In my pursuit of lazy eating, I've been digging into every internet delivery service that comes along. So, when a coupon for Google Express passed my way, I snapped it up — $30 for $50 to spend on Whole Foods delivery.
Google plus Whole Foods? Dreamy. I envisioned easy ordering of fresh food and instant gratification. I would add dinner — prepared food from the Whole Foods food court. Not like I was expecting anything from the salad bar, but they offer fresh made meals ranging from Chinese food to wraps, and even sushi. It would all show up at my door in 60-90 minutes, because Express.
Turns out, in this instance Express means your order will be delivered within two or three business days, anytime between the hours of 8am and 10pm.
The world's most forward thinking internet company — the same people who brought us both satellite and street views on Google Maps — has given us a home delivery option with worse timing than a cable repair man's service schedule. In a year when Amazon Prime brought Barbarella same day delivery.
Google Express user design tries to incorporate a lot of retailers going through the same interface but different kinds of selections, so it's browsing and searching capability winds up being clunky despite being woefully understocked.
Speaking of Amazon, the Google Express interface reminded me a lot of its home page — circa 1999. Express seems stubbornly unaware of improvements made to web design over the past 15 years. I slogged through the clumsy interface ten minutes before I realized my next issue: this wasn't anywhere close to the breadth of products at Whole Foods.
Not just a lack of prepared meals. There wasn't anything fresh. I guess the 2-3 day delivery estimate rules out perishables. All of them. What's left is a truncated selection of canned goods, toiletries, pantry items and assorted snacks.
I started filling my cart with boring staples: olive oil, soy sauce, coconut milk. I ordered just about 50 dollars to optimize my coupon, and went to checkout. It gave the option to choose backup items in case there were out of stock items. Considerate I guess, but how many out-of-stock items could there be? Nevertheless, I spent another five minutes selecting a backup salad dressing, a different milk substitute.
The ten minute countdown to choose your backup items offered the only sense of urgency throughout the entire Google Express process.
Fat lot of good. The next day I got a notice that three items had been switched to backups, and two items had been dropped from my order altogether because even the backups were out of stock. I tried to cancel, but was told it was too late, my order had already shipped. Four days later it arrived.
To be fair, customer service generously recredited my coupon so I could try again. They even sent a couple of $15 coupons — the minimum order for free delivery — so I could try other retailers that also sell through Google. I used these to get some toilet paper and a leaky jug of laundry detergent.
In a word: disappointing. Though I ultimately saved a little money, I'd have saved myself a lot of grief if I'd just made a 40-minute trip to the store in the first place.