Don’t order from PCNation.com. That was the outfit I got my NEC 19″ monitor from. I won’t call them a PriceWatch bottom-feeder, since I’m not sure if they advertise on PriceWatch, and they did actually ship product. I made the mistake of waiting out my slightly-damaged NEC FE950+ monitor to see if its defect was indeed only cosmetic. PCNation offers a so-called 30-day return policy, so I figured I’d give it about three weeks. Big mistake. I should have made them eat the monitor.
I suspected the monitor’s settings were drifting on me. But after I reset everything to 50%, which should theoretically give you an acceptable display on any new monitor, I indeed got an acceptable display. Not as brilliant as it could be, but better than any cheapie, certainly, and with little or no drift. But the flaw didn’t get any less annoying with time. So I called the customer service number on the Web site. I have no idea who the foreign-accented guy was I talked to, but his business sure didn’t have anything to do with computers. So, out of options, I e-mailed their customer service. Six days later, rather than getting a response to my query, I got their true customer service policy (which has a few clauses I didn’t see on the Web site when I ordered, and it also has a different phone number than the one listed on the Web site). The most important bit: All returns must be completed within 30 days of the invoice date. Not the date of receipt. And by completed, they mean the returned box is in their hands, delivered.

Let’s do the math. The order is shipped. The clock starts ticking. Five days later you receive it. You have a problem. It takes customer service a week to respond with their policy. You re-describe the problem. A week later you get an RMA. You ship the product. It takes them five days to receive it. Their 30-day return policy ends up having closer to six days’ usable time. Better hope you find your problem fast. (I found it and I didn’t act on it right away–so much for good faith. No good deed goes unpunished…)

And on top of that, if you order something from them, count on it taking two weeks for you to receive it. It took them more than a week to process my order. Then when they shipped it, there was no confirmation e-mail and their Web page didn’t provide a tracking number. The only way I knew the thing had been shipped was my incessant checking of my order status. Finally the order showed up, with no warning.

Seems to me your best bet would be to immediately start the ball rolling on getting a return the day you place the order. That way you’ll have 20-25 days to make sure everything’s OK.

So, what do they have going for them? Slow order processing and shipment. No way of tracking the shipment. Misleading policies. Lousy customer service. Mediocre selection. The only thing these chumps have going for them is price. I will assume that they didn’t deliberately ship a bum monitor to me. Unlike the very worst of the worst, they did at least ship something, and unlike the worst of the worst, it was what I ordered.

Looks like you have to know how to deal with them. You know what? You’re better off ordering from someplace reputable that takes care of their customers. Mwave.com’s prices are almost as good, they don’t play bait and switch with their policies or their phone number, their customer service is pretty quick, and more importantly, the people are courteous and reasonable. I knew better, and I did the dumb thing anyway.

In retrospect, I should have called them first, before I ordered anything. Not getting the right number would have tipped me off straight up that something wasn’t kosher. Hearing the real return policy would have been another tip-off. When dealing with a strange, new vendor, you can’t know too much. Learn what you can before plunking down your credit card. Check Resellerratings.com (that I did–they turned out OK there). It also wouldn’t hurt to do a Web search on them, and a Usenet search (DejaNews is your friend, and it’s back and better than ever).

But hey, let’s look at the bright side. Now you know not to order from them, and why. And I’ve got a slightly imperfect NEC monitor, but seeing as I’d rather have an NEC monitor that’s been run over by a bus than any other brand, I can live with that.

I get ripped off so you don’t have to. This time.

Tags: