed were an incentive to them, and had figured helped offset the ludicrous postage charges. Let a few faithful 'fandroids' defend you but avoid any acknowledgement that there is even a problem, let alone the majority of your early adopters swearing never to buy hardware directly from you again.

7) Spend 20 seconds coming up with a rhyming announcement that shipping has begun. Post to Twitter, do NOT communicate directly with your paying customers, and ignore the baying crowd, they'll shut up and forgive you once they have their shiny new toy, won't they! Won't they?

Copyright Simon Patrick 2012
Simon is Social Media consultant for a major international management consultancy and runs his own marketing business. He also loved Android and Google until this past week where he's seriously having second thoughts...
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68 comments
 
Absolutely spot on.  I can't tell you how absolutely pissed I am with Google in how they've handled pre-orders.  They need to look to Amazon Kindle for the perfect example in customer service.
 
As someone who ordered minutes after the Nexus 7 was announced and hasn't gotten a credit card charge, much less a shipping number, much much less having it in had like everyone wise enough to pre-order from GameStop or just waltz into a Sam's Club, I approve this message.
 
Thanks Ronson, I needed to vent so this felt like a good way to do it. It's the first thing I've ever pre-ordered like this, what makes it worse is here in the UK I could have got the 16gb version for just £11 more with Ebuyer, given a discount and free shipping available, and have had it last Friday. So far there's not a single report of any UK pre-orders shipped by Google.

So much for pre-order, with Google it should be called dis-order.
 
8) Stay completely silent while rumours of large-scale hardware issues and terrible quality control soil what is left of your dwindling reputation.
 
Absolutely spot on. To be honest if they just said last week that 'we will ship on Monday' (or whenever it is) then I suspect most people would've been happy enough.  Instead its been somewhere between no information and one crappy and extremely vague Tweet.  First time pre-ordering something like this for me too, and the first and last time i'll probably order kit directly from Google. The only gain has been that you could pre-order from the moment of the launch, the losses are an excessive P&P charge and little/no customer service.
 
DISCLAIMER: I'm honestly not biased, I just see a problem with number 6).

ASUS sold the products to retailers, not Google. When you buy a tablet from Google Play you are buying a Google Nexus 7, when you buy from a Retailer then you are buying an ASUS Google Nexus 7. Google will only support you directly ie. for returns or warranty purposes if you bought from the play store otherwise they will direct you to the retailer and ASUS. The reason they arrived in stores is because ASUS has a reputation to withhold and quite probably, contractual agreements they are bound too, also because Google was not firm with a release date and clearly did not even inform retailers or ASUS themselves.
 
I agree. I am trying to keep an open mind about this whole ordeal, but keep coming back to one thing:
If I am to adopt the PLAY STORE as my MAIN SOURCE for all things multimedia related, what type of support am I expected to receive? See where I am going. If this is the type of 'communication' I should expect from what is to be my MAIN SOURCE of media, should I think twice?
 
8) Have your Senior Vice President, Engineering come out and post  about how great the tablet is to the core audience who pre-ordered through your Play Store and use your social network. Only to delete said post when comments start pouring in about how unhappy they are.
Adam S
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Your picture is really creepy. Just sayin'.
 
I'm with +Adrian Mace on this one. Apart from number 6 about the bonuses the rest was all known and/or expected. The thing I was slightly annoyed about was the extra cost of the unit in Australia despite the dollar parity. It clearly hasn't annoyed me enough as I have pre-ordered Nexus 7.
 
+Darko Bogdanovic I'm annoyed too, as a fellow Australian, but you must also take into account that the price includes GST of $30, whereas in America the Tax is considered a Seperate section to Price and Shipping, and is often less than GST depending on the state.
 
Darko, as usual we are ripped of when it comes to many products especially technology and software.

I'm also wondering why Australians had to pay GST as the receipt shows the device as being sold to Aussies by Google Singapore. 
 
+Ronson Dalby I'm pretty sure the GST is applicable as the device is sold by an Australian company despite being shipped from overseas.
 
8) Don't sell it in Europe or give any inidication when it will be available outside the US/UK/Canada.
 
I find it odd for +Vic Gundotra to delete a post about Nexus 7, just so he can brag about it again the following day without anyone mentioning the deleted post.

Any Aussie retailers got stock yet?
 
I'm glad a social media consultant can help us all understand complicated logistical issues.

The play store isn't setup to issue any other updates besides processing charged and shipped. When one of those things is held up it looks like nothing is happening.

Google gets its stock of tablets from Asus, there is no Google tablet factory. When the tablets came over from Asia its likely that Google and retailers got them at the same time. Retailers have efficient networks to deliver products to individual stores. They didn't have to open any boxes or generate invoices and labels for thousands of people. Google did its best to hold off retailers but the products were going to start getting out anyways so they let them get sold rather than strain relationships with retailers.

I agree they could have communicated better, but its just a  tablet. A tablet you will get a few days after you thought you might, but still well within the 3 week range Google quoted you.
 
+Darko Bogdanovic can't remember the name but a computer store in Sydney said they'd have stock tomorrow afternoon. It's in the Nexus7 buying guide on Ausdroid
 
+Justin Stigall This really isn't about logistics; you're right, I bet that's complicated, although I'm sure one of the richest companies in the world would have some spare cash to get the best people organising it for them, Apple sure seem to nail it every time.

But what I'm complaining about is communication, or their complete failure to keep what is such a vital constituency, their hardcore fans and early adopters, up to date. 5 out of 7 of my points are about the way they have mishandled the communications on this. And THAT part would have been easy to get right, it's customer relations 101.
 
Additionally, what's the point of two-day shipping when you don't ship to coordinate with launch?  Might as well have just sent them out a few days earlier and saved cash--same effect.

And then they do two-day shipping over a Friday.  Ludicrous.  Turns out my package hasn't been picked up or sent out by UPS until today--and I ordered on the 27th!
 
>And then they do two-day shipping over a Friday.  Ludicrous.  Turns out my package hasn't been picked up or sent out by UPS until today--and I ordered on the 27th! 

Oh and what do you know, it is July 16th, mid July, just like Google said.
 
I totally agree.  This release is one of the worst I seen.  What a way to stick it to your core fans.  
 
I ordered literally as soon as it was possible for me to access the Play Store's devices section from Canada, and I STILL have received zero information as to whether mine was shipped out with the US orders or if Canada has gotten shafted yet again. I do not see a charge on my card, my Google Wallet account remains un-updated, and I have no shipping confirmation email. Come On! 
 
Honestly, I don't much care. Except for 6. That pissed me off. My room mate and I both pre-ordered a Nexus 7, and my friend picked it up this Saturday while we're both waiting for ours in the mail.
 
It looks like I'm getting mine tomorrow(7/17) it "shipped" saturday, they don't deliver on sunday, but UPS has'nt even received it yet. Anyway, it is consistence with mid-july launch, but it is Google's silence that pissed me off.
 
Just sent google a request to cancel my order, going to pick up a Transformer Prime tomorrow. This is straight up bullshit. My friend walked into staples and bought on Saturday, whereas I preordered mine day one and I'm still waiting. 
 
My order status hasn't changed since 6/27.  I'm thinking it's because I also pre-ordered the case.  A friend of mine who pre-ordered on 6/30 already had his shipped.  I'm just hoping my order ships this week.
 
They do not honor the cancellation.  Alot of people have tried and it is already too late.  Your best bet is to refuse the delivery but might be hit with a restocking fee.
 
You forgot "do a piss-poor job of advertising your product"!
 
+Yao Huang might be time to cancel my credit card then since they haven't charged me for it yet
 
They must've used the Pop Copy training video as their guide to customer service.
 
Turns out people really this spoiled about pre-orders. Google didn't promise anything besides the preloaded content bonuses. Only recently have pre-ordering provided added bonuses. Plus Google's 2-3 week time period they gave themselves is still open. Officially the last day should be Wednesday for it to ship. So go complain if yours doesn't ship then. Don't assume that Google promised it first. For example HTC promised the EVO LTE to customers who pre-ordered first, yes it was delayed, but we still got it before retail. Google didn't promise this, so I have no problem waiting.
 
I'm disagree on this. I work for a computer company, and even for a one-pound box, $14 for UPS 2nd day shipping is extremely reasonable. It's possible Google has negotiated lower rates with UPS due to volume, but that's still far below market value. 

And there's overwhelming evidence that the retailer fiasco was simply the retailers jumping the gun. 

Remember that Google stated mid-July, a timeframe we're still very much in. I preordered my Nexus 7 last Wednesday, and now it's scheduled to be delivered tomorrow, which is no later than any retailers are supposed to be selling. Heck, I'm getting it in less than a week!
 
+Alejandro Huerta the real problem is that if I still wanted this product (which I don't ) I could in theory cancel my preorder and go but it at the store and get it right now. The staples 2km from me has 6 in stock. Sure Google didn't promise us much but they also didn't tell us we couldnt cancel our preorders

People are saying they should have them the same time it would be available in stores but then what was the point of paying shipping ? If I have to send the device for warranty I'll probably still have to pay to ship it back to Google.

I ordered mine during Google IO and I still don't have a order update so mine might not even arrive for two weeks or two months who knows since Google isn't telling us. I find that really frustrating since I wouldn't have to deal with this is I bought it at the store 
 
The charging thing is interesting - I got charged immediately when placing the order (vs when shipping) shortly after the announcement, which I thought was pretty crappy policy, but it sounds like I'm unique in this experience?
 
Wait.  Ian Santopietro ordered his last week, and is getting it now.  Lots of us ordered it on day available, and still no shipment notice.  So, how does that fit in the, "it's hard to manage logistics" piece?  It's not hard to ship to existing orders before later orders.
 
+Bryan Broyles , the two guys in my office who also ordered 7s have received tracking numbers too. Check your Google Wallet account.
 
I'm not really seeing the problem here, other than some retailers jumped the gun and started selling before Google shipped. Google said it will start shipping in mid July, well today is mid July. And what do you know the tracking emails are going out.   What a none story this ended up to be.
 
Ian:  Nope, nothing in my email, nothing debited, nothing in my Wallet.  Curious. I'm less concerned about the extra day or two, and more that they've just lost the handle completely. Yours was the first, post-27 June order I've seen shipped.  That's aggravating an already bad situation caused by Google's failure to communicate.  Pfft. 
 
+Michael Francis I understand being upset if you want to cancel it, but Google has been giving instructions if you want to cancel your order, which is to refuse delivery. I only haven't been irked by it because I didn't need to cancel, I'm happy with it and I don't mind waiting, I always wanted to try a Nexus product, but IMO the Galaxy Nexus is already old hardware, and I'd rather wait for the next generation of it. Also I'm too lazy to complain haha.
 
OK.  Just got thru after 45 minutes on hold.  They are not shipping based on who ordered first (we knew that from the above conversation).  They are going in batches by location, apparently.  If you pre-ordered a cover, you'll get a cover with your shipment.  I was told I'd have my device by Friday.  Of course, this confirms some of the bad practices we were complaining of, e.g. lack of communications.  Worst for me?  That someone who ordered so late could get theirs before me because they are shipping to locales.  Makes no sense at all.  An explanation from Google, posted with the "We're Shipping!" announcement would have been good.
 
By location?  That still seems weird.  I'm in Los Angeles, not Alaska, and I've still heard nothing on my order.  And not going by date placed is ridiculous (says the guy with a 6/27 order).
 
I feel for you.  I ordered on 27 June also.  See Ian above. And he's not the only later order that has already shipped.  No rhyme or reason.  Deep breath, forget the extra paid to get the darn thing, and enjoy it when you get it. 
 
Everything I've been told and seen from those who have already gotten them is that there is ZERO difference between the units that come from retailers and the ones that will be coming from the Play Store. The Play store had to get their stock from ASUS just like the retailers. Both are branded ASUS and Nexus on the back. Both come with the $25 Play Credit and Transformers 3. Both come with 1yr manufacturer warranties. The only units that were different were the white backed units that were given to Google I/O attendees. Number 6 is right on.
 
Why do people (fanboys) keep trying to say that Google didn't say anything other than they would be here in two-three weeks?  So?  They didn't say anything about retail either at launch, so those of us that pre-ordered did so without that knowledge--why didn't they say so at launch?  Because they wanted direct orders from the Google Play store, obviously.

Obviously, if we take the logic of the fanboys, then Google could have come out with the tablets on July 1st on retail and shipped the preorders mid-July and there would be no reason to be angry since that's what they said.

Fortunately, those of us that do not have Asperger's syndrome understand there are things implictly understood in language and communication, and that there are implicit expectations based on social norms and industry standards.  Google failed to meet them here, and the outcry of that is evidence enough.  The fanboys only make themselves look socially disconnected by being unable to understand that sticking to an absolute, literal truth when situations are fluid and change, and that there can be mitigating factors and shades of gray, does not work in the real world of emotionally and intellectually developed humans.

+Simon Patrick is right-on in everything he said.
 
+Kenny Kaczor if you read my comment you will understand why Google said nothing about retail. To make it easier for you I'll keep it simple and say that it's because they honestly had no idea who would be stocking it and when, because that is for ASUS to decide, not Google.
 
+Adrian Mace I blame +ASUS AND +Google for this. Anyone who pre-ordered the ASUS Transformer knows pretty well how bad of a distribution reputation ASUS has. I think they shorted the +Google Play store enough units to fulfill their pre-orders and shipped to the retailers too soon. Somewhere in that chain the ball was probably dropped, signals got crossed, and #Gamestop  pulled the trigger too early here in the states and +Ebuyer.com in the UK - or since they had the units probably a few weeks in advance they said WTF and started selling early. Who knows how it happened or why. I know Gamestop employees have been saying they received official word from corporate so you do the math there. Also heard rumor that the official street date Gamestop had received was 7/31. If that's true then the mid-July shipping was indeed an early release for loyal Playstore purchasers and Google is doing the best they can to meet that promise to us.

So why do I blame Google? No rumor control and lack of communication to their supporters. Why should they say something? Simple. Lots of miscommunication is creating a lot of panic and rumors. There is such a flurry of panic that people have been over analyzing order dates and ship dates more than normal and thus revealing strange inconsistencies that may or may not be normal shipping practice (ie: orders going out for people who ordered as recent as the middle of last week while people who order on the day of announcement are still waiting for notifications). People are demanding answers. And the longer it takes them to make some sort of effort to communicate the bigger the crowd with pitchforks and torches get. Any company would be addressing this issue even in they aren't at fault. The longer they keep quiet the guiltier they start to look. They need to say SOMETHING even if it's as simple as "we're sorry, we are shipping them as promised in mid-July and some retailers decided for one reason or another to break the street date we gave them." But if they don't answer it makes thing look worse, like they have something to hide.
 
To the people who say its ok.  Its not.  If we let these company do this over and over.  It becomes the norm for them.  We as customers must do what we have to do to make sure that these companies do not and will not take advantage of us customers.  Try to raise a child like that.  Let them get away with things and slowly but surely, you have a spoiled child on your hands.  Same case here, we have to put the companies in their place.  I could careless about the 14 buck shipping.  It is the principle behind it.  We understand that its not a big deal but at the same time, we want them to understand that we will not stand for this kind of treatment.  
 
I don't care when I get it. I don't like being left in the dark. I want to see some form of communication from Google. They longer they keep quiet the more they look like villains. I love Google, love Android, and can't wait to get my Nexus 7. I want to see them do the right thing and communicate to their customers and put an end to this pointless bickering.
 
It would seem from comments elsewhere that shipping in the UK has commenced with some people having been charged and got shipping information for a Tues/Weds deliver. Although it would also seem that when you ordered has little to no impact on the order in which the items are being shipped.

Of course this is all information obtained from places like xda-dev as Google themselves don't seem to have said a thing about how the distribution is being handled. Not their finest hour at all.
 
Irony: I'm actually using G+ to comment on how lame this situation is. Ordered mine a bit late (11th), but am so used to Amazon that my cruiser can't handle a status delay of this magnitude...it's a twap!
 
Google seem to have made a real mess of deliveries in Australia and done some damage to its reputation.  It seems in many cases Google is fulfilling orders in reverse order from the last in to the oldest.  People who ordered on the first day (June 27) are still waiting while some who ordered a day or two ago have already received their shipment emails.

For those who ordered on the first day or two, the promised 2-3 weeks delivery has now passed.

I will never buy directly from Google again.  And I shudder to think of what will happen should I need warranty service considering Google's extremely poor (actually non-existent) attitude to answering queries via Wallet.
 
+Ronson Dalby We're getting the same reports here in the UK of shipping in reverse order, this is a real mess. Despite ordering on the 27th I've had no word at all.
 
does anyone know how to complain directly to google I have had no luck so far. if anyone wants to start a petition about the nexus 7 pre-order fiasco I will definately join in. google owe us  some token gesture to appease us. I pre-ordered my tab on June 28th. A friend ordered from PCWorld today and is expecting his delivery tomorow. I am still waiting for google. this is a farce. 
 
Just had a quick gander on xda. The UK pattern seemed to be the 8GBs going out first and later reports of 16GB units being despatched too from a spread of order dates.  I ordered the same day as you Simon and have heard nothing although have seen a few reports of orders from the 27/28th now being on the move.  So hopefully just a matter of time now.
 
Thanks Simon, I have already joined the good cause. Martin a friend of mine made an order of the the 16GB Model from PCworld and he will be recieving it tomorow free of charge.How can Google take longer to supply pre-orders than third party distributors for a Google branded machine. I love the Android platform so I ordered directly from Google as a show of support, but this is ridiculous. 
 
+Martin Jordan  Thanks for that, well found!  That pre-orders would arrive over a week and a half after retail sales is just appalling. I note their entire lack of any apology, frankly 'thanks for your patience' doesn't cut it. I want explanations AND my shipping charges refunded.
 
This is so funny I had to notify all. Google's Monumental cock up with Nexus 7 pre-orders just took tp a new and unprecedented level of stupidity. My other half wisely ordered the 8GB model which was shipped first by Google but the delivery was unable to be fulfilled by TNT couriers due to the fact that Google saw fit to get the address wrong. with parts of Google own address mixed into the delivery address details. I am told by the couriers at TNT that Google has done this with all the orders that they have sent as they have been on the phone to Google all day with complaints. The question now is not how long it will take for us to receive our tabs but more if we will receive our tabs. Just how much do Google owe us loyal customers, opinions would be greatly appreciated!!!!!
 
I didn't even pre-order it.  I placed the order 2 weeks ago and it never billed - it just placed a hold on the money in my bank account.  They won't get in touch, they won't release my cash, they won't send me the device.  They just tell me to wait for it - eventually they will fix the problem and send me the product.

Near as I can tell, I've just gotten robbed.
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