Thursday, March 27, 2008

Asus EEEPC. Unique problem? And a message for the supply chain...

My pursuit of an asus eeepc looked like it had resulted in success yesterday. A nice white one turned up as promised from ebuyer uk ltd. £250 plus a chunk for 'next day' delivery.
Sadly the small thing of beauty failed to er... function. Charged it up last night. Tried it for the first time at the Coach and Horses today (free wifi in Greek St, London) and found that while it sought and connected to wifi a treat, it did bugger all else.

Pretty much any click anywhere resulted in a frozen screen.

(Stick with this long-winded whine. There is a bigger-picture point in this somewhere...).

So I called ebuyer who started the returns process very efficiently (though still waiting to hear if they will actually pick up the offending article as their t&cs suggest) and put me through to tech support.
And tech support couldn't really help, didn't know enough about the model. But they gave me a number for Asus (0870 120 8340 in the UK).

And when I called them they seemed equally baffled. We tried the old reboot and reset factory settings thing and... no change.

The tech support team at asus claimed they had never heard of anything like my case (Dan Thornton picked up my tweets and kindly checked the eeepc wiki and forums to confirm that was likely to be true).

Lucky old me. I've been in a dash to get my hands on one of these since some twittering at the weekend because I want use it while in Berlin. I'm speaking at Mobile Internet on Monday (flying on Sunday) so...
What the hell to do now? It's a struggle to find these beasts at the mo. Tried ringing my local toysrus... out of stock, no idea when the next ones are in. PC World/Curry's et al... only stock them online with week-long delivery times.

So I found one tonight at which also offers to deliver on Saturday for a wince-inducing £24.95 extra. And they charge extra for using a credit card. No like.

Still, beggars can't be choosers etc. (or should that be customers stuck with faulty items in need of rapid replacement can't be choosers... can you see where this is going yet?)

Laptopsdirect offer a pre-delivery check for another chunk of cash. Seems odd to ask for cash to make sure the thing they are selling you is actually fit for purpose... but I'd been bitten once. So I was tempted... but surely I can't get two on the trot that are screwed?

Not even I could be that unlucky.
If that does happen (and Im sure there will be updates to this exciting story) I suggest you don't sit next to me on the flight from Stansted on Sunday night.

UPDATE (Mar 28) oh gee... shock of shocks, Laptopsdirect don't actually have any to fulfill my order CANCEL!!!. My return with ebuyer is now sorted to my convenience (well done ebuyer, minor moan, I did have to chase you some more...) So I found another supplier who responded to an email to say yes they had it in stock and yes they would get it delivered to me by 12noon tomorrow... can you wait? Company in question?

UPDATE 2 (Mar 29) come up with the goods. The next day delivery arrives at 10am, I charge up the eeepc and... it works. I'll be staying in touch with it while at that conference, after all. Top work efficentpc fellas!

Oh yeah, why this long, long moan?
Strikes me that playing your role as a consumer can be painful? Just way too painful at times. Why am I making all the running?

One - this started off with me screaming out into twitterland that I wanted one of these things. Asus should have acknowledged that - a chance to cash in on the intention economy. You'd think a maker of always on-always connected kit would do better...

Two, I wanted to find out how 'unique' my asus eeepc problem really was? So go ahead, share your experiences, share with others you think might have comments. And not just the bad stuff - rave if it's rave worthy. We often accuse the brands and the marketers of spin. Let's make sure we don't fall into the same trap as consumers.

Three: A message to the supply chain:
When we, your financial life-support system, have a faulty product that we've spent our hard earned cash on, we want a replacement when we need it. Not on your schedule or according to your rules. We don't want to distinguish between distributors and retailers - we don't give a damn for your distinctions... Honestly, we don't. Get used to it. Organise for it.

Wouldn't it have been nice if the girls at Asus had said, "look, we can see your problem. This is clearly such a rare and unusual case, you know what, instead of trotting out our usual 'we don't deal with the public (that'd be me then) line, and telling you to return our faulty goods to the retailer we supplied, we're going to courier you a replacement right now, to where-ever you are.
We'll worry about the return later. Our retailer has got your address and cash after all.

"You've got nothing but a broken laptop from us."

Wouldn't it be nice? Hello! Wouldn't it be reasonable?

Like Tomi and Alan say at Communities Dominate Brands: Companies from Mars, Customers from Venus.

The rate of change is so rapid it's difficult for one person to keep up to speed. Let's pool our thoughts, share our reactions and, who knows, even reach some shared conclusions worth arriving at?