I generally try to be a smart shopper, especially for big ticket items. For example: I was quite pleased when I managed to save my son $3,000 on the purchase of his first car. We know that because we found some paperwork in the glove box from a girl who had bought the car a few weeks earlier and had to return it, probably because her purchase price was $3,000 more than the price we negotiated on it. That's my idea of being a smart shopper.
However, we all have our less-than-perfect moments and I had one a few months ago. Obviously, I am a very active computer user and having a reliable laptop is essential for me. My last Ebay-purchased laptop was a terrific deal and lasted me for about 4 years, so I can be excused for thinking I could pull off the miracle a second time. I did all the right things, bought from a dependable user with good feedback, purchased a Square Trade warranty for it, tracked the shipping, etc. But I had nothing but bad luck with it. First I had a hard drive crash (covered under warranty), dropped the darn thing (not covered under warranty) and then had an unrecoverable memory error.
After the 3rd problem and several hundred in repairs, I decided to call it a day and look for a new computer. At that point, I made the fatal mistake. I was just sooo busy and I didn't have the time to shop around for a great deal, so I rushed over Dell.com to pick out a computer. Did I get a good deal? Yes. Was it worth it? Hell no.
I kid you not, after waiting almost ten days for the darn thing to be delivered, it acted up the first time I used it. It would randomly go into hibernation right in the middle of a sentence. And it did it every time I used the computer. There were times when I couldn't type a complete sentence. Talk about crazy-making when you are a blogger!
Now, here's the big problem with Dell. They contract all their support functions out to India. The people are actually quite nice and they aren't too hard to understand, but their customer service skills - not so great. And they are a looong way off when you have a problem. If you buy a computer from Best Buy or wherever and you get fed up with it, you can walk back in and hand it to them, and they have to do something to make it right. Not so with mail order
After numerous hour-long "support visits" with people from India and a lot of griping to their Twitter team and their escalations team, I finally got them to send me out a replacement. After a wait of another 7 to 10 days (no escalated shipping even when it is their fault!) I was excited to get my replacement unit. I was a little less excited when I discovered it had exactly the same problem.
I was even less excited when I
demanded asked them nicely for a refund and was told that I would have to return both units, with written proof of shipment, wait for confirmation of receipt, and then wait another 30 to 40 days for my refund to be processed. They did pay the return postage - wasn't that nice of them? Complaint department? Yeah, they don't really have one. My husband went on-line and found 50,000 complaints lodged against them with the Better Business Bureau. Probably should have checked that first, but that commercial with the lollypop song is just so cute!
Took me about six weeks of stress and aggravation and so many different phone calls, Tweets, and Emails to get it all straightened out. Tied up double charges on my credit card for a month because I had to go out and buy my new computer from Best Buy (for almost the same price and it works perfectly!) and still wait for the refund from Dell. And I lost a bunch of my files in trying to transfer them between three computers. I'm still looking for stuff. It was so not worth it. Smart shopper fail!
Update: OK, this is a little embarrassing. I found out what was causing the problem with both of the computers they sent me. Yeah, it wasn't the computers at all. It was the magnetic clasp on my bracelet. Every so often I would move just so and it would pass right over the hard drive - zap! I discovered it when my brand new computer started doing exactly the same thing. Computers and magnets, not such a good match. Ooops! It was still a good lesson about online purchases.
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