A cautionary tale

Three names to avoid – Internet Buyer Direct, Student computers, Communication4. They all seem to be the same firm man, operating from somewhere1 in the West Country. They sell refurbished notebooks and other computers, also a wide range of laptop batteries, which is how I came in contact with them.

I ordered a thinkpad battery on September 22 2005, paying, like an idiot, by direct debit. The web site promises that everything will be shipped within five days, or else customers will be told.

A fortnight later, on October 6th, I had heard nothing and had no battery. I looked on the web site for a contact number; found a form, but no telephone. Filled out the form. I have still heard nothing from that. I rang the sales line, and got an answerphone. At this stage I was certain I had been conned. After four more calls to the sales line answerphone, I got someone called Stewart, who sounded helpful, but harassed. “This is our busiest time of year”, he said: “there’s a bit of a backlog.” He took my number and promised to get back to me. Later that afternoon, someone did get back to me, and said that the goods would be dispatched within the next three or four days. I said this wasn’t good enough, since the promise was to dispatch within five days, or to tell me. He said they would do what they could.

Later that afternoon, I had an email claiming the goods had been dispatched. They still haven’t arrived, six days later. They are supposed to have been sent by recorded delivery. So I rang Stewart on the sales line again, who said he would get in touch with the battery department. I asked him for a phone line to speak to them direct. He said, no, I had to fill out a form on the web site. He took my number, though, and promised to ring back. I said I wanted the tracking number when he did. He said this could be impossible. Obviously, I suspect that this will show the package, if posted at all, was posted yesterday.

There matters rest. But because I was unable to find more than one reference in Google to the phrase “Studentcomputers.co.uk sucks” I thought I would write this for posterity.

UPDATE. The battery was actually delivered on Thursday 13th, posted 1st class on the 12th, six days after I had the email claiming that it had been sent. On the back there is a sticker identifying the sender as “S Carpenter” of Trevithick Manor Farm. I can’t help wondering if this is the “Stewart” who answers the sales line when the answerphone is switched off. If he is one man pretending to be three companies — “I’ll have to refer that to our battery division” — as seems likely, then he needs to learn about the importance of telling customers the truth and dealing quickly and straghtforwardly with their queries.

1 From their invoice: Internet Buyer Direct (www.studentcomputers.co.uk), Communication4 Trading as Internet Buyer Direct, 24 KINGSWOOD PARK AVENUE, PLYMOUTH, DEVON, PL3 4NQ, UNITED KINGDOM VAT No : 841 2340 62

But see also Internet Buyer Direct (www.studentcomputers.co.uk), Communication4 Trading as Internet Buyer Direct, Trevithick Manor Farm, Trevemper, Cornwall, TR8 4QD, UNITED KINGDOM VAT No : 841 2340 62 from the delivery note.

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3 Responses to A cautionary tale

  1. acb says:

    UPDATE: I had a letter last week from Simon Carpenter, which I reproduce below:

    I would be grateful if you could remove the page .
    I apologize if you received poor service, back then the business was simply young at the time and we were learning as we where growing, making do with what we had. For sure, there would have been no intention to deceive or trick. We have always tried our best and were working crazy hours back then.
    We try very very hard to provide quality service and I do think we provide it, so I would be grateful if this page, going back 3 years, could now be retired.
    Thank you in anticipation of your consideration

    Simon Carpenter

    Communication 4 LTD

    I wrote back saying that I wasn’t going to remove the page, since it recorded my experience truthfully, but that I would put his letter in as a comment, so that people coming here from Google would see that he had a different perspective and now expects to satisfy all his customers. I have no opinion or experience of the firm’s current behaviour.

  2. Brian says:

    Its a good way to warn others I suppose, its not nice when you have been ripped by a company, still it was like 2005 maybe they have changed since then.

    Britec http://www.britec.co.uk

  3. acb says:

    They may have done. I have no evidence either way.

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