I must admit that I do complain about companies - it is my right as a UK citizen. However, I have not been so annoyed with a company that I am prepared to use all manner of Internet tools to make a very public statement.
This is a story of how companies should not treat their customers. Towards the end I will ask you to help me take this message to the wee, small corners of the Internet and show you how you can get your own back at businesses who refuse to listen to genuine customer complaints.
Acer Direct and Acer UK - please listen!
It all starts in January when I decide to buy a laptop computer from a UK company called Acer Direct. I have bought an Acer Laptop from them before and must say the product and service I received three years ago was fine - things do seem to have changed, though. The computer I bought was an Acer Aspire 5920 - it matched my requirements and I also requested that Office 2007 Small Businesses OEM Edition be added. I had set up my own company in December 2007 and wanted this package to help sort out some of my business processes. I asked for the OEM version just to keep costs down - this may have been a bad decision!
I suppose the first indication that customer support from Acer Direct may be bad came in the form of one of the customer support team, whose tone on the phone seemed to imply that he had better things to do than handle a £900 order from a customer - what an inconvenience customers must be for this organisation! I should have stopped there.
I asked him to add on the pre-delivery inspection as I didn't want to find any problems with the following and so have to return the computer:
Pre Delivery Inspection - Check for Missing Pixels, Patch with Critical
updates, load Software, check hardware. **** TAKES 2 DAYS ****
I ordered the computer in the afternoon and Acer Direct were able to send out the machine by lunchtime the next day. So much for the **** TAKES 2 DAYS ****
On opening my brand new Acer Aspire 5920, I flipped it over to put the battery in. I instantly heard a small rattling sound, which sounded like a loose screw or bit of plastic. Not wanting to take any risks I got in touch with Acer Direct and sent it back.
I asked Acer Laptops to refund the money for the pre-delivery inspection which is obviously a way to screw people out of 20 or 30 quid and, 3 months later, am still waiting.
When I got the machine back I decided that I would like to download a Word template from the Microsoft site. On trying to download the template I got told that I may be a victim of software counterfeiting.
Alarm Bells are now Starting to Ring
I continue to try to get in touch with Acer Direct, or is it Laptops Direct, and get nowhere as can be seen by this email:
I appear to be going around in circles with your company. After 3 telephone calls and 2 emails I am now told to go to a returns policy page. If you work in customer support you must have received an email I sent to you on the 21st:
This is my third attempt to get in touch with Acer Direct regarding problem software. I purchased a laptop from you a month ago - I have already had to return it because it wasn't properly checked and subsequently it was found to have a screw loose from the fan. I still haven't been refunded for this. I purchased Office Small Business 2007 from you on the same order and the machine came pre-installed with the software. The problem is that when I go to Mircrosoft to download a template I am told I don't have a Genuine product!! I thought that when I bought this product it would be genuine and not hooky! I have already spoken to one of your staff who said she would sort it out straight away - nothing happened. Last week I telephoned and left a message - nothing has happened. Could someone please sort this out as I don't want to be left with an obsolete product shortly? Surely a customer shouldn't have to repeatedly send emails and calls to your company without anything happening! And now you send me an email to a page to explain your returns policy.
I am not the one who sent out a "non-genuine" product - I simply had the misfortune to be sent one by your company.
Could you please send out a "Genuine" copy of the software I purchased - just like two of your colleagues said they would?
When I finally get to speak to someone about the problem they are very apologetic and seem to indicate that this may be a problem from Microsoft's end and it is not the first one they've seen.
Some days later and after considerable disruption to my own business - hell, I don't want to waste my time trying to sort out someone else's cock-up - the Office Small Business 2007 box arrives - without discs!
I then decide to contact Microsoft to see if they can help me out. According to Microsoft I still have a Non-Genuine Office product. This means that I cannot download any Microsoft Office templates. Here's part of the email I sent through to Acer Direct, after having spoken to the Microsoft Office people - still no response!
I have just had a lengthy conversation with Microsoft
and given them the details they requested. According to Microsoft the Product Id for the version of Microsoft Office on my machine is a retail one (didn't I buy an OEM one?) which does not match the product key that was sent through to me by post. They suggested that, in the first instance, I get in touch with the retailer to find out why this would be.
Guess what? I did get in touch with the retailer (Acer Direct). I sent out emails to all the contacts at Acer Direct I had and 8 weeks later I am still waiting for a reply.
And before you ask, yes I did try and get in touch with the headquarters of Acer UK and this is what Mark in customer services had to tell me:
I'm sorry to hear of your problems but this is not something we can help with as the software has been supplied by laptops direct not ACER so only they can deal with it as you have paid them for the programme.
I have now decided to use the power of the Web and all the Web 2.0 tools including Google AdWords - some friends of mine have received Google AdWords vouchers and will be using them to create ads that will raise awareness of this problem with the wider community and point people in to this article. Please, help me out by creating an anchor text link - like this one: Acer Direct - to this post. Press releases, forums and all manner of tools will now be used. If you're a blogger, please write about my misfortune and link to this page.
And if you're Acer Direct, please try and rectify the problem you created - at NO cost to myself!
**Update** - Google AdWords has now kicked in: