Background: TheNerds.org is a tech-geek warehouse website, offering everything from cords to batteries to computers and accessories for the technologically savvy. They sell both new and refurbished equipment, ship fast and are generally knowledgeable about their products.
Sound good? Don’t waste your money.
1. Misleading product descriptions. When the website was first previewed, it seemed to offer an Averatec 5500 laptop computer for an unbelievably good deal. The Averatec 5500, while not top-of-the-line by any stretch of the imagination, is still a solid workhorse for the needs of most writers and Web surfers. The product was fully documented, including number and type of ports, onboard RAM and memory, processor speed, etc. etc. What it didn’t say was that the price quoted was not for the system…it was for the replacement battery pack!
2. Sales Force. A phone call to the main toll-free number to check the status of the stock (see reason #7 for details) led to a sales force that was either incompetent, lazy or actively practicing deception. The sales rep that answered the phone identified the part number correctly and assured me that the product was in stock. When asked if the product was indeed an Averatec 5500, he stated unhesitatingly that it was.
3. Customer Service. Or, more precisely, the lack thereof. The item arrived, well-packaged and quickly shipped, but it was definitely not the laptop. It was the battery. A phone call to the help desk elicited nothing more than a virtual shrug. Eventually, by dint of sheer determination, the call was grudgingly transferred to someone who allowed that the shipment “might have been an error.” When the customer was later informed that no error had occurred, there was very nearly a volcano formed in downtown Baltimore.
4. No return policy. TheNerds.org decided some time back that no refunds would be issued unless the product could not be replaced of repaired. The warranty on the battery covered only what batteries are supposed to do i.e. power electronics and give light. The fact that it wasn’t what had been purchased wasn’t covered by the six-month warranty.
5. Six-month repayment process. TheNerds.org did finally agree to refund the purchase price of the battery, provided the item was returned in working condition. As the box had not even been opened, this was not difficult. A credit duly appeared on the customer’s credit card; however, it was a “temporary” credit (similar to a draft hold on an account, but in reverse). Normally, holds and credits are cleared when the companies receive the bill or in this case, the check from the crediting company. In this particular instance, the credit was temporary for six months before theNerds.org finally paid it.
6. No real system for handling problems. When it’s broken, missing or wrong, TheNerds.org doesn’t seem to have a system for tracking it and fixing the problem. Their help desk is largely a joke; it appears that the people staffing it are only slightly more knowledgeable about the products than the vast number of newbies to the technological world, i.e. not. Getting an answer out of these people is difficult at best; getting a solution is not for the easily put-off!
7. Poor server coding on stock quantities. When a product is brought up for review, the page also displays the quantity of the item in stock. However, the quantity appears to change rapidly depending largely on where the link arrives from. Links arriving from search pages usually show large quantities in stock and promise immediate ship dates. Links from product line pages frequently show little or no stock (but, oddly, still promise immediate ship times). A phone call to the sales force, as noted above, will get you an answer as to whether the item is in stock, but may not get you the whole story.
8. Ambiguous wording in display ads on other sites. TheNerds.org frequently takes out ads on other sites, advertising specials on various items. However, the ads generally promise high-end, new equipment and low prices. The actual items offered for sale when the surfer reaches the site, however, are generally refurbished, used models. Looking very closely at the fine print on the disclaimer pages shows that the advertised models are subject to prior sale and may no longer be available when someone clicks on the ad.
9. Lack of accountability. In the real world, organizations such as the Better Business Bureau have some level of clout. By showing complaints against a business and lobbying the owners, they can often change practices. However, in cyberspace, the businesses can get a bad rap, shut down the site and open up a new one, selling the same stuff to the same clientele and using the same people to manufacture, reconfigure, etc. As the cost of removing and replacing a web site is minimal (as opposed to moving a store or even changing the brand/logo), there is no real barrier to operating in this manner. TheNerds.org has apparently taken this maxim to heart.
10. Multitude of alternatives. The sheer magnitude of alternatives for this particular retail/wholesale domain is astounding. There are other sites, more reputable, more honest, and more responsive to customer needs. They deserve your business. These clowns do not.