It was one of those moments we all dread. On Monday, I was in the middle of an intense game of Madden 2016 on Xbox Live when the game froze, followed by an ominous message: “The connection to your peer has been lost.” Usually, this means my opponent quit the game early, but this time was different.
My Google Fiber was down.
Over the last year, I can count on one hand how many times I have lost my connection to Google Fiber – and it has usually been resolved by a quick reboot of the network box. Again, this time was different.
After my first reboot, the Google Fiber jack never regained connectivity – the status light kept blinking red. A quick check on Google Fiber’s support page told me if the red light blinked for more than two minutes, I needed to unplug the network box and try again. A second reboot yielded the same result.
I quickly pulled up Google Fiber support on my phone and signed into chat with customer service. After a three minute wait, I was connected with a representative to help me troubleshoot the problem. His first question was whether I had rebooted the network box – and I had. Next, he had me pull off a cover to the Fiber jack, revealing the actual fiber line coming into the house. To make sure it was secured, he had me unplug it and plug it back in. After another reboot, I still had the same result.
The customer support representative determined I needed a technician to come out and investigate further. It was 11:20PM at this point and I wanted to get back online as soon as possible. To my dismay, the earliest available appointment was at 11AM on Wednesday – 36 hours later.
My Initial Reaction
I teach an online class for an area college, and my wife is enrolled in an online graduate program, so we really rely on the internet being available at all times. A 36 hour window without TV or internet can be very difficult to swallow. I asked to make sure there were no slots available the next day, and they confirmed I would have to wait – but I could contact their support again in the morning to see if there were any openings. Reluctantly, I accepted.
Once I disconnected from the chat, I unplugged the network box for the night and went to bed.
The next day, I sent an email to the support team asking for availability during the day. By the time I got a reply, I was already 20 miles away at my office and I couldn’t rearrange my schedule to make it work. It would have to wait until the next day.
At this point, my experience wasn’t much of a love story. I was frustrated that there were no technicians available for the same day. You could say that’s an unrealistic expectation, but this is Google Fiber. It isn’t supposed to be down. And if it is, their customer service had never let me down before.
That initial negative perception would change in a hurry.
When I got home from work on Tuesday night, I decided to plug the network box back in and see if a nearly 24 hour timeout from electricity would be enough to get it back online. Almost instantly, the status light connected and I was online. I knew there was still something wrong with the setup – I thought maybe the Fiber jack had been impacted by some of the lightning from storms over the weekend, so I decided not to cancel the technician’s visit the next morning.
The Service Call
About 9:30AM, my technician called to see if it would be okay if he stopped by a little early. I replied “Of course!” and by 10:00AM the technician was in my driveway.
He walked in, shook my hand, and told me that he understood my service was down. I said, “Well, it was down – but it isn’t anymore. Would you mind taking a look?”
After taking one look at my setup, he thought he knew what my issue was – the Fiber jack was running off of Power over Ethernet. He thought I would have better luck if we plugged the jack directly into a wall outlet, so he quickly went to work setting this up. Realizing I did not have any additional available outlets, he ran out to his truck, got a new surge protector, and ran back inside. He had the Fiber jack wired to the wall outlet in less than 5 minutes, and everything connected great.
Even though my service was back up, the service call didn’t end there.
He asked if he could take a look at all of the TV’s in the house before calling in for a health status check from the main Fiber offices in KC. Of course, I agreed. He went through every TV, checked for optimal settings, and discovered a few minor issues with cables that I had made myself. He very politely asked if I would mind if he re-made the cables using their equipment, and I said “Sure.”
He then asked to see where my cables terminated – a question which surprised me a bit. The person who built my house hadn’t done a wonderful job with the wiring – rather than terminate the cable and phone lines in a utility room, they were terminated outside and exposed to the elements. I showed him where the cables were, and told him that I had also re-done some of those cables due to the poor shape they were in when I bought the house.
He went outside to inspect the job I had done, and again came back to ask if I would mind if he took some time to fix it to their standards. Needless to say, I was impressed.
For the next 15 to 20 minutes, the tech worked to clean up the mess on the side of the house. He even bundled the cables up and covered them so they were no longer as exposed to the elements.
Again, he came back inside and asked if I had re-wired any of the cable boxes in the wall. I laughed and said “No.”
Finally satisfied, he pulled up his laptop and ran some diagnostics on my network before calling into the main offices. A phone call later, both he and the main offices were satisfied that my network was back up to their standards.
On his way out the door, the technician handed me his business card and told me “If you have any more problems today, please give me a call directly on my cell phone – it is listed on the business card – and I’ll come back by to make sure it is fixed.”
What could have been a 5 minute visit turned out to be over an hour-long inspection of every detail of my network. My connection has been incredible since he left on Wednesday – the power issue seems to have resolved even minor hints of trouble. But still, the customer service did not stop there.
Today, I got a call on my cell phone from a Google Fiber customer representative. I was in a meeting, so I couldn’t answer at the time, but I was notified I had received a voicemail that was nearly a minute and a half long.
The representative informed me they were just checking in to see how my connection had been, how I thought the technician had done, if I was satisfied with the work, and whether there was anything else they could do for me. Again, they gave me a direct number to call and wished me well.
I was absolutely in shock.
As I said in my original review back in February, “customer service” in the telecommunications industry has been known to be horrid. I have had more bad experiences with service providers than I can count – not only at my house, but at customers’ houses and even business locations. Comcast has well-documented examples of customer service hell.
Initially, I thought Google Fiber may be regressing from the level of service they had provided during my initial setup. I am pleased to say I could not have been more wrong. Their care, attention to detail, and personal touch continues to be unlike anything I’ve ever seen in my 12 years of working in this industry.
After my most recent experience with Google Fiber, I can say without a doubt that they set the standard of excellent for customer service in the telecommunications industry.
I am one happy customer – especially now that my Gigabit connection is back online and better than ever!
Be sure to check out part one: Is Google Fiber Worth the Hype?