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Google forced to use humans to support Nexus One

Cuts get out fee for T-Mobile contract too

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Google has opened up a US support number that will be answered by a human being, as well as tweaking the small print to make its mobile phone more attractive.

Not that Mountain View will be providing technical support as such, only enquiries into the ordering and shipping process will be dealt with by Google - everything else gets directed to HTC or T-Mobile as appropriate. But if you've got an outstanding order for a Nexus One then you should be able to speak to a real person, which is how it should have been at launch.

Support for the Nexus One has been lamentable to say the least - Google's reliance on self-support forums and email contacts has left many buyers disenchanted by the company, and quick to share their anger with the world.

Not only has Google succumbed to the inevitability of human contact, but the company has also had to reduce the "Equipment Recovery Fee" introduced in the Nexus One small print and invoked if cellular service is cancelled within four months.

The original version of the terms of sale required a repayment of the entire subsidy: so someone paying $179 for a subsidised handset would automatically have $350 charged to their credit card if they cancelled the T-Mobile connection, in addition to any charge levied by T-Mobile. That's been reduced to $150 for new T-Mobile customers, and $50 for those who switched tariffs to get a Nexus One, but is still automatically deducted from the credit card.

That's probably down to T-Mobile agreeing to hand over the subsidy to Google even if the customer tries to cancel the connection, as happens with any other subsidised handset, "early termination" fees are charged for exactly this reason and Google is unique in billing customers directly for subsidy-recovery.

All this takes Google takes one step closer to being a normal seller of mobile phones: the mobile industry is surprisingly resistant to change, and even Google is going to have to play nicely for a while at least. ®

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