Update: Since this story gained traction, Google has posted to its help pages to say that it has identified and fixed many of the issues customers were having with the trade-in program. Customers are encouraged to contact support if they're having issues.
Leading up to the Pixel 2's announcement, Google launched a new trade-in program on its Google Store online storefront. Similar to other retailers and carriers, customers can choose to send in their current device to Google after receiving their new phone, and in doing so, get a certain amount of money back – helping to offset the cost of their new phone.
The Google Store allows you to send in a decent variety of phones, with last year's Pixel and Pixel XL offering the highest dollar amounts (up to $410 back for a 128GB Pixel XL). When buying a new Pixel 2, all you need to do is confirm you'd like to trade in your current phone, choose what brand and model it is, complete your purchase, and then send your phone to Google with the shipping kit that's sent to you.
The whole process is quite simple, but the experience that users have been reporting with it has been anything but.
Since the launch of this trade-in program, customers have been voicing their complaints about a myriad of issues they've been having after actually sending their phone off to Google. Some users have reported that Google claimed their Pixels were "unknown devices", trade-in values have decreased by $100 for no clear reason, and plenty of complaints of Google saying devices weren't in the condition originally stated are plentiful.
On top of all these pre-existing issues, it's also being reported that Google is lowering trade-in values for phones because they weren't factory reset despite users saying that they were.
In one of the most troubling cases, Redditor Nirecue sent in a mint Pixel XL with 128GB of storage that they'd only had since September 6 with a case and screen protector on since owning it. The estimated trade-in value was $410, but they only received $162 because Google claims the device wasn't factory reset and the condition wasn't as it was reported.
Even if the device wasn't factory reset and wasn't in pristine condition, lowering the value by nearly $250 is insane.
Rough patches and bumps in the road are to be expected when launching a new service like this, but seeing as how there have been steady complaints for more than a month since Google launched this program, it's clear that some precautions should be taken should you take part in it.
For its part, Google later updated its help pages with a statement that it has fixed the issues so many people were having, including claims of phones not being factory reset and phones not being the correct models identified:
We are always looking at ways to improve the program and if anyone is unhappy with their offer, they should contact us. We have identified and fixed the issue related to Pixels not being found to be factory reset and/or misclassified as another device. If you believe you were impacted, please contact customer support.
What you can do to protect yourself
It's no secret that Google's got a lot of kinks to work out for its trade-in program, but we don't blame you if you still want to give the program a shot – espeically if you own a 2016 Pixel and are looking to upgrade to this year's model.
If you do decide to go through with the trade-in, it's a good idea to record the entire process. Record yourself factory resetting the phone, showing off the condition that it's in, putting it in the packaging, everything. Customer service agents certainly aren't out to get you, but having ample proof to back up your claims will save for a lot of potential headaches if you happen to run into an issue like so many people are.
This is a good practice to follow when trading in a phone with any company, but we recommend it even more when doing so with the Google Store based on how many complaints have popped up in such a short amount of time. We'd expect Google to get a lot of these issues resolved in the near future, but for now, make sure you cover your bases as much as possible.