Dear Intertron

I don’t often ask you for things, so please come through for me here! I’m looking for two things; the first, a decent set of headphones or earphones that I can wear at the gym, the second, a good shop to buy running shoes. Caveats for the first, I have quite small ears, so this tends to be a problem for me – earphones *always* fall out, even the sennheiser ones that go right into your ear canal (which I own a pair of), so it needs to have some kind of attachment. Also, it needs to not get horrible with sweat (gym). For the second, it’d be nice if the shop were in the proximity of Croydon or Bromley, or in central London failing that. Seems my current shoes aren’t doing me any favours (just a generic pair of Reeboks) when I jog for more than around 15 minutes :/ Maybe some of you keen runners on pogo can help me? On a side-note, any gnome devs into gaming? My wonderful friend got me a 360 at the end of last year, so I’ve been banging away at that a lot… GamerTag ‘Cwiiis’.


Bad customer service

Seeing as people on pogo are posting about good experiences with companies, I thought I’d chime in with an experience I had with shitty (I refuse to link to them without some derogatory word in combination). Two companies I can recommend for computery things are (excellent returns service) and (all round excellent, and importantly, fast service). But that isn’t the topic of this post. It all started in 2005 when I ordered a PC from them. It was an AMD64 3200+, gig of dual-channel RAM, 120gig SATA2 drive, Geforce 6800, DVD writer… Pretty awesome at the time, and it let me play Doom 3 in high detail (which was, of course, a high priority). Every now and again, apps would exhibit weird effects (say, a vertex on a polygon being stuck off at some point in infinity, gcc randomly crashing, etc.) and after doing a RAM test, I found I had bad RAM. First problem, with the machine, not a biggie, they replaced it within a couple of weeks I think it was. They sent it to the wrong address, which I was very clear about in my messages, but it got to me eventually anyway. Two years pass (almost). A fan in the machine is making a God-awful noise and next time I boot, the BIOS warns me that the chip fan isn’t working. Open it up, sure enough it’s the fan on the northbridge that’s making all the noise – the sensor says it’s fluctuating between 0 and 10000rpm (it’s a 5000rpm fan), but most of the time it’s stationary. This isn’t any good, so I stop using the machine for now, in fear of permanent damage. This is where things start to take a turn for the worse. I realise that overclockers probably aren’t going to help me with this, so I contact Asus (the motherboard is still under warranty). Asus are very polite and respond extremely quickly (nice one Asus); they acknowledge that the Asus A8N-E was supplied with a dodgy batch of fans and they say they now use a lower speed fan (that hopefully isn’t liable to fail), but the only way I can get it replaced is if I send the entire motherboard to them (boo Asus). Alternatively, they tell me to contact the people that sold me the PC. To contact Overclockers, you need an order number – no exceptions. There are NO contact details for support if you don’t have an order number and if you contact their sales, they tell you to use their support form. Great. So after much digging (thanks Mum for being so well organised with my documents!), I (Mum) finds the invoice for the PC. At this point, I’m quite peeved at all the hassle this has caused me, so my e-mail manner isn’t going to be great. I’m not going to edit any of the e-mails (other than to remove identifying details) I paste here, so you get a good idea. I fill in the support form:

“The chipset fan on this motherboard has died – I contacted ASUS (the manufacturer) and they said that I should contact the motherboard dealer (you, I assume) to get a free replacement. The motherboard is an Asus A8N-E that was received as part of a complete built system I bought. The serial number is XXXXXXXXXX. My address is:
XXXXXXXXXXX If you cannot send a replacement, please advise on who I should contact to get one.”

They reply:

“Dear Chris Lord, Hello sir, we do not cover the warranty after 1 year, the rest is handled by Asus. Regards, Blitchard Yreen”

At this point, I’m thinking “Bugger this” and I cave and buy the equipment I need to fix it myself. A nice Zalman heatsink and some cleaning fluid and such. I’m not really into hardware, so I don’t particularly enjoy doing these things, I tend to end up with cut hands, aching joints, I’d really rather someone else do it. Anyway, the parts came and with the help of my friend Mark, we fit the new heatsink. To fit it, unfortunately, you have to remove the motherboard from the case (this is more to do with me having a crappy case than the process itself). I have an Arctic Cooling Silentium case, that among other things, has a nice silencing hard-disk caddy. This caddy comes with a special mount and is meant to be padded with foam or some nonsense like this… I’ve never really taken a good look inside the case before (yes, I did take the RAM out before, but it was just a quick in-and-out, I didn’t stop to look at anything else). I have to completely remove the motherboard though, so the hard disk (which is in the way) also has to come out. But what’s this? The hard disk is ‘secured’ with ELASTIC BANDS. Not the mount that the caddy’s meant to go into, but small, wide, but run-of-the-mill ELASTIC BANDS. Some people might not be that outraged at this, thinking that yeah, maybe that’s a valid way of mounting this caddy (no, it isn’t), but to demonstrate how poor a method this is, one of the TWO elastic bands holding it in place had already crumbled away; I assume from the heat and dust in the case, and the weight of the caddy. So yeah, what the hell is this? Not to mention that the overall build quality is just awful, no cables are tied back, the front-mounted USB/headphone ports aren’t hooked up, it feels very much like a rush-job. After I finish the job, the mount is almost impossible to access too, so I have to stick my drive in with duct tape (which is probably marginally more secure than the one elastic band that was there previously). I’m pretty pissed at this point, I’m aching from sitting on the floor for hours fitting this fiddly heatsink and I find out that I’ve been cheated out of components I paid for. So, I pen this e-mail to their support:

“Due to the chip-fan on the motherboard that you sold to me as part of a PC you built for me failed, I had to fit a new heat-sink (this was after I was refused support for my still-in-warranty motherboard from both you and Asus – thanks!) After taking apart the PC and fitting the heatsink, putting it back together, I find that it’s impossible to fit the hard-drive, due to MISSING PARTS. The build quality of this PC is shocking enough as it is, with wires all over the place, nothing tied back and only the minimal amount of wiring done (the front USB ports and audio ports aren’t wired to the mobo, for example), but now I find that there are pieces missing?! This isn’t the first problem I had with this computer either, originally it came with bad RAM too (which, in fairness, you replaced, although you sent it to the wrong address). Why did I even buy a PC from you? I could’ve gotten a better deal from Dell and their build quality far surpasses yours! I have NO idea how you managed to get a reputation as a good company, but I have found the quality of your service severely lacking. I would appreciate being sent the parts necessary to mount my hard-disk (It’s a Silentium T1 Pro case, as detailed at ). Obviously, you’ve forever lost my custom, but without any, somewhat adequate, resolution to this, I’ll be going out of my way to make sure that everyone I know, and everyone they know are educated on just how poor a company you are and that they mustn’t buy from you if they expect any kind of quality-of-service. I’ll also go through whatever channels necessary to make sure that I do finally get what I paid for. Regards.”

Yeah, ok, I could’ve kept a cooler head about this… At least I was classy enough to put the ‘Regards’ on the end. I may have gone a little over the top at this point, but I don’t think that warranted the reply I got:

“Dear Chris Lord, Hello, let me start by saying that the technical team of 2005 no longer exists, that all our PC’s that are built here are of the highest quality, value and performance. I do not appreciate you criticizing us on something that happened several years ago. How am I able to get screws or components for a case that has been out of production for a couple of years? Regards, Fitchard Spleen”

So yeah, pretty much “I don’t care, we’re not responsible for stuff that happened 2 years ago, get lost”. Gotta love how they don’t like me criticising their terrible service… I guess I wouldn’t like someone criticising me if I did a terrible job either… I reply with:

“I bought a computer from you in the latter half of 2005 and made a query for support for a failed chip-fan on the motherboard a week or two ago. You were not able to help (fair enough, I suppose) and ASUS wouldn’t replace the fan without me sending my entire motherboard to them, which would cost more than me just buying a superior replacement (which I did, and fitted). Having to dismantle my PC, however, I notice the hard-drive was secured by two elastic bands, one of which had already snapped! The case is a Silentium T1 Pro, that has a special caddy and chassis for silencing the hard-drive – except the mount for this is missing, so I have a caddy, a chassis and no way to secure the former to the latter. After looking up the manual for this case, I discovered that there are parts missing! This isn’t the first problem I’ve had with this PC either – originally it had bad RAM, and just the general build quality is very poor – no wires are tied back and only the power/hdd led and reset button are wired, not the front-mounted USB ports or audio jacks, despite the wires and internal sockets necessary for this being there. Discovering that I was actually supplied a PC with parts missing, never mind the general build quality, was the final straw for me, so I wrote a very angry e-mail to your support team. This is the reply I received: “Dear Chris Lord, Hello, let me start by saying that the technical team of 2005 no longer exists, that all our PC’s that are built here are of the highest quality, value and performance. I do not appreciate you criticizing us on something that happened several years ago. How am I able to get screws or components for a case that has been out of production for a couple of years? Regards, Sitchard Freen” Wow, so apparently a company is not responsible for its actions if they occurred just over 2 years ago? And also, ‘several’ has been redefined to ‘two’? Also, to top it off, this case is indeed still being manufactured and sold – I even provided a link in my original e-mail, and a quick google search shows that this is wrong: I would appreciate a resolution to this matter, as I have yet to receive the entirety of the product I paid for. Regards”

Again, maybe a little angrier than it should’ve been, but come on – I paid around £650 for this machine (it was just a base system, no peripherals, monitor, OS, etc.), I expect something decent for that money… Their reply:

“Dear Mr Lord, I can see your point but unfortunately we cannot do anything with a system from over 2 years ago. It is still up to the customer to ensure that they are satisfied with the build quality of the machine and then within a few days mtell us but after 2 years there really is nothing we can do. Regards, Dyan Spliff,
Supplier Returns Manager.”

This reply is at least polite, but really doesn’t help me. Any decent company would have been ashamed after hearing what happened, not aggressively defensive… Anyway, I give up at this point, there’s not really anything I can do – but I pen one last annoyed e-mail:

“It isn’t that there’s nothing you can do, but that there is nothing you’re willing to do. It says a lot that you’re comfortable selling PCs with missing parts and shoddy craftsmanship (elastic bands to hold in a hard drive?!), no matter how long ago it was; I guess I should be grateful that I didn’t find out about this after some permanent damage was caused. I guess I’ll have to see what else I can do.”

Their reply to this is priceless… Remember that I’ve said in previous mails that the hard-drive was secured with two ordinary rubber bands, one of which had crumbled away. I quote:

“Dear Sir, With all due respect some of the top cases on the market use twisted rubber bands as hard drive mounts, as long as the fixing is secure there is no reason to worry. In fact they offer much better protection to the drive than screws. However, the point still stands, there are no problems caused by the use of the bands so there is nothing that needs to be done. Regards,
Blott Gently
Sales and Customer Services Manager”

So yeah… I really don’t recommend getting anything from overclockers.