When my old computer died, it had the only copy of every photo my girlfriend and I had taken for five years on the hard drive. One visit to the local dodgy computer repair shop later, I found out that dog hair and dust is not good for motherboards. I left with an external hard drive packed with memories in my hand and a useless box of junk tucked under my arm.
My five year old christmas special from a major retailer was not worth saving. It took the technowizard in the shop 15 minutes to tell me everything that made a repair untenable. PSU too small. Cooling non existent. HDD far too small and so on. But he didn't blame the retailer for selling me this box of compromises and short cuts. I left with the clear understanding that I had got what I deserved.
As I tossed my computer next to all the others in the skip at recycling I realized that he was right. I had never even seen inside my computer before he took off the cover that day; never known how few components there were, never researched into the technology that I had come to rely upon. I had let myself be made into a technophobe, chosen ignorance and a direct debit warranty (that I cancelled two years ago, leaving me with the worst of both worlds) over understanding and empowerment.
I promised myself that next time would be different, but was I brave enough to build my own machine? In a word, no. Not the first time. But I WAS brave enough to learn what constituted a good set up, one that I could upgrade myself in the future, and ask the right questions when I bought my next computer.
With the girlfriend on holiday, research began in earnest. A week later and I could no longer get answers to my questions from the staff in the large retailers, who learnt to walk away when they saw me coming. I watched overclocker3d videos all the way through. I checked out pc advisor, pc pro, guru and tech et al...and kept seeing the names of small companies that made computers for those of us who dared to break away from the herd. I knew now that for the money, these guys beat the major retailers hands down. But I still searched the aisles in vain for a rig with the specs i wanted at a price I could afford, hoping to stay in my comfort zone.
I had discovered that having the intention and doing the deed are two very different things. I drove to my local Novatech shop and then...drove away. I talked to sales advisors for internet only companies but didn't like the way that I felt, like I'd stumbled into a cliquey shop that catered for an elite clientele. And then, after seeing the name too many times to ignore, even though it sounds like they make fridges for geeks, I called Chillblast.
Two mammoth conversations with the saints that are the pre sales team at Chillblast, a long, long night of research into the customisable parts of a Fusion Neptune and I took the plunge. The candid, open feedback to all my questions and obvious familiarity with the products, mingled with good humour and a confidence inspiring air of professionalism had prised six hundred quid out of my pocket to make my first major internet purchase. The two year collect and return warranty gave me piece of mind. The fact that the guys advised me against some upgrades (based on my stated requirements) left me with the impression that these people were keen to protect their reputation for ensuring customer satisfaction.
But the real reason for the five stars is for what happened next. My computer arrived on a Friday afternoon and I signed off on the package as instructed by the email from Chillblast, (who had emailed me at every appropriate stage of the build to inform me of my order's status and impending action) noting that the package was unchecked. And of course the computer was damaged.
If you have ever had damaged goods delivered then you know the feeling it gives you in your stomach. If the order was from a "faceless" internet company that feeling is twice as bad. You cannot help but assume the worst. When it happens on a friday afternoon you get the whole weekend to sweat over the conversations you will be having on Monday. I sent three emails with pictures attached and stewed for 48 hours. Roll on 9 am Monday and hours of haggling on the phone.
7 02 am Monday morning and there is an email from Chillblast. Sorry to hear about your damage, would this action resolve it? A reply from me. Ok that's worse than we realised, let's just build you a brand new computer. You want to pick it up yourself? no problem. Want to take the opportunity to upgrade another component? Have that on us. Let us pack the tower internally while we are at it, to make sure you get it home safely.
Every email replied to within half an hour, everything about the return, new build and collection finalised by eleven o'clock.
If it wasn't for everyone I dealt with at Chillblast before I made a purchase I might yet have weakened and gone back to you-know-where in the world. But for very little more than I could have bought the components for I am getting a computer built just the way I want it by a company whose reputation (and stack of awards) keeps on growing. As more of us realise that we have a choice, I would recommend that you choose Chillblast. Before, during and after my sale, they excelled at every opportunity.
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