I consider myself a well-educated Luddite when it comes to computers. I’ve been involved with PCs of one sort or another ever since I joined the Boston Computer Society’s IBM Compatible user’s group in 1983. That was when I purchased my first computer, an Eagle PC IBM “compatible.”
Since that time I’ve owned quite a few computers. And while I’m well aware that “stuff happens” when it comes to new or near new electronics, some occurrences can poison a relationship between customer and seller so completely that the customer will probably never darken the retailer’s door (or website) ever again. Often it’s not a case of any particular action causing the rift, but a combination of actions that made it impossible for the buyer to completely trust the seller again. Such was the case between me and Other World Computing’s refurb department.
It all began when I decided to replace the 2010 MacPro portable that had been recently diagnosed by the Apple repair as having suffered “water damage.” I strongly suspect it was actually cat piss, not H2O, but that is beside the point (don’t leave your computer open in the vicinity of an unhappy pussy cat). After hemming and hawing for a couple of months I saw that Other World Computing was having a sale on refurbished MacPros. I looked at their offerings and settled on a mid-2013 model that was the last version with an internal CD rom drive. I ordered it along with 16G of additional RAM and a 240 SSD drive. So far, so good…
When the computer arrived several days later I began the process of setting it up. First I formatted the new SSD drive, then cloned the internal 500G HD onto the SSD. The next step was to open up the MacPro and install the additional RAM and new SSD. This all went smoothly. I was now ready to turn on my new MacPro for the first time. I was greeted with a start-up chime, but the screen remained black. That was not good. If I looked at the screen at an angle I could see the welcome screen very faintly but the backlight was dead. I immediately called OWC and got a return authorization. The next day, which was a Wednesday, the computer went back to OWC.
On Monday late morning I called OWC to check on the status of my new computer. The OWC customer support person told me it had not been inspected yet, and they would email me when they had looked at it. On Thursday I called again, since I had received no emails from them. I was informed, after a very long time waiting on the phone, that my computer had “water damage on the motherboard” and OWC had not decided what to do yet. NOT DECIDED?!? Within about 30 seconds I could feel my blood pressure rising…there were only three good options – replace, repair, or refund, and one bad one – fight with the customer.
After I hung up the phone I began thinking, which is usually not a great thing for me to do when in such a state. Why had OWC waited and not called or emailed me? And why did they not have a standard policy in place for defective refurbs? And how and why did a defective refurb make it through their refurb and repair without a technician noticing the water damage or the dead screen? All I had to do was turn on the machine to discover the problem!
After another fifteen minutes or so of cogitation I wrote OWC an email telling them what I expected them to do – offer a full refund and send me a call tag so I could return the 500 GB drive and RAM that had originally been in the MacPro. After another relatively brief phone call OWC did the right thing and acquiesced to my request.
I thought about replacing the MacPro with another refurb from OWC, but frankly I no longer have faith that they can reliably test and refurb a MacPro portable computer. It’s been a week now and I’m still waiting for the refund to go through.
I bought another MacPro portable, this time from Apple’s own refurb deprtment. I ended up getting a 2015 MacPro with 8G RAM and a 240 SSD. It arrives today. If the screen is black I’ll scream, loudly. And while I won’t go on record as someone who will never buy anything from OWC again, I will state that I will never even think of buying another refurbed or used product from OWC. From now on, for me, they will be a NEW ONLY supplier…