Laptop hassles, and the state of retail

OK, so my laptop hassles continue into their 4th week. In mid-July I ordered a replacement cable from an online retailer; I ordered a cable that their website said would work with the Toshiba M35 series (I have the M35X-S149). A few days later, the cable came, but it’s not the right one. So I got them to issue a pickup, I sent the cable back, and expected the correct one to be sent out immediately, which is what the phone operator said would happen.

10 days pass.

Still nothing.

So I look, and my checking account has been credited for the original order, minus a restocking fee. WTF?

I call them back, they say they will refund the restocking fee, which of course takes 5-7 business days to show up. Meanwhile, I’m still here, waiting for a laptop that will work. So I ask the guy if there is anything he can do to expedite the order, as all I’ve ever wanted is a cable that works. He puts me on hold for several minutes, during which my cellphone dropped the call. I call him back, and leave a voicemail saying to call me back to let me know what’s up.

Another week passes.

So today, I call back to find out what’s up, and they tell me they cannot refund the restocking fee. Excuse me? I’ve already been promised that refund. So after going round for 30 minutes, he finally agrees to refund the restocking fee, but the correct cable I need is out of stock now. Of course. So I just told him to refund it and I’ll go elsewhere for the order.

Now, call me crazy. But I have an extensive background in retail. Whenever we made a mistake, we would always do backflips to make it right. Is retail changing that much? I had a similar unhelpful retail experience the last time I ordered computer gear online. Perhaps it’s just that I’m ordering stuff online; without an angry customer screaming in the face of an employee, it’s easier for a phone operator to go by the book, and stick to “company policy.” And of course, the fundamental policy of any company is to extract as much cash as possible from its customers, while minimizing its expenses in relentless pursuit of profit. Mechanistic thinking at its finest.

So, I think now I’m off to the place where I got the laptop, to have them look at it and see what they can do with it. I should have done this weeks ago.

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