In December of 2013 former OPPO VP Pete Lau announced that he was to leave the relatively new smartphone manufacturer and set up his very own rival company by the name of OnePlus. From the offset the company were seen to be “For The People” as they immediately set out via their forums to gather consumer opinions on how this new phone should be built.
As the days and months passed, the new company would continue to grab the headlines as they unveiled their “Invite to Buy” scheme which would stop people being able to directly buy the handset after launch unless they had an invite or they were selected for the very controversial “Smash The Past” promotion.
As a technology fan myself I was sold, here was this handset with specs that would rival the HTC One M8 and the Samsung Galaxy S5 for just a fraction of their price…
TAKE MY MONEY ALREADY
Of course there was no way I was getting my hands on one of these bad boys early on, with the invite system only just being made live to the Smash The Past winners and a handful being given out via the official forums, the illustrious OnePlus One handset was harder to come by than decent sales figures for Sony.
Fast forward a bit and I eventually managed to get myself an invite to buy one of the handsets exactly a week ago today. Of course it took me a whole of 10 minutes to get my bank card out and place the order (even though it wouldn’t accept my bank card and I had to use PayPal to pay.).
THEY TOOK MY MONEY ALREADY
A few days earlier to my order, the OnePlus was plagued with shipping delays as the Heartbleed Bug had to be patched up on the special edition of CyanogenMod than the device was running however for me, this wasn’t a problem, as I said, this was a few days previous to my order and it had since been resolved and there should be nothing stopping them getting my new phone to me very quickly given that I had paid for express delivery at £10.99.
Given that my order was placed on a Tuesday I expected delivery of the phone within 72 hours however this was not to be the case. Now a full week on and I’ve yet to receive my handset from the company, a handset that has been bought and paid for,
OnePlus took to their forums on the Friday (13th) of last week to state that orders for Europe would be fulfilled via their German distribution centre and would begin shipping that day. Of course there were a number people who indeed did receive shipping notifications however myself and Jacob who had both ordered the phone had not. Was there a problem shipping to the UK or was this something else?
David Sanmartin who handles PR at a global level for OnePlus took the forums over on the website again and advised that further orders would ship on Tuesday (today) however at time of writing this, my order is still showing processing, which can’t be blamed on time zones given that Germany is only one hour ahead of the UK, so what’s happening OnePlus? Where is my handset and why do I not have it in my hands just now?
For some unknown reason, we seem to treat this new company with kid gloves (myself included) and allow for “teething problems” more than we would allow any other company. Is this because of their handling of PR or simply because we are generally a forgiving bunch?
EXPERIENCING THE EXPERIENCE
As the title of this post suggests, this is a little more than a rant, this is a post about the OnePlus Experience:
“Since the beginning, our goal was to fuse superior product with unparalleled customer experience.“
So let’s now talk about the experience…
When I purchased the handset I immediately took to the OnePlus forums to see who else in the UK managed to get one and also to gauge whether there was a Google+ community for UK owners that I could join (we all love communities, right?). I was immediately met with horrific, close to bullying comments from the OnePlus faithful who believed that I was either lying about having the invite and purchasing the phone or that I should not have had an invite given that I was so new to the forums and they had been there a lot longer than I had. Now without being pedantic, I did create a new forum account to the one I originally used when the site launched, so technically speaking I had been there a lot longer than most of those who were being so resentful but I chose to let that slide and continued to battle upwards against a down falling pile of xxxx.
This experience alone was enough to make me choose to stay away from the official forums, a place where I should have been made to feel welcome and have the freedom to talk about the device without being bullied by other members. What was most disappointing about this though was the fact that there were no active forum administrators to step in and stop the madness and prevent a brand new customer from vowing never to use the forums again.
Of course, the experience doesn’t just end at the forums, the experience is the whole thing right? The experience includes the purchase to shipping debacle which I mentioned above and even goes beyond that so much to the point that the communication from OnePlus is to be called nothing short of non-existent.
Since I bought the handset I haven’t received a single email from OnePlus to give updates on shipping delays or anything, despite the fact that they are being provided (all-be-it very slowly) on their forums which, as stated, I have now chosen to stay away from.
I reached out to Carl Pei (international relations) and Bridget Hickey (PR) on Google+ and shared my experiences with them:
Hey Carl / Bridget,
I wanted to reach out to you both personally to discuss the OPO forum on the site. It has become a huge pit of hatred for anyone who has an invite or who has bought a device already and it’s putting a lot of people off posting on them. I speak to an know a lot of people who have ordered the device and simply don’t want to post anymore.
Would it be possible to have a private area on the forums where people who have invites or have purchased a device (verified with order number) can discuss the handset without the normal spam of “how did you even get an invite?”
Not only was I offering a solution to the forum problems but I was getting the point out that people are staying away from the forums, people who have already purchased a handset and who want to use them however to date, there has been no reply to this post.
So I have just one question, what has happened to this “unparalleled customer experience”? Have OnePlus decided to forget about their customers already and focus on something else?
There are likely people out there who will read this post and ask me to cut them some slack however, trust me, there are people with far worse experiences than myself, people like Jacob Crawley (who writes for Land of Droid) who had been talking to their support team via email and had been promised delivery that never materialised.
There are also people out there who will tell me to “just check the forums” for updates however I believe that as a paying customer I shouldn’t have to check a forum for updates, especially since updates are given as replies to forum posts that have not been created by a OnePlus staff member (making it very hard to find them anyway). In my view, OnePlus should be emailing people who have an order pending and letting them know what’s happening, customers should not have to chase a company for an update.
In short, Experiencing The OnePlus Experience for me has been horrendous and though I still can’t wait to get my hands on the phone, I feel very let down by the company who have the ethos “Never Settle”.