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Thread: Velocity Micro - beware of their customer service

  1. #1

    Velocity Micro - beware of their customer service

    Please take note of my below experience with Velocity Micro.. I sent them this letter today.

    January 3, 2008


    Randy Copeland
    President & CEO
    Velocity Micro, Inc.
    7510 Whitepine Road
    Richmond, VA 23237

    Dear Mr. Copeland,

    I am not normally inclined to write negative letters to companies; this letter represents my first such effort. Why start now, you may ask? Simply put, I am so completely awestruck by the deadly combination of poor product quality and laughably arrogant customer support that I feel compelled to document my experience – not just to indulge my urge to complain directly, but rather to serve as a possible Harvard Business Review case study of exactly how to comprehensively frustrate and alienate a customer.

    The Background
    In June 2006, tired of the big box stores and the oligarchy of PC manufacturers with their pre-cluttered desktops, I conducted research and decided to purchase my custom dual-core Vision PC from Velocity Micro. The reputation for customer service and quality was the deciding factor. Soon I would come to scoff heartily at this mistaken impression.

    The Disaster
    Let’s move ahead to October 2007. After 16 months of perfect use, my PC boots up with the “blue screen of death” and then, on the next reboot, dies completely. I send my PC to Velocity Micro’s service department, fully aware that the one-year warranty has now elapsed, yet expecting that customer service might be able and willing to help, given the obvious component failure so soon after purchase. “Maybe they’ll waive the labor”, I thought at the time. Yeah, right. Here’s how events unfolded.

    The Diagnosis
    Joe from tech support explains that the motherboard mysteriously died. He tells me I need a new motherboard. I have had PCs since 1982, going back to my old Apple II+, and I have never experienced motherboard failure in 16 months. Or ever.

    The Screwing
    Joe then tells me, quite unsympathetically, that the current CPU and RAM have been discontinued, and therefore they won’t fit the new motherboard. So, I have to get a new motherboard, CPU, and RAM. With three hours of labor, the cost comes to $962. All this just 16 months after purchase.

    The Jerk
    My next conversation was with Joe’s supervisor, David, who became extremely arrogant and argumentative when I suggested that a low-quality defective part had been used in my computer. When a motherboard fails after 16 months of normal use, that is pretty much the empirical definition of poor quality and/or defective. David, however, felt that I should simply overlook this little anomaly and perhaps just laugh it off, and he spared no effort in being as obnoxious as possible. He strongly believed that I should feel satisfied with puking up nearly $1000 just 16 months after buying a $2700 desktop.

    The Tormenting
    The following week, Joe called me back to tell me that the computer was ready to go. He told me that he saved all the data on my C drive except for 2 GB of data files. I asked what the 2 GB were – what was the associated program, what was the file extension, can you please give me any useful information, and his reply was “Sorry, I forgot to write it down.” I know data recovery isn’t guaranteed, but your tech support could at least remember to jot down important notes like the types of files that can’t be saved.

    The Huckabee-Like Grasp of Science
    Further annoyed, I contacted Jessica Blackwell, who is endowed with the ironic misnomer of “Director of Customer Care.” We played phone tag for nearly a week. Her first two attempts to return my call came after 6 pm Eastern Time, which is the time zone we both share. I guess all this “customer care” has her pretty swamped. Once we finally spoke, her first suggestion was that the motherboard failure was probably my own fault – I learned that Velocity Micro PC’s are part of an exclusive group of special aristocratic computers whose “delicate genius” is threatened by regular old peasant electricity. Apparently a mysteriously undetected voltage surge was the probable culprit in her wildly speculative mind. Nevermind the fact that my high-end home theater system and 25 years of PC usage have never been victimized by rogue voltage spikes before. And nevermind the fact that I have a $100 surge protector anyway. This pseudoscientific nonsense was almost as absurd as the continued denial that I had obviously been sold a defective motherboard.

    More Tormenting
    Jessica finally agreed, in a voicemail, to credit me back $125. I returned her call in early December to discuss it with her and left a voicemail since she never picks up the phone, but she has not called me back. I guess she wasn’t serious, or she perhaps had gotten burnt out from all her “customer care”. So, to this day, I have not received the credit.

    Conclusion
    The $125 credit is quite meaningless on a $962 repair on a computer that was 16 months old and just 4 months out of warranty. One would expect that a company with a good reputation for customer service would regret that a customer had endured this little surprise and make a token effort to do something – pretend to care, maybe waive the labor fee, perhaps actually return phone calls in a timely manner and follow through on promised credits. Not Velocity Micro however. More satisfying to me at this stage would be an admission that the motherboard was defective, that your tech support and “customer care” people are extremely subpar (at best), and that I am fully justified in feeling thoroughly and savagely screwed. Thanks for this learning experience. Hopefully the next custom PC manufacturer will do a better job.

    Best wishes on continued success in defrauding customers,
    Brian Zeiler
    3929 Old Atlanta Station Drive SE
    Smyrna, GA 30080
    404-xxx-xxx
    bdzeiler@xxx.com

    Re: Order # 206225, June 7, 2006
    Expired Warranty # 816865


    Cc: Jessica Blackwell
    PC Magazine Editor
    PC World Editor
    Half a dozen online forums
    Everybody I know

  2. #2
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  3. #3
    Join Date
    Mar 2002
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    west Lothian, Scotland.
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    1. Warranties are just an attempt by the seller to convince the buyer that this is all they have a right to.
    But that is not so. Your LEGAL rights almost certainly guarantee you more.

    2. Here in Scotland UK we have a right that an item be "Fit for the purpose for which it is intended" for 5 years.
    If an item has failed within the 1st six months, the buyer can demand a full refund and the the seller must either prove that there is no problem with the item or else pay up.
    The buyer need not prove anything.
    Beyond the 6 months and up to 5 years it gets a little more complicated.
    You the buyer would need to prove your case, and would then have the right to expect the seller to compensate you, or replace or repair the faulty item.
    Compensation great enough to buy a new item might be reduced by the value of the use of the item enjoyed thus far.
    Or else you might be expected to pay part of the cost of replacement.
    Or else they might repair the item at no cost to you.
    If the seller refused to make an offer you found acceptable, you could take out a small claims action at the local Sheriff Court.

    3. What's the law on the subject in your part of the world?

    4. When I took a company [Comet] to the Small Claims Court, before the event, I sent all communications in the form of letters sent by "Recorded Delivery" so as to be able to present those as evidence.
    In my case it was a washing machine that suffered a major breakdown after about 27 months. The whole drum and tub had to be replaced.
    The outcome was that Comet agreed to pay what it cost me to have an independent repairer fix the machine. The repairer provided me with a short written report on the nature of the problem and the fact a repair was essential.

    5. Don't just complain and feel aggrieved [I know how it feels and have done it too]; take action...LEGAL action.

    6. But in your communications...
    Keep your language businesslike and strictly correct.
    Don't give in the the emotional temptation to wax lyrical as you did in the letter above.
    Remember that what you say/write may be quoted/read for all to hear, and you may later blush at your own words.
    Have someone reasonably independent that you trust read your words and suggest changes.
    Perhaps a secretary/typist?
    Last edited by Sylvander; 01-04-2008 at 04:59 AM.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Jul 2002
    Location
    Minn
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    17,373
    Motherboards can fail for all sorts of mysterious reasons that are not necessarily the fault of the company and 16 months is a very long time in computers... While I think that most customer service efforts are pretty pathetic and that most customer service reps have an impressive ability to ignore most of what they are told, I am not sure that you were mistreated in this case... I would suggest that you check with PC Guide or a similar forum, if something like this happens again, to do problem solving and see what your option might be... Paying a company you don't trust $1000 to build you a computer is probably not your best option...

    All of that said, given that you are new to PC Guide and you apparently joined just to bash this company, we have no way to know if you are an injured customer or if you have some other agenda in mind... Have you posted in forums where you are already known??
    Budfred ..... Caveat Emptor....

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  5. #5

    ditto

    I have had a simply awful experience with Velocity Micro, and I ended up writing to the President Randy Copeland today. The difference is that I bought my Campus Edition in 9/07 and ended up sending it back for a different model because the problems were so bad. Then, the replacement model did not work right. Both times, Velocity Micro sent out local techs to "fix" the problems, and the "fix" never worked. I STILL don't have a computer from them that works right - four months after buying from them.

    The success of Velocity Micro seems to have created some huge customer and tech support problems for them. STAY AWAY!! DO NOT BUY FROM VELOCITY MICRO (at least until they solve their significant tech support and customer support problems).

  6. #6

    P.s.

    I just joined after finding this Velocity Micro post. I actually did a google search for "Randy Copeland Velocity Micro" while writing my letter to him and stumbled on this forum. I did not join to "bash" - just to corroborate a negative experience and hopefully learn some things from you folks. Thanks.

  7. #7
    Quote Originally Posted by Sylvander View Post
    1. Warranties are just an attempt by the seller to convince the buyer that this is all they have a right to.
    But that is not so. Your LEGAL rights almost certainly guarantee you more.

    2. Here in Scotland UK we have a right that an item be "Fit for the purpose for which it is intended" for 5 years.
    If an item has failed within the 1st six months, the buyer can demand a full refund and the the seller must either prove that there is no problem with the item or else pay up.
    The buyer need not prove anything.
    Beyond the 6 months and up to 5 years it gets a little more complicated.
    You the buyer would need to prove your case, and would then have the right to expect the seller to compensate you, or replace or repair the faulty item.
    Compensation great enough to buy a new item might be reduced by the value of the use of the item enjoyed thus far.
    Or else you might be expected to pay part of the cost of replacement.
    Or else they might repair the item at no cost to you.
    If the seller refused to make an offer you found acceptable, you could take out a small claims action at the local Sheriff Court.

    3. What's the law on the subject in your part of the world?

    4. When I took a company [Comet] to the Small Claims Court, before the event, I sent all communications in the form of letters sent by "Recorded Delivery" so as to be able to present those as evidence.
    In my case it was a washing machine that suffered a major breakdown after about 27 months. The whole drum and tub had to be replaced.
    The outcome was that Comet agreed to pay what it cost me to have an independent repairer fix the machine. The repairer provided me with a short written report on the nature of the problem and the fact a repair was essential.

    5. Don't just complain and feel aggrieved [I know how it feels and have done it too]; take action...LEGAL action.

    6. But in your communications...
    Keep your language businesslike and strictly correct.
    Don't give in the the emotional temptation to wax lyrical as you did in the letter above.
    Remember that what you say/write may be quoted/read for all to hear, and you may later blush at your own words.
    Have someone reasonably independent that you trust read your words and suggest changes.
    Perhaps a secretary/typist?
    Thanks for the reply.

    Here in the US, it's mostly state law that governs these types of consumer transactions. For basic consumer purchases there's really little protection - it's known as "caveat emptor" (buyer beware). Auto purchases have a "lemon law" allowing consumer recourse, but unless the transaction violates standard contract law, there's not much recourse. That's my non-lawyer understanding.

    At any rate, I don't want or need anything from them. I swallowed my pride and paid for the repair since I needed it quickly, and the PC is working fine again... but I sure as heck won't do any more business with them.

  8. #8
    Quote Originally Posted by Budfred View Post
    Motherboards can fail for all sorts of mysterious reasons that are not necessarily the fault of the company and 16 months is a very long time in computers... While I think that most customer service efforts are pretty pathetic and that most customer service reps have an impressive ability to ignore most of what they are told, I am not sure that you were mistreated in this case... I would suggest that you check with PC Guide or a similar forum, if something like this happens again, to do problem solving and see what your option might be... Paying a company you don't trust $1000 to build you a computer is probably not your best option...

    All of that said, given that you are new to PC Guide and you apparently joined just to bash this company, we have no way to know if you are an injured customer or if you have some other agenda in mind... Have you posted in forums where you are already known??

    I joined to bash!! It's not just an outlet to vent... one of the greatest advantages of the internet is the ability of consumers to share information and review vendors for better or worse. I feel thoroughly sodomized from this experience and want others to know just how they treated me.

    Even if I were to grant the motherboard failure as being simply the luck of the draw, the fact of the matter is that their customer service - through various levels and points of contact - was absolutely horrific.

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Jul 2002
    Location
    Minn
    Posts
    17,373
    Yes, their customer service may have been bad... There are numerous examples of really bad customer service noted in various threads in this forum... However, most of them come from our long standing members, not from someone on a mission to trash a company because they had a bad experience... If you want to have an impact, I suggest you visit sites like this one and post your review there instead of putting it in forums all over the web...

    http://www.resellerratings.com/

    Again, we have no way of knowing if you had this experience or if you are a competitor out to hurt the reputation of a rival company... We don't know you and that means you have little credibility...
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  10. #10
    Join Date
    Jun 2001
    Location
    IL. USA
    Posts
    2,089
    Let’s move ahead to October 2007. After 16 months of perfect use, my PC boots up with the “blue screen of death” and then, on the next reboot, dies completely. I send my PC to Velocity Micro’s service department, fully aware that the one-year warranty has now elapsed
    I agree with Budfred!

    Velosity Micro had no obligation to fix your PC after your warranty expired, and you chose to have them fix it so you pay the bill for parts and labor. You could have had anyone repair the PC or repaired it yourself

    Joe then tells me, quite unsympathetically, that the current CPU and RAM have been discontinued, and therefore they won’t fit the new motherboard. So, I have to get a new motherboard, CPU, and RAM. With three hours of labor, the cost comes to $962. All this just 16 months after purchase.
    You must have bought an outdated PC to start with.

    If I had to replace the motherboard, processor, and RAM in my PC it would cost about $1400. ($979.99 for just the CPU)

    Quote Originally Posted by Sylvander
    Warranties are just an attempt by the seller to convince the buyer that this is all they have a right to.
    But that is not so. Your LEGAL rights almost certainly guarantee you more.
    That may be true in the UK but it doesn't apply here. Over here about the only way anything is covered past its manufacturers warranty is if it causes personal injury, property damage, or death.
    Last edited by rond36; 01-05-2008 at 08:55 AM.
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  11. #11
    Join Date
    Feb 2002
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    Nor'East USA
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    Brian,
    Stick around here and for next time you'll know how to do it yourself to save all the labor costs as many here have, including myself.

    Also the warranties on individual components such as motherboards and hard drives are 3 years rather than a normal 'one' with retail and custom vendors. This way, if Joe was correct, your motherboard would have been covered in that (approximately) 18 months time.
    There's no place like 127.0.0.1

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