I’ve recommended the Nest Video Doorbell for years as the best premium option for smart doorbells. But that recommendation does require subscribing to Nest Aware to get the best features, and now I’m left considering abandoning Nest altogether after Google took my money and canceled my service.
I should preface all of this with some crucial details. I freely admit I’m partially to blame for the start of the mess. And you should be aware that I used the 1st generation version of Nest Aware, which isn’t offered anymore. But that doesn’t absolve Google of the fact that it has taken my money for my Nest Aware subscription and refuses to provide me that service. Nor does the terrible customer service I received help the situation either.
If you aren’t aware, Nest Aware is Google’s cloud subscription service that’s all but required for its cameras. Without it, most of its cameras don’t have highlight features like video history, person identification, and other AI-generated features. The latest Nest Doorbell (Battery) is a slight exception, thanks to onboard AI (artificial intelligence), but it still comes with different compromises.
Originally, Nest Aware was a simple affair that grew expensive if you owned multiple Nest Cameras. You had two choices: either $5 a month with five days’ worth of 24/7 recording, or $30 a month for 30 days of 24/7 video. All other features were the same, and every Nest Camera you owned required a separate subscription.
The second generation of Nest Aware does make owning multiple Nest Cameras less expensive, but the overall plans cost more and, in one case, provide fewer features. You can either pay $6 a month with no 24/7 video history—just event recordings—or $12 a month for 60 days of 24/7 history. The good news is that if you were on the old plans, you could stay on them. The bad news is, if you ever switched to the new plans or stopped subscribing, there’s no going back. You also can’t add cameras to the grandfathered plans.
I only own the Nest Doorbell (formerly Nest Hello) and had no interest in picking up new Nest cameras. I was content to stay on my $5-a-month grandfathered plan, especially since that provided 24/7 video history, a feature I use more often than you’d think.
The problem started late last week when I attempted to check my overnight video doorbell footage and discovered I couldn’t. I had no history, no saved faces, none of my usual features. What I did have was an offer to buy Nest Aware in the Nest app. I immediately went to my account and discovered the most likely problem—my credit card on file had expired a month ago. All I needed to do was update the expiration date to match the replacement card; the numbers hadn’t even changed. So I did that. And nothing happened.
I checked my email thoroughly, but Nest hadn’t reached out to warn me about any payment issues or expired cards. I only had the usual semi-frequent Nest marketing emails. I checked my trash bin and Spam and found nothing.
That seemed odd; every service I’ve ever used has sent out pre-empting warnings about credit cards getting ready to expire. And if a payment fails, every company I know of sends an email out hoping to fix the problem and take your money, but that didn’t happen here. So I began to wonder if there was another problem, and I just happened to catch the expired credit card before it became an issue.
My next step was to reach out to Nest.
My first round with Nest Customer service was informative, if not unhelpful. From what this rep could explain, the initial issue was my credit card. The first attempt to take my payment failed. When I asked why I didn’t get an email warning me of the problem, she explained it wasn’t necessary. That’s because the second attempt to charge my card succeeded.
But then, apparently, the day I noticed the issue, Google canceled the service. The customer service rep couldn’t explain why, nor could she explain why I didn’t get an email about the service being canceled. The sequence of events also confused me because I couldn’t find any charge for Nest Aware in my bank account. The only thing the rep would offer to do is set me up with the new Nest Aware plans, but those don’t meet my needs. I want 24/7 history, but I don’t need 60 days of history, nor do I want to spend more than double the amount for one camera. So the customer service rep escalated my request, and I waited.
Two charges for Nest Aware popped up on my bank account a few days later. Both are $5 charges and continue to show on my bank account. I thought Nest may have fixed the issue and “caught me up,” which would be fine. But when I checked my app, it still said I needed to subscribe to Nest Aware.
You can bet my next step was to get back in touch with Nest Support. Oddly this time around, Google transferred me three times—claiming the first time was because I had reached Google support and not Nest support, despite my starting the process from the Nest support site just like my first attempt. It’s all the more confusing because Google owns Nest, and to even begin to investigate Google and Nest both require I prove my identity using means that make me uncomfortable.
After each person confirmed the issue (again), they emailed me a link to click on and then log in with my Google account to prove my identity. Think about that for a second—I had to click a link in an email and then provide my username and password to a site that didn’t scream Google. That’s basically the first piece of advice any tech-savvy person will give to their grandparents: “Never click on links in an email, then provide your password. Go straight to a site instead.”
When I finally got to a customer service rep who could handle the case, he wasn’t much more helpful. Yes, Google charged me twice. Once for April and once for May. Despite that fact, my service is still canceled and can not be reactivated. When I pointed out that Google charged me, and I didn’t choose to cancel, the rep only offered me a $5 credit and a free month of second-generation Nest Aware service at $12 a month. Never mind that I’d been charged $10.
On multiple occasions, he stated that he would activate that service right now, and I had to ask him to stop. The last thing I wanted was the new service activated when, as far as I was aware, an escalation team still might look at the issue. The first customer service rep promised to escalate, remember, and I never heard back.
The customer service rep insisted I should have received both an email that my payment failed and a cancelation email. If I had just responded within seven days of the payment failure notice, this could have been fixed. At his request, I checked my Spam and deleted emails one more time—and found a payment failure email from two days ago. I took that as a sign of hope! After all, the rep said if I had responded within seven days of the payment failure email, the problem could have been fixed. And here I was, two days in from that email. But that’s when the customer service rep stopped helping. When I pointed out the situation, he ignored me and tried to activate the second-generation Nest Aware service again.
I started asking questions about how this could happen. How I could be charged $10 and still have my service canceled? Why I’d only get $5 refunded when I’d been charged $10? What could I do to get back to the service I wanted? Why suddenly did that seven-day grace period not count? The rep stopped answering questions and eventually “hung up on me” (I was on the chat service, he ended the chat). A day later, I received an email from the same rep informing me my only option was a $5 credit and a “complimentary” month of second-generation Nest Aware. Again, Google took $10 from my bank account, but apparently, I can only get $5 back.
This whole situation has me re-thinking my recommendation for Nest Doorbells. The customer service I’ve received is, frankly, terrible. I’ve had empty promises for escalation but no confirmation that my case actually got elevated. I had a customer service ignore my questions, try to activate a service without my permission, and then hang up on me. All the while, Google has my money (two months’ worth of service), and I don’t have the features I paid for. It won’t even offer me a full refund.
$12 a month is simply too much to pay for 24/7 recording. That’s more than double what I was paying, and since I don’t plan to add any Nest cameras to my home (especially now), I get nothing for it. I don’t need 60 days of history; the service I had was perfect.
So if I’m stuck with only the option to pay $6 a month (more than I was paying still) for just event history, I may as well go to Wyze—where the plan is cheaper. Or Eufy, where I wouldn’t even have to pay for a cloud subscription plan to get event history.
As for what you can do, I can offer some advice based on what Google and Nest customer service reps told me. If you’re on a grandfathered plan, don’t migrate your Nest account to a Google account. I can’t be sure it matters, but the reps implied multiple times that they could have reactivated my plan if I hadn’t migrated my account. You can’t go back once you migrate.
And doublecheck your credit card on file, or add a second method of payment just in case. Google says it should email you in case of payment failure, but clearly, that didn’t work out for me. Or consider another company. That’s what I’m going to do.