Friday, September 30, 2005

Rant: i-mate & SBE-Ltd

God, I so wanted to write this for a long long time. As some of you will probably know recently there has been loads of i-mate JAM adverts around London especially on Tube platforms. i-mate, a small company churning out clones of OEM'ed HTC products, wants to increase their precense in the UK. The only problem? They have zero UK support*.

The nearest place to get your product fixed is by sending it to Dubai. Yes - D. U. B. A. I. Manchester online retailer, Expansys, and i-mate however disagree. Both has decided to list SBE-Ltd in Kent as the official UK i-mate repair service.

Some three weeks ago, after calling SBE and getting a quote, we sent Jenni's JAM for repair. It was sent via Special Delivery. A few days later Jenni contacted them and obtained a repair code. Fine. At least they received it.

Last week with no news from SBE, calls were made to the company. Calls which were not answered, which instead were cut off. E-mails were sent but none were replied. We discovered SBE's website. We found a page where we could check the repair status. Keying in the collection reference we found that it was for someone else's Siemens. A Siemens MC60.

How did an i-mate JAM turned into a MC60 may I ask? By giving us the wrong collection reference (which in itself a breach of the other guy's privacy).

SBE so far has refused to answer any calls or e-mails even now. It is always busy. There are no options to leave voice mails. No nothing. Are i-mate products so clumsy that they are working flat and forgetting to turn on the answering machine?

The moral of the lesson here, if UK support is something you need, my advise is not to buy i-mate products. UK has strong consumer laws when compared to other countries but we still get fucked over. I pity people who get screwed by companies that do not take care of their customers. Companies like Granville who dared to fleece customer's money right up to their demise. Companies like i-mate who think they can come and trade here but do not bother to even offer proper support.

* i-mate UK repair service were offered by HTC Europe. According to a HTC Europe rep, i-mate then terminated the contract. Thanks a bunch.

update: Speak of the devil. A couple of hours after I wrote this, Jenni received a letter from SBE with a quotation for the repair. Guess what? First it took them 2 1/2 weeks to send the quote. Next is the quote itself. £350 to repair scratched/cracked case. You hear that right. It is actually cheaper to buy a new one (plus a battery or two) than to fix it. Thanks alot i-mate but no thanks. I would rant a little bit more but I just came down with a cold. I am really scared now.


c0y0t3 said...

two months on: still no imate jam! They said they going to send it by special delivery but they never did! They did send me the so-called consignment number, but ROyal mail website keep stating that it's not "with them" yet. Meaning: SBE never sent it over to them! Pack of lies they have over there!

Anonymous said...

Wow they are impressively lame!

Found this page on google. In a similar situation to you, live in London and have a faulty iMate K-Jam. As it's under warranty, I called SBE.

The woman didn't take any details except my email address and she promptly emailed me a form for the collection of the unit. She told me I should fill it in, and email it back to the address on the form.

"This is going to be a breeze" I thought. "I can handle a bit of paperwork for something this direct". Simply enter the details on the form, get a call from the delivery company and leave the rest to them.

So I emailed the form back, filled in correctly with the exact size and weight of the package.

In the email, I thought I had better actually tell them what the fault was!

That was Tuesday. Heard nothing back until Friday when I emailed the form again - this time to the address of the person who sent it to me.

Heard nothing until the following Thursday.

Called up. Cut off.

Called up. Cut off.

No way!

Called up, spoke to someone who said the logistics team may have lost it. (Lost an email?!)

I said, "look, I also emailed it to your colleague as well". She replied - "oh yeh, well she's on reception this week."

"Didn't she receive it?"

"No, she's at another desk"

"Oh, so if you are sitting at another desk you can't get your email"


"Hmm, ok. [big pause] Well what are you going to do?!"

Anyway - she took my number and in fairness did call back in 25 mins. Said I should email it through to her instead. I did, the very same day.

In my email I was very clear: I said "last time I didn't hear back so please ensure you confirm receipt of this email"

That was then, now a full week later I have heard nothing!

I need your advice - shall I cut my losses and leave it now? It's a misaligned screen that requires realigning every so often. I've lived with it for a few months anyway! I don't know if I have the patience to deal with awful customer service.

Jon said...

Hi Mat (saw your email through flickr),

We finally managed to get the problem solved and they fixed it for free. Even then there were cocked up like late deliveries but overall we 'won'.

Misaligned screens seems to be a huge problem on HTC products. I have no idea but so far I have no problems on my o2 xda mini S yet (same model as the K-Jam - touch wood!).

Personally I think you shouldn't give up and continue trying to pressure them.

I am also going to guess that you purchased the product from Expansys. If you did then I suggest that you e-mail them and coax them into helping you.

We did that by threatening legal action. Finally one of their managers contacted SBE to sort out the issue (even then it was difficult and she had to contact SBE many many times).

BTW, contacting imate is the most useless thing to do as they never respond to any of our e-mails.

Anonymous said...

I know this posting is somewhat dated, but for therapy sake i wanted to add my experience with SBE UK. They suc&# big time. i have returned my phone for the fourth time in a row. Three times for screen and touch screen problems. The last time because it was repaired by Attila the Hun himself using a crowbar, leaving scratch marks, half attached/detached silver linings, etc. But hey, the screen works!!!

No more i-Mate for me since i have to deal with SBE for repairs.

&@^#$*%& and &*@^#*^&@&.... That helped, a bit :-)

Anonymous said...

i sent my samsung f490 to sbe reccomended them for the repair for a cracked touch screen i sent it away in the packerging they sent me .a week later i recived the quote which was very so i wanted to get it bak to take it somewhere else.but i cant get in contact wiv them to pay the returns fee

Anonymous said...

I am in the same situation and I am collecting data on SBE complaints to see what their customer service is like incase I wanted to use it if I take them/LG to court, If you dont mind, could you fill out this ( form (It's a google docs form, for safety :))? Thank you:)