Monday, February 13, 2006

Once started, it's half done

Ok, now I'm rolling. Now to go back through my email archives (yes, I kept all those emails people sent me over the years) and start posting some other stories, other emails promised (like that one from the president of Alienware) and so on.

The Scoop about The Scoop

So, I've decided to move the old crappy site to this new blogger site, so that it's easier to maintain. The first couple of posts will be round-up type posts, with much stuff dumped in them. I don't anticipate many updated, but this will make those that do happen easier and thus more likely to actually happen.

-- Sucks Guy out

The Old Site Updates

2006/02/13: Moved the site to blogger.com for ease of maintenance. Turns out I'm too lazy otherwise.

2005/04/28: I've finally restored the site after, what, 3 years?! Anyway, half the links off site don't work. I'm going to clean and fix things Real Soon Now™

2002/02/15:Oh my God! It's over!! I got my credit. It's beautiful!

Sunday, February 12, 2006

The Story Updates

2002/03/08:

  • Ok, I sent my response to Randolph. I got a reply from Alex Aguila, the president of Alienware. We exchanged some email on the matter. Net result -- no change. Site stays up, domain stays with me, no more interaction.
  • I will post the email discussion (which Alex gave permission to do) soon.
  • Oh, and the exchange rate is NOT better than when the charge went on my Visa, so I lost money on that deal too.
  • Now I just need to do the detailed timeline and post the feedback that I've received from you, my loyal readers. Ok, I suspect it's less about loyalty and more about Schadenfreude

2002/02/19:

  • Ok, it's not exactly over. Randolph called this morning to ask me a couple of things:
    1. Did I get my refund ok?Yes!
    2. What would it take for me to take down the site?
      Hmm, I don't know. I don't know if I want to. I told him I'd get back to him (which has a nice ironic twist to it).

2002/02/15:

  • Oh my God! It's over!! I got my credit. It's beautiful!
  • This is what it looks like in my online statement:
    • 12 Feb 2002 ALIENWARE CORP CUSTOMER S305-2519797 FL 344.64 CR 220.00 USD @ 1.5665
  • Now to figure out if the better exchange rate now vs. Aug 22 covers the loss of interest on the money (just to be anal).

2002/02/12: (again)

  • Well Shut My Mouth. Randolph just faxed me the receipt showing the credit to my account. Now to wait for it to actually show up on Visa.
  • Visa says that it may take as long as a week for the credit to show up, they don't process them as fast as debits. I wonder if this means I'll show the one Alienware claimed went through last week soon?

2002/02/12:

  • After calling a bunch more times, and having the issue "under investigation" by accounting to determine why they credit(s) they show never showed up on my Visa, I finally talked to the manager (Randolph).
  • Randolph said he'd credit it right away (yesterday) and fax me the receipt.
  • Randolph called back this morning to say the credit went through and to get my fax # so he could fax me the receipt.
  • Could this be the end? I'm not holding my breath.

2002/02/01 (twice):

  • Called a bunch of times since last update. Various answers from "We show it credited" to "Accounting shows no charge to refund".
  • Javier says accounting shows the credit applied. Will fax the receipt to Visa. I should call back Monday.
  • I ask to talk to Roland. He doesn't work there anymore I'm Shocked! How could the manager of a quality service centre like this have moved on?
  • New service manager's name is Randolph.

2002/01/09 (again):

  • OH. MY. GOD. Alienware just called asking for my Visa #. Again! 4th time! I called back to say that I'd already given it to them, and they confirmed that it was there in the account. And the hits just keep on rolling.
  • Here's an interesting link that seems like something I should send them when this is all over: [broken] here.
  • I've sent an email to Roland (manager) to see if he can straighten this crap out. I don't expect anything. I'll talk to him in a couple days when I phone to complain that the credit hasn't appeared again.

2002/01/09:

  • I take it back, "sucks" is NOT too strong a word to use in connection with Alienware. Since I returned the parts replaced from the original service (received Nov 5 according to Fed Ex) and I STILL haven't received the credit for the deposit I put down August 22, 2001 for the replacement parts. I've had to give them my Visa # 3 times, and their latest excuse is that the guy in accounting that they gave it to is on holidays. Pretty lame.

2001/11/19:

  • Ok, work's almost calmed down, so the site should be properly updated soon.
  • To bring you up to date, I finally got my system back, with Athlon XP 1800 processor, new hard drive [1], sound card[2], case[3]
  • [1]:my hard drive got broken [4] when I shipped it down to them, since I didn't have the original box, and thus it wasn't as protective as it should have been. I guess I should have backed it up before I shipped it, but the system I was going to do that on cratered when I tried (I have a magical touch).
  • [2]: Used to be a SoundBlaster Live! Platinum, but they had problems with it with my new system, so I got a SB Audigy.
  • [3]:Their new, standard box. Very nice, big, well ventilated, easy access.
  • [4]:Or so they claim. They also claimed they found files about "overclocking" on the drive, so which is it?
So, in conclusion I would like to say:
  1. Thanks to Roland Poitevien (customer service manager) for going to all this effort to make up for my poor service.
  2. I learned that I should:
    1. keep track of calls to service, so that if there are problems, I'll notice soon and have the facts.
    2. Talk to mangagement way sooner when things go badly.
"Sucks" now seems a little strong from one perspective, considering all the effort they went to to make up for the service problems. But then again, it has been 22 weeks[!] since I first called tech support. Of that, I figure I'm responsible for about 3-5 weeks of the delay; that's still 17+ weeks of fumbling on their end.

2001/10/22:

  • Still pretty busy at work right now, but here's a quickie update: Finally talked to the service manager (about 2 weeks ago), and he's going to upgrade my system from Athlon 1.1GHz to Pentium IV 1.4GHz for free. As much as I hate to go to the dark side, it's not the worst thing in the world to get a fast Intel processor. Now all I have to do is get around to backing up my hard drive and shipping it back.

2001/10/03:

  • I'm pretty busy at work right now, what with Betas going out and stuff, so I can't keep this site up to date. It suffices to say, the saga continues. I have finally received the parts and had them installed, but not completely, and I'm now waiting for the remainder of the work to be authorized so that it can be completed.

In the beginning

This is the original scoop, via the email I sent to The Watchdog at Maximum PC magazine. My comments/annotation are blockquoted like this bit.

I never thought I'd be writing to you, especially about Alienware, but I had to write to tell you about what happened to me recently. I live in a large Northwest city (in Canada) and I'm a computer hobbyist and professional. Last year I wanted a new computer and I wanted the best, so I looked Maximum PC to guide me, and that led to Alienware. Alienware systems always got fantastic reviews from your magazine, and so, naturally I bought from them. 1.1GHz Athlon TBird, 75GB hard drive, Klipsch 5.1 speakers, etc.

Ok, I was going for a Penthouse Forum kind of effect here, I don't know why. It really didn't work.

Now, since I live in Canada and shipping computers around is a pain in the ass, I opted for the full OnSite service plan. All was well, the system rocked, my 22" monitor kicked ass, I was in heaven. 9 months that lasted. Then, mysteriously, June 6, it went black like the case. And it didn't come back, it wouldn't even turn on. Fans spun up, that was it. After a couple days of being left to sulk, it started working again. I was concerned, but glad it was back. It worked again for about a month, and then, in the middle of a game, it went black again, and it hasn't come back. Now, I figured, for it to shut down suddenly like that, maybe the CPU is overheating. It's not overclocked or anything, but maybe something had gone wrong. I immediately opened the case and checked the CPU -- it was cool to the touch. So now, I try removing non-essential cards, and that doesn't help. So I call tech support (long distance, because their toll free number doesn't work from where I am in Canada, even though they claim it works for North America and Europe. Unless I missed some fine print in NAFTA, we're still a part of N. America). They get me to try a couple of things, like unplugging the power supply and letting it reset, and that doesn't help.
So then they ask me to remove the CPU and reseat it. At this point it dawns on me that I paid for on-site service for a reason, so I ask them to invoke this extra that I paid for (something like US$300 for 3 years) and get a professional to take care of it. Tech support says sure, we'll send you out a new Motherboard and CPU, and he confirms my address and other information.

The setup

4 weeks pass (I got busy and neglected to check up on them), I've yet to see or hear anything. I call customer service (long distance again, still!) and they say they have no record of the request for parts. They take my request and get a Visa number for a deposit on the parts. It will be refunded when I return the old parts. That shows up on my Visa on Aug 22. They say when the parts arrive, I'm to call them and they'll arrange the professional to do the install.

IT HAS BEGUN!

A week later, I haven't seen the parts so I call again (long distance), and the tech says he has to check and he'll call me back. He doesn't.

2 days later, I call again. He has to check, he'll call. He doesn't. Jeez, it's not like I want a relationship or anything.
I call again (long distance), and I'm told that the parts were backordered, but now they're in so they can ship them. The guy says he'll call me when they ship, and that he'll expedite them. Of course, he doesn't call, so I call back the next day (Long distance still) and check. The person I talk to says that yes, they shipped yesterday (Thursday Sept 6). They were shipped Fed Ex 3 day, so they should arrive Monday or Tuesday latest. "If they're not there by Wednesday, call me" he says. "Finally," I think and I sit back and relax.
Well Tuesday Sept. 11 arrives, and we all know what happened. I'm not surprised that my parts aren't here. Even by Wednesday I wasn't really expecting anything. Then it occurs to me that I could be proactive and track them myself, so I call (long distance) looking for a tracking number. Well, surprise, surprise, the number isn't in the system and they guy will have to track it down and get back to me within an hour. Yeah right. So I call the next day when the guy hasn't called back, and the number still isn't in the system. Terrence says he'll check it out and get it into the system by afternoon. Of course he doesn't call back, but I call that afternoon (Friday, Sept 14) and talk to another tech. He says there's no number in the system, and the other system's being updated with new shipping numbers so he can't check it. Then he drops the bomb on me: if there's no number in the system, then he can't guarantee that the stuff even shipped!
Called again this morning (Sept 17) and talked to Javier. They can't find the number. Thinks it hasn't shipped. At this point, I try to reverse the charge on Visa but they have to allow 60 days for delivery or refund.
Called again same afternoon, talked to Geneviève. Finally someone can tell me what the hell is going on. My parts have _NOT_ shipped! Jesus Christ! She tells me that they were holding the shipment to see if I wanted the motherboard they have in stock, which is the same as mine (Gee, why would I want that?!) or the new version that has some heatsink addition (but it doesn't sound like they have any in stock). Shame they couldn't have asked me one of the last 5 times I called them! Who the hell is running this dump, Jerry Lewis?! Well, it's only 11 days since I was told it shipped the first time (some sort of paperwork error, they say), and 26 days from when they originally charged me for the parts. Now *THAT'S* what I call "service".

Ok, the Jerry Lewis comment sounds a little forced and out of place. Frankly, I should have picked one style I was going for and stuck with it. Either calm, cool, analytical, or ranting, raving maniac.

I want Alienware to pay my long distance for all the calls, and frankly for the lack of service, I should have the money I paid for this OnSite service/warranty refunded.
You can rest assured that I will tell everyone I know about the shitty service I've got from Alienware.
...
P.S. Since I didn't take notes at the beginning, not expecting problems, some of the dates and calls may not be exact, and I have a sneaking suspicion that I called more times than I documented here, but I can't recall them all, since nothing happened so many times. Perhaps Alienware has the calls logged or something. It might be interesting to see how many calls I omitted.

I have the call information now, somewhat, in the form of long distance records (I guess it's a good thing the toll- free number didn't work). Will post with the detailed time-line, when I get that together.