Saturday, August 01, 2009

Why it's a really good idea to have a geographical number

After spending a couple of hours last night looking at different sorts of laptops (including Alienware - hardware: wow, prices: eep!), Steve and I had narrowed the choices down to five reasonable options that more-or-less met my criteria and budget. So this morning, after the First Cup Of Tea but before the actual Getting Up process, we fired up his eeePC to have a fresh look at these options and see if I could choose which one I wanted.

Eventually we settled on an Acer Aspire 5738, one of the younger cousins of my current (unwell) Acer Aspire 5500. Despite the reduced price offer on laptopsdirect, it was a bit over my ideal budget, but had all my need/want features and looked like it would have the longest to run before it became obsolete.

However, there appeared to have been a data entry error on the technical specs. In one place, it said it had 3GB of RAM. In another place, it said it had 2GB of RAM comprising 1x1GB and 1x2GB, and while I know my maths won't win any prizes, even I can spot the problem there. And then, it encouraged us to phone them and ask about the "double memory offer" which would bring it up to 4GB...

Still, data entry errors happen, so I figured the best thing to do would be to phone and ask for the correct information - and then, depending on whether or not I liked the answers, buy it or start looking at the second-favourite.

Problem. The number to phone about the memory offer was an 0844, and the main site number was 0871, and at the moment Steve and I only have mobile phones available, and these non-geographical numbers are expensive for us to call and don't get included in our "free" minutes. The Contact Us page gave a company address and named the business not as laptopsdirect, but as BuyitDirect. So we googled them, hoping to turn up a geographical number for the business address (yes, I know, Say No To 0870, but their site confuses me, not least because the google ads look like site links).

Instead, we found a series of accounts of failure and f*ckwittery that made us certain of exactly one thing - we weren't going to be giving them any money any time soon.

I'll cheerfully admit to my own laziness/incompetence/impatience when I'm buying new kit while still in bed on a Saturday morning - if there had been a geographical phone number on the site, I wouldn't have bothered digging for information about the company, and thus wouldn't have found all the negative reviews. I'd have rung them up, cleared up the RAM issue, ordered a laptop, and given them the details to charge my card for rather more than five hundred of the finest British pounds sterling. Their loss.

There is a happy twist, though.

On a whim, rather than going to the second-choice laptop (which was with a different retailer), we put the complete catalogue number of my preferred laptop into google. And lo, we found the same laptop on SimplyAcer, and not only that, but it was significantly cheaper and brought the whole thing neatly back under budget. The company provided a postal address and a geographical phone number as their main contact details without any messing about, and a link to their parent company gives not only geographical phone number and postal address but also a little map and photographs of their shop premises, handily situated just up the road in Birmingham, so if there are any problems we'll be able to physically go there to sort it all out.

Eagerly awaiting a despatch email now, although not really *expecting* one until at least the beginning of the working week... have I mentioned lately that I love my G1?


evilstevie said...

(the reason for looking initially at laptopsdirect being that the current laptop came from there, with generally good prices and no problems apart from rather a lot of spam from 'Anna at' sporadically to the purchasing email address)
A most satisfying conclusion to the morning, I think :)


Madison Rose said...

Hello. Have I commented on your blog before? I'm not sure, but I've been following for a while, hi!

If adverts bother you, may I recommend the adblock plus add-on for firefox? I use it and it's great.

As for laptops, I think you said you bought one, but if not, I looooove my Dell 1737. and I've only heard good things about it. A tad pricey, but it does have smaller, cheaper relatives and I reckon they're all worth the money.

Mary said...

Hi Madison Rose! Yes, I think you have commented before, because I remember seeing your name and thinking "that's a really pretty name' and speculating about whether it was firstname/lastname or a double-barrelled firstname...

I have already bought my new laptop (should be here soon!) But I definitely need to learn more about firefox add ons. I just need to get past the bit of my brain that says "if you mess about with it, you'll BREAK it."