Thursday, May 06, 2004

Acceptable Anamolies

A friend of mine recently bought a laptop directly from the manufacturer. It was a very high-end laptop with all of the bells and whistles, including wireless, etc., and he paid a premium for it. When the laptop arrives it had a couple of dead pixels. No sweat, right? Just call up customer service and they'll replace it for you. WRONG!

Several attempts into getting Cust. Serv. to replace it for him all ended up with a response of "Sorry, but that is considered an acceptible anomaly" He checked around, and as it turns out, he discovered that most manufacturers will not exchange a laptop with less than half a dozen dead pixels. I guess they claim that Q/A is too hard to get that level of quality.

The irony is, if you bought the same device from a big reatil chain, you could have brought it back in without any hassles for an exchange. I bought a camera and printer back in January. I specifically bought it then to take advantage of a rebate offer, but I didn't start to print pictures until recently. I was going to by it from a smaller regional retailer, but I got a national chain to price-match, and I bought it there instead. I noticed that the print quality sucked. So I called the store. They told me that I could talk to the manager and if he felt it was justified, I could get a refund or an exchange for the printer.

The fact that 90+ days post-purchase that they would even consider this is a testimony to their effort on customer service. I guess maybe that the difference between the big chains and the manufacturer direct sales and their respective approaches to customer services reflect the fact that if the manufacturers lose out on the retail business, they are still generating revenue from sales to retailers. While the retailers want you to be a lifelong customer. Because if you leave, who will buy from them?

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