March 8

DOOM for Motorola XOOM

First on my list of DOOM this morning (oops, afternoon):

The brainiacs who were responsible for the deal involving Motorola XOOM and Verizon.  I’m inclined to believe this is Verizon’s doing, but I’m also inclined to believe that whoever was handling this on the Motorola side signed off on it as well.  And Moto has certainly dropped the ball on various OTHER aspects of this release.

SO.  Let me break down this little scenario for you, for those who do not stay on the tippy-top of new technology releases.

Motorola XOOM:  New tablet.  Android.  Touted as the “iPad killer”.

Why?:  It’s generally the same size and weight.  Other tablets were too small and also tended to be no-names.  (Huawei?  No.  I do not buy knock-offs.)   Hardware stats looked really good.  We really like supporting Android over Apple.

BUT.  Then as we crept closer to an actual release date, some information started leaking out that gave us pause.

1.  An $800 price tag?  (iPad 32gb with Wi-Fi only, was $599.)  That didn’t seem very competitive.

Then . . .

2. It HAD to be activated on purchase with a required $20 one month of 3G service?  THIS is where I began to be annoyed.  THIS is where they really began to shoot themselves in the proverbial foot.

Where was the Wi-Fi ONLY version?  Now I had to compare this to the 32gb iPad with Wi-Fi AND 3G, which amounts to $729.  But we don’t WANT 3G service.  These are nightstand tablets.  They are used in-house only.  We have no reason to take them out of the house . . . when we go out and about, we use our Droid phones.

But, you know, here we are, early adopters.  Early adopters usually suffer.  I tried to be positive about it . . . but piling extra ridiculous charges like a REQUIRED month of 3G service really bugged me.  You might look at it as “what’s $20 more when you’re paying $800 for the device?”.   Instead, I think . . . “it wouldn’t seem so blasted GREEDY and nitpickish if you just tacked that on to the price in the first place”.  The nickel-and-diming is NOT an endearing quality, Verizon.

But we will get back to that nickel-and-diming IN A MINUTE, readers. Oh yes, we will.  Just you wait, Henry Higgins.  Just you wait.

—–

Let me take a line here to appreciate Apple, for confirming a nice solid RELEASE date on which one can count.  iPad2?  March 11.  There it is. XOOM?  We were left to waffle and check various websites repeatedly, relying on HEARSAY from the gadgetblogs.  Moto THEMSELVES couldn’t even decide on a release date.

One weekend night, Knobby read that the XOOM was released that day.  We went straight to BestBuy.  It couldn’t be found.  There were 10 in the stockroom, but the imbeciles in the phone department told us it wouldn’t be sold until next Thursday.  Now, our BestBuy has been proven to muck things up royally (remember the GoogleTV idiocy?), so we called the next store down the road.  Which told us that yes, they were in stock, and Knobby specifically asked if they would sell him one that night.  Yes.

So we drove an hour down the road.  To find that mere minutes before we arrived at the store, an update had gone out adjusting the release until the next Thursday as we were originally told in the first store.  This, after the incompetence of the GoogleTV release, didn’t really surprise us (Knobby looked for an excuse to put some miles on his new Jeep and try out that Adaptive Cruise Control), but it WAS incredibly disappointing.  They just kept shooting themselves in the foot!  Once was not enough.  Let’s go for ALL the toes.

On Thursday, Knobby worked from home that morning, waiting for the store to open.  We went down to the BestBuy, again, and we couldn’t find the XOOM, again.  Apple buys an end-cap display for easy iPad attention, but Motorola?  Motorola couldn’t be bothered.  XOOM was hidden in a dark corner on the end of an aisle full of antiquated cheap netbooks, no fanfare, no special advertising to herald it’s arrival . . . nope, there it sat, in the shadows, the furthest end from the main thoroughfare.  An $800 NEW PRODUCT on it’s release day, surrounded by $300 has-beens.  At this point we were amazed they even bothered to power it up.

We stood there as Knobby tried it out, and as clueless parents who had no business buying any sort of technology were lead over to the netbooks . . . questioning the salesman if this was something their daughter could take to college next year.  If it was enough to write papers.  Oh clueless parents . . . Wow.  The best present for your daughter would have been letting her go down to the store and getting to choose one for herself.  I wanted to help them, but they had the salesperson, and I had to repeat to myself “this is not your job, this is not your job, they are not paying you to advise customers, this is not your job”.   So I overcame the parental pity and focused really intently on the shadowy Xoom.

Knobby decided to buy it.  Early adopters and all, plus there had been some light obvious envy of the ease of the tablet (iPad) versus the “hassle” of firing up his nightstand MacBook Pro.

—–

Purchasing.  Our XOOM purchase:  FAIL.

Perhaps this would happen as well, if you decided to buy the iPad with 3G . . . but my WiFi-only iPad had been so SIMPLE to purchase.

IPAD:  We decided to buy on a whim, nagged a salesman who walked us up to the “Geek Squad” area where the boxes were kept.  Box was brought out in less than two minutes, we were waved over to the Customer Service desk to bypass the people with “Geek Squad” issues.  Box was scanned, card was swiped, we were done.  I was home less than five minutes later, unpacking my beautiful pristine iPad.  (I have to hand it to them — Apple does a really nice job of product packaging presentation.  My Amazon Kindle2, as well . . . so much thought is put into the buyer’s experience when unboxing his/her new purchase.)

XOOM:  We walked back over to the phone section from the shadowy depths of the netbook aisle, and caught the eye of the salesman who had lead us over there.  We indicated that we were going to purchase the XOOM (the stack of their boxes was there in front of him, still in the shipping container).  People with phone problems were at all the kiosks, so we had to wait.  Ok, we can wait, that’s fine, we wait in line like anyone else.  It is just one customer/kiosk in front of us, how long could it take.   But . . . then . . . we had to wait . . . and wait . . . and wait . . . while someone’s grandmother explained how her phone kept dying.  And while a middle-aged couple had to get an explanation of HOW YOU TURN ON THE PHONE.  (GOOD LORD, PEOPLE, if you can’t figure out a cell phone these days, perhaps you should stick to the rotary dial.)  I mean, we waited there a LONG.  FRAPPING.  TIME.  We kept getting verbal apologies and apologetic looks from that salesman.  As though he was worried we might give up and leave.

We just. wanted. to. purchase. this. tablet.

Here, please take our money.

Finally, FINALLY, one of the kiosks opened up.  We sat down, and I should have been prepared, but instead I was rather Pixy-Horrified when the little phoneguy took the XOOM out of it’s box and proceeded to unwrap it for us, AND get fingerprints all over it.  ”Taken aback” is probably a better term than “horrified”.  I know that this would likely occur with the iPad and it’s 3G activation (yes?), but . . . the XOOM was not a virgin anymore.  WE did not have the same pleasure of peeling away the packaging as I’d had with the iPad.  WE did not have the “pleasure” of extracting a pristine $800 tablet from it’s case and marring it up for the first time with OUR fingerprints.  In the same way that we stipulated the plastic covering of that brand new ordered “great deal” car unwrapped IN FRONT OF US, so did we want to be the first people to lay hands on this new tablet.  It’s a nice bit of simple prestige factor.  But whatever.  Fine.  He had to touch it in order to activate this REQUIRED 3G month of service that we didn’t want OR need, but upon which Verizon greedily insisted.

And that Verizon activation proceeded to waste over an HOUR of our life.  I can’t see that most people would look on this process favorably.  FIRST, people don’t appreciate being forced into purchasing this bogus one month of mobile broadband.  (A total waste.)  This is clearly evidenced by scads of comments on the gadgetblogs.  If they wanted it/needed it, they’d opt for it, and this cheap tawdry money grab just turns people off.  SECOND, having to sit in the BestBuy for an hour and a half to activate this unwanted and forced month’s service utterly ruins the experience.  It was an ORDEAL.  An ordeal during which one reflects upon how nice and easy it was to take my virgin iPad in hand and skip on home within less than five minutes of making my decision.  Instead, we sat under flourescent lights on a cheap piano bench while accounts were pulled up, passwords demanded, we stared for ages at the phoneguy while he stared at a computer screen and put his hands all over our previously-pristine brand new tablet.  Then it was clumsily crammed all BACK into the box and off we went . . . feeling . . . not so thrilled.  We certainly didn’t skip on home with glee like we had with the iPad.

Especially when the XOOM shipped without features listed on it’s specs sheet (FLASH), and now HAS TO BE SHIPPED BACK TO MOTOROLA to have them install the 4G capability (which they claim will only leave you without your new purchase for what, six days?  Right.).  Somehow, all of this really sullied our acquisition pleasure.  Imagine that.

But then . . . THEN we got our Verizon bill.

—–

It wasn’t enough for Verizon to nickel-and-dime this new sector of customers, no.

No, it wasn’t enough for Verizon to nickel-and-dime this bogus unnecessary $20 for one month’s worth of mobile broadband we didn’t want or need, in order to purchase the XOOM.

No, Verizon wanted to take it one step further!  On our bill, we now see that since the release date of the XOOM was two days before Verizon’s monthly billing cycle flipped over, not only are we charged for the $20 one month of mobile broadband . . . but an additional pro-rated $1.29 for the TWO DAYS before the month began.

AND!  Although we are already Verizon customers, with several Verizon accounts which carry data plans for our Droid phones . . . and although we were ASSURED these were the only fees that would be charged . . . Verizon has also charged us a $35.00 ACTIVATION CHARGE for Data Service.

Which, once all the little taxes and “Fed Universal Service Charge” and Administrative Charges and whatnot are all said and done . . .

No, we did NOT “just” have to pay $20 as a bothersome greedy way to milk money out of purchasers who did not want your service in the first place . . . No, we paid $57.81 for it.

I don’t really take kindly to this, Verizon.  In fact, it sticks in my craw.   I don’t see any evidence of subsidization of the product by Verizon, as is usually the case with cell phones and providers.  Therefore, I don’t see any reason to force this charge on us if not for sole greed.  I suppose we’ll see if there’s a difference whenever you get around to releasing that WiFi-only XOOM.

I don’t care if this is accepted standard procedure . . . from start to finish, the handling of this release was one giant fumble.

Shame on us for being early adapters who couldn’t wait until you’d sorted yourselves out and offered the WiFi-only XOOM.  Shame on us for giving in and paying b/c it was “just” an extra $20 (or so we were assured repetitively).

Shame on YOU for making your competitor look so good in comparison.

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Posted on Tuesday, March 8th, 2011 at 4:13 pm. ComputerNerd.