Assassin HTPC NOT worth the time nor Money - AVS Forum
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post #1 of 77 Old 01-08-2014, 06:47 PM - Thread Starter
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Recently purchased 3 systems from Assassins that were meant to be totally configured
After excuse after excuse from Ben of why the systems where not delivered in the time frame that he promised I finally did recieve 3 boxes that I would describe as very poorly put together - a school kid would have been able to built something more professional!

As for Fully Configured - I wish
Remotes still sealed in manufacturer's packaging and would not operate
The machines would not recognise or talk to each other
Media folders that XBMC was looking for did not even exist?

HD were not screwed in and hence one SATA plug was smashed in transit

All in all I would say a very very BASIC HTPC set up at an EXTREMELY inflated price mad.gif
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post #2 of 77 Old 01-08-2014, 07:50 PM
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Thanks for the feedback. I have sent Ben a text message.


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post #3 of 77 Old 01-08-2014, 10:14 PM - Thread Starter
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Tired of even trying to talk to Ben
Pretty clear how he wants to do business!

And that would be talk the talk and promise everything but then failing miserably in the delivery when the time comes!
But at least he can sleep at night because if you listened to him EVERYTHING is ALWAYS SOMEONE ELSE'S FAULT!

Would have to be the worst, so called company I have had the misfortune of dealing with
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post #4 of 77 Old 01-08-2014, 10:58 PM
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I thought I'd reply to this post because it might actually be a good lesson to potential HTPC customers (and actually a testament to our superior customer service).

Please understand what an HTPC is and the technology and parts that go into it before you purchase.

And because this is actually, in retrospect, quite unbelievable after almost 50 emails exchanges between our customer service and this customer.

I think the largest mistake here was the customer not fully understanding what a HTPC is or what is does. So this could be a valuable lesson for everyone reading.

After 27 emails prior to sale 3 systems were purchased from us for a customer. 2 HTPC extenders and one main HTPC Media Server. The main HTPC being in a custom touchscreen case selected by the customer which took over 3 weeks for us to even receive into inventory.

These units were shipped to the customer located in Australia. Across an ocean. Shipped to two different peoples attentions per customer request and priced VERY nicely to help the customer save HUNDREDS of dollars on duties (you are welcome for those savings btw).

And this was done AFTER the customer had put a hold on his Paypal order because USPS did not apparently update their tracking information quickly enough for his liking (it still showed as being in our local hub after a couple days).

We actually had to physically drive and intercept the package at a regional terminal to make sure the system didn't ship until the paypal dispute was released. We got billed additional costs for shipping for this (which we never passed on to the customer).

After a dozen or so days of it being in dispute, paypal released the funds and the systems all arrived to the customer as promised and ordered.

One system did showed up with a damaged (cracked) sata power cable connector due to a hard drive jarring loose during shipping and hitting it. This is an unfortunate but not necessarily unheard of issue. Its also very easily fixed with a $4 piece.

Unfortunately, an Assassin HTPC employee was not flying the plane, nor was he driving the Australian delivery truck or hand delivering the item to the recipient. Some things are out of our control such as how its handled. Even though we double box and pack everything as tightly as possible.

However, we've added these services to our internal wishlist of things to handle once we become a multi-trillion dollar company and can afford a fleet of our own airplanes and assassinHTPC delivery trucks).

We offered to reimburse him if he wanted to have it fixed locally, or send the $4 molex to sata adapter that he could use.

However the customer wanted to try and re-wire the broken sata power cable himself for some reason and directed us to 2 different sets of pieces he would like to try costing around $20 total. We paid for and ordered them domestically, repackaged them into one package and sent them to Australia. We also packaged with it a Molex to Sata power cable just in case his rewiring attempt was unsuccessful. I tried explaining multiple times to just use the adapter, and that its simply power, and having a molex power instead of sata will not affect the performance of the HTPC.

We also have offered customer service to this customer far outside the 30 days setup. Almost all of this waiting on responses from the customer...."Sorry I did not reply, I have been away with work again...." was the response to our request (12 days later) to remote in and double check his system after he got it up and running.

Meanwhile this entire time we have provided the customer with my direct phone line and skype name to discuss any further question or disputes instantly. Never did we receive a phone call or message.

During this time, we have always responded in a professional manner, even when the majority of the emails sent back were typed in all caps and consisted of cuss words and name calling. Repeating verbatim in several emails we were referred to as " LYING LOW LIFE" and "NOTHING BUT A LOW LIFE PIECE OF SCUM" as well as many others.

He even threw my 2 year old son into his last email to us after we unfortunately had to ban him from our facebook fan page also.

And up until this point we were still not only willing but still actively trying to satisfy issues the customer had.

Now for his specific issues:
1) Its amazing out of all the configurations involved in the complex software setup of an HTPC these are the items of complaint to lead to the statement that these are "hardly set up". If these 3 small items are all you had to worry about when your received 3 fully configured HTPC's. I believe anyone who has set up an HTPC before would say that we did a pretty good job!!!

2) HTPC's do not auto-recognize each other or talk to each other automatically. Nor can we configure them be linked to your homegroup automatically. That is why it is indeed called "your homegroup". Only you can do that. You do have to do some legwork yourself. Our setup shortens that legwork to minutes instead of hours and days, but doesn't eliminate it completely. And HTPC's will not automatically find media folders on your network. We have them routed locally but obviously not through your network. You have to direct any extenders to your look in your main HTPC media server.

These were of course all explained and outlined in our "guided tutorials" and "read me first" files that we had placed on the desktop of each of his systems which I have a feeling were not read. They are fully explained in our blogs and guides and tutorials as well and also are fairly common knowledge to anyone who has done any research on an HTPC.

He did later write that he "managed to set everything up on a Homegroup with a bit of messing around!"

3) To set up your basic IR remote's. You need to put the batteries in the remote, and attach the IR dongle to the USB outlet. Those are the only 2 parts and we did not feel as if they needed instruction. It loads the drivers automatically and is self recognizing. We mistakenly thought our customers would want a brand new unopened remote so they knew they were not receiving anything used or reused. We are working on a 12 page docket to explain how to do this so no future customers get confused.

4) The media folders were created on your main HTPC unit under the green drive. We did not create media folders on your extenders as the intention is to direct those units to read from the main HTPC. This is common knowledge and also explained in the guides.

We always knew this day would come at Assassin HTPC. And that out of the thousands of Assassin units sold, we'd get one customer who was having a bad day or for some reason felt slighted and had apparently plenty of spare time on his hands to write this.

After 3+ years we think 1 negative reviewer out of thousands is a pretty good ratio.

Although we constantly strive for perfection, unfortunately we realize that no matter how good you are you cannot satisfy everyone.

However we encourage our customer to become educated on what they are purchasing and understand what an HTPC exactly is.


And as always, staying committed to our superior customer service we are more than happy to let you return the system as we've stated many times. I'm sure some AVS user would love a gently used Assassin HTPC at a discounted price and as I mentioned in my emails if you shipped the unit back we would be more than happy to find a new home for them.


We did however want to set the story straight. We are always committed to our customers and always looking for feedback on ways to improve both our product and our customer service and we have taken your colorful commentary into consideration.

Thank You.

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post #5 of 77 Old 01-09-2014, 12:04 AM - Thread Starter
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You can try and twist the situation as much as you like with more lies and excuses!
To set the story straight you would have to actually be honest first with your selves and then with the rest of us!

All I can say is that your so called service does not come anywhere near what you promise on your website
As far as your customer service goes, if lies and excuses were included then yes you would have the best customer service in the world
But in the normal world we don't really classify lies, excuses or even twisting the facts to try and appear to be in the right to called Customer Service!

And its only after numerous ignored emails lately that I chose to vent my total disgust with your commitment to customer service!
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post #6 of 77 Old 01-09-2014, 04:31 AM
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Sorry Pal, but I'm with Assassin on this. You clearly had no idea what you were buying and then blamed his company for your lack of knowledge. HTPCs are not plug and play devices, no matter how well you set them up, let alone shipping one to a different continent. There's only so much anyone can do in this situation. The rest is up to you.

I have only one thing to say - RTFM!

Assassin has been one of the major assets to this community. You, not so much.
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post #7 of 77 Old 01-09-2014, 09:49 AM
 
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Had he not given you a phone number and a Skype account to contact him at, I would lean more towards your side of things. Once you were able to talk to him directly and chose not to I can not fault them. That alone is excellent customer service and would be a wonderful way of getting everything fixed.
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post #8 of 77 Old 01-09-2014, 11:34 AM
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I normally do not respond to vehement rantings posted on internet forums, nor do I have any experience in doing business with Assassin HTPC. But since the OP is presumably warning other AVSer's (by posting here) about poor business practices by Assassin HTPC, I read this whole thread.

And after doing so, I still wouldn't have any qualms about considering a purchase from this company, if I were in the market for a turnkey HTPC solution.

Just my $0.02.
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post #9 of 77 Old 01-09-2014, 04:09 PM - Thread Starter
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And that is your choice Vlad Theimpaler

My initial comments were as you said, meant to be a warning to others that the said services of Assassin are nothing like what they actually state!
Thats why I kept my personal opinion of Ben and the company in private emails between Ben and myself

After the misfortune of actually dealing with them I can guarantee there are much better options out there
Whether those options suite each person, well thats upto them and ultimately, the end decision is up to each Customer
I know if I had either the fore warning or the crystal ball to see what dramas and headaches the supposedly simple transaction caused, then I would have definitely stayed well clear
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post #10 of 77 Old 01-09-2014, 04:52 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Mark38 View Post

You can try and twist the situation as much as you like with more lies and excuses!
To set the story straight you would have to actually be honest first with your selves and then with the rest of us!

...

Hi Mark,

I can understand your frustration, no-one wants to feel ripped off or like they were taken for a ride.
But so far you have not come across well by coming on here and firing shots at the company and an individual.
Reading the above messages it seems like there is a gap between what you were expecting and what you received.

I.e. plug in machines, turn them on and have it running off the bat.

I can tell you now that a HTPC can be very complex and adding extenders to the mix makes it more so. The above 'plug n play' scenario is (at this moment) probably not a reality.
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post #11 of 77 Old 01-09-2014, 04:58 PM - Thread Starter
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One would think in a perfect world - If it is not a possible scenario then it should never be promised!
But in the greedy world we tend to be stuck with we have people that promise the world and while delivering next to nothing once money has exchanged hands!

And Yes I feel completely ripped off, the things I did expect to be configured and done have all been completed!
Just really hate paying people good money and then having to fix up and complete work that should have completed in the first place
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post #12 of 77 Old 01-09-2014, 05:34 PM
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All your claimed "problems" aren't really problems at all.
The remote, you plug it in and it works, quite seriously.
The machines not "seeing" each other; could not be set up before they arrived to you because to do so, they would have had to known your routers gateway & subnet, then set static IP's and hope to hell that nothing else already on your network had already leased or reserved those particular IP's , and even then, not guaranteed to work. I bet that read-me document that Ben spoke of, on the desktop, would have easily walked you through it.
The xbmc issue, probably could have been ser in stone via UNC paths but still is a crap-shoot when completely transplanting the whole gambit.
Your side of the installation was less than hour even with those supposed "issues" and if the pre-labeled read-me is anything like Assassin's other tutorials, it would have been a walk in the park.
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post #13 of 77 Old 01-09-2014, 07:07 PM
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I'd return them and order from another company that can provide a complete plug-n-play HTPC solution. When you find that company please let us know because I know of no one that makes that sort of promise. Maybe get a few Roku boxes instead.

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post #14 of 77 Old 01-09-2014, 08:43 PM
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This is why I got out of the business of building systems for people.

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post #15 of 77 Old 01-10-2014, 01:22 AM
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I'd return them and order from another company that can provide a complete plug-n-play HTPC solution. When you find that company please let us know because I know of no one that makes that sort of promise. Maybe get a few Roku boxes instead.

And also let us know if the Roku boxes automagically see themselves and connect to your media server without any fiddling...
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post #16 of 77 Old 01-10-2014, 05:34 AM
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This is why I got out of the business of building systems for people.

I'm rather surprised they made it through 1,000 systems before encountering a situation like this. I had built about 20 systems for co-workers back in the late 90s and early 2000s and that was becoming a major headache since I was now designated as the one to fix ANY problem or be a Windows tutor from that point forward. It didn't help that this was when malware and phishing was beginning to really take off. Luckily I switched jobs and moved out of the area so my support dwindled away, even though I would still receive the occasional support phone call and email. All this back when I was only charging a six-pack or nice dinner.

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post #17 of 77 Old 01-10-2014, 05:39 AM
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As a business owner in NYC, you will ALWAYS get a difficult customer once in a blue. FWIW, you try to accommodate and make it right. It very soon becomes apparent when your efforts are for naught and you're just spinning your wheels tho. As a poster here (mostly lurk but read everyday) I thank mark for posting his experience (he has every right to), but personally, I would not let his experience sway me on whether to buy from Assassin.
So I thank you for your warning and I'll heed it with a grain of salt.
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post #18 of 77 Old 01-10-2014, 06:41 AM
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HTPC is a tricky thing and there will always be some level of technical competence and set up process required. That's just how this works. PC skills are required.
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post #19 of 77 Old 01-10-2014, 08:49 AM
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I'm rather surprised they made it through 1,000 systems before encountering a situation like this. I had built about 20 systems for co-workers back in the late 90s and early 2000s and that was becoming a major headache since I was now designated as the one to fix ANY problem or be a Windows tutor from that point forward. It didn't help that this was when malware and phishing was beginning to really take off. Luckily I switched jobs and moved out of the area so my support dwindled away, even though I would still receive the occasional support phone call and email. All this back when I was only charging a six-pack or nice dinner.

I've been in the same situation, not only with computers but also with car audio/video/security systems done on the side. Even when I took cash in stead of, or in addition to the six pack or nice dinner, half the time I regretted taking the jobs days, weeks, or months later. Once, I saw a particularly annoying and persistent customer in a grocery store parking lot, as I sat in my car waiting on my wife. He and his wife pulled into a spot facing me, but thankfully 1 space over. I ducked down in my seat and pulled my hat over my eyes, and was thankful that he didn't know my car or see me. The lesson I learned in all of this is, "No good deed goes unpunished". I think my past employers were actually doing us a favor by telling us not to work on the side, because those customers who want to engage in such dealings are usually the ones who are the most problematic and don't want to learn how to PROPERLY use equipment they have paid to have setup by installers/technicians. I remember one unhappy customer screaming and cursing because he felt the $50, 4" speakers in the front of his Corolla should be able to play distortion free music with the radio volume at full blast and with the bass turned all the way up. I tried to explain to him in terms of trying to redline his car's engine and expecting nothing bad to happen. I'm so glad I now only work on equipment in my own home, and my mom's. Even though it's a non-paying side gig, it's usually hassle and harassment free. Now if I could just stop my kids from clicking on every box that pops up asking them to install a toolbar or run a security scan...eek.gif
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post #20 of 77 Old 01-10-2014, 09:01 AM
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My experience has been that when someone rants and stoops to the level of throwing personal insults into the mix, and then you can't reach them for days or weeks at a time to offer assistance, it means they have discovered some blatant mistakes of their own and are trying to avoid looking even more foolish. In actuality, what they fail to realize is that this would be the best time to finally admit fault, apologize, and move on.
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post #21 of 77 Old 01-10-2014, 09:38 AM
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My experience has been that when someone rants and stoops to the level of throwing personal insults into the mix, and then you can't reach them for days or weeks at a time to offer assistance, it means they have discovered some blatant mistakes of their own and are trying to avoid looking even more foolish. In actuality, what they fail to realize is that this would be the best time to finally admit fault, apologize, and move on.

Couldn't agree more. Wanted to stay out of this thread, but I can't ignore the amount of free time Assassin gives. e.g. I've seen so many "no hdmi, don't buy that mobo" saves in build threads completely unrelated to a "potential customer" (where that person would have otherwise had to return that part after the fact)

I've recommended them a few times even though I've never bought from them first hand. My recommendation has usually followed the "what if I don't want to build my own PC" threads. In contrast, several other times Assassin has often encouraged people to build their own HTPC if they are willing to learn the details, put together great guides to help them do so, etc. They have really spent a lot of time building the community instead of just focusing on a customer base

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After the misfortune of actually dealing with them I can guarantee there are much better options out there
I think most of us here are curious as to what other options you are referring. Not that a better option couldn't exist in theory, but I don't know of one personally. I stay somewhat interested in this area of retail, and while I feel like this is surely just troll bait - if there is truly a better turn-key htpc retailer out there please share their name
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post #22 of 77 Old 01-10-2014, 10:41 AM
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And also let us know if the Roku boxes automagically see themselves and connect to your media server without any fiddling...

I was thinking Boxee--does Roku have units that will access network drives, too? I loved my Roku 2 XD but gave it to my daughter for Netflix.
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post #23 of 77 Old 01-10-2014, 10:47 AM
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roku has an mb3 app. works pretty nice.
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post #24 of 77 Old 01-10-2014, 10:54 AM
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roku has an mb3 app. works pretty nice.

Awesome. That almost makes me wish I still needed the Roku. For Netflix, it was way faster than browsing with my Panny blu-ray player, and the interface was more convenient.
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post #25 of 77 Old 01-10-2014, 10:59 AM
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Most people will never know the HALF of the trials and tribulations AssassinHTPC has gone through to date, and is still around, in good standings. They (2 whole guys) are pretty good people!
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post #26 of 77 Old 01-10-2014, 11:35 AM
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Having worked with Ben and Assassin, supplying them with some mini-ITX related items, and talking with them about the business, I would be very surprised if they didn't bend over backwards and into a knot to make this right. This instead smells of someone with unreasonable expectations and no experience at all what it's like on the other side of the counter.

Further, opening a PayPal dispute in the middle of the process, if you pulled that kind of stunt on a retailer like Newegg you'd be banned for life. Being offered a refund well outside the return period and on fully customized systems shipped internationally, again no retailer is going to allow that either. Coming into a public forum and ranting after all that -- this is all very poor form.

IMHO, this just sour grapes.
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post #27 of 77 Old 01-10-2014, 12:47 PM
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I purchased an HTPC from Ben about 2 years ago and the delivery and set up was perfect. I had a hard drive go down and they stood by it, replacing it and paying the shipping both ways. I have no sense of what happened with this customer, but just wanted to add my experience in for the record.
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post #28 of 77 Old 01-10-2014, 01:06 PM
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I was very close to buying a unit from Assassin but decided I wanted to tinker with it myself. I would have no compunction about spending the $ (on Assassin) to buy myself some time and nearly did.

I understand the OP's frustration and honestly being out of touch and delivering a system with a loose hard drive is bad but things happen.
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post #29 of 77 Old 01-10-2014, 01:35 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Assassinhtpc View Post

One system did showed up with a damaged (cracked) sata power cable connector due to a hard drive jarring loose during shipping and hitting it. This is an unfortunate but not necessarily unheard of issue. Its also very easily fixed with a $4 piece.

Unfortunately, an Assassin HTPC employee was not flying the plane, nor was he driving the Australian delivery truck or hand delivering the item to the recipient. Some things are out of our control such as how its handled. Even though we double box and pack everything as tightly as possible.

However, we've added these services to our internal wishlist of things to handle once we become a multi-trillion dollar company and can afford a fleet of our own airplanes and assassinHTPC delivery trucks).

Wait a minute...those sata connectors are pretty tough. If a hard drive came loose during shipping and was banging around hard enough to crack one, I'd be pretty concerned about other damage, especially if I didn't have the technical skills to properly inspect the whole system. If I were in that guy's shoes, I might be a little put off by a "We'll send you a $4 part. It's a quickie DIY repair." Shipping the product still your responsibility, no matter how out-of-control it may seem to you. If something gets damaged in transit, nobody wants to hear you play the blame game and the "poor me, I'm just a small business guy" excuse.
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Originally Posted by Assassinhtpc View Post

I think the largest mistake here was the customer not fully understanding what a HTPC is or what is does. So this could be a valuable lesson for everyone reading.

It sounds like this guy flies off the handle pretty easily, but his "EVERYTHING is ALWAYS SOMEONE ELSE'S FAULT!" complaint about your customer service may have some teeth. The person who would most profit from learning a lesson here is you, not any of us. It's your company. It's your brand this guy is trashing. Disclaiming responsibility for all of this won't solve anything.

My advice: don't badmouth your customers in a public forum, even if they deserve it. It doesn't cost money to be nice. Sometimes you have to put business needs ahead of your ego needs.
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post #30 of 77 Old 01-10-2014, 02:02 PM
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Honestly, this is my worst fear when shipping internationally, that something gets all the way there 2 weeks later and it's broken. It takes so long and it's so expensive to exchange. It's hard for anyone to end up happy at that point.

I shipped something to Canada last week and it showed up with a 50 cent part missing inside. It cost me $20 to ship this tiny part and the customer has to wait another 1-2 weeks. It sucks all around.

 

 

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