Have you ever tried to order something from the US when you live outside the country? It is not an easy process, especially if that country is in Latin America.
On May 3d I decided to order a new computer and have it delivered to my daughter's house in South Florida by the time we got there on the 14th. I thought this was a pretty intelligent decision, since MM doesn't like taking his computer with him, something about using the SIL's wireless network(?); and I like to stay connected to my world.
I logged into The HP Store, 'cause I am partial to HP products. I found exactly what I was looking for. It was fast enough; it played CD/DVDs and had a writer; it was light; and best of all, IT WAS PINK!!!!! Now, you are probably wondering why I wanted a pink computer. Well, because I live in a land full of machos, and I have a theory that no real macho man is going to steal a pink computer. After all, they haven't stolen my pink drill or hammer.
I customized my new computer, and then began checking out. I dutifully gave them my billing information, which is our Florida address. I also gave them my shipping address, which is my billing address, and the same address they have had on file for ages. In fact, I was logged in to my account at the time
I received a message that my order was declined and to please call them at 1-866...... I went to customer service and found out I could start a chat session, so I did. Almost immediately I got a message that since their computer sensed that my address was outside the US they were terminating the session.
I tried again and as soon as the chat window opened I typed "Please don't end this session. I know I am outside the country, but I need help". The agent came on-line and asked me what the problem was, and I told her. She advised me that the problem was not my credit, it was that they could not accept an order from outside the country, because they couldn't verify it was me. She advised me to call the customer service desk. Cannot do that! you cannot call an 800 number from a cell phone in Honduras.
I was then advised that I should go to the International Desk, and order the computer from there. No, says I, I don't want to do that. First of all, the computer cannot be shipped to the US from the International Desk. Then, there is the problem of the computer having all the programs set up in Spanish, and that would be of no use to me, who speaks Spanglish. Then, call the customer service desk at 1-866...... Huh?
Wait a minute, I am signed to your web site, using the same address and password you have had on record for ages. I am using an American credit card, on an American Bank, which you have had on file forever. I am asking you to ship the computer to the same address as my billing address, again which you have had on file forever. And you cannot verify it's me? WTH!! It was apparent we were not communicating, or he was named Peggy and living in Siberia.
So, on to Plan B. Let me email customer service and see if I can get someone who can help. The email that came back looked like a form letter, restating all the above reasons my order can not be concluded until I call customer service, or have someone in the States call customer service. So, I asked my daughter to call and see what she could do. Nothing, so I decided to take a deep breath and wait until we got here. And I got another nice "thank you for trusting HP, we are sorry....."
I sent another email outlining how dumb it was to say HP could not verify who I was. After all, Amazon.com doesn't have thar problem, nor do several companies I deal with. I gave them a step-by-step outline of how they could set up to be security conscious and at the same time expat friendly. They thanked me for my effort.
Monday night, I called customer service and got a cheery, "Thank you for calling HP. How can I help you tonight." I started to tell her, but decided better, so I just explained the situation yet again. "Oh, Mrs. Ramirez. I am so sorry you have been so inconvenienced. I'm sorry, but we can't ship that computer now. because it has a build date of 5/19, and we couldn't get it to you before you go back You should have called customer service. And, I'm sorry, but we can't ship the computer out of the US"
Here I did lose it, and after a few words, I promised her I was going to put this on FB and I was going to blog about it so that everyone I knew would know just how unfriendly HP was. I told her how many expats there are in Central America, and assured her I was going to try reaching everyone of them. She hung up on me.
I got off the phone about midnight, fired up the SILs computer and ordered another computer. Same credit card; same bank; same billing address; same shipping address. It was delivered before 10AM this morning. It's red.
So, here we are, I am keeping my word. I have posted on FB, and now I have blogged about it. Expats. arise, let these companies know we don''t like it when they are not friendly to us, and we have money.