Last week, the Google Store and Project Fi launched a trade-in program that provides credits towards buying a new phone. The process involves shipping your old device in for appraisal before being credited. However, the first customers have discovered that Google’s “trade-in kit” appears to provide minimal protection during transit.

When purchasing a new device through the Google Store or Project Fi and opting for the trade-in program, users get an appraisal on the value of their old device by filling out a questionnaire. After Google receives and checks the condition, customers will receive a credit card refund.

As part of the process, Google send users a free “trade-in kit” to ship their old phone. However, the first customers are discovering that the kit is quite flimsy and only consists of a tiny bubble-lined bag. Google wants users to place their old phone in that bag and ship it off with an included shipping label.

As some weary users have pointed out, protection is minimal and damage is possible in transit. This could result in cracked screens or other damaged components that reduce the trade-in value.

No way that’s how I’m shipping mine back. My 5x is pristine, but it won’t be if I only use that little bubble bag.

One customer talked with Project Fi support and was allowed to place the bubble bag and phone inside a larger box with more packaging and send that off instead.

I just finished a chat with Fi support. I explained my concerns with the packing material (or lack thereof), and they finally caved and told me that as long as the phone is in the bubble mailer, I can put it in a box and slap the shipping label on it. They did say to mark clearly on the box its for trade in.

In comparison, trade-in programs from other companies, like Apple, provide ample packaging. The iPhone Upgrade Program provides a static sleeve that is placed in “protective packaging” that is separate from the larger included shipping box.

Google has a bit of history on being bad at shipments. Last year, some replacement Pixel units were sent in very flimsy packaging that did not provide adequate protection and ended up damaging devices.

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Abner Li

Editor-in-chief. Interested in the minutiae of Google and Alphabet. Tips/talk: