Those loyal readers visiting this blog whose sole thought every morning is to log in and see what else has been happening in my life might be interested to hear that after my cackhanded foray in becoming a ‘tablet middleman’ - buying up cheap tablets and then selling them on for a modest profit - will be dismayed to hear that I have recently come very unstuck in some such deal.
I should, however, first tell you that my relationship with tablets has now settled down into a staid and unexciting marriage. I now own a 7in Google Nexus and a 9in Samsung Tab and am happy with both. Not that I need either, and not that anyone in their right mind actually needs a tablet, let alone two, who also owns two desktop computers - a Mac and a PC - as well as five laptops (one of which is used exclusively by my daughter) and has use of a sixth provided by the good folk at work to allow me to access yet another PC at work in London to do ‘my quiz work’. Not that I use it at all, because as you can see I am spoilt for choice.
But before I bought the Samsung and Nexus, I dabbled with buying a cheap Chinese tablet.
The first hit the rocks very soon because the mini USB connection was flaky and I sold it on eBay for more or less what I bought it for. The second was another cheapo Chinese effort, and it was that deal which has proved to be disasterous.
I bought it from an outfit based somewhere in South China called Chinistore. The tablet and delivery set me back £158, and I also had to pay £11 in import duty. It arrived speedily, but when I unpacked it and turned it on, it was obvious that it was rubbish: the wifi didn’t work. So I emailed Chinistore and asked them what I should do.
They suggested downloading extra firmware and sent me a link to the site where I could download it. I went there, but as it was all in Chinese, I had no idea what link to click. And all the links I did click didn’t take me to what might - to confident Mandarin speaker and reader - be a firmware download link, but to either a soft porn site or a gaming site. So I emailed again and was sent a screenshot with an arrow helpfully pointing to the link I should try. I did try it, but merely got to the same succession of soft porn and gaming sites.
Well, I had had enough.
I am reasonably good-natured and didn’t in principle object to downloading extra firmware to get the bloody thing to work, even though I take the view, not unreasonably, I suggest, that the tablet should have worked straight out of the box and that there should have been no need to hunt to a spurious firmware download link on a Chinese website in the forlorn hope that I could get it do do what it was supposed to do.
When I bought it, I had paid through Paypal in the - as it turned out very naive - belief that I was ‘covered’, that I could return it and get a refund courtesy of Paypal’s ‘you’re safer than houses, squire, buying anything online using our service’ promise. So I opened a case requesting a refund on Paypal resolution centre and sat back.
A day later I received an email from Chinistore telling me they were very disappointed that I had already resorted to Paypal as they liked to believe their relations with customers were based on ‘mutual trust’ and that had I just asked, they would most certainly have refunded the money. But as it was would I please return the tablet. And they gave me an address in Shenzhen City (which is on the Chinese mainland opposite Hong Kong). I did as asked and sent it off at a cost of £28 in the box in which it had first arrived - and waited for my money. My money, of course, never turned up.
Eventually, Paypal informed me that they had considered the matter and would send me a refund once I had returned the tablet. And they sent me an address to which to send it back. Crucially this address, undoubtedly given them by Chinistore was a different address, on in Hong Kong. I replied saying I had already returned it. And then I sat back once again to await the arrival of my money.
The next thing I heard was that Paypal had decided that as I hadn’t returned the tablet to the address they had specified, I wouldn’t be getting my money from them after all. I pointed out that I was in no position to send it to that address as I had already sent it to another address given me by Chinistore. I also sent them a copy of the email Chinistore had sent me and a link to the Royal Mail tracking service which showed the tablet had been safely delivered to Shenzhen City.
Tough titties, was Paypal’s response. Rules is rules, aren’t they sunshine, and I hadn’t sent it to the address they had specified. If I wanted my money back, they added helpfully, I should get in touch with Chinistore and ask for it. I have done so - about eight times so far, but Chinistore seem to have crossed me off their Christmas card list (except for a brief email asking me to ‘rate their service’). And that, dear friends, is that current state of affairs. I don’t have the crappy wifi-less tablet they sent (which I don’t want anyway) and I am a total £197 out of pocket.
I have left out a few less relevant details, such as the several phone calls I made to Paypal’s resolution centre in Newcastle which led absolutely nowhere, and you are now fully in the picture. My question is: what do I do now?
My first thought was to take Paypal to the small claims court, but I somehow suspect that I won’t get much joy there and that some friendly judge or other will merely inform me to follow Paypal’s advice and chase Chinistore up for my money. So that to will lead nowhere.
Which only allows me one to suggest that you join me in a chorus of ‘fools and their money ...’