Monday, November 12, 2012

The Chromebook is awesome until it doesn't work!

One of the things Google has done to be more appealing to businesses is move into live support for Google Apps and Chromebooks. This additional support includes email and phone. Google has always been excellent at online documentation and keeping a variety of support-based Google Groups active for troubleshooting and minor problem resolution.

But what happened to me on a recent business trip was nothing short of troubling. And it necessitated more than an email, group thread, or piece of online documentation.

The Screen Went Black...AHHH!

This was my first trip only taking my Chromebook. I had become confident enough while testing it around the office to "fly solo" on my next business trip. I even copied all my necessary files to the small but available SSD, so that I could access the files offline should the wifi or 3G connection not be strong enough to run the presentation. (Read more about how to conduct an offline presentation using a Chromebook.)

I was reviewing my slides the night before when my screen went black. Not blank...BLACK. I couldn't do anything. I turned it off and on again and nothing changed. All time seemed to stop. It was already late at night. I was reviewing everything one more time before calling it a night.

I had no idea what to do next.

Thankfully, I woke up the next morning and everything appeared to be working fine. I was able to conduct the presentation, and everything went off without a hitch. However, I couldn't let it go. My confidence had been shattered.

Google's Live Support

When I got back in the office the following day, I contacted phone support for Chrome OS and the Chromebook. They were extremely helpful. All of our conversation was documented via an email thread that utilized the very best of what we have all come to love about Gmail.

The person on the other end was patient, friendly, and very helpful. In the end, it appeared that it may be a hardware issue caused by the unit overheating. That meant I would have to call Samsung.

Honestly, my first reaction was, "Why can't you take care of this?" However, that was my only option. The rep did guide me through the process of contacting Samsung for resolution and gave me the option of reaching back out to him if Samsung proved not to be helpful.

I've already spent too much time resolving an issue that should have been simple, but I tried to keep an open mind. (Keep in mind, I'm not the "IT guy." I'm not paid to solve IT issues from my company.)

Samsung's Resolution Process

Samsung was helpful. They issued a call tag for me to ship the device to a facility where they will determine the cause of the problem and replace it—if necessary—at no cost to me. That's comforting...except for the fact that it will take up to THREE WEEKS from the time I ship the device to resolution.

Google's customer service was superb. Samsung was helpful. However, when Google branded the Sansung device, they should have anticipated that customers would be expecting Google to manage any hardware related issues...or at least coordinate the transaction. I shouldn't need to call Samsung, too. (Maybe my expectations are too high.)

Business Continuity—Still In Progress

In the meantime, I'm left without a Chromebook (which isn't my primary device) for three weeks. I expected Samsung to issue a replacement immediately. I guess the "business continuity" option is really left to me. In other words, I would need to have multiple Chromebooks on-hand in the event one goes down. While this is common practice for large IT departments, it bursts the bubble of the "reducing the IT costs for small business" argument made by Google.

I'm not a Google-hater by any means, and I still believe in the Chromebook. But for this to really become a business solution, there still are a few more kinks that need to be worked out.

The rest of the story is to come. Stay tuned.

Have you had any technical issues with your Chromebook? What has been your experience with Google's relatively new live support option?