Psy-Man Says: Kogan style

Steve Jobs once said something to the effect that it is the kiss of death to let the accountants run a business. Here’s how that works.

I recently bought a small rechargeable battery unit for charging my i-devices when away from mains power. I bought it from Kogan – an on-line retailer of course, but a fave of a friend of mine. They were cheap and where I saw the device advertised.

Firstly it didn’t ship for about 10 days. When it arrived, there was no User Guide or Manual. Great! I thought – we have finally made it to the post RTFM era. This device must be so easy that even an old fogie can use it (I remember when that expression was “even a child can use it”). Unfortunately it wasn’t. It had two connections, a button and a row of what looked like lights.

Lucky for me there was an included postcard which said Kogan was saving paper and not printing manuals. Instead go to their website and download it. So off to Kogan’s web site I went. However there was no manual or user guide to be found.

Next step – off to the web. Well that threw up lots of results. About 26,900,000 results (in 0.30 seconds) to be exact, according to Google. After some time of skimming through the more promising results I was not able to find my particular device other than on Kogan’s site. It seems that this is one very catchy (and popular) product name which nobody has bothered to patent or trade mark. Obviously it is not made by Apple!

Never mind, there is always the company’s web support service. Kogan have a support page as you would expect so I spent about half an hour forming all the questions I thought I would need answering to provide somewhat the equivalent of the non-existent Manual or User Guide. My minimal list was 6 questions, from memory.

I say from memory because after spending all that time and effort trying to ask a complete but also minimal set of questions, the web form failed to include them in the acknowledgement receipt it sent me. But not to worry, they will be copied into the response I get right?

Wrong! 3 days later my questions are finally answered, but the answers are all I get, not the question being answered. Now a lot can often be inferred about the question from the answer, and this was no exception. It became clear rather quickly that the bulk of the questions I had asked (ie. all but one), which were about charging the unit, had been answered as though I was asking about charging my i-device from the unit. FAIL!

So then I reply asking if they can not only redo the answers for charging the unit but also include the original questions, so as to remove any ambiguity or possibility of error – remember there is no manual or user guide for this device so I need some instructions which will not only be clear now, but remain clear and unambiguous to me when I try to figure out how to use the device in 2-3 years time on our next big holiday.

The next response completely ignores my requests and provides a single statement even more ambiguous than the set of answers I got first time. And still no copy of my questions. Or their answers.

I don’t know about you, but I am not a child of the 21st century. I have 20th century values when it comes to customer service. And matching 20th century triggers on my frustration when it comes to poor customer service. So having figured I’ve spent about $100 of value in frustration and time by now, all over a $39 unit I still can’t use because Kogan decided they wanted to save one sheet of A6 paper, its time to return the unit and cancel the transaction.

Nothing, it seems, is simple. There appears to be no way to do this from the Kogan web site, but as I paid using Paypal, I could register a dispute through them. This also had its challenges.

At the part where you have to write up why you are registering a dispute, I decide to give a lot of info to help Kogan by way of feedback, rather than simply complaining. Of course writing up the above story, even when shortened considerably, takes some effort and time, but I thought it would be worth it to help point Kogan in the right direction.

When done I pressed the “continue” button and after a few seconds I was presented with a new screen saying that my session had timed out because I had taken too long! Of course it did not keep anything I had typed …

However this now gets resolved, the final direct post-sale cost to Kogan would have to be in excess of $100, for the $39 item. And that does not take into account any loss in future sales from me and anyone I can influence.

All because Kogan wanted to save the price of a piece of A6 paper.

I really can’t decide whether it would be better to have my role or Kogan’s played by John Cleese in the sit-com.


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