Episode 91 – Off the Grid

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No internet, a falling out with Amazon. and a broken Android phone. It’s all go here!

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Amazon UK and the case of the missing Customer Care

It’s been a frustrating week for many would be TouchPad owners.

When HP announced that they were discontinuing their tablet sales, most people were aware that there would be some sort of promotional activity to clear the million unsold units sitting in warehouses all round the world.

So, last Monday HP announced a reduction to $99 of it’s 16gb model. I tried like many others to buy a unit from US online retailers. I though I had succeeded with Barnes and Noble, but they rejected the card and then emailed me with an out of stock apology.

Things then started to move with UK retailers.

Dixons, Currys, and PC World were the first to move, then Carphone Warehouse, then Best Buy. At every turn I was foiled, I either got there too late, or the websites collapsed under the strain and my basket emptied. At about 10pm the only major retailers left who had not reduced prices were Argos, play.com, and Amazon. John Lewis had sold their units earlier, but stocks were very low. One online retailer, MISCO, mysteriously lost 200 units of stock at the full price, which then miraculously reappeared on eBay under a pseudonym.

It was now 11pm, and I then made the conscious decision to buy a Touchpad from Amazon at full price, with the option of returning it within 30 days if no refund was forthcoming. After I had gone to bed, in fact 5 minutes after, at midnight, Amazon reduced all their prices. Dozens of lucky, tired shoppers managed to add one to their basket at the special £89 price.

By next morning all retailers had reduced their prices. Play ran out very quickly, and the bricks and mortar stores were inundated with plucky shoppers. One of my fellow tweeters had his sons queuing up at 6am, strategically placed outside 2 Carphone Warehouses. Unfortunately all the stock had gone before they opened? The Internet became awash with stories of reserved items disappearing, some stock not being reduced, and tales of some unscrupulous customers walking away with multiple units for resale on eBay.

eBay kicked off with units fetching well over £200. That was the only option left to many shoppers.

By Tuesdays close, something strange happened at Amazon. Remember all those successful purchases. Many were cancelled. No explanation, no apology. Then one, by one, all the retailers started to email customers that had purchased Touchpads at full price, with an offer of a partial refund to cover the price drop. This was on the back of an announcement by HP that they would be rebating all retailers with the reduction, those retailers, most of them small, who didn’t want to do this, could return all their stock to HP.

So, well done to Dixons, PC World, Currys, Tesco, Dabs, and even Play.com ( after a bit of customer pressure). The one retailer who hasn’t complied yet at time of writing is Amazon UK. This is despite the US parent, offering to do this from nearly the beginning. So one full week later, my touchpad has arrived, but is sitting all forlorn on a cupboard, unopened, ready to be returned.

This could be my last ever purchase from Amazon. Sorry Amazon, but before this, I truly though you were one of the best online retailers on the planet. Perhaps I am being too harsh, but I’ve never known a retailer of this size to be completely out of step with everybody else.

I am waiting now to an email that I sent to the managingdirector@amazon.co.uk , a Christopher North. I suggest that you do the same, if you had your Touchpad cancelled, or you are waiting for a partial refund.

I’ll let you know what happens!

Edit: it’s now Thursday 1st September and Amazon STILL haven’t made a decision!

Episode 90 – The Great Touchpad Hunt!

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Wasted hours trying to get a £99 Touchpad today. Wether I’ve succeeded, we’ll have to wait and see!

Sponsor: Carbonite.com 15 Day Free Trial. Get yours today at Carbonite.com!

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