I have never had any interest in motor cars. Even though I drove a car back in England, I had no interest whatsoever in what went on ‘under the bonnet'. I knew where the oil and water went and I was even known to fill the tyres with air from time to time, but everything else remained a complete mystery.
On those unwelcome occasions when my car wouldn't start and I would need to call out a man in blue overalls, we would both stand gazing at the car with thoughtful expressions before eventually the mechanic would say something like "It looks as if your sparkplugs are fouling up"
There would then follow an awkward silence before I'd reply with something stupid such as "and where are the sparkplugs again?" or "what do sparkplugs do?"
I feel exactly the same way about computers.
I love using computers. I couldn't live without one. But I neither know nor care about what the processor does. I am clueless about how much RAM I need or what it even stands for. And I would rather wallpaper the entire living room than have to partition a hard drive.
So needing to buy a brand new desktop pc - as I did a couple of weeks ago - is always going to be a tough gig. First off, I made the fatal mistake of asking around for advice. Fatal because the more computer geeks you ask, the deeper your confusion becomes. Everyone seems to have a biased opinion on what and what not to buy.
Keeping it simple
Fortunately, I have a wonderful friend in England who has not only been building computers from scratch since he was in short trousers but when it comes to talking about computer specs, he has a very rare ability. He talks to me like I'm a seven-year old. And that's EXACTLY what I want.
My friend, knowing full well what I need to use a computer for, gave me a list of the specs I should be looking for in a desktop model. I jotted those specs down on a scrap of paper and come Saturday morning, made a beeline for my local IT mall. Knowledge is power!
A fruitless task
I had a budget of between 40,000 and 50,000 baht - enough money to buy a ‘very nice desktop pc' according to my friend. Alas, within half an hour of looking around various stores, I realized this was going to be no easy task.
Even the likes of computer giants HP and Dell couldn't help me. Every model they had on display was half my budget or less - and came with pathetically inadequate specs. In the HP store, I don't think the shop assistant had ever seen a machine over 40K baht.
"You'll need to order online from the website" he said.
"How long will delivery usually take?" I enquired.
"I don't know" he said.
Do you have an online catalogue I can order from?
I was getting nowhere. The shop assistant filled me with zero confidence. I made for the exit and left him to carry on flirting with the Saturday girl.
I returned home sans computer and a great big empty space on my work desk. I would have to buy a new computer online....from someone. But who?
Hua Hin of all places
I went on several of the main computer company websites in Thailand and I went around in circles. Not only was the choice of models over 40K disappointingly small but if I saw the words ‘not in stock' one more time, there was no telling what I would do. Then the name of a computer supplier popped up out of the blue - Invade IT, a small foreign-run company operating out of Hua Hin.
This is ridiculous I thought. Here I am in the big bad city, surrounded by the largest IT malls in the country, and I'm thinking about ordering a computer from a company located in a beach resort three hours south.
Then I started to research Invade IT a little further. Then I started to get feedback on social media. "A great company - you won't be disappointed", "customer service is second to none" were just two comments I got. It was obvious that Invade IT had quite a fan club. Suddenly, ordering a computer from a company 200 kilometres away made perfect sense.
5-star customer service
If there is just one reason to write this blog, then it's to sing the praises of Invade IT's customer service. In a country where customer service generally falls somewhere between ‘hopeless' and ‘abysmal' Invade IT and owner Thomas in Hua Hin were simply a joy to do business with.
I quickly found a computer on their website that suited my needs and fell within my budget. Oh what a joy to find a retail website in Thailand where products are all well laid out and the search function actually comes up with results. Oh what a joy to peruse a retail website that's in 100% English and be able to avoid the frustrations of clicking on a British flag icon to find 90% of the text remains in Thai or simply doesn't change at all (and we've all been there haven't we?)
Within seconds of ordering, I got an e-mail to say that payment had been received, my computer was in stock and it would be sent within 24 hours. A second e-mail arrived to inform me how I could track that order. The following day I got a personal e-mail from the owner Thomas apologizing for a slight delay due to the Monday being a public holiday. He gave me his personal phone number in case I felt the urge to call him. And the computer arrived safely at my home in Samut Prakarn.
I was kept up to speed during every step of the process. Basic customer service I hear you say. Well, if it's basic customer service, how come so many companies here - large and small - bloody well suck at it!
After setting up my spiffy new desktop computer and playing around with it for a while, I sent an e-mail to Thomas. I wanted to thank him for such an amazing customer service experience and I also think it's important to let companies like Invade IT know that they are doing a wonderful job.
Thomas responded immediately and thanked me for the kind words. He went on to say "we are very grateful for the support that we receive from the expat community in Thailand. We have a hardcore group of customers and IT buffs who have probably ordered in excess of a hundred items from us over the years. We can't always compete on prices with Thai suppliers but we get as close as possible and like to think we really do look after our customers. We hope to see you again in the future Phil"
You will Thomas. You most certainly will.