I recently purchased a Samsung Captivate. It’s a smartphone that runs on Google’s android operating system. The phone itself is very nifty, and Android is mostly fine, but Google—in the stupidest, most idiotic, boneheaded move ever—decided that you absolutely must have a gmail account to use the phone. In order to install apps from the “Market” you must enter a gmail account. All apps that you download or purchase are tied to this account forever. Moreover, when you purchase an app, it sends your receipt to the gmail account.

This is a problem, because my wife and I use a special e-mail account for all our orders. As she keeps track of our finances in Quicken, she can see online purchases that we have made, but now thanks to the evil incompetence of Google, Market purchases don’t go to that e-mail, and since I’ve already purchased an app, in order to change the e-mail, I would have to reset the phone (lose all data and settings) enter a new e-mail address. Oh, but wait, the previously purchased app? Gone. It’s associated with the despicable gmail account and cannot be retrieved. The internet is rife with stories of people inadvertently putting in their work e-mail first, and now that they’re changing jobs, they want to transfer their apps to a new e-mail. Can’t do it. To quote the evil insurance company from The Rainmaker, Google must be stupid stupid stupid.

But wait you say. You have a Google checkout account with a different e-mail address. Oh yes, there’s another e-mail address associated with the account, but no e-mail gets sent there. Here’s the not helpful at all Help Answer from Google:

Will I receive receipts for my mobile purchases?

If you already use Google Checkout on your computer, then you will continue to receive receipts for your mobile purchases.

You will also be able to view your mobile purchases on the Purchase History page of your account.

If you’ve only ever used Google Checkout from a mobile device and you’d like to receive email receipts for future Google Checkout mobile purchases, visit the Settings page to enter the email address at which you’d like to receive the receipts.

Here’s how:

  1. Click Settings along the bottom of the Buy page.
  2. Enter your email address in the Change Email Address field.
  3. Click Save.

If you’d like to change the email address at which you receive receipts, simply visit the Settings page to enter the new email address.

It’s a complete sham. First of all, do they mean the settings page from the Market in the phone or Google checkout? Guess what? There is no settings page in the market. There is no chance EVER to change the e-mail in the Market app. So perhaps they mean within Google Checkout itself? No, there is no “settings” link in Google Checkout; only a My Account link, which takes you to an overview of all your Google Accounts. (There is an e-mail preferences link in Google checkout, but do not be fooled. All it does is let you “opt in” to merchants’ “special offers.”

The bottom line is that the Captivate is a fine phone marred by Google’s utter incompetence, but even that can be mitigated if you know understand the issue. The moral of the story is be extremely careful with what e-mail you put into the phone before you make any purchases. Forewarned is forearmed.

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