AOpen distributor Servex has come under fire from one of its Australian resellers for failing to support the Slot 1 motherboards advertised on its Web site.
Servex is promoting the boards as supporting Pentium Celeron chips but a number of customers of Sydney-based reseller Programmer's Paradise are running into problems when they try to install the boards without a BIOS upgrade -- a fact that Servex had failed to stipulate was necessary.
Gillian Eades, the director of Programmer's Paradise, was furious when she started receiving complaints from some of her 10,000 customers around Australia when their systems failed to fire up.
Servex's solution was to upgrade the boards via its Web page, but this was a little difficult for some clients, including Stefan Holbon, who didn't have access to an operational Pentium II.
"My business wasn't operational for a week while this problem was being sorted out. I even rung the distributor to complain and they called back with a fake name and refused to give me a number. My mobile phone had caller ID so I just rang back."
The situation deteriorated even further when Servex refused to rectify the problem and, according to Eades, just weren't interested in customers' complaints.
"I called them six times before someone got back to me, only to have them tell me that it wasn't their responsibility," Eades said.
"If people wanted a BIOS upgrade they could send their motherboards back to Servex and have it done, but it would all be at our expense. Or alternatively we could drive out to our customers with a spare Pentium II and perform the upgrade ourselves. It was outrageous."
Eventually a courier was arranged to take an upgraded motherboard to Holbon, but according to Holbon and Eades, Servex changed its mind because it was too expensive. It again stated that either Programmer's Paradise or Holbon would have to organise the upgrade themselves.
"I was more annoyed at Servex's attitude towards me than I was in the motherboard failing to work," Holbon said.
Resolution to the conflict finally arrived in the form of AOpen's Taiwan office reprimanding its Australian distributor (Servex) and accepting liability for the motherboards.
However, this isn't the end of the drama, according to Eades, as the Servex Web site is still proclaiming that the motherboards support Celeron without informing people that to do so they need to have a BIOS upgrade. AOpen's Technical Service Department insisted in an e-mail to Eades that this doesn't constitute false advertising.
Contrary to this, Servex then informed Eades that a full product recall would be instigated but she isn't aware of any such action taking place.
Programmer's Paradise have now taken Servex products completely off its price list. Eades explained that other motherboards that they sell don't require a BIOS upgrade and are therefore an inherently better choice regardless of Servex's abysmal customer service record.