The vast majority of my business transactions, over the web or otherwise, are carried out with no major problems. I’ve found that almost everyone I deal with is honest and up-front about their goods or services.
I recently came across an exception, though, when I decided to pay BatteryRefill.com to re-cell my two notebook computer batteries. It seemed like a decent deal–I could get both batteries re-celled with brand-new Li ion batteries for about a hundred bucks. That’s much less than a couple of replacement batteries would have cost. And they promised a turnaround of seven to ten business days, not including shipping times.
First things first: I did, finally, receive my re-celled batteries back from them, and they appear to work as advertised.
The problem that I had with BatteryRefill.com was two-fold. First, instead of a turnaround time of seven to ten business days, over seven weeks elapsed from the time they acknowledged receiving my batteries to the time they notified me that they were shipping them back to me. Second, their communications with me were absolutely terrible.
I didn’t worry too much until three weeks had passed since they received my batteries. At that point, I emailed their customer support to inquire about the status of my order, and after hearing no response after a few days, I dialed their customer service phone number. Eventually, their automated phone attendant routed me to their voice mail, telling me that all their representatives were helping other customers. So, I left a message and hoped for a callback, but it never came. I repeated this process several times over the next several days without any satisfaction. It was impossible to communicate with anyone at BatteryRefill.com.
Then I did something I should have done before I placed the order–I did a web search and found many reports of unhappy BatteryRefill.com customers who told stories of waiting several months for their batteries (and some were still waiting). At that point I decided to escalate things a little bit. Since I’d used Paypal to pay for the service, I opened a dispute with Paypal over the transaction.
Miraculously, that seemed to get the attention of BatteryRefill.com, because the day after I did so, I received a response to my email inquiry telling me that my batteries would be ready to ship the following week. Ironically, I was able to actually speak with someone there on the phone the same day, and they told me that they’d ship the following day. I smelled a rat, but I decided I’d wait and see what happened.
What happened was that both shipping estimates came and went, and I had still not received my batteries. Since my Paypal dispute was about to expire, my only option was to escalate it to a claim (which means Paypal investigates and then attempts to get my money back). The day after I did so, Paypal forwarded to me the USPS Priority Mail tracking information they received from BatteryRefill.com, indicating my order was going to ship. I checked the USPS web site every day for a week, but the shipping status never showed the package actually in transit. Finally, a week later, I received an automated email from BatteryRefill.com telling me that my order had shipped. Lo and behold, I received my order the following Monday. Curiously, the tracking number on the package I received was not the same as the tracking number that BatteryRefill.com gave to Paypal.
So, to sum it up:
- BatteryRefill.com’s turnaround time of seven to ten business days was exceeded by a factor of about five.
- BatteryRefill.com was practically impossible to communicate with regarding the status of my order.
- When I was able to get information from BatteryRefill.com, it was inconsistent, contradictory, and just plain wrong.
- Their communications were nothing more than stall tactics, apparently meant to intentionally mislead me about the imminence of shipping my order.
As I said before, I did receive my batteries, and they appear to work as promised, but I would not order from this company again, for the reasons I outlined above.