wnd's weblog

DealExtreme trouble

21 Feb 2008 10:01:04 misc

Online shopping can be a breeze. However, then things go awry, things may be a bit difficult to make right. Fortunately even Chinese online stores can indeed make things right. They’re just not making it too easy.

DealExtreme is an online shop in Hong Kong selling cheap junk and shipping worldwide, free of charge. While they may not have the latest hi-tech gadgets like ThinkGeek, their prices are simply unbeatable.

I first heard of DealExtreme (DX) on #maemo at Freenode when someone was looking for battery packs. Wanted to use a CompactFlash memory card as your mediabox’s hard drive? They have a DMA-capable CF-to-IDE adapter for 3.2 euro (cheaper models also exist). Super cheap red and green lasers? They got them. They also sell those Chinese iPhone clones for 110 euro.

DX sounds too good to be true, right? I didn’t really see any issues with DX at all so I registered an account and started looking for cheap gadgets I didn’t know I needed. After a couple of days I was ready to place an order. Two orders, really, since not all items were in stock at the moment. You know, I’m one of those who want to know what’s happening. With computers I tend to avoid “express” options, “wizards”, and anything that tries to hide things from you to make you feel more comfortable. They just don’t have that effect on me. When I was about to pay my order, I chose “classic PayPal” over “express PayPal” (or whatever the options were). This was a mistake.

I soon discovered my order was registered with an e-mail address (I’ll call this “account B”)I used to register to PayPal and not the one I used to register to DX. I was a little upset about this, but since I could still track my orders I decided this wasn’t such a big deal. I paid the second order with “express option”, which actually got my e-mail address right (“account A”). Being a little frustrated about the process I opened a support ticket with DX, complaining about the double-account issue.

I was a little surprise how fast DX answerer to my ticket. Their customer service staff was very friendly and wrote fairly good English. Definitely a surprise to me. Unfortunately the CS was unable to resolve the account issue, but we agreed that this was just an annoyance. She also promised to transfer my “DX points” to my real account. She closed the ticket, but unfortunately figured out that since account B already had the points, nothing needed to be done. I was fed up with the issue already so I decided to forget it. It was not a big deal to me.

After receiving my orders ~10 days later I realised my keychain laser pointer was defective. I mean, it did emit visible light, but it was like the thing drew far more power than the batteries could provide. Using my brand new autoscale multimeter I measured that the thing was drawing more that 200 mA, and voltage dropped from 4.3 V to 1.9 V. Obviously the LED didn’t like it. Brightness was perfectly stable when it was fed with a set of AA-batteries instead of three AG13s. Also, when I was taking pictures for the support ticket I realised the thing actually came in cardboard and plastic instead of in a fancy plastic case. I even recorded a video of how the intensity dropped.

Now that Chinese new year has passed, I took a look at the ticket since I had not received a reply yet. I discovered thet DX had upgraded their CS procedures, and all old tickets would have to be reopened in the new system. The bad news was that the new system required pictures of the product (that is “clearly showing defect”), back and front of the shipping envelope, and a picture of all items in the envelope. Obviouslty after three weeks I didn’t have the envelope anymore. I explained the case and substituted the pictures with dummy pictures and sent the ticket.

After submitting this new ticket from account A I realised this ticket now originated from account B, and all replies would be sent to it. I logged out, and tried to log in with account B with no success. It was not a surprise – I never registered this account after all. I tried to retrieve password for account B through retrieve password procedure with no success. Great, now I would have two accounts, one of which I could not access, a defective product, and a support ticket I probably could not update.

I logged back in to account A and wrote yet another support ticket. I again explained everything from double account to support ticket to defective item. I wonder when this is going to end. And it all started near-perfect… sigh

28 Feb 2008 08:00:01 +02:00: DealExtreme (sales@dealextreme.com) has issued you a full or partial refund for your payment. In other words, I sent the item back and received a compensation for the postage fee. I just wish the replacement will be ok. :-)

10 Mar 2008 19:04:57 +02:00: Replacement for the pointer arrived earlier today. I finally had the time to check that it seems to be ok, even though there’s still no fancy plastic case for the thing. I can live with that. Actually I like it better this way. I’m glad it’s over.

12 Mar 2008 02:38:09 +02:00: I’m starting to think the laser diode these things use really suck. I’ve had one set of bateries for two days now, and obviously they’re done for already – and I haven’t really had any time to play around with it yet! However this one is obviously better then the last one, the voltage drops from 4.3 to 3.9 volts instead of to 3.5 volts. I think I’m going to build a battery pack for this. :-D

Legacy comments

7 March 2008 14:59:52 +00:00, deckard

They had that new-years celebration and the snow storm which might explain their slow response. I think….

I’m very glad with my order. I eve got a quite high power l a s e r through finnish customs :P. Works very well…

10 March 2008 17:15:21 +00:00, wnd

deckard, my intention was not to complain about slow response – I think they’re doing reasonably well in that field. Instead, I was not so happy about their new customer support system; the old one was just so much more convenient. The problem with the new CS is that it /requires/ those stupid photos, no matter how irrelevant they are.