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Friday, 10 Mar 2006 (Only #Computing and Internet)

Why shall I never again try to do business with Dabs.com? I'll tell you.

The quick precis version is: My experience with them was a complete wate of my time and energy.

The longer version is that I found their non-human ordering system a complete balls up. Items went No Longer Available only after I had placed an order. They claimed that I would be charged only when an item was shipped; this was not true. The order system claimed to let me adjust my order before it had shipped; in fact I had to send several electronic messages to get refunds for charges they had made for items that I was not going to receive. Their customer service seems to be almost exclusively an autoresponder with a lobotomy for a heuristic.

After going back and forth with emails I eventually received a reasonable and apologetic email from a real human who, refreshingly, had neither rocks for brains nor a plank up their arse; they advised me that all my money was going to be refunded to my credit card and this happened.

Dabs appeal, I think, because they have what appears to be a slick online catalogue and aggressive prices. The online catalogue might be okay but the implementation of a workable business process sucks out loud. The low prices are not worth the potential hassle if eveything does not go smoothly and the customer service system is the aggressive part of the Dabs experience.

Dabs are a case for the rule of thumb which states that you get what youy pay for.

Hear me now. I would advise that you do not try to buy from Dabs. If you do and it all goes pear-shaped, remember that I warned you, I told you so and I have no symapthy.

Monday, 2 Jan 2006 (Only #Computing and Internet)

Okay, I'm cross.

Look - I'm a busy bloke. No, I'm no trail-blazing CEO of a FTSE 100 company, but I have things to do, people to see and all that, just like lots of people.

I buy stuff. I actually take the time to research the stuff I buy - sometimes too much time. But when I research something, then buy it in good faith, then find it is lacking in some "duh"-obvious feature and I furthermore find that the company that makes it does not seem to care about the situation, well then I get mad.

This has happened. This is techno-nerd stuff, but I bought what should have been a super product called a network-attached storage appliance - an external hard disk that connects to your network via ethernet. Such a box of tricks is ideal for backups and for sharing music files on your home network, say.

I ordered a particular device from an online supplier called Insight (http://uk.insight.com). The particular device I ordered was not available so I took the alternative suggested by my account manager. I explained what I was looking for and the alternative - a Buffalo LinkStation Network Storage Center with 250 GB of disk - seemed just right.

Now this hard disk device is pretty cool. It works on Windows and Mac networks. It is quite easy to set up and use, and it has buckets of disk space that is quite quick to access... except when your network uses a Windows domain, rather than a bog standard peer-to-peer network, in which case it is pants. Guess what? I have a Wndows server managing a Windows domain.

But how was I to know this? Product specs? Documentation? No.

Now, I had been thinking, why was my workstation on the domain failing to work with the device, while my occasionally attached (and non-domain) laptop worked fine with it? The penny finally dropped, I checked a couple of techie web sites and found out that indeed a Windows domain was no place for this particular storage device. No matter that the product's admin interface includes a place where you should enter the domain name of your Wndows domain if the device is to be used in such an environment - that's just a bare-faced lie.

But heck, I have to check for sure - after all, this is bloody ridiculous - so I call the Buffalo Technologies tech support, take time that I'd rather be spending with my children speaking to a man called Sven in Holland (okay, I cannot remember his real name) who resignedly admits that this is a genuine limitation of the device, I'm not the first to call about this problem and he doesn't know why management have not done something about it. I said, "I'd sort of hoped you would tell me it's a known problem but there is a new firmware upgrade that fixes it." But he said that there was no such fix and that's just the way it is at the moment. So - we arrange for me to submit a formal product complaint so that I can get my money back from Insight.

No-one wins in this situation. I am sure that the interim interest on the profit that Buffalo got from my purchase wil be outweighed by the cost of them settling the issue. Insight lose time and money and, let's face it, credibility with me. I've lost valuable time - which equates to money. Oh yes, I've learned something, but frankly I would rather not keep learning that the world is full of duplicitous twats in marketing. Well, perhaps my valuable lesson can help you, dear reader.

As a result, I have decided that I will not be buying any product bearing the Buffalo marque again. I will make it one of my small personal missions to spread my negative news about this company as far as I can.

So why am I behaving so childishly? If Buffalo had made it plain that the device would not work in a Windows domain environment, then I would not have bought the ruddy thing. And to hear that their management knows about the problem and are so far doing nothing about it really pisses me off stupendously. So I am bloody well going to get my money's worth. Screw them.

I have also formally advised Insight of the limitation with this product and told them that I expect them to revise their product notes for the Linkstation. I wonder if they will pay heed to my advice. I lie: I don't wonder at all; I categorically expect them to do bugger all. Watch this space for updates.

Happy new year!

Friday, 1 Apr 2005 (Only #Computing and Internet)

There's a new Question internet service provider that offers "Global Internet Access" yada yada...
Sign up for the world's premier global Internet roaming service powered by BouncingFish and iPass. Ideal for road warriors and businesses with mobile workers, global Internet roaming connects you to the Internet, email, and mission critical information � with a local call � throughout 150 countries* and thousands of locations worldwide.

There you go - looks fair enough. For some dashy-rashy corporate execs, this might even be a useful service.

But the name... I ask you... "Bouncing Fish" takes the concept of a meaningless name to a new level. It's just stupid and, dare I say it, a little too dot-com 1990s for me.

No... maybe I should just get aboard the bandwagon and start my own new company with a silly name. How about "Cartwheeling Donkey", "Dancing Peacock", "Capuccino Monkey" or "Fidgetting Squirrel"? Or even "Tinned Peach"? Or maybe just "Total Crap".

I despair sometimes, I really do.
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