Two years of a faulty Nest Cam IQ, support, hours wasted

January 15, 2019 – I had decided to go into the Googleverse with a security camera that would monitor my front yard and had hopefully enough resolution to turn decent video over to the police (we have a lot of door pullers in our neighborhood, opportunistic car thieves, etc.)

TL;DR – because they wouldn’t spend $5 or so to replace a unit entirely, Google provably spent 30x+ that on shipping, product, and employee time, and royally ticked off a customer.

So what the issue has been is one of the two Nest Cam IQ cameras has always been bad. The other has worked like a champ and has the same basic install. We’ll not mention the working one further.

The bad camera install died Feb 7th, 2019 after a heroic 22 day runtime expired. I jumped through a lot of hoops to get that replacement camera including plugging it into my machine, swapping power supplies, swapping cables out, and barely being able to hear the person I was talking to.

Google / Nest sent me a replacement camera and that was that. I remember when I got it I was astounded they thought any customers would have kept the kits with the special wrenches to open the locks (I had, but only because it was less than a month old,) and that I would have replaced everything down the line.

The replacement camera started having issues a month or two in. It would get cold, it would die. The power would fluctuate, it would die, if it was Friday night it would die. By September of 2020 I had enough reports of problems they decided to once again just send a camera. I’d complained that it really seemed like a power supply issue with what was happening, there were no signs of water intrusion, etc.

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The support rep attempts to tell me this is bandwidth related

Cut to a couple of weeks back. I start getting a lot of garbage on the replacement replacement camera, turning it off and on again results in two hour boot times, it’ll just start coming and going, same as the previous one, and once again it appears that it’s power supply related. I attempt to open the ticket up again and ask them to just ship me a power supply and get a rep who immediately skips the bothering to read the nearly two years of tickets and walks me through the tech tree of “this is obviously your equipment’s fault”. I was told bandwidth issues. Yeah no.

Would not have been such an issue were there not two years of documentation the guy skipped. The issue is voltage related. I just needed a replacement power supply, it’s probably a $5 part for Google. They’d sent two replacement IQ Cams and paid for shipping on 3 at this point. Like why would you not ship that $5 part in the first place is beyond me. Assuming it’s $11 to get me a power supply and you’re making minimum wage (they’re not,) it’s less spent than troubleshooting it yet again while documentation exists of everything attempted.

The problem here is the camera would not go out immediately. It would just choose the most inconvenient time and shut down. It would come back up, but there was little reason I could tell. Sometimes it was cold, sometimes it was raining, sometimes it was dry. The power supply was located inside the house, the temperature ranged within 10 degrees, the humidity inside was fairly consistent. and the cable ran out. Any examination of any of these revealed nothing.

I finally got through to someone by pulling a “this has been broken for two years, you guys have wasted more of your money and time than sending a customer a $5 replacement part would have cost you” and I pulled the I’ve been in IT for 30 years at this point it’s a freaking voltage issue. I was told a replacement was finally being sent. I’ve really tried to never pull the “look, I do this for a living” card. It’s gauche. I was in the middle of five interactions with Google at this point and they were aiming blame at my equipment / use for four issues that are their product design issues.

I didn’t notice a second email they mentioned a power adapter was not the thing being sent. I also didn’t see in the comment that the person had suggested I buy the $50 part because it was in the store and they couldn’t RMA me one. Yeah, I was told to buy it myself. I’d only noticed that they were shipping me something and tuned out at that point. You have no idea the number of emails and RMAs I have juggling for work at the moment.

What arrived was just a replacement cable. One of the ones that came with the original unit. I decided what the hell, might as well swap it but this was not the power supply I’d asked for. I asked them what the expected goal was here as with two years of RMAs at this point do you think telling a customer to invest $50 more in a product (yes, they wanted me to buy a $50 outdoor power supply, which is not what I had,) that’s probably been damaged since 22 days in is actually good customer service?

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So, long story short I mostly swapped the cable because I was going to just add that to the list of things I had replaced. The old cable I decided to inspect the contacts with a magnifying glass, no issues, no water intrusion, but surprise…

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The sheath on the camera end of the cable was broken. It was not visible. That is on the opposite side of the bend you would expect.

Now the first camera was dead, I’d verified that with enough random equipment that it was dead. I now suspect water intrusion on the cable after a heroic less than month, shorting it, and oxidation. Explains the random times and weirdness with camera 2 and 3. Moisture shorting in the cable, voltage irregularities, etc. While no water is evident here, and the cable works, it takes insanely long for anything to boot up. Plug in the new cable and the Nest Cam IQ is on in 5 minutes or less. Water somewhere in the cable I’m betting.

Had Nest shipped a new camera, power supply, and cable, the first replacement camera probably would still be running today and I’d be a happy customer support story. They would have paid their techs probably $50 less in time to work my issue, there would be the cost of mailing two cameras and a priority mail cable saved (I’m guessing $60 or so.) My guess is camera 2 had nothing wrong with it and ended up in a landfill ($50 or so wasted product).

What has happened for the lack of a replace-it-all and spend that extra $5 policy is that they’ve wasted two hours at least of their time, my time, and made me have a two year long product support case. This is to save maybe $5 they’ve accomplished this.

I am in awe of how much you can possibly lose trying to save a small amount.

Product breaks? Ship customer a replacement product. Don’t try and save $5 because you don’t suspect it’s a power supply or cable issue. If you do and the issue persists, ship customer the entire product as now you’re out even more money. It works? Fine have the customer ship back the stuff that doesn’t work along with the RMA device. Now you’ve even saved that $5.

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Paul E King

Paul King started with GoodAndEVO in 2011, which merged with Pocketables, and as of 2018 he's evidently the owner. He lives in Nashville, works at a film production company, is married with two kids. Facebook | Twitter | Donate | More posts by Paul | Subscribe to Paul's posts

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