Good support (for once)

… kinda.  I recently built a new computer and one of the parts I received was faulty.  The heatsink bracket had a missing thread, so it was impossible to screw the brackets together.

I emailed Novatech support, assuming I was in for the full, painful returns rigmarole, but was pleasantly surprised, but also befuddled at the hoop jumping I had to do. 

The good

I described the problem and told them exactly which bracket was unusable (the Zalman CNPS 10X Quiet comes with three mounting brackets for different motherboard types, and only the LGA 1155 bracket was faulty).  I only had to wait to speak on the phone for about 30 seconds of hold music the second time I phoned. 

Most importantly, I received a new bracket in the post the next day, and you can’t say that about most places.

 

The bad

This is where I get somewhat bemused.  Despite the excellent eventual result, their website and returns process is set up to bewilder.  Numerous small, niggly problems occurred.  Bear in mind my needs as a customer; nothing I wanted to do was outside the ordinary.  The reason I am posting this is not to take a pop at Novatech.  It’s more that this sort of stuff is common with many of the companies I’ve bought from in the past.  It surely can’t be this hard to get right?

  1. No website ticket was maintained, as by sending me a replacement part, the support request was quickly “rejected” so that it was clear I didn’t have to send anything back.  Fine, but…
  2. As a result, I didn’t have a coherent trail of communication, as I was living outside the happy path.  Some of the exchanges were done via the website, the next via email and the last part by phone.  I always like to double check I’ve given people all of the correct information and also keep up with the status of my request, but I could not do this.
  3. They asked me to phone up to make sure I gave them the correct delivery address.  Why can I do part of the process online, but not another part?  The part I was asked to phone about was most suitable for a 2 minute email.  Instead, I had to phone up twice (the first time I was put on hold, and wasn’t willing to waste 10 minutes of my lunchtime sighing). 
  4. The member of support staff could not pull up my delivery details or even send it to the same place as my original order.  “I don’t have that information”.  Reading an address over the phone is just asking for it to be taken down incorrectly (which it was – thankfully it was still good enough to get through).
  5. Since the member of support staff hadn’t read my email notes / support thread, they tried to tell me that they were going to send a courier to pick up the package.  I had to re-explain that Novatech were sending me a bracket.  It was not an RMA request.
  6. When I tried to reply to my support email (which it explicitly says you can in the body of the support email reply) with my delivery address, the email bounced.  At least Novatech allegedly allow you to email back; I assume it was a glitch. 

    Aside: I hate it when sites contact me via one communication medium but force me to reply in a roundabout way.  Seriously, companies.  Balls to “noreply” email addresses – even if you have no automated process for tying up threads of communication, just divert the emails to customer support representatives and let them marry up the information manually.  It should be as easy as possible for the customer, and the information should be maintained in a coherent, chronological thread for both employees and customers to browse.

  7. The reference number in the returns email title / body was no use.  The woman on the other end asked, “Don’t you have one that starts with an R?”  If the returns number in the email is not the correct one I have to quote, why are you sending it to me?  Odd!
  8. When I received the replacement part, it was in a box for a 2.5” drive enclosure.  I’m fine with that normally, use any box you like!  However, it had taped edges that read “DO NOT OPEN IF PARTS ARE INCORRECT”.  How can I tell the parts are incorrect if it’s in a different box?  I opened it anyway.

Ultimately…

For a relatively simple request, I encountered several problems / inconveniences.  The bottom line is that despite the eventual good result, I am a touch wary of using Novatech again for anything more complicated / expensive.  If a PC part failed on a built system, I wouldn’t fancy being passed around their support system and having to constantly re-explain myself.

Moreover, I never fail to be astounded by these sorts of interactions I have with companies.  It would drive me mad to live with that kind of chaos on a day to day basis.

The positive thing is that at least, despite the problems I had, Novatech obviously do care about sorting out customer problems.  I didn’t have to send anything back and do a full RMA cycle, and the parts reached me very quickly.  If they could iron out some of these niggles, they’d be highly recommendable.

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