PCNation.com: Absolutely not recommended

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.

6 thoughts on “PCNation.com: Absolutely not recommended

  • May 9, 2001 at 1:22 am
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    You might consider playing hardball with PCAbomination. Seeing as their footdragging resulted in your inability to make a return by their rules, I’d tell them that they’re exchanging the monitor, or you’ll have your credit card company revoke the charge. I’m not all up on the details around the whole "unsatisfactory merchant experience" clause, but it seems to me that you ought to lose $50 at most on this debacle.

  • May 9, 2001 at 8:34 am
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    I’ve had to help out a few people with similar problems in the past. The best way that I’ve found to deal with this issue is, like Steve said, to first notify your credit card company.

    If that doesn’t fix the problem the file a complaint with the BBB. They can help you more than you think.

    As a last resort, drop the matter entirely. Call NEC directly and tell them what has happened. I’m not sure if they’ll replace a part that was damaged in shipping from the merchant, but it’s worth a shot.

    Usually number one works best. Merchants not getting their money has a way of making them rethink their customer service. I have only had to use number two twice in the past year. One time it worked. Number three worked when the part was obviously a manufacturer’s defect and not a shipping problem.

    Good luck. You’ll probably need it.

    Kill the French cow to get my real e-mail address.

  • May 9, 2001 at 10:12 am
    Permalink

    [sigh] boy, do I hear you. Had a similar experience with a Sony monitor I ordered from outpost.com. Came up with a few, new rules ‘o thumb as a result:

    1) order heavy, delicate items like monitors locally & go pick it up myself. After checking with friends & co-workers, I chose Next International (Farmers Branch, TX – a northern suburb of Dallas, since that’s the part of the country where I live). http://www.neqx.com/

    2) Follow Jerry Pournelle’s advice and don’t order certain items from a company unless you can get to them with a baseball bat ๐Ÿ˜‰

  • May 9, 2001 at 11:06 am
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    Lots of good advice. Like I’ve said many times before, I’ve got very smart readers and it pays to listen to them.

    Hopefully I’ll have time to go play hardball late this afternoon or tomorrow.

  • August 15, 2001 at 3:46 pm
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    Dave,

    I’m not sure exactly how all of this actually transpired but a few of your comments seem to be out of the ordinary and/or possibly inaccurate. If you attempted to reach PCNation using the Customer Service number listed at our site and you reached a "Foreign-accented guy" you must have incorrectly dialed the phone number. We have had the same customer service number for at least the last 5 years and our sales and customer service agents are screened to make sure that they speak perfect English. Additionally, you implied that you requested a return authorization form from our customer service dept. only to find "a few clauses I didn’t see on the website when I ordered". I’m not sure but it seems like you are implying that the return policy at our website somehow differs from the return policy we offer when a customer needs to return a purchase. Unfortunately your statement is misleading as the return policy at our site is EXACTLY the same as the return policy in effect when a return is processed. While it is always possible that our return policy may have changed between the time you placed your order and the time you requested a Return, it is unlikely as updates are rarely made to our return policy. I would guess that you simply didn’t notice the clauses in question at the time of your purchase and I would point out that your statement is sufficiently vague that you may already be aware of this possibility. As a final note you state that we have going for us "Slow order processing and shipment. No way of tracking the shipment. Misleading policies. Lousy customer service. Mediocre selection." The entire characterization is untrue but the icing on the cake is the "Mediocre selection". On any given day, we have OVER 100,000 items listed at our site from all major manufacturers. In fact, we have a much larger selection than probably 99% of our competitors.

    The unfortunate reality here is that you received a defective product and, as you graciously acknowledge here, it was through no fault of PCNation. Had you simply explained the situation to our of our Customer Care Agents, we would have jumped at the opportunity to make you a satisfied customer. We have very strong relationships with our manufacturers and vendors. It would have taken little more than a phone call from a PCNation representative to the manufacturer’s representative to arrange for an extension on the time frame required to process the return. I know this as I work in the customer service dept. here at PCNation.

    PCNation’s goal is to satisfy every customer when given the opportunity. That is why our internal customer service slogan is "The answer to every reasonable request is ALWAYS YES". I’d like to help you get a new monitor if you are still experiencing the same problem with the NEC monitor you purchased from us. You need simply call our customer service dept and ask to speak with me. (Try any of the toll-free phone numbers posted at our website. I’m sure you’ll find that they all work!) ๐Ÿ™‚

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