A Rotten Egg: My experience with Newegg.com

Come read the story of my terrible customer experience with Newegg. I will be updating it daily until the issue is resolved.

I love technology, I really do. I’m a tech savvy guy that loves electronics and computers. So naturally I’ve used the site Newegg.com. Since 2006 I’ve been a loyal paying customer. Over these past six years I’ve purchased quite a few of electronics and parts, in 2008 I looked to Newegg’s website and built a high-end PC that still shines to this day. So I was very surprised on what happened next and what I would soon be dealing with from a company I thought I knew so well. Their customer service center says they’ll “Give you the best service possible.”, there is obviously something wrong here…

On June 6th 2012 I was talking to my friend Todd. We were talking about SSD products (Solid State Drives, like a hard drive but much faster). He pointed me to Newegg’s site to show me a deal they had on a Crucial 256GB SSD drive, the price was pretty good, $199 with an additional $20 off promo code. I had a $69.99 gift card that my brother had given me. He recently had a “fun” experience with Newegg’s ServiceNet department which gave him a measly $70 in exchange for a broken hard drive. Since it was not enough to buy a comparable product, I bought the card from him and he shopped elsewhere. So using the gift card and my credit card I completed my purchase. I heard my iPhone chime that I had received a new email, followed a few minutes later by another chime. Usually Newegg sense out a confirmation email and such, so I assumed all was well.

But all was not well – I check my email to see a cancellation notice. “We do our very best to give you the best possible shopping experience.” the email starts out,  “However we’re sending this note to let you know that your order has, which was recently placed under your account, been voiced”. The email proceeds to tell me contact Customer Service Department. So I pickup the phone and call, after jumping through an automated menu system I get an automated message telling me their customer service center is closed. Closed? Really? Most places have at least one person to answer the phones 24/7. Realizing that nobody is going to answer my call, I hop over to the Newegg website. I log in to take a look at my recent order, hoping that maybe the website has some details the generic email didn’t. At this moment I get a notice telling me that my account has been suspended. I can no longer log in and that I need to contact customer service. Now I’m even more frustrated. How can I talk to customer service when the phone lines are closed and I can’t log into the website?!

Sure enough I find the help option and I start the ‘Chat with Us’ feature without being logged in. I inform the person I’m speaking with about my issue. I ask why my account was suspended. Their responses tip-toe around the issue. They can’t tell me what’s going on, only the “Verification Department” can do that. Since they are closed too, I’m out of luck. They advise me to call back in the morning. The chat ends.

On June 7th 2012 I patiently wait at my desk, I try to login to my Newegg account again, to see if anything has been fixed, but it’s still blocked. It’s now 11:00 AM, keeping in mind Newegg’s offices are located in California it’s about 8:00 AM local time here. I call up the main Newegg number and speak to Eileen. I explain the whole ordeal to her and ask to speak to the ‘Verification Department’. She tells me they don’t open for another 30 minutes (8:30 AM) and that she can’t tell me why my order was canceled, or any reason why my account was suspended. She promises to call me back as soon as they open, and she’ll pass them my information.

I return to my desk even more frustrated and upset. The transparency between departments seems to be non-existent.  Nobody can tell me what is going on, or why I can’t simply place a new order. Looking at my computer I notice my Twitter feed. I get the idea to reply to @NewEgg about the issue. After I tweet to them they reply back telling me to email them at twitter@newegg.com about my issue. I send a long email to them at 12:04PM detailing my issue. Explaining that I want my account unblocked and I want to know what the issue at hand is. Why was my order canclend, why was my account blocked? Nobody has told me at this point.

After sending the email I keep a good eye on my phone and my inbox. I receive no calls or notice from Newegg, that is until 2:59 PM. I get an email from a Mr. Angel, his email signature says he’s a Newegg Public Image Professional. He informs me that he’s on a way to a quick meeting and gives me some information. He tells me that he has confirmed with the verification department that my account was now unblocked. He says he’s happy to discount my gift card amount and the promotional code amount off of the final price that I pay for the item when I re-order it. He explains once the purchase is complete I will have the refunded amount within 3-5 business days. He says he looks forward to my response and that he will follow up with the rest of my email afterwards.

So now I’m excited. I jump back to Newegg.com and login. I find the item that I tried to purchase on Wednesday and add it to my cart. I enter in my address and billing information. I triple check everything to ensure there is not an issue. I finish the process and an “Order confirmation” email from Newegg arrives in my inbox at 3:08 PM. I’m happy, I got the item I wanted, at the original price I intended. The shipping may be a bit delayed, but it’s on it’s way. This happiness is soon shattered, because at 3:14 PM I receive another message titled “Newegg.com – Order Cancelled”. I refresh my email to make sure this is not an old message.  No, it’s new. My 2nd order has now been canceled. I quickly go to the Newegg site to check the status of my order, hoping there is some explanation. Guess what? My account is again suspended. At this point I am beyond upset. I forward the cancellation email to Mr. Angel and tell him that my account is again suspended. I again demand to know what the verification department found out the first time around. Was my address bad? Was my credit card to blame? Do they not like my name? What’s exactly going on here. This information should have been sent to me earlier to prevent the same issue from happening again.

3 hours later and I hear nothing. Finally an email comes through from my good friend Mr. Angel. He thanks me for my patience and informs me he had a meeting that was followed up by another incident, at that time he had to take his mandatory lunch for the day. He tells me he’s passing my information over to the verification department (again) for review. He says, and I quote “This is ridiculous and I do not see why these orders are void. I am going to be looking into this further. It may be that your credit card number has been used before in a “fraudulent order”.” Wow… so now, for the first time, I am hearing that this whole issue is because of my Credit Card? It would have been nice for them to hint to me, or even suggest “Hey maybe use another card this time, see if that works.” But no – that’s too hard I guess. He finishes the email saying that he’s doing everything he can to get this fixed and that he appreciates my patience.

I pickup the phone, hoping to speak to Mr. Angle himself, by calling the phone number in his signature. However, not to my surprise, this number directs me to Newegg’s general customer service line. Since it’s about closing time at the office I head home, planning to call when I arrive home. After stopping to run some errands I arrive home. I place a call a bit before 6PM. During this 22 minute call I hoped that something would be resolved. But not quite. After explaining the information in-depth to another representative we find a cause of the problem. My name, and credit card, has been used on another account. My business account, I have used Newegg to order items for my business, I created a separate email account in order to keep things split off from my personal account.  I would be refunded the amount from my company, but not having a company credit card I had to use my own. The representative (who is not even from the verification team) says “Ohh… well that explains the problem. There seems to be a charge-back against your credit card. The system is showing you owe Newegg.” I paused… “This was resolved months ago.” I tell him… and I explain…

Back in November 2011 I tried to order some items via Newegg’s Black Friday sale – I placed an order and my account was suspended. The reason for this was a previous order that I had returned. In late 2011 I ordered an OCZ SSD for my MacBook Pro computer. The item arrived and seemed okay, but I could not get it to work. System speeds were amazingly slow, it took over 20 minutes to boot on a new install of Mac OS X. I called the OCZ company and they explained that there is a known issue with the product on my system, and all they can do is replace my SATA III drive with an SATA II drive – esensially giving me a slower model in exchange for my faster one. I told them that I didn’t think this was acceptable. They told me to talk to Newegg for a return. So I contact Newegg. Their policy for this item was “Exchange Only”, meaning all they can do is replace the item with the same exact item – which is no good since this item (despite OCZ’s specs and details) does not work on my computer correctly. After fighting with Newegg they waive the restocking fee and I ship back the defective unit to them. I note the tracking number and wait a few days. Newegg refunds me the $90 of the item on my credit card. But something goes wrong. I notice shortly after there is a new $90 charge against me. I call up my credit card company and explain, my credit card company opens a dispute, I proceed to call up Newegg and explain. Nobody believes me at first. I give them the RMA number and they look it up. They claim they never received the item. I pull up the UPS tracking number and prove them wrong. Suddenly they’re apologizing, but they can’t do anything yet. They must pass the information froward to someone else, and they will “get back to me” when it’s resolved. So the next day I have another call with them. We iron out all the details, they inform me they have reversed the charge and that they have the returned item. They apologize and the call ends. I then call up my credit card company, they verify Newegg has reversed the charge, and I have no charges against me. The credit card operator is happy that the issue is resolved and I hang up.

So now (back in June 7th 2012) I explain this as briefly as possible to the Newegg customer support representative. He doesn’t seem to deny or accept my reasoning. He explains that he can’t unblock the account. At this point I demand to speak to Mr. Angel, I explain that he has been involved and knows what the issue is and how to fix it. The representative takes my phone number and says Mr. Angel will call me soon. I proceed to make dinner and 15-20 minutes later Mr. Angel calls me. He apologizes and says that he has passed the issue onto the verification team, and that I will get a call tonight or tomorrow. He says that even if I did place an order that night, the item wouldn’t ship until tomorrow (Friday, 6/8). I tell him that I expect to be called as soon as he gets in tomorrow, he doesn’t commit to an exact time. I end the call.

June 8th 2012:  My patience is wearing thin. So far (except once) everytime Newegg says they’re going to call me back, they fail to. So I check my inbox and my phone, no emals from Newegg and no missed calls or voicemail. I wait until 11:54 AM (again waiting for their offices to open in California) to give them a call. The call doesn’t last more than a few minutes – the call gets dropped. Assuming it’s my cell phone, I dial back in…”Thank you for calling NewEgg. We’re sorry but our call system is currently experiencing technical difficulties. Please use our online chat feature…”. I don’t believe it. Just my luck, the call center is down! Following their suggestion I use the online chat service again. This time I know a bit more information, and I hope that they’ll be able to at least unblock my account.

I speak to Claire, I explain the situation and she transfers me to “a related team” to help me out. A person named Jackle is added to the chat. He apologizes for the inconvenience and asks me if I’m placing the order using an international credit card, or if I’m placing the order outside the United States. Obviously (even though they have my order number and my customer number) they have no idea what my issue was or the status of it. So I’m blunt with them. I tell them this is my 3rd day without resolution and that I would like to speak to Mr. Angel. They tell me what I already know, the phone line is down and they will have him call me when it’s back up. I remind them that I’ve been promised many times from their service center that people will call me and they never do. I ask to be transferred to the Verification Department. Jackle tells me that they do not take contacts directly, all interactions must be forwarded by Customer Service. (But aren’t they customer service?!). He tells me to “please just wait for us to contact you”. I again remind him I’ve been waiting for 3 days, and I don’t trust Newegg to call me back. I tell him I want this resolved now. Jackle says “I can have the verification team look into it, but it’s going to take a few hours. We wouldn’t be able to resolve it immediately.” I tell them that Mr. Angel has already talked to the verification team and that I would like to avoid confusion by them not entering a second ticket into the mess. I tell them that Mr. Angel has passed along my information to the ‘Verification Department’ last night and that the processing time of  “a few hours” should have been enough by now to solve the issue. I explain that the issue is my credit card and that I would need to place a new order with a different card. Jackle responses “Due to security reasons, we might not have the exact reason why the account was suspended.” … “There should be an update by the end of today. I’ll be sure to have Mr. Angel follow up on it.” – I again tell Jackle that I’ve been hearing the same promises for a while now. Obviously this chat isn’t moving forward. I give Jackle my cell phone number and tell him that I will be expecting a call from them ASAP. The chat ends at about 12:15 PM.

At 12:22 PM I get an email from Mr. Angel. He says he just “walked in 20 minutes ago” and that there was a blackout in the area. He mentions that all the phones are down and they currently have limited functions. He says he’ll get back to me ASAP.

As of 1:30 PM I have not heard back from Newegg or Mr. Angel. I doubt even if I placed an order, if the product would arrive tomorrow, before I leave on a short trip.

1:53 PM – Mr. Angel emails me and tells me he’s trying everything he can to get this expedited. He says the verification department is being very strict about my situation. I replied to Mr. Angel (again giving him my cell phone number) tell him I am expecting everything to be finished by today (as he promised) and to not hesitate to have himself or the verification department call me.

2:34 PM – Another response, that was quick. Mr. Angel informs me that the issue has been escalated and corporate is now involved directly. He says he is working on the issue to prevent further delays. Again this is no estimated time of my product being ordered or shipped. I replied to him inviting anyone at Newegg to call me to hear my side of the story, or to receive my previous RMA / UPS tracking numbers from November 2011.

2:51 PM – In another email Mr. Angel informs me that he does not believe the issue will be resolved in time for a delivery of the item on Saturday as promised. Wonderful.

Later on this evening I was able to finally re-place my order. My package should arrive Tuesday…

Why to avoid gambling with ServiceNet warranties

In May 2010 I had a dilemma. My brother’s birthday had just passed and I couldn’t think of a gift to get him. After much thought I decided something that he would like. A hard drive. He loves music and even makes his own, so storing it and keeping his machine backed up takes up a lot of disk space. So I went to Newegg.com, having good previous experiences with them, to see what deals on hard drives were on sale. Unfortunately nothing seemed to be in my price range, until I found one item. It was almost too good to be true… and unfortunately that would be the case later on. It was a 1TB Western Digital external hard drive, this drive had a FireWire port, which was great for my brother’s Mac. We are both FireWire fans, so the thought of me buying him a USB external drive was out of the question. For $69 it was a pretty good deal, but here’s the catch, it was refurbished. I would usually stray away from these drives, but Newegg offered a warranty through a company called ServiceNet. I was intrigued, I had never heard of the service before, but since Newegg offered the option for $16.99 for a 2 year replacement warranty. Fearing that a rectified drive would fail before it’s standard warranty I reluctantly bought the ServiceNet warranty. The drive shipped soon after.

Tom loved the gift. He could use the hard drive space badly. But what I thought would be a stress-free gift soon turned out to be a nightmare. In late 2011 Tom complained that the drive was making odd noises and sometimes failing to show itself. Shortly after it started making dreaded clicking noises, the sure telling sign of a failing hard drive. Thankfully the files stored on the drive were backed up elsewhere, so losing the data wasn’t a concern. So I figured things were okay. I bought the ServiceNet replacement warranty, so he would get a replacement drive without issue. Right? Sadly this would not be the case.

I forwarded Tom the information (sales order receipt, etc) so he can call up ServiceNet himself. I was a bit busy at the time and I figured he could handle it himself. Unfortunately they required me to call up directly. I ended up filing the claim online for the hard drive. I would soon be contacted asking to return the hard drive to them, so they can replace the item. “Great!” I thought, this gamble has paid off. Weeks go by and I didn’t receive an updated status about the drive. I was about to call up when I receive a odd email on January 10th, 2012. It’s from Newegg. The subject reads “Newegg.com – Gift Card from Service Net”. So off the bat I’m confused. A gift card? I didn’t request a gif card. I requested a replacement!

Well it turns out that due to the flood in the Thailands Western Digital hard drive prices have skyrocketed. So for the warranty company ServiceNet, they took the cheap route. Refunding me $69.99 instead of paying even a penny or a dollar more to replace the actual item. I forward the email to my brother and tell him that he wasn’t going to get a replacement hard drive. He was discouraged, but thought that if he called up to ServiceNet they would see their mistake and would just replace the drive instead. However this was not the case. They refused to talk to him and wanted to talk to… that’s right. Me again.

At my office things were ramping up for our large yearly meeting. So I was beyond swamped in work to take time to call up and make a case about this. However my brother is obviously more concerned about this then I am, because it’s his hard drive. Finally getting around to it I make a call to ServiceNet in April 2012. I give the automated menu my case ID number and waited for someone to answer the line. A man picks up the phone and asks me for the number again. I comply and give him the information. Right off the bat I can tell this isn’t going to end well.

He points out that I have already received a gift card for the item and asks what I’m calling about. I explain the situation. I bought the hard drive with the extended warranty and expected a replacement product. What I got was a gift card instead. I request if there is a replacement device they could send instead, or if they would cover the $30 or $50 price ($30 for a USB replacement, $50 for a nicer FireWire model replacement) difference to a new replacement hard drive. Immediately he becomes defensive. Pulling out terms of the warranty as if they were common knowledge to everyone, which it obviously was to him. He elaborates that there is a clause in the warranty stating that if the cost of the time fluctuates or increases the ServiceNet company can opt to buy-out your warranty contract. Basically giving you your money back, and taking your item. I understand what they’re doing, but that doesn’t mean I like it. I explain that the reason I bought the “Replacement Extended Warranty” (as it is worded on my receipt) is so that I could replace the item should it fail, which I had a hunch it just might. He sights the warranty clauses again, and asks if I want to ‘dispute’ the terms of the warranty. This time his voice sounds more intimidating. I told him I don’t want to dispute the warranty, I understand the terms, but that in my opinion it was a shady practice to offer a replacement, only to cheap out and refund the cost of the item. I clearly wasn’t getting anywhere, so I ended the call.

So I paid $69.99, plus $16.99 for the ServiceNet “warranty”, plus $4.99 shipping, plus about $5.00 in tax. Totaling around $97.00. All I have now is a $69.99 gift card from Newegg that won’t get me a replacement item. The cheapest 1TB hard drive is $99, but it’s only USB. For $119 there is a Western Digital FireWire 1TB hard drive however. If ServiceNet offered me an extra gift card of $20 or $30 that would have been the end of it. At least it would have lessened the blow of having the hard drive fail.

So they have our broken hard drive and all I have is a gift card that won’t even cover the cost of a replacement hard drive. They mentioned that if they had a comparable model they would replace it, but were vague on their source of such items or if they ever would receive any. They blame Western Digital for raising the prices, and suggest I complain to them. They said they can never make an exception, not for anyone. If they make one exception they would be “opened to lawsuits”. Um okay… I don’t buy that.

So what it boils down to is this. You’re gambling when you buy a warranty, but that isn’t really anything new I suppose. ServiceNet knows that. In fact, they thrive on it. They obviously don’t care, or doesn’t want to care about their customer’s issues. It’s ironic, the company quote showcased on their webpage reads “Our aggressive and focused goal is to provide the most outstanding service to our clients…”. But I think they should update their quote to “No exceptions. Ever.”

I will never buy a ServiceNet warranty ever again. I’d rather take my chances with a product then pay good money for them to find every way possible to weasel out of the original warranty agreement and to screw me out of a replacement product.