Gateway 2000's "Customer Service" and gross ineptitude

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Mr Ian Pluthero

Managing Director

Gateway 2000 Europe

Clonshaugh Industrial Estate

Dublin 17



CC: Paula Weir, Customer Services Manager

Monday 8th January 1996

Dear Mr Pluthero,


I read, with interest, your letter published in Personal Computer World, December 1995, in which you addressed issues raised by a customer experiencing "incompetence and indifference" and an "extremely poor level of service" from Gateway 2000. I am encouraged to learn that you are extremely keen to maintain your company at the forefront of customer services and value all customer comments.


My company has a requirement for a top-of-the-range Pentium personal computer, such as your Pentium 133 Elite system. As a computer consultant in the London Insurance Market I approached my colleagues for advice on suitable suppliers and I am pleased to tell you that Gateway 2000 currently holds a favourable image.


I placed an order for a Gateway Elite system on 16/11/95. I would have thought twice, had I already seen R V Geal"s letter questioning your level of support and service. I find it my unfortunate duty to inform you that, almost two months later, my order has not even started production. This is despite 18 telephone calls to your Customer Services staff, who have demonstrated the ability to make the same mistake repeatedly, and fail to make sufficient effort in seeing a complaint through to its conclusion; (please see attached notes). I fear that any required after sales technical support would be of the same quality. My requests to speak with the Customer Services Manager have been thwarted at every turn, and having nowhere else to turn, I write to you.


I am sorry to say that my confidence in Gateway 2000 has been completely shattered by my experiences with Customer Services. As such, I can see no incentive to continue our business relationship and have no other choice but to formally cancel my order. I still have a requirement for a Pentium system and if you feel you can meet this then I would like to hear from you.


Yours sincerely



16/11/95 Declan Dunne (Sales)

I placed an order for a Pentium 133 Elite System, (standard configuration except for a 15" monitor).

I was advised the delivery time would be 12 working days, (but probably less).

I sent a fax sent to Declan, confirming my name, invoice address and home telephone number,

as well as the delivery contact name, address and telephone number.


16/11/95 Customer Services

I asked for an order number as Declan had failed to disclose it. I was told that the information was not available today and could I call back tomorrow.


05/12/95 Barry

I got the order number.

The system should be ready for shipping today - it has not even gone into production.

The credit authorisation failed on 16/12/95 as "Mrs Beer" was quoted as the name on the credit card, (this is the contact name for the delivery address). Barry did not know why I had not been contacted at all, or why no one had investigated the issue. He promised to sort it out.


14/12/95 Barry

Still no credit authorisation. No progress has been made at all, since my last call.

Barry promised to have the authorisation by the end of the day.


15/12/95 Rachel

Barry was unavailable. Still no credit authorisation. Rachel promised to get back to me. She never did.


18/12/95 10:00 Theo

Took my order number and then managed to accidentally redirect me back to sales reception.


18/12/95 10:05 Valentina (x5077)

Theo was now on another call; Barry & Rachel were unavailable.

Credit Authorisation has to go through Sales (Declan), then Accounts then the Allied Irish Bank then the Credit Authorisation Bureau. Customer Services appears to be unable or unwilling to chase up Sales or Accounts to successfully get the authorisation. There is a 10 day lead time from credit authorisation to shipping.

The last credit attempt was 05/12/95 when the address was wrongly specified as 10 Ringwood Close, (I advised Valentina that this should be Ringwood Lodge as per my original call and associated fax).

I asked to speak to the Customer Services Manager, (Paula Weir), as I was concerned that my order was not receiving adequate attention. Paula was unavailable and I was told it was not possible / unprofessional (?) to have her call me back.

Valentina logged an official complaint which should be followed up by the "Customer Response Team", who should call me, investigate and resolve the problem. I never heard from them.


20/12/95 12:00 Laura

Paula and Valentina were unavailable. I asked if there was anyone else who could help and discovered the existence of supervisors. Laura could not tell me why my order had not been referred to a supervisor. All the current supervisors, (Anna Merrick, Ingrid, and Tony Hannaway), were unavailable. Could I call back in an hour? When I asked if I should cancel my order she said "Fine".


20/12/95 12:20 Laura called me back (!)

I was informed that supervisor Sinead Power had got on to Accounts to get my credit authorisation. Laura could give "no guarantee" to call me back as Customer Services personnel are only allowed to make outgoing calls at certain times. I never heard from her again.


21/12/95 12:45 Siobhan

Paula and Sinead were unavailable. I asked to speak to any supervisor and was told that Ingrid would call me back shortly.


21/12/95 16:20 (!) Tony Hannaway called me

Accounts had tried to get credit authorisation but using the delivery address instead of the invoice address. He apologised for dealing so badly with my order but could offer no explanation as to why this was so. As an incentive not to cancel my order I asked for a free monitor upgrade to 17". Tony told me that at a priority status my order would take five days until shipping, starting from credit authorisation, but not possibly before.


21/12/95 16:30 Tony Hannaway called me

Tony confirmed the correct name and address of the credit card. Apparently there was nothing on file about any of my requests to speak to Paula. He promised to call me in the morning.


22/12/95 13:35 (!) Ann, Sales Reception

Paula and Tony were unavailable so Ann left a message for Tony to call me.


22/12/95 13:43 Tony Hannaway called me back

Still no credit authorisation and no explanation as to why it was not forthcoming. My monitor upgrade request was denied by Paula and Tony could only offer me some software, which I reluctantly agreed on. Tony suggested that I obtain the four digit authorisation code necessary, from my credit card company as this would cut out the middlemen.


22/12/95 15:46 Tony Hannaway voicemail

After speaking with my credit card company I understand that Tony"s middlemen suggestion is impossible as the credit authorisation centre requires a merchant ID in order to issue an authorisation code. They said that the last request for credit was on 16/12/95 for "2184.08 which would have been authorised if the correct card name, (S D Beer), was quoted but that no name had been supplied.

I left a message with Tony"s voicemail informing him that I could not supply the authorisation code and urging him to push my order into production. I did not hear from Tony again.


05/01/96 13:46 Zera, Sales Reception

Interestingly enough, I am told that the customer services manager will not accept any calls from customers. Tony Hannaway was unavailable. I asked to be put through to extension 2044, (Paula Weir), but get JJ in customer services instead.


13:47 JJ

I asked to speak to a supervisor and JJ put me on hold for over 15 minutes. When he came back he told me that no supervisors were available but a bit later on he told me he spoke to Tony Hannaway!

According to JJ, Paula will only deal with customers" queries if they are in writing. If I had known this earlier I would have saved a lot of wasted time on the phone. JJ had spoken to Glen in Accounts who had been dealing with my request and assured me that Accounts would get authorisation today. Apparently the last credit request was refused as the address was quoted as Ringwood Close again !! When I asked JJ for the exact amount of the request I was told the correct amount of "2164.00. JJ could give no explanation as to why my credit card company had received requests for "2184.08. He said he would investigate. I had to ask three times for the procedure to cancel an order before getting an answer. I was persuaded to postpone the cancellation as JJ promised that he would have authorisation and call me back by 16:00.


05/01/96 17:22 (!!) JJ called me

Still no reply to Accounts" fax to the Allied Irish Bank


05/06/96 18:03 JJ called me

Still no reply to Accounts" fax to the Allied Irish Bank. JJ promised to call first thing Monday.


18 telephone calls and the order still has not even got as far as production.



Having cancelled my order in writing, (see letter above), Gateway managed to authorise my credit card debit and then telephoned my mother at the delivery address to ask if they could deliver the computer. Unaware of any difficulties, she said yes and Gateway took that as authorisation to continue. When I found out they refused to cancel the delivery and we had to reject it when it turned up. It took Gateway over two months to refund my money. They never replied to my letters.