The road to launch for the Essential Phone has been long and filled with twists and turns. However, this week's screw up trumps previously missed shipping dates and delays by far. Last night, Essential sent out an email to some customers asking for their drivers license to verify their address. The goal was to prevent fraud but unfortunately, the email address wasn't configured right, so when customers replied, their information didn't just go to Essential, it went to everyone who received the original email.
The leak meant that several dozen pre-order customers had their information shared with strangers. At first, many thought this may have been a phishing attempt as it is such an odd request for a company to make. That turned out not to be the case, instead, this is just a situation where a poorly thought out idea just got too far.
As you would expect, Essential and Android co-founder, Andy Rubin has responded to the situation, apologising for the “humiliating” screw up and confirming that around 70 customers were affected:
“Yesterday, we made an error in our customer care function that resulted in personal information from approximately 70 customers being shared with a small group of other customers. We have disabled the misconfigured account and have taken steps internally to add safeguards against this happening again in the future. We sincerely apologize for our error and will be offering the impacted customers one year of LifeLock.”
“Being a founder in an intensely competitive business means you occasionally have to eat crow. It's humiliating, it doesn't taste good, and often, it's a humbling experience. As Essential's founder and CEO, I’m personally responsible for this error and will try my best to not repeat it.”
On the plus side, the Essential Phone is actually shipping now, after months of delays. Reviewers seem to be impressed by the tech too, so as long as this mistake doesn't put customers off en-mass, then it looks like the Essential Phone will end up doing quite well.
KitGuru Says: On the surface, Essential's intentions were good but it is clear that the execution of this wasn't thought out well enough. Someone along the way should have pointed out the pitfalls of this idea. That said, Essential is still a very new company, hopefully it will learn from this experience and do better next time.