Monday, May 01, 2006

The computer saga continues

The laptop saga rumbles on, but is finally moving in the right direction. (Can a saga move?) If nothing else, the sad tale has provided an opportunity for two companies to illustrate the difference between good customer service and bad customer service.

Company number one: Hewlett Packard
After negotiating various automated telephone menus, Tevye finally managed to speak to a Hewlett Packard customer service person.Having been through the entire fault reporting script, the call operator tried to set up a return code, only to find that the serial number on our laptop indicated we should be speaking to someone else. He gave us another number to call. Tevye called the new number. Several times he was cut off before making it to the end of the automated menu. By this time he was close to flinging the phone at or through something. This despite the fact that Tevye is a very mild mannered person! Finally he got through to the right place only to be told that Hewlett Packard's policy is that if the pin in the adaptor socket breaks it must be due to improper use (it wasn't!) and therefore was not covered under the warranty. No court of appeal. But not to worry! They would send us a quote for the repair. It turned out to be slightly more than the cost of buying the same laptop new. We sent a complaining email to which they have never replied.

After this fiasco we started getting quotes elsewhere for the repair, reducing the cost from extortionate to merely expensive. Meanwhile, a neighbour suggested that we should contact the company from which we bought the computer as they were legally responsible if they supplied faulty goods ...

Company number two: Ebuyer
This time we decided not to risk a repetition of the telephone frustration and contacted them through their online customer service system, complaining about Hewlett Packard's failure to honour their warranty. They replied with a sympathetic note asking us to go through their returns procedure. Slightly confused - did this mean they would fix the computer or not? - we wrote to their returns department. The next morning a friendly and sympathetic customer service advisor telephoned us, confirming that the broken pin was indeed a fault, and was covered by their own warranty. Could I negotiate my way through their online returns system, or would I like him to talk me through it? I could and did negotiate the system. Next step is to arrange for them to collect the laptop in order to either repair or replace it.

Meanwhile, we struggle on with our old and erratic machine, but it is at least holding together. How long it will take to get the other computer sorted I don't know, but at least it won't be hitting our budget. And if you are thinking or buying computer hardware, I can recommend Ebuyer.

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